The Making of a Magazine: Coilhouse Issue 01

This here’s a scan of a wet proof of the cover of Coilhouse Magazine, Issue 1. What is a wet proof, you ask? It’s a magazine prototype made using offset printing plates, with exactly the same inks, on paper with exactly the same thickness and finish as your entire print run. We didn’t know this term when we jumped into the process of printing. There were many such new terms – exotic publishing/typographic words like “ozalids” and “boustrophedon”. But we learned them all, and much more, in the process of putting together Issue 1. There were epiphanies, mistakes (to our high-school readership: math and geometry class are important), and magical 3:00 a.m. moments when it all came together.

Until the launch date, our lips are sealed regarding Issue 1’s content. The number of pages, the design, the art, the stories, the texture… all will be revealed. For now, we offer but a sneak peek in this “Behind the Scenes” post. Take a stroll through the hot dog factory with us!

Nadya works closely with an illustrator on a concept for a music feature.

When we first began this process, the entire staff sat down over milkshakes and batted around various ideas for Issue 1. Sifting through one another’s proposed articles, we gradually determined what to keep and what to discard or save for a future issue. After that meeting, we worked independently to develop the content, collaborating closely with our contributors.

Zoetica rescues an unfinished layout in the 11th hour.

We hit a snag when our original designer jumped ship. To the venerable List of Craig we went! Our search for a replacement – wherein we naively inquired after fellow lovers of Tschichold and Lissitzky – nearly induced epilepsy as we were forced to endure one blinking Flash website after another. Finally, we found a diamond in the rough: Cecilia Melli, a stylish Italian who understood what we were doing and was willing to work for what were, in retrospect, slave wages considering the amount of work that she did. In the end, even she couldn’t finish all the layouts, and in certain cases we were forced to take matters into our own hands.

L: Experiments with bar code location. R: Avg. # of mistakes per page.

Thus began the most painful and labor-intensive part of the process. Spacing adjustment, color correction, font changes, final grammar checks and last-minute image swaps all took place during this step. There was at least one copy, typography or image revision on every single page. Some pages took hours. A particularly impressive clusterfuck occurred with the crop marks; the entire document had to be resized. Well, it was a great way to really learn InDesign! Trial by fire.

They’re printing! They’re actually printing!

We were awful first-time print clients blessed with a very loving, patient, attentive print company. Not “mean” awful, just clueless and scared. These guys really took care of us; they patiently answered every question, pointed out and sometimes fixed design issues that even we didn’t notice, and even humored our request to snap some photos of the printing process for posterity. At every step, they sent us materials to approve. First, paper samples, then a blank dummy magazine, then digital proofs, then ozalids, some wet proofs, the running sheets, and finally some advance copies. A funny thing happened here: when the advance copies were shipped to us, 27 out of 75 were stolen. Our distributor got one of the boxes 1/3 empty, but the printer sent us a fax of the FedEx shipment record that made it clear that all the issues were shipped. We’ll never know who was behind the heinous theft, FedEx or U.S. Customs. Hey, we’ll take the compliment.

And now it’s almost time to share it all with you. The feeling we have as this process approaches completion goes beyond the euphoria of bearing fruit in a 3a.m. delirium. It’s more than mere satisfaction, or pride. This has been a priceless learning process for everyone involved. Beyond printing jargon and exploring new technology, we’re walking forward armed with experience – something no amount of pre-production research could supply. In just a few days, thousands of copies of Coilhouse arrive in Los Angeles. Shortly afterward, we’re throwing a launch party in LA (Cali readers: you’re all coming, or else). And then, the moment we’ve all been working towards/waiting for will finally arrive (drum roll, please): the magazine will become available to you on this site.

Can we get a hell yeah?

Hell yeah.

We’ll be telling you more in the coming weeks. Meantime, this is all you get!

