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Subject: Robert Loeber – art director for The Albion
What, if any, parallels could you draw between design and bike/ BMX riding?
They’re both major creative outlets. Any sport not governed by a coach/mentor will evidently allow individuals to put their own touch on things. It’s the freedom to experiment that often results in innovation and progression. There’s the obvious areas of both design and riding that fall into the more commercial or athletic, but there’s always people doing things differently. To break it down to it’s most basic form: they’re both ways of expressing yourself.
How could you describe the approach of The Albion’s content and design?
From day one the major goal was to create something different. A publication we could all be proud of and something to showcase our lifelong love in the best way. It was clear from day one we needed to take a more adult approach to the magazine’s design. With strong ideas and a more in depth editorial, it was obvious the design needed to reflect this. Aimed at a slightly older demographic, the layout is consistent, considered and clean. That being said it’s never a healthy thing to get too complacent with the layout. I’m constantly tweaking and breaking the rules I’ve set myself to move the magazine forward. No one wants to see the same layout month in month out, it needs to develop.
Is there a particular approach to layout?
It all depends on the content. I have a seasonal style that I start with then tailor that to each major editorial. Reading the text before hand is important to me. If it’s relevant I can normally grasp the basic running order of the photos or if anything needs to run bigger than others. From then on it’s more a case of problem solving within the confines of the page count and words. I want to display all the information as clearly as possible while also running all the photos as large as possible. It’s a bit of a juggling act.
The Albion’s photography is always strong, who shoots for you?
The publication is mainly made up of our main staff photographers Daniel Benson (Editor-in-Chief), George Marshall (Associate Editor) and Steve Bancroft (Associate Editor). It’s a small operation with those three often shooting and doing the majority of editorial content for each article during the issue. On top of that we also have a good group of contributing photographers/writers from all over the world. To list off a few we have Scott Marceau, Chris Marshall, Vincent Perraud, Sandy Carson, Kyle Emery Peck, Devon Denham, Cody Nutter and Joe Cox. The list goes on.
Do you pursue any particular subject matter beyond the obvious?
We’re always pushing our editorial endeavours. It’s where we’re very lucky not being restricted to a publishing house. There’s a lot of things in a our small sport people seem to overlook and brush aside. We’re sometimes seen as controversial in printing these things. It’s a free press and we want to open eyes to all aspects of our sport.
How do you regard the printed publication industry at the moment?
It’s a tough industry to be in especially producing a ‘FREE’ bi-monthly magazine. On a positive note it seems to have seen a real resurgence in recent years. With everything going digital people are putting much more effort into anything for print. I feel everyone and everything involved, from the photographer, writer, designer and even the subject matter, needs to make it count a bit more. It seem things have a really short shelf life online and so we really want to do something people will remember if it’s going to be in print.
What would you say about the state of BMX’ing right now?
BMX has come a long way in the past decade. The sport has grown, parts are better and people are still surprising me. In the grand scheme of things it’s very young. It seems times are tough right now for our small sport.
What is ‘progressive’ riding in your eyes?
Progression can be applied to a whole range of riding styles. I love people doing things differently. It often rubs people up the wrong way but anything that proves a reaction in people obviously has more impact to the more traditional forms. I’m not talking about triple backflips, barspins or any of that circus stuff but more of the simple stuff. This could be people using their surroundings differently or making use of of a unique obstacle. Recently I’ve been pretty blown away by the seemingly endless variations freecoaster [rear hub allowing for more fakie tricks] riding has opened.
Do you ever ride a road bike?
I have an old steel track bike for commuting. London’s really flat and it suits me fine with the lack of maintenance it requires. Recently a lot of my friends have being buying road bikes and getting hooked on long rides. I think it’s only a matter of time before I join them and get some gears!