Despite his all-black ensemble, complete with thick-rimmed spectacles and suede skater shoes, The Church of London Publishing's Vince Medeiros is anything but monochrome. There is a global lilt to his accent that’s challenging to place, but it’s the type of intonation that makes anyone within eavesdropping distance want to listen.
Once a journalist for The Orange County Register, a Southern California daily metro newspaper, how did he come to be the publisher of TCOLondon, Shoreditch-based makers of indie magazines Huck and Little White Lies?
“I grew up surfing and skating, but I'm also a fan of the written word.” Referring to his role of wordsmith at boardsports magazine Adrenalin, Vince explains, “I was just lucky that there was an outlet for that kind of combined interest.”
After two years of landing his inner skater kid’s dream role, he came away with more than a portfolio. Vince and a few contemporaries from Adrenalin joined forces to release their own graphically-led titles, “byproducts of this wonderful combination of designers and journalists who are also friends.”
While a couple of colleagues brought Little White Lies to life, Vince was busy coming up with the concept for Huck. “It was an organic process which is how I think most great things materialise.” Indeed. Little White Lies is a cross-media film publication that has commissioned iconic artworks and featured interviews with innumerable debutantes, independents and A-listers. A year younger, paperback/digital title Huck is “a beautiful anti-systemic youth culture magazine” that has gone to press in English and French across 19 countries till date.
What germinated in a “tiny hole-in-the wall type office on Rivington Street” has grown into a highly regarded publishing house, The Church of London (TCOL); an establishment that promotes artistic originality through the lyrical and visual language of its titles, subsidised by sideline agency work for the likes of Google.
While the typographic captions and posterized portraits on its front covers derive jaw drops of awe, the company’s name has raised a few eyebrows. “I can't take credit for it. Quite a few of our designers were from the north of England, and they'd see London as this Mecca of design, almost like moving here is a required pilgrimage to become a successful designer. It's not a cult!”
Aptly located on gallery-friendly Leonard Street, the office now sits proudly on top of a basement exhibition space that gives this ink-and-pixel firm real-life dimensions: “71a is a good opportunity to meet new people, hang out with readers and I hate the word community I think it's overused, but whatever, hang out with our community - people who like what we do.”
he recent Not For Rental event revealed the true power locked up in that trendy little sub vault. After getting stabbed on a bus, one of the team’s illustrators and his best friend who’d been diagnosed with brain cancer, decided to channel their individual traumas positively. Capitalising on the active following of Little White Lies, they recreated the downstairs space as an 80s video shop, stocking it with 200 artist reinterpretations of VHS covers that made over £10,000 for Art Against Knives and Macmillan Cancer. TCOL staff also held workshops with ex-offenders and cancer patients.
“Everything that most people do these days is so mediated, this got rid of that.” TCOL has what the industry might call a bad habit of getting down to grassroots level, both on the inside and out.
Behind the wooden archway of the office, there’s no set recruitment process, targets are results measured rather than time driven, strict hierarchies are rejected, and there’s no such thing as prescriptive creativity. Vince says, “I hope other people are doing similar things.”
TCOL is also part of an East London collective; it is a member of the Shoreditch Design Triangle, it's working on another event with The Other Art Fair at the Old Truman Brewery, it has collaborated with Curtain Road showreel creators Archer’s Mark, and promises to “continue to do work that contributes to wider culture and at the same time helps brands that we like and feel we are spiritually aligned with.”
Though he’s watched the encroaching impact of the city, Vince represents a growing number that cannot overcome the gravitas of the area: “There's an energy about it, there's dynamism about it, there's diversity about it and all these things have attracted creative people to this part of town. We have interesting things around us, so being in a place where you’re surrounded by that is an obvious choice.” No, that’s not humidity in the air - it’s an undeniable communal pull.
The Church of London has been a tenant of The Estate Office Shoreditch since 2011.