Shortlisted for the Stack Magazine Awards 2017


Our collaborative issue with students at London College of Communication has been shortlisted in the student magazine category at the 2017 Stack Awards for independent magazines from around the world. The awards ceremony is held in London on 20/11/17.


Chanced Arm

Originally posted by Alice Pomfret on, 29/09/17

It seems that 2017 is the year for independent publishing, this is certainly the case for the large format single sheet mag/a-zine Chanced Arm. The publication is produced by the design studio smallfury and they launched their 4th issue to the public on Thursday 14th September hosting a launch party at Hackney Downs Studios.

Chanced Arm is a publication solely curated by online submissions, their content is gathered by social media callouts asking people to submit anything, on any theme by a particular deadline. Once the deadline comes around Oswin Tickler (creative director & founder of smallfury) then opens up the zines email inbox for the first time and from that moment onwards he has 24hours to design the publication and to get it to print. Each issue holds and eclectic mix of art, illustration, photography, poetry, journalism and some extra random goodies thrown in for surprise.

Two previous issues of Chanced Arm have been created with Magazine Journalism and Publishing students at London College of Communication and one issue was even created with Graphic Design Students from Portland State University, whilst Oswin was out teaching in Portland earlier this year.

The launch party on the 14th of Sept was a great way to meet existing contributors and to say thank-you to the ongoing support system Chanced Arm has. The role of Chanced Arm allows Oswin and smallfury to explore the role of print and especially self-publishing within this ever increasing digital age. It also aims to explore and rediscover the energy and immediacy of early zine culture without simply mimicking the aesthetics.


At work with: Oswin Tickler, designer and educator

Originally Posted by Eve Cross on, 19/06/17

Oswin Tickler is the London-based designer behind smallfury studio and free fold-out zine Chanced Arm, the latest issue of which was created in collaboration with his journalism students at the London College of Communication. He’s currently teaching a term at Portland State University in the US, where he’s developing the next edition of Chanced Arm. We asked him about his coming week.

Tell us about your typical Monday journey to work.
Usually it just involves short walk from one corner of Hackney downs park to the other to get to the studio. Although if I’m teaching as well, I’m usually in the studio around 7/7.30am in order to put in a couple of hours before cycling off to Kings Cross or Elephant and Castle.

Describe the state of your desk and tell us a little about your office.
It’s a mess. There are always piles of books, magazines, proofs and teaching notes everywhere, for some reason I seem to work best like that. I need more space, the studio is pretty small, at a squeeze we can have four people working in there.

What magazine matters to you most this morning?
Well I’ve actually got a small pile; Jacobin, Dissent, Arcades, She Shreds and Shots that I’m looking at for research purposes. Embarrassingly, (but possibly not surprisingly), I picked them up for design reasons, as they all use one or two colours to good effect.

How was your weekend?
Well it was my last weekend in Portland (for now), so I’ve been trying to cram in as much as possible. I went to see the Portland Thorns (football), and went out hiking, just trying to make the most of my last few days here.

What can you tell us about the new Chanced Arm collaboration?
The latest collaboration was with a group of graphic design students at Portland State University (Tyler Alexander, Wendell Barton, Jon Canon, Cole Edmonson and Gavin Van Houten) they came up with the theme ‘perceptions of reality’. Beyond it needing to link conceptually to previous issues, and be printed in two colours, everything else was up for grabs. It seems to have been well received, and hopefully the students felt I was pushing them to work and think in ways they weren’t used to.

How do you feel the magazine has changed from the first issue to the most recent?
As a publication I think it is more confident than the first issue, and the idea of it being a mag/a-zine i.e. awkwardly sitting somewhere between the two, is making more sense (to me at least), even if positioning it is trickier. Part of me thinks it needs to change more, issue by issue, particularly on the design side. So far that has been limited by the 24 hour schedule applied to the regular issues. It’s getting the balance between new and unexpected, but also making something that people actually want to pick up and read, rather than a purely conceptual design exercise.

How was it working with the students?
Working with the students is great, especially as each time I’ve tried to tailor it to work according to the specifics of the course rather than have a fixed idea of what it should be. It throws up different challenges and problems, but out of that different opportunities as well.

