The Creative Review has been the definitive publication for the creative industries since it first appeared as a supplement in 1980.
We spoke to the team behind The Creative Review Annual, their yearly award publication highlighting stand-out work from around the world (which, incidentally, was judged in one of our London spaces), to learn more about the Annual and how the publication has evolved and remained relevant in the digital age.
How has the magazine changed and evolved over the last 36 years?
When The Creative Review first started it was as a quarterly supplement to Marketing Week, which is also owned by the same publishing group, Centaur. CR soon became an independent title catering initially to the people whose services the Marketing Week readership bought e.g. Design consultancies and advertising agencies. Our first issue was a pretty good indicator of the breadth of the title, featuring Terence Conran on the cover and contributions inside from Adland legends such as John Webster.
Until the late 90s CR continued serving this community and its associated craft areas (photography, illustration, type etc.) until digital media turned things upside down. In 1996 we introduced a monthly CD-Rom for subscribers carrying a mix of video and interactive content. But that was only a precursor to the really big change which came with the launch of our blog in 2003, followed by a full-fledged website. Like many other media brands, CR now operates across print, digital media and events. Through all these platforms, we reach over 2 million people, all over the world.
What’s been one of the publication’s biggest challenges?
The internet changed everything for publishers. It turned our business models upside down. Working out our role and the future of our business has undoubtedly been the biggest challenge. But I think we are in good shape now.
What do you think of the future of print magazines, do you see it evolving, disappearing, staying classic?
For CR, print will always have a central role but that is obviously not the case for all publications, many of which have already gone digital-only. Print has to have a purpose – it’s no longer the default means of communicating with readers and serving commercial partners. All our media consumption habits have changed and print has to fit into what people want in their lives.
How do you deal with the cycle of issue after issue?
In the past two years we have introduced themes for most of our issues. This enables us to go deeper into a particular topic and keeps things fresh – for us and the reader. It also helps to make each print issue a special event in its own right.
How do you know when to break the rules versus staying consistent?
In print magazines you need a strong set of rules around layout, type etc... Once you have that in place, you can experiment, have some fun, etc... Online it’s more difficult as things tend to be more in templates but with our current site we have a lot more flexibility to try new things. It’s a case of constant experimentation. Same with the content – trying to throw in some new approaches, subjects or people that we think readers will like.
Tell us about the Creative Review Annual, how did it get started?
It was about trying to showcase the best work that had appeared that year. We wanted to be able to sum things up and provide a really special issue once a year.
How does the judging work for the Annual?
We usually have three groups across advertising, digital and design. What we wanted to avoid was being too restrictive in terms of categories or numbers of projects selected. We tell judges it’s up to them – they can choose as many, or as few, projects as they like. Then we ask them to pick their favourites out of the selected work for the Best in Book section.
What are the three main criteria the panel are looking for when judging?
We are looking for innovative, appropriate and brilliantly crafted ideas. They should be original. And they should be something you wished you had done yourself.
Follow the best in creativity has to offer at www.creativereview.co.uk or pick up the latest copy at your local newstand.