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Interview: how we launched our own lifestyle magazine, Aballone

As the end of university crept upon them, BA (Hons) Design for Publishing students Toby McLaren and Hannah Roadknight began to feel nervous about not having a project to pour their focus on to, so they decided to set themselves a brief and launched their lifestyle magazine, Aballone.  We caught up with them to find out what goes into launching a printed publication, how the course helped them along the way and what their vision for the future is.

Tell us a little bit about Aballone

Aballone houses our independent lifestyle magazine, plus a freelance design service and any other events or collaborations we work on.

The concept of a creative space was in our minds for some time as our friendship and design skills developed at uni.

Our aim is to create a tranquil escape from a busy world, through the form of print.

Our first issue explores the work of many creatives and features articles such as our own travel experiences.

Where did the idea for Aballone come from?

We both love print and editorial design. Creating our own magazine means we can continue with our own personal project after university.

Deciding on lifestyle as the theme was pretty instant. However, the name for the magazine was much more difficult to decide on!

We discovered it whilst searching through countless swatches of grey-beige. The swatch we loved the most was called ‘Abalone’.

How did you get from the concept to launching your first issue?

Launching the magazine was one of the biggest learning curves of our lives.

We began the process by speaking with Will Tait in the Ideas Factory. He talked us through all things business and strategy.

As well as this, we created a Kickstarter campaign to raise money for our first print run. We also did lots of social media promotion and marketing. As a result we were able to print enough copies of our magazine with leftovers to sell.

We’ve also launched an online shop, stocking branded carpenter pencils, postcard sets, eco-friendly tote bags and an exclusive gift box.

“Due to the intensity at which we refine our skills and learn about perfecting the smallest details on this course, we felt confident that we could tackle such a momentous brief”

How did you source your content?

We called upon creatives that we knew, which makes this first issue even more personal and special for us both. Some of the content is also our own photography and written pieces. 

We also signed up to Daisie, a platform where creatives can connect and collaborate on various projects.

We posted a call for submission, which resulted in various creatives responding (including an NUA student!) who now feature in issue one.

Additionally we collaborated with Erin Hodgkinson, a BA (Hons) Illustration student. We’ve followed her on Instagram for a while and love her work.

Erin’s work is showcased in issue one, but she also illustrated a series of prints for us, with a nod to Aballone’s identity. 

Should you be interested in submitting content for issue two, or just want to get in contact, please email us at

How has studying Design for Publishing helped with launching Aballone?

We wouldn’t have the skills or understanding of print design to curate an entire magazine without studying Design for Publishing.

Due to the intensity at which we refine our skills on the course as well as the opportunity to work on magazine briefs, we were confident about tackling such a momentous project.

Our lecturers are always ready to find even the smallest details to improve on. Consequently this trained our eyes to the point where we could spot a word that was half a point size too small.

We also learned about the importance of time management and working to a deadline. This is essential for when we order print runs and promote our product.

Personally, where do you see your careers headed?

We are both looking for some design work whilst we work on Aballone and build the business.

Eventually we’d like to make Aballone our full time jobs in some form, be it as a gift/coffee shop or as a freelance design studio.

Either way, we will be designing!

Discover more about Aballone on their Instagram.

Find out more about BA (Hons) Design for Publishing