LJM

ODOU was a self-initiated, self-run, award-winning, printed magazine exploring smell and perfume.

ODOU logo

I wanted a pet-project I could get my teeth into and flex some design muscles I was lacking. The idea to adress this through a magazine came about through many factors; a job interview rejection, a sorely missing portfolio piece, a gap in the market I noticed and a simple love for exploring my own sense of smell.

From the start I wanted ODOU to be accessible, relatable and a new kind of way of reading about smell and perfume.

Each issue had a loose theme; from an interview and story issue, to the narative of perfume creation.

Inside ODOU issue 4

"Hand-picked Hedione" issue 4

Inside ODOU issue 4

"Wannabe Weird" issue 4

Inside ODOU issue 4

"Myrtle: Aphrodite’s Perfume" issue 4

Inside ODOU issue 4

"Ambergris" issue 4

When I began ODOU, my print design experience was pretty minimal, but with each issue I learned upon the previous and was continually improving and seeing small and big details I could work on.

Inside ODOU issue 3

"Foraging for Mushrooms" issue 3

Inside ODOU issue 2

"New Senses of Presence" issue 2

Whilst I was always on a quest of bettering myself and the magazine, I didn't want each issue to look drastically different from the previous. I kept elements the same like type, arrangement and image choices.

Creating the ODOU logo

Creating the logo I looked at a play with molecules as I like the science aspect to smell

Creating the ODOU logo

With molecules in mind, I thought this could work with the letters by stretching them out, creating the sense of smell dissipating

Creating the ODOU logo

I also looked at script and simple shapes but thought this looked a bit off-brand to what I had in mind

Creating the ODOU logo

How would the letters look closer together, like heavier molecules; is it still legible?

I was concious that the name of the magazine needed to be original, even intriguing. There are countless smell puns in perfume writing; Scents and Sensibilty comes to mind. I thought "Odour" could be obvious, but it lacked inspiration. I dropped the letter R and thought "ODOU" in all caps had a scents sense of interest and flair.

ODOU logo

The final logomark was inspired by the chemical drawing of a benzene ring the shape is simple, scalable and modern. Clockwise, the four letters ODOU kept the hexagon from look cube-like — it needed to look flat in all applications.

Layout grids for ODOU Layout grids for ODOU
Layout grids for ODOU Layout grids for ODOU

I loved the permanence of print design. Having worked in web for the best part of 5 years, the idea of fixed final layouts was a joy. However I became trapped somewhat in the first three issues with the grid. I stuck so rigidly to a two-column layout and every article looking the same I forgot about variety. A print designer friend told me to loosen up! By issue 4 I was more confident with knowing where and when to break the mould.

ODOU issue 1

ODOU issue 1

ODOU issue 2

ODOU issue 2

ODOU issue 3

ODOU issue 3

The logistics of starting a magazine and running it by myself were daunting but not off-putting:

I did my homework and came across MagCloud — an online on-demand printing service. It was the perfect platform to start with, keeping costs low and minimising any large outside investment. Luckily I had been blogging and writing about perfume in my spare time so I had built up a contact base. From there, there was a real sense of excitement that this would take off.

Everything just felt right to start this.

Inside ODOU issue 3

Inside ODOU issue 3

When I reached issue 3 and won two Jasmine Awards for literary writing in fragrance journalism, I knew I wanted to take things further. I wanted to stock ODOU in real shops and not just sell hardcopies via an external service. Things needed to grow and I needed to get creative.

Me with a Jasmine Award

Accepting the Literary Award for Dana El Masri in issue 3

ODOU on Kickstarter

ODOU on Kickstarter

I did some more homework (+ maths) and decided to try and crowd-fund on Kickstarter . I created a campaign, rewards and put together a pitch I hoped would succeed. On day one it became a Staff Pick, but as warned, interest might die off. It did. Ultimately I never raised my goal of £8,000. I had to go back to the drawing board and try a new approach.

Crowd-funding video

I adjusted my target goal, removed some backers rewards and tried Indiegogo their flexible funding platform was more encouraging and less all-or-nothing than Kickstarter. I was careful to wait a few months between raising funds so as to not appear too needy, but more open to backers that this was a single-person operation and anything they could do to help would mean a lot.

In between crowd-funding and contacting backers, I was working on issue 4 itself. I knew that tradtionally printing a magazine meant more freedom than the limitations of MagCloud. I opted for a matte finish to the paper, heavier stock and could add many more pages to the overall issue making it feel more important and readable.

ODOU crowd-funding backers rewards ODOU crowd-funding backers rewards
ODOU crowd-funding backers rewards ODOU crowd-funding backers rewards

I lowered my overall goal from £8,000 to £3,500 and budgeted fewer magazines to print. With two days to go I succeed my goal by an extra £1,020. I was good to go.

ODOU on Kickstarter
ODOU on Kickstarter
ODOU on Kickstarter

Within a few months of launching issue 4, I secured my first stockist, Tate Modern in London. It was a bit of a shock, but I knew I had created something with artistic merit and was recognised for my efforts, and the efforts of the writers, photographers and sub-editor involved.

Ultimately my efforts to grow the magazine were beginning to toll. Sales were slow so I created discount offers, twitter adverts and giveaways to drum up sales. In some ways I accepted defeat but acknowledged a win too. I had never imagined I could create something I would be so proud of, that taught me so much as a designer and entrepreneur.

Rather than "kill off" the magazine entirely I thought putting things on hold could be a good excuse for a creative exercise. The old TV broadcast test card was a familiar sight to me growing up and was an apt choice to use to nod to a pause in transmission.

ODOU on hiatus

Thanks for checking out ODOU.

Go back home or check out John Lewis

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