59 Responses to “The Making of a Magazine: Coilhouse Issue 01”

  1. Jon Munger Says:

    Congratulations, guys. You’re all enormously talented people and I can’t wait to read what you have to say.

  2. Ben Morris Says:

    I am very much looking forward to this. I know it will be full of artistry, amusement, and awesome.

  3. Olivia Says:


    Sometimes thats all you can say.

  4. Ruairi Says:

    I’m looking forward to it… are your distributors going to take you as far as Ireland or should I place an order somewhere? This is exciting!

  5. Nadya Says:

    Hey Ruairi (and others who have this question)! Here are the answers:

    1. We will have international distribution, but I’m not sure if it’ll make it to Ireland with Issue 1. London, maybe.

    2. But – you will be able to order it from the site, no matter where in the world you live!

  6. Adam Rice Says:

    I am intrigued by your views and wish to subscribe to your newsletter.

  7. Jami Says:

    I am giddy with anticipation. :)

  8. Beth Says:

    HELL yeah!

  9. benjabimon Says:

    zomg stop teasing us >_<

  10. Charles Says:

    I’m jealous that your designer gets to work on something so cool looking. Good luck.

  11. Mer Says:

    Nadya, do we HAVE a newsletter??

  12. Alice Says:

    Congratulations, all! I can’t imagine how hard everyone at Coilhouse had to work for this, but I can only say that I’m jealous of you for getting to labor over something you truly love!

    …and as a fretting design student, this post has been MOST interesting!

  13. Erin Says:

    Eeeee! For all that is shiney, floating and rotund, I am infinitely excited and happy for you guys. Not to mention proud. I’ve read Coilhouse from day 1 and I’m so glad that the print edition has come to fruition so quickly. Also, as a future member of the publishing field myself, I can’t help but feel jealous and intrigued by the entire process.

    I’ve patiently waited thus far, but I must say, once my copy(ies) are ordered and in the mail, it’s going to be hard sleeping. Thanks for all of your hard work on this, and allowing all of us to share in the vision. ;)

  14. Molly Crabapple Says:

    Fuck yeah- this made me tear up a little. I’m so proud to know you guys and see Coilhouse evolve. As a fellow DIY publishing person, I know well the traumas of it, but it is so so worth it at the end. May Coilhouse bring you lots of joy.

  15. David Forbes Says:

    Well done. Founding, writing, designing and getting to press a publication like this is a challenging task with a whole company and a score of minions behind it, let alone doing it with a small, dedicated crew. All of you have reason to be very, very proud.

    I can’t wait to hold a copy in my hands.

  16. melanija Says:

    I’ve been waiting for this since I first found this site, I’m so excited!

  17. R. Says:

    Woo! Congratulations! I cannot wait to have a copy. It’s going to be the amazing to see the finished product. You should all be extremely proud and elated. :D

  18. Terra Trouvé Says:

    fucking YEAH!
    well done guys.
    i await the hardcopy with much anticipation.

  19. Ruairi Says:

    Thanks Nadya. One way or the other, I’ma coil teh house!

    (oh god… I apologise for that one. I did say I was excited. Lets all be friends and write it off, eh?)

  20. Io Says:

    I cannot wait. I saw the blurb in the recent Marquis, too….it’s wonderful to have have had some tiny part in this venture. I’m honored, and I know it will be beautiful.

  21. Nadya Says:

    @ IO: ORLY? I didn’t see any blurb! What did they say? I will have to thank Peter. He actually helped us out big-time, early in the process! They’ve been wonderful.

  22. Skerror Says:

    HELL YEAH! It looks gorgeous. This is far and away the most psyched I’ve ever been for a magazine. Way to go team Coilhouse!

  23. Bridget Says:

    Oh hell yeah!! Does this mean I can get Coilhouse delivered to my New York door?

  24. { ? } Says:

    oh my oh my! how exciting!
    i remember in a design lecture at uni they were talking about offset, digital and prepress printing… i had no idea what was going on haha

  25. Brock McCoy Says:

    Supervillian Survival Tips..finally, a magazine I can make use of.

