Edvinas Bruzas is a London-based digital and print designer. He’s also the founder and editor of Water Journal, a stunning publication exploring all things water, encouraging readers to take a moment of calm. In just two years, Water Journal has seen incredible growth. Below, we talked to Edvinas about this journey into print.
It’s been said that we’re in the age of indie magazines. What do you think has led to this space in the market? Is Water Journal a part of that story?
Most independent magazines today are published by 20-30 year olds, and I think our strive to explore and share interests in the print medium is what led to its ‘renaissance’. We grew up in the digital era, with print becoming less prominent, and technology becoming a norm in our daily lives. Due to the nature of our curious minds, we started admiring printed pages more, and treating it as this exciting new thing that we haven’t had a chance to experiment with before. Plus, technology became mundane over the years, and although convenient, there really is no alternative to a hands-on experience with paper.
Water Journal has a minimalist aesthetic. What is the inspiration behind this?
Besides the philosophy of ‘less is more’, one of the main aspects of Water Journal is the importance of ‘quiet storytelling’. By focusing on necessary elements only, we are capable of achieving it most effectively. We would like our stories – be it words or visuals – to speak for itself, which is why the design throughout the journal is more supportive than dominant.
You started Water Journal when you were just out of university, having studied Creative Direction for Fashion. Was there any particular lesson from your time at university, that you then applied to Water Journal?
During my time in university, I allowed myself to experiment with various mediums (print/digital design, photography, film), which helped me further develop multiple skills – so I can’t really point out something in particular. However, considering they are all tools of visual communication, I’d say I learned how to translate and share my ideas more clearly.
You’re also a photographer, and your collaboration with Campbell Addy (‘Unlocking Seoul’), is being exhibited in London. What role has your photography background played in Water Journal?
Photography is definitely a big part of my workflow, functioning as a tool for documenting and presenting design projects. In relation to Water Journal, having an understanding of it really helps to create a coherent collection of content by creatives with different photography styles. I’ve experimented with photography for as long as I can remember, and working on ‘Unlocking Seoul’ with Campbell really pushed me to make the most of it, as we ventured on a personal exploration of the LGBT culture in the city of Seoul, South Korea. It was the first time when, for me personally, photography played a more serious role in the process of documentation, and raising awareness of the subject matter. As a result, we created a limited edition publication reflecting our honest experience, which will soon be available to purchase.
In the space of just two volumes, you’ve seen astounding growth. Did you foresee this at the start of Water Journal? What led to this success?
Although it’s now been over a year, I feel like we are still in our early days, so it’s hard to pinpoint something exactly. However, looking back at the feedback we’ve received so far, it seems to be our honest storytelling and transparency that really keeps readers engaged and sharing our story with others. Water Journal wasn’t born as a commercial venture, but purely out of love for water and print. I think people understand and relate to the genuine passion behind it. I honestly couldn’t have imagined such positive support, and feel truly grateful to our growing readership across the world.
There is no editor’s letter in Water Journal, and you’re not listed as a contributor. What inspired the decision to keep behind the scenes?
With each volume, we share a range of different voices, altogether creating a mesmerising collection of equally important stories. I simply feel like having an editor’s letter as an introductory point would be almost forced upon the reader. By leaving it out, we encourage you to dive right in without even realizing it. Besides that, it also plays a role in the concept of inclusiveness, where everyone taking part in the creative process are just as relevant and crucial to it.
You named Water Journal a ‘journal’, because it isn’t your typical magazine. How does Water Journal differ from a magazine?
The most noticeable aspect would in fact be the missing editor’s letter and not following the standardised, hierarchical structure of most magazines. I am not against it in any way, but referring to a journal makes it more clear when explaining it. In reference to a personal diary, I would describe it as a collective journal with most features being in the format of first-person narratives.
What was the biggest challenge of creating a niche publication?
Every niche subject area is interesting in its own way. However, it’s often approached with hesitancy due to the fear of limitations. Creating a publication about water can also be perceived as quite limited, which makes it our challenge to show that that’s not the case at all. Of course, we too raised a few eyebrows in the industry when we first introduced the journal, which only meant we were on the right track! As time goes by, we’re sharing features with more abstract references to water and people’s relationship to it, showing that there is so much more to it. We’re thrilled to continue doing so.
You’ve mentioned in a previous interview that usually, when we discuss water, we’re discussing political problems. Water Journal, on the other hand, opens up a new, positive discourse. What inspired you to do this?
I believe there are always more than one way to look at things, and my persistence to do so naturally led to an alternative way of exploring the area that’s currently perceived with great concern. There are many wonderful platforms and organizations raising awareness of issues surrounding water, and taking action against it. However, I find it often overshadows the very nature of what it’s protecting. Coming from a design background where the goal is essentially to create or improve something combined with visual thinking, I was inspired to put my skills to use on a bigger scale – exploring the beauty and complexity of all things water through honest and positive storytelling, with the aim of inspiring others.
You truly encourage readers to take a moment of peace when reading Water Journal. What is the importance of this?
We live in a very fast-paced world. I notice myself and others getting distracted and caught up in the constant flow of content more often that we should. Being an admirer of ‘slow journalism’, I aim to provide people with a platform that acts as a positive distraction, allowing them to calm down, and to get lost in timeless stories that can be freely explored for years to come.
You mentioned that you’d like to make Water Journal more conceptual, allowing creators to explore more abstract connections to water. How do you see the journal evolving over time?
It’s beautiful to see how the journal is already starting to evolve naturally, taking a more complex shape with every contributor participating in our journey in print, adding a new layer to it. Reflecting on our past features, I’m keen to challenge both myself, our contributors and readers to explore, discover and continue developing a mutual conversation in relation to water and life. We see an exciting journey ahead, and we’re very excited for our readers to be a part of it!
Water Journal Contributors -Troy Moth (cover photography), Richard Gaston, Piaule, Zhang Qingyun, David Alvarado, Felipe Bedoya, Lauren Elrick, Hannah Devereux, Melanie King, Hortense & Mathieu, Kristina Chelberg, Zac Milan, Etre Britta, Thomas Tourral, Gregory Thielker, Nicolas Blandin, Marina Denisova, Urban Koi, Megan Fatharly, Virginie Chabrol, John Lucarelli, Toby Mitchell, Tim Schilling, Sam Scales, Haeckels. / Silje Bergum, Erol Ahmed, Lok Yan Shek, Zac Milan, Benjamin Frable, Phen Weston, Yazmin Perez, Richard Field, James Lennon Tan, Tilo Bonow, Mimi Robson, David Coster, Matthew Cox, Chris Bowden, Ashley Tarr, Céline Debray, Micha Krautwasser, Skaiste Stralyte, Dylan Di Maio, Redd Angelo, Amy Gerrish, May Xiong, James Taylor, Thorsten Keller, Alvaro Saez, Peter Schweitzer, Hilde Mork, Sophie Huemer, Nicole Mason, Angela Mason, Justin Harden, Michael Krug, Andrew T. Neel, Jason Sutherland, Angela Chen, Ali Foroughi, Soohee Woo, John Dunaway, Daniele Peviani, Jess Mundy, Nicholas Howard, Karolina Brodnicka, Jake D'Addiego, Perry, Mikael Axelsson, Lydia Harper, Stephanie Legend, Nirit Gur Karby.