Jeremy Leslie's magCulture project, which began with his 2003 book, has grown into a creative studio, a brick-and-mortar store, an online shop, and a global community celebrating independent magazines. Leslie shares his entrepreneurial journey, emphasizing the importance of authenticity and customer focus in building a thriving print magazine business. He discusses his creative vision and advice for successfully pursuing one's passion.


270 St John St, London EC1V 4PE


Monday - Saturday | 11am - 6pm
Sunday | Closed



Jeremy Leslie is a leading advocate for the enduring power of print magazines in the digital age. As the founder of magCulture, a multifaceted platform celebrating editorial design and independent publishing, Leslie has created a global community united by a passion for the craftsmanship and creativity behind the world's most innovative publications.

In this interview, we explore the story of magCulture, from its beginnings as a personal blog to its current status as a thriving online shop, brick-and-mortar store, annual conference, and creative studio. Leslie shares his insights on the challenges and rewards of building a business around a creative passion, the importance of fostering community, and the role of independent publishing in shaping our cultural landscape.

Join us as we dive into the world of magCulture with the man who has been at the forefront of celebrating and supporting the art of print for over two decades. Discover the stories, strategies, and spirit that have made magCulture not just a shop, but a global platform for magazine enthusiasts, designers, and makers alike.

Jeremy Leslie

What's the story behind the inception of magCulture?

It's a sort of complicated and organic thing that happened over years. But to go back to the very beginning, it was in 2003 that I published a book called magCulture. That's where the name first appeared. The book was ostensibly about editorial design, but it was also a book about the new generation of independent magazines. It was meant as a response to the endless stories about the supposed "end of print" and how digital was taking over. I kept finding myself at conferences on publishing, standing up and saying, "Look at all these fantastic new print magazines!" while everyone else focused on what could be done on smarthphones.

Although a design book, it equally argued how magazines still mattered – that they were creatively valid and interesting. That ethos underlined the book and everything that's happened since. At that time, I was the creative director making magazines at a big London publisher, John Brown Publishing, and magCulture was just a sideline project.

Were there any specific moments that shaped the early days?

One was definitely the rise of digital and my launching in 2006 as a WordPress blog, initially intended as a research tool for a potential second book. But doing that and experimenting with blogging – it became its own thing that took off at just the right moment. Big publishers were bringing the internet into offices, so there was suddenly an audience of people who wanted to read about magazines online.

The next big moment was when I left my job in 2009 and set up my own studio, called magCulture, since the website already existed. magCulture then had two sides – the blog and the studio work.

But then, jumping ahead to 2014, I began looking for a retail space. I had this thought of having a studio entrance through a shop, as I wanted to produce magazines but also show the behind-the-scenes process. The best way was to have an actual shop. So in 2015, I opened the magCulture shop and workspace here.

magCulture A Sign

What specific themes or concepts did you want to explore through the Studio side?

I studied graphic design, and to me, editorial and magazine design is the starting point – it's where graphic design grew from. Magazines drove experimentation and innovation because they have this duality – you want each issue to be the best it can be, but you get another chance with the next one. There's an immediacy and responsiveness magazines can have that I love.

The way text and image combine with design as content itself for storytelling – that fundamental element of publishing is what it's always been about for me. Over 25 years, I've seen this rediscovery of the joys and power of print, moving away from when magazines became commoditised, thin, floppy products. Now there's a new generation relishing print's physicality and making the most of it. Their magazines have a life and energy to them that joins everything together.

Focusing on the physical space, what challenges did you face in its development?

The first was simply finding the right space. A lot of London shops have the shop on the ground floor with basement storage behind. But I wanted the shop entrance to go into the workspace upstairs, not a basement officespace.

It took time, but we found this 1950s building. I didn't know the area well initially, but it's wonderful – great transport links, nestled between lively neighbourhoods, and even in the old heart of the print industry which is neat synchronicity.

magCulture shop

Did you consider other spaces before this one?

There was one space in Dalston we hoped to get before this, but ultimately an all-night supermarket beat us out, which you could almost see as the inverse of gentrification happening.

What attracted you to this particular space?

While looking at spaces, I thought a lot about how I wanted it to be. This one just felt right – the big window for displaying magazines, the wide pavement outside, and I had this idea for a big magazine shelf on wheels we could move around to transform the space for events.

