Captivating words with stunning photographs make beautiful books of all kinds, including magazines. Many of today’s magazines are keepsakes instead of disposables, and for creative inspiration I enjoy reading them as much as hardcover books.
Previously I posted on The Daily Artisan blog about my love for books and profiled 12 of my favorites from my bookshelves. Today I’m sharing my 18 favorite magazines and why they’re on the list!
And without further ado, here are my top 18!
It’s fitting to start the list with Daphne’s Diary, a beloved publication in my family. In fact, my mother, an aunt in Georgia, and I are like hunting bird dogs sniffing out when a new issue has arrived in the United States and is available in the bookstore! The first one to spot the new issue makes a phone call with the quietly spoken words, “It’s here … Daphne’s is here.”
The magazine is published in Daphne’s native Dutch in the Netherlands and Belgium, and it’s based on her nightly diary entries. Everything from watercolor painting to crafting, gardening, cooking, short stories, illustration and more is covered, and the feel of the paper itself is enough to write home about. It’s just a stunning collection of things that you quickly will find you simply must have.
Fortunately, Daphne’s Diary also is published in English and other languages due to its popularity all over the world, and sold in the United States. Unfortunately, the other Daphne’s items such as the yearly planner and specialty papers are available for shipping only from the Netherlands.
One time I bought some of these items as gifts for my mother, aunt, and myself, and ended up paying a small fortune on the shipping alone. It was so worth it. So very worth it.
The Whole Seed Catalog
Technically, I guess this shouldn’t be included in this list of magazines since it’s an annual edition, but I recently got mine for 2022 and couldn’t leave it out. “Seed catalog” really doesn’t do it justice. It’s a beautiful collection of photographs, recipes, family and employee stories and profiles – and of course, seeds for order!
The publication got its start with then-17-year-old Jere Gettle’s first printed seed catalog in 1998 that was distributed to 550 family members, friends, and fellow seed savers. The next year’s issue went to 20,000 people, and now 1.3 million catalogs are distributed each year!
Jere and Emilee Gettle and their four children are featured in some of the photographs and information, and you just sense something very special with them and their employees. The catalog notes that Jere planted his first garden at age 3, starting a life of passion for seeds and growing things.
As shown on the cover, the 2022 issue contains 532 pages. I just weighed it on my kitchen scale, and at three pounds, it’s full of beautiful things. The photographed colors and textures are worth the price of admission alone.
Garden & Gun
Soul of the South
This magazine feels like the way all magazines used to feel – a generous size with wonderful paper – before many publications (due to economics) moved to smaller formats and more inexpensive paper.
Garden & Gun is the best example of why that move was not a good idea.
You can get lost in this magazine’s beautiful photographs and layouts, and I especially love the writing. It’s really good stuff.
Two hours curled up with it on my sofa this weekend was two hours well spent.
There are great recipes, stunning photographs, fun travel information, fascinating profiles on interesting characters, and beautifully handmade items curated for readers.
Garden & Gun feels, in a word, authentic.
I really enjoy the experience of getting lost in something so well done.
Life’s a Beautiful Journey
Bella Grace is one of the many gorgeous publications from Stampington & Company (others are included in this list of favorites). The company provides a forum for creatives to share their work and stories, and Bella Grace will pull you in and stay with you long after you finish reading it.
I couldn’t write it any better than the way the publishers describe it – “Bella Grace is a 160-page book-azine devoted to discovering magic in the ordinary. Compelling stories and striking photographs capture soul lifting moments that celebrate life’s beautiful journey.”
The pages are full of stunning moments of photography and insights. Readers are able to participate in the self-discovery, journal-like sections. And, there is a strong sense of connection with those whose art, pictures and writing are featured.
I’ve found lots of things that make you feel really good after reading them. Bella Grace does this – and adds something even more. You’ll be touched on a deeper level that’s all about finding ways to live as your highest and best self. It’s a special publication.
In Her Studio
Spaces and Stories of Creative Women
In Her Studio is another of the Stampington & Company publications, and each issue is a beautiful collection of creatives’ spaces and the stories of their art and craft.
The publisher describes In Her Studio as “taking readers on a tour through the creative spaces and lives of female artists, designers, and makers. And you’ll get to hear their stories.” It does this and more.
