The story of Rare Swan Press really begins with the launch of LITERATI MAGAZINE online in 2004. Presenting the magazine at the London Book Fair the following year, with nothing in hand but the idea and a web link, was an exceptional experience of the literary community’s generosity, acceptance and support. From my first conversation there, with Alessandro Gallenzi, founder at the time, of Hesperus Books, to Julian Rothenstein, with all his kind advice and introduction to Kate Moss, who was judging Young Publisher of the Year 2005; both of whom gave so generously of their time, to Kate Pullinger and Tim Sparks, whose stories about community and soccer, over lunch in Verona, a few years later, made Literati Magazine’s arrival, one of the most memorable and exceptional experiences of my unconventional publishing career.
The early online editions of Literati Magazine were graced by some of the most respected names in the business; George Szirtes and his wife, artist, Clarissa Upchurch, with whom I did an in-depth interview, Kate Pullinger, who graced me with early views of her innovative interactive, mulit-disciplinary and award-winning story, ‘Inanimate Alice’; to D.J. Taylor, Mario Petrucci and Canadian costume designer, Tara Maginnis, award-winning photographer Dominic Arizona Bonuccelli, the inimitable David Shrigley, and Molly Crabapple: These are a few of the early artistic voices which shaped the early cultural signature of the magazine.
No less remarkable later that summer, was my experience as a brand new ‘small press’ publisher exhibitor at the Book Expo America, in New York. Despite the warm and welcoming reception and a lot of interest in the magazine, the challenges were immediate: My entire consignment was held up in customs until the final day of the book expo. Then came news that the magazine was about to lose its technical and design support. Literati Magazine’s technical and graphic designer Roger Humes, was also the Director of The Other Voices International Project, a cyber-anthology of world poetry, publishing forty-six volumes, showcasing the work of fifteen poets each, from a cross the globe. He shared in Literati Magazine’s vision of a borderless internationally curated journal of cultural artistry. He withdrew due to illness. He passed away after a long battle with cancer in July 2014. Much of Literati Magazine’s visual aesthetic is thanks to that shared, initial vision.
By the end of 2005, and with just four issues under our belt, I was forced to shelve Literati Magazine. It had been in development since 1999. It was a gutting moment. As I had gathered a substantial network of artists, writers, designers and artisanal specialists whose work I still wished to showcase in some way, I found myself at a juncture which began a turbulent eight-year foray, into Entrepeneurship. It was clear to me back then, the only way forward for the luxury industry, was to return to its roots; bespoke design. Little did I realise that this would become my own convoluted return to my literary roots. This is how I began to explore ways of creating a bespoke, 360 degree lifestyle design studio.
My entrepeneurial journey began with LXX PORTFOLIOHOUSE MEDIA AGENCY, which evolved into a series of projects, eventually developing into LLX EMPORIA.
In the early day of “LXX”, I was very fortunate to meet and collaborate with with Tony Dyson (builder of R2D2 Star Wars droid). Meeting him had been an ambition of mine ever since I’d seen the first Star Wars on its release, way back in 1977 and one encounter I never expected to ever ‘come true’. He and I collaborated on a new early series of interactive computer robotic interfaces he’d begun designing. He was living in Malta at the time and he vigilantly ensured I was up in the early hours to work through his inimitable, and often impressive, array of ideas. He sadly passed away in 2016.
LXX EMPORIA became RARE SWAN Ltd and what follows are among the projects and collaborations before the design studio shut its doors and I returned to my literary roots.
The Yangtze River. An Art Commission
Wayne Haag and I collaborated on a commission for an art collector in New York. Wayne’s exceptional talent extends beyond the canvas; we encounter his visionary talent in some of the most recognisable films of the last decade and more. His artistry includes concept art created at Fox Studios, Sydney for The Wolverine 2012, The Alien Covenant. 2016/2017, Run, The Fifth Element, Maze Runner and Lord of The Rings.
