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Ink Spots

'LAW Magazine' Celebrates the Best of British

Sportswear, greyhound racing, Nicky Blackmarket and amateur boxing.

by Amelia Abraham
11 September 2014, 8:05am

LAW Issue 5, Peterborough Greyhounds, by Elliot Kennedy. 

If you really sat down and tried, you could turn a lot of pages in the space of 30 days. While we've spent over a decade providing you with about 120 of those pages every month, it turns out there are many more magazines in the world other than VICE. This new series, “Ink Spots”, is a helpful guide on which of those zines, pamphlets and publications you should be reading when you’re not staring at ours.

LAW – a London-based magazine dedicated to the style of the everyman – stands for "Lives and Works". Currently on its fifth issue, and having just switched to being a free publication, we figured now's as good a time as any to catch up with founder John Holt.

We asked John about shooting at the dog races, interviewing amateur boxers and his fetish for good British sportswear. 

Issue 1 shot by Marcus Munnelly. Issue 2 shot by Joe Conrad Williams. Issue 3 shot by Lydia Garnett. Issue 4 shot by Dave Imms.

VICE: Hi John. Tell us about LAW. How did it get started? 
John Holt: I went to Brighton to study fashion design because I wanted to be the tailor who made the suits for the Lamborghini Diablos of Savile Row. But when I sat down at a sewing machine I realised I couldn’t sew. 

In my final year I went to see Jason Evans give a talk at his exhibition "Nothing Is in the Place" at Brighton Photo Fringe. Not only did he introduce me to a bunch of 90s documentary-style photographers, like Nigel Shafran, Corinne Day, Ken Grant and Tom Wood, but he explained the difference between fashion and style. That hit me right between the eyes.

I’d spent three years trying to figure out how I could fit into this fashion course, and it was at that moment when I realised that I didn’t have to worry about the industry or the clothes; I could just produce something that was a reflection of my style and what I was into. It had been a while since The Face, and I couldn’t really relate to the current crop of "fashion magazines", so I wanted to make something for me and my mates.

I sold my dream car, a 1974 Ford Escort MK1, and printed 500 copies of the first issue for my final project. Three years later and we have just launched LAW 5. I’m working hard to try and buy that car back. 

 Jet Ski Boy, by Joseph Prince.

What would you say is the magazine's ethos?
LAW is about documenting the overlooked, and giving people a sense of belonging and recognition that perhaps they wouldn’t normally receive, but no less deserve. People who may not be at the forefront of fashion, but have a very particular aesthetic in their own right. I think it's vital to build these archives of real, historic British characters before their distinct style changes and their language is lost. 

Who's the most interesting character you've met so far?
I interviewed Dave "Boy" Green for the latest issue, who’s a famous local boxer from The Fens, which is the flat farming area of East Anglia where I grew up. His nickname was "The Fen Tiger" for the relentless way he came forward in a fight, and his shots were labelled "The Muck Spreader" and "Carrot Cruncher" for the style and ferocity at which they were delivered. He won the British and European light-welterweight titles during the late-70s and early-80s, which is regarded as the strongest era in the welterweight division’s history. It was a pleasure to shake his hand, and, as I only grew up down the road, it doesn’t really get any bigger than that to me.

Issue 5 Cover, shot by Elliot Kennedy / Jake Beeby by Elliot Kennedy. 

Tell me about the cover of the new issue – who shot it?
I call Elliot Kennedy the sharpest shooter in town, because he wears Bass Weejun loafers with no socks to shoot in – the photograph’s got style before it’s even been taken. Elliot shot the cover story at the greyhounds in Peterborough. We wanted to go and document the dogs because we realised how little we knew about the sport, but how much we wanted to know. My friend Billy came with us and made a film about a bookie at the stadium called Maverick.

When we were there we met our model, Jake Beeby, who works in the restaurant at the stadium. We always make a bespoke piece for the cover, and the top that Jake's wearing is a patchwork of the different coloured coats that the greyhounds wear to race in. 

Pete Stanley's Hubcaps, by Corey Bartle-Sanderson

Who would you say LAW's audience is? 
The boys back at home, my mum who taught me to see beauty in everyday things, and my older brother, who introduced me to all the finer things in life; Evisu, Stone Island, Joop, Nicky Blackmarket, first cars, fast cars and Seat Ibizas with six-disc CD changers. The aim was to make a magazine that was accessible. We've just made this issue free and distributed thousands of copies to five major cites in the UK, so I hope we can inspire some of the people who have inspired us along the way.

It seems like there's also a bit of a fascination with sportswear. Why's that?
LAW's not Homes and Gardens or Fantastic Man. It’s made by a group of young contributors who are working hard to get on and get by. It couldn’t be any more personal. Once we did a series on the bouncers of Bond Street, who stand in all the doors of the high-end boutiques. We shot them through the glass from the street, because that’s the only view I’ve ever seen of them. I’ve never been in those shops and they don't particularly interest me. Perhaps one day they will, and then I’ll start writing about Lanvin and Longchamp. But for now I’ll leave that to other magazines. 

Cheers, John. 

Pick up a copy of LAW here

@MillyAbraham / @LIVESANDWORKS

Previously: 'A Nice Magazine' Does Exactly What It Says on the Cover 

Lives and Works