“Not so long ago, I got an amazing team together to start an online mag (only but a few of the crazy things I have done),” declares the opening line of Landa Willie’s editor’s note in TWENTY Mag’s first issue. And while most of us may agree that self-publishing is a crazy, risky business, the finished product only speaks to bravery, raw creativity and the drive to do something different.
Despite ever-decreasing circulation numbers in print, the scourge of fake news, and the financial hurdles of trying to get a publication off the ground, there is no doubt that young South African readers are still asking for content made for them by them. TWENTY provides just that. In an intelligent balance between strong written content, interviews that let the characters speak for themselves, and the most luxurious Highsnobiety rivalling look and feel, Landa (and her amazing team) have produced something that shouts down every naysayer who says self-pubishing is a juice not worth the squeeze.
The magic of TWENTY lies in its ability to be both pragmatic and hugely optimistic. While some of the content deals with the marginalization of black women and the difficulties around creative work, the tone is still incredibly uplifting. Drawing from Kendrick Lamar’s black pride anthem, the first issue was entitled We Gon’ Be Alright – setting the tone for an odyssey of content which says to the black creative that anything is possible.
“I actually took a few months out to rethink and work on our brand identity. I mean in all honesty when we started Twenty, we did it out of passion and didn’t realy think about the project as a business. When we launched the first issue I realised how we can turn it into a business with the response it received,” explains Willie.
Although the magazine has only produced three issues (with number four on the way), available on ISSU for free, there are the ingredients for a powerhouse product. Between minimalist art direction, careful advertising placement and content that reflects the mood of its young, black, creative reader, there is space for the publication to grow and evolve. And Landa has already got some serious heavy-hitters gracing the pages.
From an interview with Creative Nestlings’ famed founder Dillion Phiri, to moody lifestyle and editorials featuring the likes of Manthe Ribane, there is no doubt that this team sits at the bleeding edge of cool culture. But instead of taking itself too seriously, it delivers an authentic browse through, with something for everyone engaged in the creative process. Landa shares her plans for the next issue, and has set her sights on going beyond the pages of the magazine.
“One of the most exciting things I am currently working on is a BLVCK QUEER DINNER series with my partner. We will be hosting dinners to raise money for Queer people who has fallen victim to hate crimes, etc. We are hoping to help victims (especially in townships) and families with hospital bills, rehabilitation, funeral costs and more”
You can find all editions of TWENTY on issu.com
SisiphoSojola – Features writer
InganathiMnyasane – Features Writer
Meegan Mitchell – Contributor
SibongileMditshwa – Creative Director (Issue #2)
WongieMafilika – PR coordinator.
Karl Ndebele – Creative director (Issue #2)
KB Mawala – Creative Director