Beyond Pretty

Interview by Rob Alderson
Photographs courtesy of CEREAL

With its instantly recognisable minimal aesthetic, thoughtful curation and intelligent writing, Cereal magazine is one of the poster boys of the indie magazine golden age. The travel and style journal launched in 2012 and has an interesting and unusual back story, as its founders Rosa Park and Rich Stapleton came from very different backgrounds—fashion and beauty marketing and engineering respectively. Travel is very much part of who they both are though—between them they’ve called ten different countries home—and every issue of their publication explores an eclectic range of locales. The arrival of the tenth volume of Cereal felt like the perfect time to sit down with editor Rosa and creative director Rich to chat about the magazine’s mission, its evolution and getting access to the leader of the free world…

cereal magazine

I really believe that the best magazines have a strong sense of why they exist so let’s start there—why does Cereal magazine exist?

Rosa Park (RP): (laughs) You’re asking that question at an apt time because I am trying to write a manifesto at the moment. It’s a really difficult question to answer because the expectations of what you are trying to achieve are constantly shifting.

It’s the aesthetic I have had my whole life, in all the flats I have ever lived in. I am being very true to myself, as is Rich.

One of the main motivations was to create a travel title that would resonate with our peers. I believe the kind of travel we are vouching for is design-conscious, modern if you will, and slightly more price-conscious than other titles. I think we can come off as a title that is very focused on the way things look and I am happy to back that up—we are both very design-conscious people—but at the end of the day it has to be accessible, so that most people could experience if they are willing to get on a flight or a train.

So even though some things have changed, the core has stayed quite consistent?

Rich Stapleton (RS): Yes, although we have adapted and refined, travel has always been our main bread and butter and I think it always will be.

RP: We iterate but we never deviate very far.

Right from the start Cereal has had a very recognisable aesthetic and a strong visual brand; can you tell us how that developed…

RP: It’s very much a reflection of our personal tastes. If you look at Cereal and think it’s a very minimal, clean title then that’s a fair assessment. I appreciate that seems to be quite prevalent currently and there’s a part of us that gets frustrated to get pigeonholed into this one trend because I don’t think I will ever deviate from that. It’s the aesthetic I have had my whole life, in all the flats I have ever lived in. I am being very true to myself, as is Rich. It was a no-brainer what it would be like because it was what we liked and what we felt comfortable with.

RS: If our tastes evolved, we would change the magazine to reflect that. We never want to feel that we’re tied into anything and we have made small iterations in the look…

RP: They are very minute changes though.

RS: They are, they come about naturally as you evolve as a person.

RP: The thin lines that existed between each letter of our title disappeared for Issue 9. That felt very important to us when we launched but the constant process we go through is taking things away rather than adding…

Read more in The U Press N˚11 (Singapore edition).