    Did someone say party?

    I look forward to the future.

  26. desmo Says:


    I work in publishing and the amount of work that it takes to create a magazine from the ground up is staggering. The little glimpses look amazing. I can’t wait to see it in living color.

  27. Sera Noise Says:

    How exciting! I can’t wait for the final product.
    Yay ~ many congratulations on your hard work.
    You have certainly made many of us very very happy!

  28. D Says:


  29. Katherine Says:

    Personally I just want to say THANK YOU for making such a wonderful website and apparently a magazine…which I’m sure will be just as magical. IF NOT MORE. I live in a tiny and cow filled town in Oklahoma…even though my family is from Germany…and it’s hard because no one here shares similar interests as me. I can’t go around talking about how spiffy Rodchenko’s jumpsuits were or the wonderfully bizarre films of David Lynch. People will just look at you like you are crazy then call you a Nazi or something along those lines. I love this website because I have yet seen an article on here that doesn’t interest me…and that feels nice. I shall end this long comment and just sum it up by saying THAAAANK YEEEEEEEW once again.

  30. OneOfThem Says:

    Denmark need this!!
    Where can I get it!
    *Starts running in circles….*

  31. Nadya Says:

    OneOfThem & Bridget: You will be able to get it delivered to your door from this site!

    Mer: Nope. Hey, let’s make one. :)

  32. Tequila Says:

    It all comes to life before our many eyes…a bit cool that. More so since I first heard about this project through a throwaway comment a friend made…now it not only has a cover…but a pretty damned awesome one at that. Many congratulations to all involved…no doubt it’ll be a worthwhile read. I see myself ordering quite a few copies…and looking for it on newsstands.

    “…Shortly afterward, we’re throwing a launch party in LA (Cali readers: you’re all coming, or else)…”

    I see many “Oh I’m (insert user name)” type introductions. Fingers crossed for an open bar! :P

  33. Andy Kelly Says:

    Awesome! I’m psyched, congrats on all the fine work.

    I’d mentioned this to one of the fine editorial team in the comments a while back, but I work in a bookstore and want very badly to get this into our store. [we just won Boston Magazine’s Best of 2008 for store in which to buy Magazines] I will subscribe but I want to be able to get the word out in the store too, when you can, please let me know what distributor you’re working with so I can convince the management to let me stock it. Thanks!

  34. Jessica Says:

    Hell YEAAAAAAAH! *cues the Coilhouse dancing girls*

    So, so, SO excited to see it!!!
    P.S. Sorry ’bout stealing those copies at customs…I just couldn’t wait any longer!

  35. hellisforhipsters Says:

    Wonderful news! Do let us know if/when you get a stockist in London, and I’ll dash up to the smoke… otherwise I shall place an order with you guys. Well done!

  36. Ben Johnson Says:

    Congratulations, ladies.

    But when are you going to have an event in San Francisco?

  37. intrikate88 Says:

    Hell effin’ YEAH.

    That’s so exciting, watching a magazine come together and seeing the shiny new issue lying there on your desk. I can’t wait to get my copy and drool all over your hard work! Congratulations, all of you. :D

  38. el Says:

    amazing! i can’t wait to get my copy (i’ve been very patient).
    and of course i’ll be at the party; i wouldn’t dare fail to follow an order from nadya..

  39. Exiled Says:

    Is that “supervillian” or “supervillain”?

    I’m not acquainted with the first term, and just assumed it was a typo. If that’s the case, you might want to have a chat with your publishers.

  40. q gauti Says:

    er, .. i kind of wondered what was with the villian part.

  41. Mer Says:

    Is that “supervillian” or “supervillain”?


  42. Nadya Says:

    OH no! It’s Dyslexic Mna! And our worst fear next to the entire shipment blowing up in transit just came true. “Awsome.” We all looked at that cover hundreds of times, but somehow we missed it. Just got off the phone with Mer. We were both laughing and crying. Oh well, too late to do anything else but own it and move forward.

