Rob Meyers is the Creative Director of Clash, an independent music title from the U.K., but has loved and collected all sorts of magazines since he was a teenager. Recently, he's noticed that those geared toward men just aren't what they used to be. "Playboy used tell you how to tie your tie if you're going to take a girl out," he recalls, "then show you how to make a killer breakfast the next morning. It was about the idea of culture, all over." Meyers couldn't find a contemporary magazine that mixed high fashion and street style or covered both the hip-hop of today and old-school rock. In response, he launched Johnson magazine in September 2015.
The title of the magazine is intentionally tongue-in-cheek. Aside from the obvious joke, Meyers also likes the ubiquity of the name—Johnson being one of the most common surnames in the world. He chose the title first, and from there, began to refine his point of view on the Johnson reader: "He's strong and classic," says Meyers. "He's a guy who doesn't take himself too seriously."
Johnson's premiere issue exemplifies Meyers's vision of his reader, with topics ranging from a candid interview with A$AP Rocky to an exclusive photo story by Ari Marcopoulos. There's a feature on unseen Elvis Presley artifacts and a highlight of Alex Olson's new skate company, Call Me 917. Yes, young readers might identify with Rocky and Alex Olson more than, say, The King, but Meyers insists that, alongside present stories, the goal of Johnson is to inspire readers to discover new topics. "There were so many references in magazines when I was younger that made me want to know more," he says.
For Johnson's second issue, out in April, Meyers headed to the Yorkshire Sculpture Park in his hometown in Northern England to cover an outdoor exhibition by Kaws. The artist, already an icon in the street art world, had installed massive wooden sculptures in the serene, almost pastoral setting of the outdoor gallery. The situation was perfectly suited to Meyers's vision: kids just getting into graffiti witnessed a legend in the flesh, rubbing shoulders with seasoned art aficionados looking for something refreshing.
Four alternate covers to Johnson's first issue.
Keep up with Johnson magazine on Instagram here.