The lovechild of journalist Bertie Brandes and stylist Charlotte Roberts, Mushpit is full of nervous, restless energy and good humour. To the untrained eye, it appears a cacophony of bad Photoshop, peculiar typography and garish design, but look a little deeper and you’ll find that this is not trash, but very clever treasure.
Founded in 2011, Mushpit began as many other magazines do. There was nothing out there Bertie or Charlotte felt spoke to them, so they decided to create something that did. Inspired by the magazines of the late 90s and early 2000s, it is a light medicine to treat jaded millennials. It’s pixelated in places, satirical throughout and, above all, funny. It simultaneously uncovers the messages within the propaganda we are exposed to, and makes a mockery of them. Drawing inspiration from their lives as women in London, they cover friendships, mental health, careers and relationships.
Humour is a gentler way to shine a light on serious issues of enforced heteronormativity, gender constructs and class issues. It is approachable and easily consumable, as long as you tune into their eccentric wavelength. Find out whether or not you are a postman or a post-man, follow Daniel Barker as he embarks on a pro-feminist date in a post-Weinstein world (spoiler: he fails spectacularly and completely obliviously), and indulge in a London-centric twentysomething’s tumultuous brain as they fidget through life, laughing and crying simultaneously.
Mushpit’s adverts seem to have been spiked with truth serum. Consider prestigious schools with tongue-in-cheek observations and absorb ads for hand sanitiser with fragrances ranging from hymen-intact-hot-chocolate-and-marshmallows to pure-and-unsullied-pumpkin-spice.
It is Jekyll and Hyde, ego and id. It blurts out things you might otherwise keep tucked behind your teeth. It is a manic presentation of happy selves with undercurrents of stress and inadequacy. It has elements of Black Mirror, without the despairing bleakness. Its greatest asset is its ability to laugh at itself and our culture, parodying glossy mags and uncovering those Insta-lies. No other magazine I have seen has done this in such an easy and approachable way.
The magazine celebrates its tenth issue by hoisting aboard the former creative director of Bloomberg Businessweek Richard Turley as art director. You may recognise him as one of the creators of the recent Good Trouble newspaper. Although he has had input throughout, his talents shine in the piece which emulates a panic attack. The layering of words and scrawled handwriting give a sense of breathlessness, whilst the oversize typography conveys overwhelming emotion.
Mushpit has integrity and it’s self-reflective, but it does not indulge in it. It shows that not everything has to be serious and full of intent. Not everything has to be completely certain. It reflects life in its most ugly and beautiful forms. Really, everyone is bumbling along as best they can, bombarded by adverts and subliminal messaging, trying to find true connection.
It’s a splendid mess. Never change.