Lizzie Stafford, Künstler magazines and books

Success is waking up happy ...

The written word has the power to inspire minds, expand hearts and effect change. It can be more powerful than the loudest of shouts or the boldest of actions, and, for writer and bookshop owner Lizzie Stafford, it’s the mindfood that has guided both her career path and her leisure pursuits. As local bookworms shed a silent tear over the closing of Winn Lane’s Atavist Books in recent months, Lizzie found the perfect opportunity to keep the literary loving alive in Fortitude Valley’s shopping street. Adopting the German word for ‘artist’, Lizzie will swing open the doors to Künstler magazines and books this Saturday March 22, with an official launch soiree planned for next Sunday afternoon March 30. As Lizzie unpacked boxes of books and journals this week, The Weekend Edition dropped in to the store to talk books and weekend inspirations with the logophile.

What are your hopes for Künstler magazines and books?
To support independent publishers, stock beautiful printed products and create a space that people want to spend time in.

How did the idea for the store come about?
I was living in Europe and had access to so many incredible magazines and books that I missed when I got back to Brisbane – and I found the idea of buying them online wasn’t the same. I loved visiting magazine stores like do you read me?! and Motto in Berlin, where I was living at the time, to be able to browse, discover publications I’d never seen before and chat to the people in the store who were really passionate about what they were selling. I wanted to recreate that here.

Why did you choose Winn Lane?
I’ve always loved the lane for its small community feel, and the idea of these tiny spaces that are fairly unconventional retail spaces – my shop is on wheels! When I found out the sad news that Atavist Books was closing, I also saw it as an opportunity to keep a bookstore in the lane.

What have been the biggest challenges in setting up the store?
Everything has been a challenge so far! There’s been a lot of planning and research going in to this, but at the same time it felt like I didn’t (and don’t) really know what I’m doing often. I’ve had to take a lot of big leaps and risks, and hope they’ll pay off. I’m lucky to have a very supportive partner, family and friends with many talents.

Can you share your vision for space you’re hoping to create?
Jonathan Kopinski and Jaydn Bowe are awesome young architects and are behind the design and fit-out of the shop. The plan was to make a space that’s approachable and comfortable to spend time browsing and hanging out in, despite its tiny size. The idea is also to be totally flexible, so much of the furnishings are handmade wooden boxes that can come out and be moved around easily at any time. This means the shop might look completely different from one week to the next, depending on what stock I have, what art is on the back wall and what mood I’m in!

What titles will we find on the Künstler shelves?
You’ll find everything from gorgeous journals like Kinfolk and Cereal to German photography and literature publication Der Greif. Hardcore architecture fans might like our range of architecture titles like AA Files, a bi-annual journal put out by the Architectural Association School of Architecture in the UK. There are also lots of small-print-run art books from local and international publishers, and plenty of fashion, art and design mags and books, with new stock arriving every week.

Who is your favourite author?
John Steinbeck. His characters stay with you forever.

… and what are some magazine titles you’d recommend to local readers?
I love House Wear 2, a journal about ‘nomadic behaviour and human design constructs’ from Melbourne. It’s beautifully put together and an interesting read. Oh Comely, the UK’s version of Frankie is great and TOO MUCH, a magazine of romantic geography. But I could pretty much break a sweat over anything on those shelves.

You’ve shared your passion for the arts as a writer for U on Sunday, a freelance journalist and behind the scenes at Brisbane Powerhouse, what is it about artistic pursuits that inspires you?
I like the way that art in all its forms can touch on every human emotion and can be a fun distraction or a powerful wake-up call. There’s also a great community of hard-working, passionate souls in the Brisbane arts community.

Which other local Brisbane creatives do you have your eye on?
So many! I recently had the pleasure of meeting Michelle Gillies from the incredible shop Nook in West End, and photographer Toby Scott, who I both admire greatly. Jerome Batten from Sourced Grocer is on to a great thing and Dahlia Ishak from The Rabbit Hole has been a big help to me over the past few months.

What’s your idea of complete happiness?
Being with my family around a dinner table, talking over the top of one another with a meal and a few bottles of wine.

What’s the last thing that made you smile?
My best friend bringing around a bottle of champagne to celebrate after a long day of painting the shop!

What are your essentials for a well-spent weekend?
Fresh magazines, time with my boyfriend and coffee.

What are you listening to at the moment?
Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy, Sun Kil Moon and Billy Bragg, because I’m seeing him play in Brisbane tonight! And I secretly listen to my boyfriend Big Strong Brute’s music when he’s not around … and now he’s blushing.

How do you define ‘success’?
Waking up happy.

What are your words of wisdom?
I probably need words of wisdom more than I should be giving them, but I think it’s important not to let fear get in your way.

Only a Brisbane local would know … Brisbane German Club goes off on a Saturday night.

Perk up …
 Sourced Grocer, Teneriffe.
Relax … on the couch.
Dine … Scout, Petrie Terrace.
Indulge … Newstead Brewing Co., Newstead. Three words: sweet potato chips.
Shop … Nook, West End.
Catch up … New Farm Park.
Be inspired … Brisbane Powerhouse, New Farm.


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