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1815 Magazine, in case you’re wondering, has nothing to do with the year.
It’s the number of the Ridgewood house that Emil Hernon, Fiachra Corcoran, and Eimhin Joyce — three friends and amateur photographers — shared while living in Queens in New York one summer on J-1 visas.
While there, they decided they needed somewhere to stick their many photos, and decided a magazine was the best place.
Launched in October 2015, 1815 Magazine features photos by the trio and other photographers. “It’s a medium for people to display works,” says Corcoran.
“It’s a magazine in the loosest sense of the word, though,” he says.
Blu-Tack in Ridgewood
At the moment, Hernon, Corcoran, and Joyce are working on issue 7 of 1815, which, since the first issue, has evolved into something different to stapled-pages-between-covers that you might expect.
Each issue comes in a different medium, no explanatory text accompanies the photographs, and any number of contributors could be featured inside. They treat it as a flexible medium, and see it as an alternative to online platforms.
“We’d a couple of shitty blogs we were running, just our mates and our own Tumblrs and whatnot,” said Hernon on Monday, sat upstairs in Kaph on Drury Street. Corcoran and Joyce are sat alongside.
“I don’t know what happened. Flickr died, Tumblr died, everything was to do with Facebook,” he says.
When they got back from the US, though, it seemed as if zines were on the up in Dublin, and that was appealing.
Issue 1 focused on photos taken around New York, and mainly featured the work of the three founders. It was their first foray into publishing, and Hernon, Corcoran, and Joyce blu-tacked their New York snaps into a series of scrapbooks.
Issue 6, the most recent, was a deck of playing cards, with each card featuring the work of a contributing photographer or illustrator.
The approach to each issue is playful and inventive, and each one is put together in the hours around their day jobs in cafés and pubs.
“Usually it’s when the lads have a night off,” says Hernon. “We meet at nine and sit at the laptop until four in the morning, because it’s the only time we’re going have that week to put it together.”
The print run for 1815 is usually between 30 and 60 copies per issue, which barely covers the cost of the printing and each issue’s launch, says Hernon. 1815 is €10 a pop and it isn’t about profit right now.
“The bottom line is that anyone we ask to contribute is not getting paid,” he says. “We can ask someone. We can say, ‘Look, we’re going to put our heart and soul into this and we really like what you’re doing,’ but we can’t demand deadlines.”
No one has turned the trio down so far, they say.
Something in Between
Printing 1815 Magazine in Dublin was a challenge until they found Alan Maher in Temple Bar, says Hernon.
Maher is open to ideas even if they take some time to pull together. “The lads kind of know what they want so they guide you well,” he says.
“I’d sit down and give them a lot of time, go through different things, stand beside the machine. We could do ten samples before we get it right,” he says.
The playing cards were tricky, but a welcome break from the churn of business cards, says Maher.
“They’re always coming in here asking, ‘Can you do this? Can you do that?’ But to me it’s great,” he says. “I’d do a lot of run-of-the-mill stuff in here, but when I see them coming, you know it’s going to be fun.”
Hernon, Corcoran, and Joyce all say they’ve no business sense and that 1815 is a passion project. That means a lot of freedom, too.
“We put out the photos and let someone else figure out the theme,” says Hernon. “I guess it’s like subconscious laziness. You’re so used to being told what things are, having a big intro.”
Corcoran offers a headline: “These lads can’t figure out what they’re up to.” The trio do seem to have a vision though.
They were inspired by New York zines Hamburger Eyes and 8 Ball, punky-looking publications that break with what Hernon and Corcoran both describe as the more glossy, clean-cut aesthetic of magazines like i-D.
They wanted a rougher look, says Hernon.
At first, 1815 was supposed to be every two months but the amount of time it takes to pull it together, line up collaborators, and fine-tune the design means it is less frequent.
When a new issue launches, though, it launches big. “We want people to talk about it,” says Corcoran. “The launch party almost becomes part of each issue I feel.”
They held the first launch at the pool hall on South William Street, which fit the New York theme. The second was a barbecue, and the most recent release was heralded by a magician who performed with the pack of cards that the trio had created.
They have set a target of five issues for 2017, but after that it’s uncertain. “If it puts a massive dent in our pockets, and we’re not getting anything back with any traction, well then maybe that’s it,” says Corcoran.
There’s no point in stopping while there is momentum and regretting it later, though. “We’re only just getting weird with it now,” he laughs.