Time Out’s art director on orchestrating an illustrated love letter to London for its last print issue

If you haven’t yet spotted a copy of London Rising out in the wild (find out where to nab yourself a copy here), in this issue, you can expect love letters to London from writers and comics, plus a summer guide and a look into how our city is rewilding itself. On the cover front, Lakwena imagines London as a paradise, Hassan Hajjaj illustrates London through friend and local, Blaize, Hackney Dave sees London as an ever-evolving organic entity, while Kris Andrew Small sums up the city’s energy, colour, mess, and beauty.
Throughout the cover commissioning process, Bryan was faced with perhaps an even more overwhelming prospect: how do you orchestrate a finale for 54 years of printed publishing? While London Rising does mark the close of a chapter for Time Out, Bryan stresses that half the battle comes from keeping one eye on the next one. “Although Time Out is ending its regular print magazine, the brand and its mission aren’t going anywhere. All the funny, informative and visually compelling content the printed magazine was always known for will now carry on digitally. So we wanted these last covers, and the whole issue, to be really positive and looking to the future”, showing “that it was – to some extent – business as usual.” While pulling together the issue, Bryan was also designing a brand new daily email – launched just two days after London Rising went to print – then polishing off the first-ever digital Time Out cover shoot that afternoon in Stoke Newington.
London Rising also meant Bryan got to do what most art directors can only dream of in this lifetime: “hav[ing] a pocket full of blank cheques to commission whoever the hell I wanted (within reason!).” As expected, this culminated in a mammoth amount of commissioning; aside from the four cover artists, Time Out worked with Jimmy Turrell, Eynon Jones, Toby Triumph and Kezia Gabriella for features within the issue.
As for us, we’re just hopeful Bryan’s inbox gets some respite soon: “My God, the amount of emailing I had to do. The back and the forth,” the art director recounts. “I basically can’t type anymore. That’s why I’m dictating this to the editor while lying on a chaise longue.”