If Sideburn was a mountain bike magazine, it would love to be as good as Shredder. Made in Scotland, the 160-page A5 is full of thought, stunning images, illustration and variety.
We had to stock it. Buy Shredder here.
Here's is a short interview with founder/editor/designer, Stuart Leel.
How old are you, what's your background and where do you live?
I’m 31 years old and I’m a born and bred Aberdonian. I always loved blasting about on my bike as a kid but it was around the age of 8 that I really got into mountain biking. I started working in my local bike shop when I was 16 and spent 11 years working through the ranks before deciding to leave to study graphic design as a mature student. My time at college was mostly used to become familiar with the software and it wasn’t until the end of the course that I was really happy with the work I was making. My last brief at college was to make up my own brief so I decided to create a printed publication about mountain biking. I challenged myself to have a 72 page zine fully written, designed and printed in 4 weeks.... which proved to be very ambitious! With the help of some kind contributions in the way of illustrations and photos and some good advice from my tutors I completed the brief in time and Shredder was born! Over the past few years I worked at 20Twenty BMX Store while carrying out some freelance design work and completing a smattering of work placements and temporary design roles. I found the Shredder project to be so fun that I just continued to keep it going since finishing college and I’ve now made 7 issues in total - 5 of the zine and 2 collaborative issues where I worked with other like minded bike industry dudes.
I just recently started working a full time graphic design job at Arjowiggins, a French creative paper company who have a mill just along the road from me in Aberdeen. My mates have joked it’s all part of my grand plan to ensure that print won’t ever die by taking the creation of paper into my own hands... I can confirm it was just a happy coincidence rather than a drastic decision! Life at the mill has been really fun so far and I’ve been enjoying spending as much time working on Shredder and riding my own bike when I can.
Print is dead, baby, why on earth have you launched an indie magazine?
It’s alive! I personally think there’s a need for this type of ‘alternative’ publication in mountain biking. The title of the latest issue ‘For The Culture’ is a nod to that; I think we need some timeless content that can be revisited from time to time and capture this moment in the sport in a tangible form. I like to encourage people to get away from the endless scroll that websites and social media can become.
Have you set any rules for the magazine - what it will always or won't ever be?
It will always feature riders and creative masterminds that I find interesting and have contributed something real to our sport. People who are passionate about what they do, whether that’s competing in races, building trails, creating art or just straight up riding their bikes for the fun of it.
It will never feature lycra bib short reviews, pull out maps or suspension set up advice. Not that I have anything against reviews or maintenance articles, but I do feel the Internet is a much better place for this kind of disposable information. Anything that can become outdated reasonably quickly is for the web, an insightful interview or story with a lot of substance that will be relevant/relatable forever is for print. That’s another reason as to why I started the zine; the content I enjoy creating the most is better suited to a physical publication in my opinion.
What's the best part of running your own mag?
I think having literally no rules and being able to document what I love exactly as I see it is the best part about Shredder. I can write about how amazing a certain rider is, something that annoys me in the industry or how a certain video helped shape my appreciation of mountain biking, and it’s all my true feelings because I choose what to put in each issue. I’ll never write about a topic just because it’s ‘trending’ on a popular website, it has to come from the heart and actually mean something to me.
And the worst bit?
I think doing it while working a full time job can make deadlines very challenging. Also, writing doesn’t come very naturally to me so I often have to spend a lot of time crafting what I’m trying to say. I’m definitely getting better at that though and will always only publish an article that I’m 100% happy with. Other than that I love it all - each issue is a real labour of love that I’m proud to have put the work into.
What are you targets or dreams for Shredder?
Everything I’ve done with Shredder so far has occurred naturally and hasn’t felt forced in any way. I’m happy to continue this laid back approach, have fun and see where it ends up. Massive thanks to everyone who has supported Shredder in any capacity, especially my wife Kimberley who puts up with me making her proof read everything! Huge thanks to all the contributors, interviewees, illustrators and photographers who have helped make issue 5 of Shredder the biggest and best yet, I seriously appreciate the help and support. Lastly, big up Gary at Sideburn for showing some love and being a huge inspiration. Cheers!
Buy SHREDDER here.