Interestingly, before we moved in, it was a failing old-fashioned newsagent that barely sold any magazines by the end. But the previous rubber tiled floor was hiding this incredible original terrazzo floor from the 1950s underneath that we restored. It actually became a core part of our brand identity and wrapping paper pattern.

Layout render

So the creative direction was fully yours, or did you work with the studio on designing the retail space?

No, I had the full creative vision. I worked with an architect friend just on technical aspects like insulation and windows. But the overall concept of using Vitsœ shelving to prominently display magazines with clean gallery lighting – that was mine. I wanted it bright and welcoming for people to come browse and linger with the magazines.

Let's discuss those Vitsœ shelves - they're quite striking. Why invest in that specific system versus something more affordable? And what's your approach to adding high-quality design pieces?

I believe you get what you pay for. If you want quality, you need to pay for it – there's no way around it. We had previously partnered with Vitsœ on an event, and I realized how beautifully magazines are presented on their shelving.

This building is classic 1950s modernist architecture, and Vitsœ's design is from that same era under Dieter Rams in 1959. It was made for a space like this. Quality products and quality curation – that's fundamental to us.

Vitsoe shelving
"I believe you get what you pay for. If you want quality, you need to pay for it – there's no way around it."

Regarding the main window, could you elaborate on the creative merchandising approach?

Magazines can be tough to display since they're so small. So, we installed the large Vitsoe shelving units right in the main window as a striking way to showcase rows of magazines. We started by just doing different color themes or seasonal concepts in the windows. But we also use it commercially – the same magazine repeated can look very impactful, so we'll sell window space to publishers.

Do you provide branding guidelines the magazines have to follow?

Not formal guidelines, but the Vitsœ shelves shape how they're displayed. There's just two rows, so the magazines naturally sit well on them. I'd love if brands got more creative, but oftentimes they just supply vinyl window decals centered in the middle, which is fine.

Magculture window

Based on your entrepreneurial experience, what advice would you give someone starting their own small business?

I think launching this public space was very much like publishing a magazine – you have to be the editor, with a clear vision while being able to adapt based on how people react.

The fundamentals have to be right from the start, but then you experiment. If something doesn't work, you can change it. It's about listening and adjusting to how people behave in the space. For example, the idea of having Vitsœ chairs for people to sit and browse unthreatened – that just worked naturally.

Instinct is so important. When I first got the space, a retail expert advised me not to worry about the lighting or floors, which was nonsense. Lighting the hundreds of magazines vibrantly was essential, as was uncovering and restoring this beautiful original terrazzo floor that became part of our brand identity.

You'll get plenty of advice, but you have to know which to ignore or embrace. Go with your gut on capturing the essence of what you're trying to create. Then stay focused but adaptable as you go.

wrapping a magazine
"You'll get plenty of advice, but you have to know which to ignore or embrace. Go with your gut on capturing the essence of what you're trying to create."

Thinking back to before you opened, what advice do you wish you had known?

Just to have fully trusted my instincts from the outset. Of course, you naturally have some anxiety taking on a 10-year lease for a new public space. And you'll have people sharing worried thoughts. But you have to mostly tune that out and concentrate on your core vision.

Once you make the decision to move forward, you set things into motion. Some of it will be unpredictable, but looking back it can feel almost inevitable – of course this would become a hub for people obsessed with magazines and publishing. Trusting your instincts on capturing that essence is key.

magCulture collaborates with various brands. Can you share some notable examples and how they benefited the magCulture brand?

The best collaborations are the authentic, logical ones. We've worked with printers, type foundries, tech companies, breweries, and more. For example, Five Points Brewery in Hackney – they don't have a huge budget for giveaways, but we don't need that either, so partnering on our events makes sense.

Vitsœ is another key partner. Their main London showroom is central, so being listed on their site as an alternative space to see their shelving in-use is mutually beneficial. It aligns with something fundamental to our brand and space.

Park Printers is another – they print many of the independent magazines we sell, so there's natural synergy there. The partnerships that work aren't about slapping logos everywhere, but finding genuine brand connections that feel comfortable and obvious to customers.

Vitsoe chair

What are some best practices for forming successful brand collaborations?