Harris Tweed & a Bespoke Fashion Collection
I was approached with a request to consider some ideas of how Harris Tweed might be rebranded in a more contemporary way; Fabric textures were undergoing a textural ‘facelift’ and new machinery opened the scope of the kinds of handwoven material might be possible for new fashion ideas. What transpired was a proposal for a women and men’s fashion collection created around a concept perfume and cologne. in partnership Anne MacCallum, the first woman appointed as General Manager of Carloway Mill in the Outer Hebrides met and we clicked immediately She welcomed my ideas with much support and encouragement. We went on to discuss a bespoke line of special fabrics for the collection, which led me to Paris where I met with fashion expert Christelle Nouviaire. What followed were several very creatively productive meetings, again in Paris, where I met French designer Eva Zengoni. Plans were coming along and the last time I met Anne, was in late 2012, at the Texworld Expo in Paris in 2012 The fabric reveal she’d designed was breathtaking, with a full spectacle of rich peacock feather colour blends. We even discussed doing an Italian tour of the last bastions of handmade silk mills. Anne MacMallum sadly passed away, very unexpectedly in March 2013.
From Ferrari to Fine Art
French film-maker, poet and installation artist, Jean-Noel Chazelle approached me with a concept for a paire of free-standing art frames to enable a 360 degree experience of an artwork. The bespoke, ‘free-standing’ Brandoli- Ferrari Art Frames, were the result. Designed and handmade by Roberto Brandoli and his father at their Vintage & Classic Ferrari Car Restoration garage, south of Modena, in northern Italy. The frames went on show at Jean-Noel Chazelle’s exhibition at the ‘Eternamé Boudoir’ jewelry studio in Paris.
The Voronnoi, The Super Yacht
Rare Swan Ltd represented Hyun-Seok Kim and his concept mega yacht, The Voronnoi, a 125m long Super Yacht at the International Yacht & Aviation Awards 2012. Shortlisted for the Design of The Year: Super Yacht Class. Designer : Hyun-Seok Kim
Acknowledgements with Gratitude
Losing close associates, each of whom become close friends as they give so much of their experience and expertise, in helping one shape an idea into something real, is a difficult experience to process, most especially because so much vibrant talent and beautiful human energy dissipates in an instant and your find yourself left behind in a shadow, the air within which is filled with resounding silence. Roger, Anne and Tony were individually brilliant and my gratitude for their friendship, love and faith, lives on in Rare Swan Press
The generosity of consultants, designers, inventors and artists throughout this process has meant a great deal; among them my gratitude goes out to Montegrapp (Original Writing Instruments, Italy), Christelle Nouviaire, (Luxury Fashion, Paris) Marc Faltheim (Financial Advisor), Eva Zingoni (Fashion Designer), Ivan Venkov (Concept Product Designer), Vicki Smith (Jewelry Designer), Ivo Hristov (Muralist and Designer), Hedes Andresen, (Inventor and Designer), Colin Morris (Architect Extraordinaire), Sarah Williams ( handmade leather goods), John De Pue (Dancer and Choreographer, Roberto Brandoli and his father (Vintage & Classic Ferrari Car Restorers), Jean-Noel Chazelle ( Artist & Poet), Hyun-Seok Kim ( Industrial & Concept Designer), Shan Gao ( GM OMG-Asia Media Group) and not least Mike Nicholson ( International Business Development) who guided and advised me from the very beginning.
From LXX EMPORIA to RARE SWAN PRESS
LXX EMPORIA / Rare Swan Ltd officially closed in late 2013. Rare Swan Press took its place in 2015 with the publication of the collaborative poetry collection, “20/20”, with award-winning Croatian-American award-winning poet and Professor Emeritus, Mario Susko. The collection explores love, family and alienation in times of war and exile.
Literati Magazine Makes A Comeback
With the launch of LITERATI MAGAZINE on Medium in 2016/17, Rare Swan Press took over the publishing reigns and began working towards creating a collaborative publishing platform. RARE SWAN PRESS shares an old-fashioned love affair with, and a deep belief in books. We happily go against the grain. As a new, boutique independent press, we seek to discover and celebrate literary and artistic authenticity. Roots are everything to flight. Our mission is to be a collaborative home to beautiful, engaging and memorable storytelling, ingenuity and artistic fearlessness.
During the 2020 Covid-19 Lockdown, Rare Swan Press was approached by both Book Hub Publishing Group and 100 Words of Solitude which led to the the production of four books. It a great pleasure to count both teams as collaborative partners.
With increasing queries from artists, poets and writers, Rare Swan Press is expanding its publishing portfolio during 2022. Authorial Services, now includes editing and manuscript development as well as courses.
Query letters for proposed projects are always welcome. Please be aware we need to be very selective as we are a small team. See Submissions & Guidelines for further information or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
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