I can remember years’ ago features on particular arts and crafts spaces and the amazing artists who occupy them. The stories and beautiful photographs are compelling and memorable long after each issue is read.
In addition, there are reader responses to such questions as, “What was the most important step you took at the beginning of your creative journey?” and “In regard to your particular art form, what is a limitation or challenge you have overcome?”
The studios cover the gamut from large dedicated space to a spare closet appropriated for creative use. You’ll come away from each issue feeling inspired and happy you spent the time to see how and where others create.
What Women Create
Inspiration for your Imagination
What Women Create is a publication of Creator + Editor -in-Chief Jo Packham, an icon in the artistic world. It’s published by Madavor Media, and has the same stunning photography and writing as the Stampington & Company magazines.
In this issue alone, artists are profiled with a wide range of interests, including lighting design, goldsmith heirlooms, paper quilling, textiles art, bookmaking, antiques soldering, paper sculpture, needlework on leaves, and surfboard designs like you’ve not seen commercially.
One of the things I really like about this publication is that enough space is devoted to each artist that you feel as if you have the time and space to really understand what motivates them, propels them, and moves them.
And the work that’s created is stunning. You’ll be inspired by seeing what comes from the women’s hands and hearts. It’s an intimate look at the connection between person and practice, and the stories resonate.
Farm & Ranch
The Source for Discerning Buyers & Sellers
This magazine is one I’ve read for a number of years, and each issue feels like the first one you’ve seen. The farms and ranches available for sale have stunning photographs and descriptions.
To be clear, these are not your “40 acres out back” kind of properties, and most of them are in the dreams category, but oh, the dreaming is sweet!
Multiple states are represented with the property locations, although many are out west.
Unless you have a serious allergy to grass or cows (!), you will see yourself living in these beautiful settings, or at a minimum, wanting to write stories about interesting characters living there.
It’s a glimpse into a life built around nature, the seasons, tradition, and proud heritages.
With each issue, I’ll “pick” my favorite of the featured properties – it’s a beautiful magazine that keeps me interested (and dreaming).
Visually Inspiring Online Journals
Artful Blogging was (emphasis on “was”) one of the Stampington & Company publications, but unfortunately it’s been retired.
I would never throw away a Stampington & Company issue of anything, and fortunately I have a handful of Artful Blogging I bought years ago. In fact, this issue shown is from 2015.
It’s funny to think back years ago when I was buying Artful Blogging, I had a vague sense that I thought I would enjoy having a blog – long before my current adventure in creating The Daily Artisan blog.
Reading these issues, I was struck by the beautiful photographs and how well they fit with the accompanying story’s words. Even then, I knew if I ever had a blog that photography would be a central part of it, and I’m happy to report that the blogging experience is even more enjoyable than I thought it might be!
The back of the magazine contains a listing by year of the blogs featured, and each web address is provided. When I started thinking about The Daily Artisan, one of the first things I did was pull out these old issues. I was as inspired as I was reading them for the first time, and it’s a full circle kind of feeling now.
Bake From Scratch
Unlike the magazines already covered in this list, Bake From Scratch is a relatively new read for me, and I’m really enjoying it – so much so I subscribed.
Before we get to the goodies inside each issue, can we start with the cover paper quality? I grew up in a home that valued quality paper, which surely influenced my adulthood love of fine paper. And Bake From Scratch really stands out in this regard.
The front and back covers are a clay-based paper, and while you’re probably running your hand over the yummy dessert featured on the covers, I’m pretty sure it’s more than this. The feel of the paper is special.
Recipes are well presented with clear directions and great photographs – and this is coming from someone notorious for taking inspiration from recipes but not following them very closely!
Perhaps the most challenging cake I’ve made in my entire life came from the pages of Bake From Scratch. It was a (French) Gateau Basque (described as a creamy custard cake with a tender crumb as the base and a crisp, buttery topping).
When I made the Gateau Basque for the first (and only, so far) time earlier this year, I remember two days coming and going from start to finish. I was afraid of it and thus completely followed Bake From Scratch’s recipe. Someone told me it’s the best cake I’ve ever made. Thank you, Bake From Scratch!
The Art of Paper and Mixed-Media
Honestly, I don’t know anyone who works at Stampington & Company, and I don’t have financial interests there! I just love their publications, including Somerset Studio.
Somerset Studio is a magazine I’ve read for at least 15 years, and this issue is an older one that lives alongside my new ones.
