Dumbo Feather has been passed on

Dumbo Feather, formerly Dumbo Feather Pass It On
Issue 27, Second Quarter, 2011, RRP $15AUD
Published by Berry Friedmann, Edited by Patrick Pittman, Art Director Stuart Geddes
ISBN 1838 7012 27

A commentary

One was invited to see in the latest, and relaunched edition of the magazine, book come publication – Dumbo Feather.

The brainchild of passionate do-it-yourself publisher, editor, sweeper to publication creator – Kate Bezar, Dumbo Feather over seven years is now an amazing twenty seven issues deep. Berry Libermann, the publication’s publisher shared a brief story with the group of how the transition came to be. In short, over bouncing babies and coffee, Kate told Berry that she needed to retreat from the publication, potentially conclude the venture and embrace a new location and parenthood. Kate propositioned how and who could continue this project, Berry and Danny had an idea.

Several months passed and issue 27 came together. What strike’s one is the new Dumbo Feather cover. There is still the familiar uncoated papers and book-like feel, however the characteristic cover formula of people photographs without people is gone, the title is shorted to just ‘Dumbo Feather’, the overall size has changed and there is printed graphic treatment of spine tape eluding to the publication’s bookish qualities. The text pages reveal more change, as an advertising style of typography and layout, gives way to the rich tradition of publication design by new Art Director Stuart Geddes.

Geddes is renowned in the publishing world for his flexing of a detailed and varied type sense, across a robust and highly considered grid. Title pages are curious type reversal on obscure textures and full page pictures, typographically highlighted questions and pull-outs jump out in obscure colour ways. Thumbing through the publication one is greeted by a mix of image and type rich pages, contrasted by stark white text pages, where short bold questions are chased by answers in lighter, mostly multiple paragraphs of text. A dozen or so, Segues and short articles interrupt the five profiles, allowing the reader to skim and discover desirable text grabs. The layered editorial presentation are spaced by generous dashes of full bleed pictures detailing landscapes, portraits, glimpses and folly.

Patrick Pittman as editor promises a publication where everything has changed and yet remains the same – In Pittman’s words, or there about – it’s a publication which through big stories and small ones, tell the story of our changing world, in the words of the people changing it. Dumbo Feather’s people don’t need to be famous, they just have to be people worth knowing, scoured from all corners of the globe. Four of the five profiles live up to that promise of depth, however the text piece on Micheal Isaachsen by Jessica Friedmann doesn’t come close to the depth of the opening piece on founder Kate Bezar.

As many publication team will attest, it takes several issues, rather than issue one to tell the story of a new, or evolving publication. Overall the first publication from the new editorial team heralds and sets an exciting presentation and detailed editorial directions. The coming issues and ongoing feedback from Dumbo Feather’s loyal subscription base will allow the new crew a unique opportunity to refine and tune the publication in finding the balance of content, subject and presentation. As one of Australia’s or Oceania’s few quality people publications, one would hope that a healthy proportion of the people profiled have origins, connections and journeys linked to Australia and Oceania; it is such content that will truly give the publication a sense of place. There are also too few publications profiling people from this part of the world, made in this part of the world.

The changing of editorial direction and location brings with it an exciting opportunity for a Melbourne team to couple with the insights of product born in Sydney to create a publication which takes the best of both spaces; an Australian publication with glamor, serendipity and abandon crossed with rigor, detail and thoughtfulness.

All that is left is to spend a little, subscribe, read on, participate and pass it onto a friend – Australian people publications can be much more than a free magazine that comes with the weekend paper, it is here at just AU$15 inclusive of GST.