Quarterly street art, graffiti and illustration journal VNA is celebrating its 25th issue with an exclusive Swoon cover story and collaboratively designed limited-edition screenprint cover.

Quarterly street art, graffiti and illustration journal VNA is celebrating its 25th issue with an exclusive Swoon cover story and collaboratively designed limited-edition screenprint cover.

The UK-based publication – founded by George Macdonald and Greg Beer – has documented subversive artists like Shepard Fairey and Invader since 2006 and Issue 25 looks like one of its most iconic yet featuring everyone from monster doodler Kevin Lyons, figurative watercolour surrealist Chloe Early, tattooist and painter Sprinkles, neon-esque Tokyo nights renderer Dan Kitchener and skate-punk skull-thrasher Ben Brown.

We caught up with George and Greg before the launch of Issue 25 – at Far Rockaway in Shoreditch tonight, February 13 – to find out more.

What exactly is VNA magazine?
George Macdonald: VNA is a quarterly magazine covering everything we like from street art and graffiti to illustration and photography and everything in between. I would say it’s a jam-packed contemporary art sandwich.

Why was it started?
Macdonald: Basically I used to spend my weekend photographing street art in London and, while bored at work, I chose to channel that boredom into creativity by making a black-and-white zine of all of the photos I had been taking. I called it Very Nearly Almost and I gave it away at art events and to friends. From then on it became a bit of an obsession, I would photograph every piece of street art and graffiti in London that I could find. The zine grew into a magazine and then one fateful drunken night I met Greg.
Greg Beer: I moved to London in June 2007 and quickly discovered the local gallery scene and then met George and told him I could make VNA into a proper magazine. That was the beginning of what you see today I guess.

How do you hope it has an impact?
Macdonald: It was originally created to preserve these amazing street pieces in print and to do them justice rather then just being another jpeg on the interwebs. That ethos still stands but it has evolved into our way of praising the artists, photographers and writers that make this art and to archive these moments in a printed form for people to enjoy and be inspired.

What’s the indie art mag scene like?
Macdonald: It’s alive and kicking. Although times are tough and we realise that. Print is in a funny place in every market I would say.
Beer: There seems to be more and more indie mags popping up each month. The trend seems to be moving more towards specialist/niche content rather than general lifestyle stuff, which I personally love.

Who’s involved in VNA and what does everyone do?
Macdonald: There’s around 10 active members of the VNA crew. Myself, Greg, Geoff, Gin, Roly, Pete, Zang, Ben, Aaron and Rhys.
Beer: There is also a sort of ‘extended family’ that contribute on a regular basis, but the core team are the ones that make it all happen.

How can people get involved/show support?
Macdonald: We are always accepting contributions in terms of written features, photographers and artists. We love hearing from people and seeing what they have to offer. Drop us a line.
Beer: Honestly, if someone sends us a good story, an interesting idea, or we just like what someone is doing visually (and they have a good story to tell), we’ll put it to the team and see what happens. We’re always open to fresh input.

What have been the challenges in bringing VNA to life?
Macdonald: It’s a constant challenge but we have some great guys and girls who make shit happen and although we sometimes fly by the seat of our pants, it always gets done and it always looks rad.
Beer: Managing sleep, work, life and then VNA time is a big balancing act, but we always come through one way or another.

What have been the major inspirations?
Macdonald: Too many. Just good quality print such as Juxtapoz, Graphotism (RIP), Swindle, Vapours and artists like Barry McGee, Banksy, D*face, Shepard Fairey, Invader. The list is long!
Beer: For me, it was a magazine that Carhartt used to produce called RUGGED. That mag was what made me want to do a magazine and looking back at the collection I now have, it’s still killer! I love loads of the current wave of indie mags like Apartmento and Elephant, and have seen some pretty impressive titles coming from Australia recently as well. Artists that never fail to excite/inspire me are pretty varied. People like Barry McGee, Conor Harrington, Jose Parla, AJ Fosik, James Jean, Tiffany Bozik, Kid Zoom and the list goes on.

How did the Swoon collab come about?
Macdonald: We did a cover feature with fellow New Yorkers Faile for our 23rd issue and part of the deal was to donate the money made form the sales of the limited-edition copies to Braddock Tiles, an art-based charity project that Swoon is heavily involved in. Naturally one thing lead to another and we persuaded her to do a cover feature with us. The rest is history.
Beer: We have a mega wishlist and Swoon has been on there from day one! Our man Roland Henry had recently moved to NYC when this issue started rolling out and he went above and beyond to make it happen. We’re pretty stoked with how it’s all turned out.

Why do you think Swoon’s work continues to resonate with so many people?
Macdonald: I first noticed Swoon’s street work in London in 2006. Today she remains one of my favourite street artists. The work fits so neatly into the urban landscape and only gets better over time with decay and weathering. It’s beautiful stuff and I think people just love looking it.

What’s the future for VNA?
Macdonald: We are just going to keep going. We have plans. Some fun stuff, more artist collaborations and videos etc.
Beer: We’ve had an amazing past few years and hit some really big milestones. Hopefully we can keep building, growing, evolving and adapting, and stay true to our original vision of exposing people to amazing art.

You can find out more about the VNA Issue 25 launch on their Facebook page. Read Huck’s exclusive Swoon story from Issue 32 here.