The creativity and imagination by the artists throughout each issue is remarkable. I especially like the variety of materials and techniques with something for pretty much all tastes.
If I could sum up Somerset Studio in one takeaway, it would be that art is defined in many ways, and while some of it formally hangs on formal walls, not all of it does or should! Colors, textures, and mixes of them create compelling artwork that become the personal signature of the artist.
If you’ve wanted to try something artistic but haven’t because of fear of failing at “real art,” read Somerset Studio. It’s a liberating recognition that art is about expression on the artist’s own terms! Somerset Studio will give you the comfort and courage to try your kind of art with your kind of creativity.
Real Southern Culture
This issue is my first experience with Okra magazine, and I thoroughly enjoyed it from cover to cover.
First, let’s start with the paper quality (see above – Garden & Gun). Not only are the front and back covers made of a sumptuous clay-based paper, but the inside pages feel like it also. I’m not 100% sure the insides are clay-based, but whatever it is, it feels amazing as you slowly.turn.each.page!
In this issue, I especially enjoyed “The Hidden South: Storytellers.” I could spend an entire blog post on the exceptional writing in Okra. It feels like coming home and going home and being home, and it’s really good stuff.
And, yes, I’m Southern so maybe that’s why it feels so genuine. And when you think about it, isn’t that the way it should be if it’s well done?
There are stunning photographs, recipes, handmade goods, and more. I stumbled on the magazine this summer when I was looking for something new to read. When I just visited the website to see the frequency of publication, I found I’ve missed two newer issues. Search is on!
Martha Stewart Living
Let me just start out by saying I am a huge fan of Martha Stewart. Her world of work and accomplishments inspire me, and I think there’s no higher compliment when making something for someone to remark “that could have been made by Martha!” (No last names necessary here, in my book).
The Martha Stewart Living magazine is full of everything-Martha – gardening, cooking, interior design, party planning, decorating, and more. Always more, and always amazingly done.
Although I’ve professed in a previous blog post to not have much of a green thumb myself, taking pictures of flowers is something I greatly enjoy. The colors and varieties of flowers and plants featured in the Living magazine make me want to grab my camera and immediately head out to find flowers.
Martha Stewart is a creator and re-creator and has built an empire around it, but don’t you get the sense that she actually enjoys cutting flowers from her gardens, and designing the setup for a dinner party in those very gardens – where the tables will feature the stunning arrangements she made from the flowers?
If it’s not true, please don’t tell me!
I don’t ever see a future where I’m not reading Living or admiring the work of Martha Stewart.
Spoiler alert – yes, another publication of Stampington & Company. And, yes, Art Journaling is as wonderful as the others from this company I’ve included on the list of favorites.
I’m not really sure how long I’ve been reading Art Journaling, but it’s been many, many years. Here’s what I can say about this magazine.
Before I started reading it, I wanted to try art journaling. I’d seen others’ work and it appealed to me, but I was afraid I wouldn’t be good enough or wouldn’t know what to do or wouldn’t come close to comparing to their work.
And, here’s what the Art Journaling magazine taught me. It’s all about being yourself – your own creative self just like The Daily Artisan is about – and bringing it. It’s that simple, and when you get out of your head worrying, and actually pick up the paintbrush or pen or whatever materials you want to use, you’ll surprise yourself and you’ll be happy you did.
Art Journaling contains artist profiles and portfolios; techniques; materials; and questions for reader contributions – like – “Do you begin creating with certain colors in mind, or does your color palette develop as you create?”
This magazine is an old friend, and I’m glad I found it.
Creative Ideas for Unique Gatherings
If you’re reading this blog post of The Daily Artisan – and know me – then you only need to take a look at the cover of Mingle to know why it’s on the favorites list!
I love, love planning themed events that include specially baked and decorated cakes or other treats – picking the colors – coordinating the items and overall look – and then photographing everything. Mingle has some of the best examples of this, and you’ll come away inspired after reading each issue.
It’s another (Stampington & Company) publication I’ve read for at least a decade, and each issue has fresh new themes and looks for a variety of events and gatherings. This is an older issue but one of my favorites – partly because of the cover (pinks, decorated cake, ballerina cake topper, fancy coordinating cupcakes, uh, need we say more..?).
