In My Opinion: Neil Braidwood: Scotland’s magazines sector

I HAVE been involved with the Scottish branch of the Professional Publishers Association (PPA) for over 15 years, now.

Last month, I became chair of PPA Scotland, and I am proud to head an organisation that counts such diverse magazines as Fusion Flowers and Urology News as some of the titles produced by members.

PPA Scotland supports a growing community of more than 200 magazine publishers in Scotland, publishing in the region of 700 titles (with associate members like printers and universities also involved) – all sharing information and resources within our wee group held together by a love of magazines.

To expand our network and connect with other creative media industries, we held a drinks reception last month for members and non-members alike down at the Creative Exchange in Leith, and as part of the event we collaborated with Edinburgh College’s illustration course.

Graduates and alumni from the course exhibited their work around the walls – showing off their undoubted skills, and hoping to impress the gathered publishers and art directors present.

Illustration used to be an integral part of the magazine process – for instance, DC Thomson had many in-house illustrators, and freelancers used to turn work away – but this was before digital photography, and the rise of royalty-free images.

Many publishers overlook illustration as an option, either because they don’t have the time or the know-how to commission someone.

Many of the conversations I had with the graduates on the night were about getting a meeting with an art-director in the first place.

For my own part, I rarely get any calls from illustrators, but, if I did, I would love the chance to see their work, hear the stories behind it, and see how they could help me develop my magazines to another level.

I hope other publishers feel the same, and give illustration a chance again.

At the reception, I unveiled some plans that PPA Scotland has to create an International Magazine Centre right here in Scotland. Currently, the plans are at embryonic stage; however, we have raised the money to implement a feasibility study to answer some of the burning questions behind the project.

The centre isn’t going to happen overnight, but the ultimate aim is to heighten awareness of the magazine industry – particularly here in Scotland, and to create a hub for the Creative Media Industries.

There will be space enough for exhibitions and events, such as our own, homegrown Magfest (this year, happening on 18 September), which attracts international speakers and explores new developments in the magazine world.

There will be an archive of magazines, celebrating the rich heritage we have – stretching right back to arguably the world’s first magazine still in production today, The Scots Magazine (est. 1739).

There would be office space, a café, a shop – the possibilities open to us are huge.

If you love magazines as much as we do at PPA Scotland, buy a ticket to Magfest, email us your ideas for our International Magazine Centre, and if you publish your own magazine – why not think about joining us?

Neil Braidwood is director of CMYK Design and chair of PPA Scotland

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For information on PPA membership please contact business manager, Nikki Simpson, at

To enquire about the illustration course at Edinburgh College, contact Glen MacBeth on