vna: very nearly almost julen biguri   The Very Nearly Almost crew has become the amps of the international street art. From the famous Banksy, to Invader´s aliens, OBEY The Giant or the brazilians Os Gêmeos, they had documented very nearly almost all the street art. There’s no doubt when saying VNA has become a reference and a must-read magazine for the graffiti and street artist. We´ve seen the most impressive works in the 19 issues they’ve launched. Now, at 20th issue’s door we´ve met the editor George Macdonald and the art director Greg Beer to talk about the mag. How was Very Nearly Almost born back in the 2006?

George: Before the title of “street art” was being thrown around, I used to photograph graffiti, stencils, stickers, tags etc in my spare time. This was maybe 2001… I was a big fan of zines back then so I tried my hand at turning all these photo’s into something tangeable in 2006. At that time I had my fingers in too many pies, with a failing clothing label and trying my hand at being a graffiti writer, I was always trying so hard but never making it big, hence the name “Very Nearly Almost”. The first issue was an edition of 120 that I gave away and left in the book shop of the Tate Modern. By Issue 3 I was selling them online and trying to get a bit of distribution and by issue 6 VNA was in every Borders store in the UK.

Greg: I came on board some time in 2007 or 2008 after meeting George repeatedly at art shows...and I think I told him “it’s ok, but I can help make it better!”. My first issue was number 7 and still going strong!

You’ve started in the UK, and now VNA has become a global magazine. You just have to take a look to the last issue (it covers street art from Australia, UK, USA, Germany and Island). But you guys still have a thing for the London and Bristol scene. Is it because you feel it’s closer to you?

Greg: I think London is an amazing city for street art and graffiti. There is always something happening and always artists passing through looking to paint walls. Also, George started it all with London photos, so each issue we stay true to the original format and document the scene here.

George: yeah, when Greg got on board, as well as bringing to the table the introduction of good layout and strong graphical elements, he pushed me to introduce written articles and feature international artists as well as UK artists. Soon it turned it into an international Magazine rather than a UK zine, but to this day
we always try to feature at least one artist from the UK in each issue and we always cover the London scene because we are based in London and thats the roots of the magazine.

The street art movement has become a global thing on the Net, but you decided to take it to the paper. You feel you needed to have it documented physically or it was more like a whim?

Greg: I love print and I love that we can publish whatever we want whenever we want. We try and be democratic about what goes in the magazine so there is something in there for everyone but it is hard sometimes to keep things fresh when most of it has already been online for months.

George: We keep all our content exclusive to the printed form of the magazine. So people can still look forward to reading an exclusive interview and they have to wait (Yes wait!) for it to come out in their local newsagent...Like the good old days. I too love print and the collectabillity of good quality magazines. Luckily there are lots of people out the who also think in the same way and we have a really strong following and fan base who are not only into street art but also into good quality independent publishing.

Everyone has noticed street art is being commercialized little by little, against its own principles. Could that be the beginning of the end of street art, or is just something the art will overcome?

George: Street art and graffiti have been taken advantage of for many years. The boom of the internet propelled graffiti into the mainstream and it was only so long before it happened to street art. There will always be people who latch on to something even remotely cool and take it from underground and push it
into the mainstream. Its not great but at the same time, artists risk life and limb to create some of these works on the street and its only fair they get the attention they deserve. Good art will shine through all the shit...

As an independent magazine in these rough times is it easy to manage and get a budget for maintaining VNA?

George: VNA has always been a labour of love. Many of us have other jobs and thats fine. Printing an independent published magazine is our passion and as long as we can continue to do that we will. We have an office and overheads but because our staffing is down to a minimum we can continue on this journey without massive financial pressure, which is why we can push through even in tough times. I can’t really imagine life without VNA.

Greg: We have a core team that work on the mag, and its like a big family. We all love catching up and making the mag happen. I think its this passion and collective make it happen mentality that really keeps us going.