Ossian is a literature and arts magazine ‘concerned with the contemporary sentiment.’ It brings together fiction, essays, journalism and comics with the aim of bridging the gaps in a diverse cultural scene. It seeks to show that everything is part of the bigger picture – no matter how incoherent that picture appears to be.
It is named after the legendary bard Ossian, who was claimed by scholar James Macpherson in the eighteenth century to be the author of a cycle of epic Gaelic poems. Although now generally believed to be a fabrication of Macpherson’s own making, Ossian’s poems gained huge popularity when they were first ‘unearthed.’ This, combined with the heated discussion around their authenticity, made Ossian a literary, political and cultural phenomenon at the very same time.
In the same way we want Ossian, the magazine, to be a catalyst for debate and exchange, bringing diverse cultural forces into contact with one another. To do that we champion long-form works that touch on all subjects and genre, from current affairs to timeless fiction. We know no brow, putting alternative comics on a level footing with ‘serious’ literature – while showing ‘being serious’ does not always require a straight face.
Our first issue was launched in April this year at Skoob Books, one of London’s much loved secondhand bookshops. Contributors to the first include journalists Billy Briggs and Christopher Silver, comic artist Rachel Sale, writer Camilla Brown, artist Iva Yos and many more, who deal with everything from the perils of so-called cultural capital in Dundee to what universal design means for public health services in India. You can read more about Ossian, The First over on our website.
Now with this inaugural issue under our belts, our sights are firmly set on issue two – which we can only achieve with your help.
What to expect from the second issue
One of the aims for our second issue is to broaden the scope of our comics coverage, and to help us with this we’ve brought in comic artists Bridget Meyne – who has also drawn the cover – and Jaakko Pallasvuo. At the same time we’re carrying on with our commitment of bringing together new and established voices, young and old, who write on an eclectic range of subject matter from the psychology of translation to the political undercurrents of Japanese anime.
Some of our other contributors to the next issue, in their own words:
David Gow, former European Business Editor for the Guardian: "I ask the question: is Scotland ready to become a full EU member state in its own right, or does it have to raise its game substantially before it can even countenance it?"
Tony O’Donnell, ex-BBC and news agency journalist and former staffer at the European Parliament and Commission: “How does the dominance of the English language influence our preconception of world events and, in turn, shape diplomacy? In this light I examine the crucial and yet often unsung role played by linguists in mediating international affairs."
Urshita Gautam: “On a journey from Tokyo to Kyoto, I engage with the notion that imposing cultural identity onto the 'other' – in this case the 'Japanese-ness' of anime – is circumvented when attention shifts to a more personal and internal direction.”
Ethan Davison, Brooklyn-based writer and graduate of Columbia's fiction MFA: "Are we just stumbling around in the dark, our taste inevitably linked to our own sentiments, fixations and cultural prejudices – useless as a measure of value? My stories are attempts to describe this kind of problem and come up with wild, thought-provoking answers."
Maria McLintock, Assistant Curator at the Design Museum: "Here I write on the physical and non-physical architectures of Northern Ireland’s border, as the present ‘backstop’ collapses a century’s history into abstract terminology."
The first issue of Ossian was only made possible by personal savings and the generous contributions of writers and artists who offered their time and work for free. By supporting our campaign, you ensure we can grow Ossian not only as a platform for great new writing and art, but one that is able to pay its contributors for their hard work. Costs are always difficult for small volunteer-run publications, and expecting people to work for nothing is too often the norm. We want to do the best we can to buck that trend, and show the importance of rewarding intellectual and artistic labour its due.
Alongside content, your pledges will go a long way towards the overall production costs of the magazine, including shipping and printing. Any additional profits from the campaign will help us increase our print run, widen our distribution, and allow us to host events for the magazine across the UK.
Meet the team
The team behind Ossian all met while studying at the Royal College of Art. Before the magazine they collaborated on various projects together, including the revival of the first student newspaper at the college since the 1980s.
David McAllister is a writer and designer. He was formerly Editorial Assistant for the Royal Academy of Arts Magazine, and now works on delivering the RA’s academic programme. Brett Walsh is an artist, writer and filmmaker who currently coordinates the cultural events programme at The British Library. Niyoshi Shah is a writer and researcher on the arts, design and culture, with a special focus on India. She has edited various publications, including Near, Variations and The Pluralist, among others. Maria Pestana Teixeira is a graphic designer who has worked in London, New York and Lisbon, with clients ranging from big companies to independent artists.
The rewards: postcards, prints and portraits
All backers, no matter the pledge, will have the chance to have their name printed in the back of the second issue, as a huge thank you for supporting Ossian at this early stage in our development.
In addition to copies of Ossian, The Second, we also have copies of the first issue, artist's prints, postcards and more to give away.
Joshua Carlisle, our cover artist for issue one, has made a series of illustrated postcards based on the same theme, ‘In Bloom’ – inspired by the cross-pollination we hoped to instil within its pages.
We have a selection of artist's risograph prints up for grabs. All prints are signed by the artists and limited to 25 editions each. As well as the prints below we also have two mystery prints, one of which you can nab via our Lucky Dip pledge. If you choose our Absolutely Everything! pledge, you’ll get one of each print plus both mystery prints, giving you five prints in all. Prints are slightly larger than A3 and will be sent in a tube.
From first to last:
My Experience of America by Rachel Sale: “Did you ever go to an American restaurant and think, ‘woah, there’s one too many wooden panels in this room’?”
Guest on Earth V by Lucas Breuer: “This is from a series of photographs to do with what it means to be seeing from the outside. I found when you are in a foreign place for the first time, things can start to look very abstract.”
Ways of Bathing by Tuomas Kortteinen: “The Voynich manuscript is an encyclopaedia from the 15th century, handwritten in an unknown language and script. Please hang this print in the foyer of your sauna.”
For our highest pledge, fashion illustrator Jessica Rose Bird will draw you a specially commissioned portrait, of either yourself or a nominated person (based on a photograph sent to the artist). This is your chance to have an original, one of a kind work of art by a talented artist, either for yourself or as a great gift.
All our backers will be invited to join us for the official launch of Ossian, The Second in October, venue TBA.
In the meantime...
Risks and challenges
Through putting together the first issue of Ossian, we have established a solid foundation from which we can build and expand the magazine. We have the team and the editorial process in place, as well as a good relationship with our printers who know our requirements. For the second issue we have already secured our complete list of writers and artists who will contribute to the mag on condition that our campaign is successful, with a launch date due for around October 2019.
As an independent magazine run by volunteers, the main challenges for the publication remain distribution and building our audience. By helping us cover costs at this early stage in our development, you will allow us to commit more time to approaching shops and getting the magazine out there.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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