It's like any relationship – start small and build from there. Sometimes it doesn't work out, and that's okay. The key is that neither party should see it as one having the upper hand. When done right, both brands benefit in different ways.

And customers have to view it as an authentic, natural fit. It's about choosing the company you keep carefully. You can't force connections people won't understand or appreciate.

How has customer feedback been over the years?

We've had plenty of lovely feedback and thank yous in the shop over the years, which was really reassuring early on even though we knew our core community would eventually find us. People have responded so positively to experiencing magazines presented in this curated, respectful way that few other spaces provide.

Our team is always welcoming and knowledgeable about our selections, not making people feel they're interrupting. The events we host also always get glowingly positive feedback from attendees who just buzz with feeling engaged and excited around that community.

People have responded so positively to experiencing magazines presented in this curated, respectful way that few other spaces provide.

What kind of events do you host?

We do frequent smaller events here, but also two major annual conferences – magCulture Live in London and New York. They're all-day affairs where we bring together different magazine creators and publishers to speak. The vibe is always incredibly energised and inspiring, with attendees thankful to spend a day immersed in that world.

The New York event spun out of us frequently having US-based speakers come to the London one. We realised we could try building that community further stateside while bringing some European innovators as guests.

magCulture shop

Speaking of the US, have you considered opening a magCulture location in New York?

Constantly – there's certainly an audience and community being built through the New York conference. But the real estate costs are so exorbitant, it's really prohibitive unfortunately.

There are already some great magazine shops in other UK cities we wouldn't want to encroach on either. New York could be justifiable since it's such a global publishing capital, even bigger than London. But it's not easy.

Can the magCulture website and digital presence sufficiently serve that wider global community?

I'd love to do more online, but between the website content like reviews, interviews, our podcast, and the livestreamed events, we do our best to engage that broader audience. And we ship print orders worldwide every day.

I think people resonate with knowing magCulture has a real-world anchor location here. It's not just some anonymous warehouse distribution operation. There's an actual curated space and community behind it all, which helps build trust.

With such diverse reader interests, how does magCulture tailor its offerings for different segments?

That's an interesting question. I'm not sure we explicitly tailor content to different segments, per se. The curation and perspective is really aimed at our overall audience's sensibilities.

Of course, you get customer groups looking for different things – some want mainstream familiar titles, others niche obsessions like football magazines, and then the creatives hunting for what's new and interesting in independent publishing.

But our guiding principle is simple: if we think a magazine has an interesting story behind it worth covering, we'll sell it and share that story with readers. There's a line where we won't sell something too mass-market like GQ though.

At the same time, some magazines people make independently can feel quite derivative and repetitive compared to what we've seen before. Just because it's indie doesn't inherently make it special to us – it has to have an authentic passion and viewpoint behind it that we want to champion.

Vitsoe shelving

One last question: Would you say magCulture has a customer-centric approach?

Absolutely, it's like a magazine itself – nothing without engaged readers. magCulture only exists to serve this community obsessed with beautiful, innovative publications and share our perspective with them. The store, the website, the events, the partnerships – it's all centred around what engages that core audience.

To dive deeper into the world of magCulture follow them on @magculture, and if you find yourself in London, don't miss the chance to visit their inspiring shop in person.

Untold specs


Branding | magCulture
Shop design
| magCulture
Website design | magCulture
Website development
| PixelCabin


Shelves | Vitsœ 606
Side tables | Vitsœ 621 Table
Individual chair | Vitsœ 620 chair
Double chair | Vitsœ 620 chair
Custom wooden display crates | South London Makers
Custom till | South London Makers
Vitsoe movable shelf wall | South London Makers


Tracks | Mr Resistor
Spotlights | Mr Resistor


magCulture SS24 | Spotify Playlist


Sound system | SONOS PLAY:3 Smart Wireless Speaker x3
Projector | Sony VPL-PHZ61 Laser Projector
POS system | Shopify
Ecommerce platform | Shopify

Marketing collateral

Wrapping tissue paper | Noissue
Postcards | Park Communications
| Bilko
Illustrations | Alice Bowsher


Awning | SBI
Window vinyls
| Jay’s Displays
A-board sign
| South London Makers


Desert candle cactus | The Palace Gardener

Walls & Flooring

Coffee gear

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