    Thanks for noticing. :)

  43. Ben Johnson Says:

    There’s a story about how it used to be that the master weavers of Persia would always intentionally drop a mistake into every rug, because only God was allowed to make something perfect. As the rappers say, act like ya know.

  44. Christiane Says:

    it looks so awesome! well done to all of you! very excited to see it :)

  45. Tequila Says:

    Look how many of us didn’t even notice it. Say it’s a very ancient spelling that’s an inside joke…or better still be cocky and say that’s how it SHOULD be spelled.

    I’m willing to wear a t-shirt that says “supervillian” in support.

  46. foxtongue Says:

    My heart wants to burst, I’m so bloody proud of you cats! How fabulous, too, that there’s a typo on the cover. How absolutely charming. It’ll be a collector’s edition, fo sho! Love, love love.

  47. Jessica Says:

    I read it as a newly minted word…not a typo…

  48. Vivacious G Says:

    *claps hands in spastic, disturbing flurry of motion

  49. Nadya Says:

    Aw, you guys are so sweet. :)

    I wonder if there’s time to print up some stickers…

    Hurry… while supplies last!

  50. Io Says:

    Nadya: Oh, it was just pimpin’ ya and described the whole Coilhouse project as “very exciting.” Page 109 of issue 44! :)

  51. xora Says:

    i’m so freak’n impatient
    we are about to be slllaaayyeeeddd

  52. Skerror Says:

    A true supervillain always puts “I” first anyway…gotta look out for number one ;)

  53. Shay Says:


    It looks so awesome.. Reminiscent of ye old OMNI and MONDO2000 magazines (may their souls RIP).

    I have a tiny aching fear in my tiny-achy heart that COILHOUSE will not be available on the international market. Any news on distribution? I needs me some COILHOUSE. Hell, ship my way, I’ll subscribe.

  54. William Kiesel Says:

    OK guys,

    Why am I reading the invite for the launch party on Warren Ellis’ blog before here?!

    I want to come!

  55. Peter S. Says:

    Christ, I’m just struggling to assemble a decent portfolio. A magazine? The persistence, energy and talent involved boggles the mind. You deserve all the praise here and more.

    As for typos, you haven’t lived until you’ve seen an architect (or architecture student) realize they’re standing in front of a board emblazoned with the phrase A NEW URBAN FROM in 400pt type. Better yet, a good friend of mine who also lurks about these parts was once upon a time a worker at Photo DriveUp, in charge of the copiers too nice to put in the hands of the masses. A young professional came in one day with a resume and a stack of pricey paper. As Mike loaded up the copier, he took a gander at the resume & did a double take. He paused, turned back to the hopeful professional and said, deadpan, “Sir, you might want to put the ‘L’ back in ‘public relations’ before I run these.”

    As an aside, have you looked at any of the works (nearly all unbuilt) by architect Lebbeus Woods? (Mer, Nils may still have the short book War And Architecture. I gave him a copy at the Doug Fir gig.)

  56. la mome neant Says:

    I can’t wait to buy my own copy of Coilhouse!!!

  57. Shannon Says:

    Can’t wait. We’ll be there!!

  58. lucylle Says:

    Lovely preview! I’m really looking forward to flipping through Coilhouse without any computer involved in the process…. incidentally, I’m also rather proud that you ended up with a designer from my hometown! :-)

  59. Claire Says:

    Absolutely delighted to see this project bearing fabulous, glossy fruit, and so soon! And as (yet another) reader who works in publishing myself, I am well aware of the bloody-minded determination and hard work that you must have put into getting this out.
    I would dearly love to have a copy to hold in my grubby little paws, but alas, I live in the outskirts of obscurity (Scotland). My cup of joy would overflow if I were to possess one.
    It will be mine – oh yes, it will be mine.