With their big eyes, glossy coats, and camera-ready poise, animals have always been popular with magazine makers. So it comes as no surprise that the rising tide of independent publishers have created their own sub-genre of pet publishing, with an entire menagerie of idiosyncratic animal magazines.
The first couple of titles to catch my eye came from Australia. Cat People is published in Melbourne and offers a bilingual (English and Japanese) perspective on the lives and work of people who are obsessed with cats. Launched around a year later, Four & Sons is published in Victoria and does a similar job for dogs and the people who live with them.
Then, of course, there’s Puss Puss, the British magazine that uses cats as a way to explore fashion, art, culture, and practically any other subject it likes. And this spring saw the launch of Agapornis, the Spanish magazine that provides an artistic overview of life with all kinds of pets, from cats and dogs to boa constrictors, monitor lizards, and other exotics. (The agapornis is, of course, the lovebird.)
These magazines are all very different, but they share certain characteristics aside from their obvious love for animals. Firstly, at 100+ pages, and roughly A4-ish size, they’re all relatively big. Secondly, they’re interested in the extraordinary—eccentric people, exceptional art, and incredible stories, all fuelled by an obsession with animals.
But there’s a new pet title in town, and it’s taking a fresh approach. Pet People bills itself as the “Swedish magazine about pets and their people,” and like Agapornis it’s species-agnostic, featuring dogs, cats, and a budgie in its first issue. But unlike any of the others, it’s small and unassuming, weighing in at a scant 58 pages and measuring just six-and-a-half by nine-and-a-half inches.
The distinct size is intentional, of course. It’s the physical embodiment of the animals it features; small but perfectly formed, a cute and quiet addition to your home. Because none of the animals or people here are extraordinary—there’s nobody making art about their cats, no dogs dressed up as surreal sculptures. These are just people opening up about their relationships with their animals.
The design emphasizes this sense of intimacy, with photography that provides tight little glimpses of domestic life. The people and their pets are shown as physically close, touching, playing, and cuddling.
It’s a collaboration between photographer Hilda Grahnat and art director Linnea Paulsson, who plan to make the magazine in a different city each issue. This first issue was made in Malmö, but there are only the most fleeting glimpses of life on the city’s streets. We could be in virtually any European city, and it’s clear from the first glance that this magazine is all about relationships, rather than location.
The text follows suit, with loving first-person quotes spoken in tribute to the pets. We learn how the people found their pets, what they do with them, and how they couldn’t live without them. It’s a beautiful and compelling approach to pet publishing, and I’m really looking forward to seeing where they take their concept next.