This cover from nine years ago was for a story about a mother throwing a vintage ballerina party for the birthday of her little daughter, Annabelle. I haven’t looked at the issue in quite a while but when I picked it out for this list of favorites and flipped through the pages to find the ballerina party, the beautiful pages felt very familiar.
Mingle is memorable.
Southern Living is the iconic magazine of my people! I don’t remember a time when I didn’t know about Southern Living, and although of course this can’t be true for when I was a baby, the fact that it feels this way says something about its longevity and appeal.
The recipes, food photography, decorating, house plans, interior design, and travel – somehow all fit into most every issue – are enjoyable.
The only time I stopped reading Southern Living was when the publisher decreased the size of the magazine and went to a more inexpensive paper – probably necessary for economics, but still rather disturbing.
And even though I sure wish the magazine would return to those glory days of luxurious paper, I’ve made my peace with it because the content is so good. I never could stay away from it for long anyway.
It would be hard to pick a favorite part of Southern Living magazine, but if I had to choose one, I guess it would be the feature stories on towns and the foods that are a cherished part of the culture. I enjoy reading about these, and the accompanying recipes are nice to have.
Southern Living magazine is something my grandmothers and mother and aunts read, and it’s been able to keep itself relevant for younger generations over the years.
Inspiration for Life and Home
Joanna and Chip Gaines are to me like new Martha Stewarts! The three of them belong in a class of their own, and the Gaines’ Magnolia Journal is a great collection of things like recipes, gardening, decorating, and renovations – but also something more.
There’s a meaningful depth to the messages in the issues. For example, this issue shown has “Pursuing Authenticity” as its theme, and it resonates with the individuals featured, for example.
Joanna’s “Letter from the Editor” is a good example of what I’m talking about with getting you to think about important things. In part, she says, “In this issue, we’re peeling back the layers of authenticity. Perhaps we choose to hide a little bit of who we truly are each time we compare our lack to someone else’s plenty. Or maybe when we hush our own voice with the loud noise of commotion, we slowly begin to fade back. And once we’re covered up and the real us is quiet, we find that we’re forced to look around, to other people and other things, for evidence of who we are.”
A while back, I thought my magazine reading load was getting a bit too much and that I would let some magazines go. I found that I missed Magnolia Journal, and returned to it. The Gaines are the real deal. They connect.
The Magazine of Maine
In an earlier blog post on The Daily Artisan, I’ve talked about my love for the state of Maine. If there’s a state that better inspires photography and writing and cooking, I haven’t seen it yet.
Down East is the iconic magazine for Maine, and I’ve enjoyed many issues over the years. If you’re not actually in Maine, you can feel pretty close to it with this magazine.
The photography is stunning, and the food features and recipes bring back wonderful memories of visits there and desires to return.
There are stories about interesting individuals (some better described as characters!), and the magazine stays true to its purpose and focus.
Again, picking a favorite part of this magazine is difficult – but – anything written about or for sale involving a private island would be high on my list!
It’s fun to see stories on places you’ve visited. My bookstore used to carry Down East but when it stopped, I subscribed because I would miss it (just like you miss Maine when you’ve visited and then gone back home).
The Cottage Journal
When preparing this list of my favorites, I purposefully did not choose a top favorite, nor did I plan the order of how the magazines are presented. When stacking them for the above group photograph, I randomly placed them based on their sizes and spine colors.
However, it does seem fitting that The Cottage Journal is the one concluding this list since it’s one of my very favorites of all time.
In fact, each Christmas included among my gifts from my mother is the annual subscription renewal. She places a handwritten note to this effect in a small wrapped box, and although we pretend I don’t know what it is, I’m always excited to open it!
The Cottage Journal has some of the most beautiful photographs of any magazine. Period. Whether it’s inside, outside, food, gardening, architecture, or decorating, it’s flat out stunning. (There’s a picture of hydrangeas in a vase on page 18 that made me stop … staring … unable or unwilling to turn the page for a few minutes.)
You will want to cook in the kitchens, walk the gardens, run your hand over the worn, hewn, wood tables. The photography and the writing work well together, and I’ve never read an issue where I didn’t feel like I’d actually visited what I saw on the magazine pages. That’s a gift, for sure.
So, there are my 18 favorite magazines! I’ve loved sharing and spending time with them while writing today’s post.
Which magazines do you enjoy? Do any of these 18 interest you? Please comment below!