Working with Magazine Journalism and Publishing at LCC, each student created their own version of Chanced Arm, (we then took elements from each to produce a collective version), they each took it in different directions, with format, theme, content, colour etc. The more recent Portland State University edition was created by design students with everyone working towards a single publication, to be ready to launch at a specific design event. To hit deadline we ended up working late in the library one Sunday night—I bought them pizza—i’m not a complete monster! Tyler also did a sterling job printing it until around midnight the following day.

But collaboration has always been at the core of what Chanced Arm is meant to be, so working with the students has been great for that, and hearing their priorities and interests emerge throughout the process.

Do you have any plans for the future for Chanced Arm beyond print?
I’m working on a few ideas. I’ve always seen chanced arm as an eclectic collaborative space where established creatives, students, and hobbyists can rub shoulders and make their voice heard, so not necessarily a print mag, it just happened to be where my skills lie, so seemed a natural starting point.

It might be in the form of workshops, or even (dare I say it) some form of open mic night, an evening where a broad spectrum of people who are doing their thing, in front of an audience that will hopefully discover something new in amongst it. It would need to be carefully put together, as the reality of actual open mic nights can be…well you know!

Finding something that works is tricky though. Chanced Arm is deliberately trying to move in the opposite direction of most magazine and publishing wisdom which is about niche subject and audience, breadth and eclecticism is the thing that most interests me. But i’m conscious I need to get another issue out, i’ve been swamped with other work, and focusing on the collaborative issues but we should have an announcement in the next few weeks.

What are you finding most frustrating about your work this week?
Working across timezones always proves a little tricky, and having to book meetings for my return to London in a couple of weeks, rather than be able to just jump on my bike and go and meet with clients and printers right now.

What’s going to be the highlight of this week for you?
I’m going to my first-ever baseball match on Monday (the Portland Pickles), so that should be fun, although I know nothing about Baseball so I suppose it might be terrible. I’m also getting the train from Portland to Los Angeles later this week, it takes 35 hours so it too may be awful, however it’s meant to be a beautiful journey and something I’ve wanted to do for a few years now.

What will you be doing after this chat?
Going to sleep, it’s the middle of the night here…although a client email has just come in.


Noted #77

Originally posted on 07/09/2016

Chanced Arm is a magazine that is edited and designed by design practice Smallfury in 24 hours using ‘content submitted via social media’. Now in its second issue, the folded, small-format publication uses a two-colour palette and features an eclectic, eccentric mix of texts and images. Contents include Christian Granados’s typographic piece reading ‘The world is going nuts’; Simon Hinde’s article ‘Twelve Yachts: A nautical history of late-period capitalism’; and ‘The Periodic Toilet’, by Smallfury founder Oswin Tickler, which looks at toilet signs and ‘the universal failure of pictographic signage’.


Insider: Chanced Arm

Posted by Grace Wang on 05/09/2016

Designed in 24 hours, Chanced Arm's chaotic foldout magazine is crowdsourced from social media
They say limitations breed creativity, and that seems to be exactly what Chanced Arm wants to experiment with. Designed under 24 hours, with self-imposed colour restrictions and crowdsourced content, the scrappy results are fast, frenetic and engaging.

Birthed out of design studio Small Fury, it will have you tilting your head 90 degrees, curiously following a trail of copy, until you find yourself face-to-face with a nude cut out or a detailed periodic table of toilet signs. We talk to Creative Director Oswin Tickler about pulling all-nighters, resisting internet worm holes, and finding the right amount of eclecticism.

In the making of this issue we:

Worked from
Smallfury HQ in Hackney Downs Studios

10pm: Hotdogs from the pub round the corner (Hand of Glory).
7am: misery pizza (Cold homemade pizza, looks awful, tastes good).
Plus intermittent snacking on a pack of biscuits I had previously hidden from myself.

Was surprised that
All-nighters are a lot less easy than they were 10 years ago!

The support and interest we've had from established creatives, and also those less established, hobbyist or secretly creative types that have got in touch or submitted. There have been some really amazing pieces.

Oh and my collection of toilet signs seems to have gone down quite well in this issue, which I wasn't expecting, because...well it's a bit odd by anyones standards!

Argued about
Certain inclusions we all constantly want to push it further, making it stranger and more eclectic. There were a few things I felt were too safe, or too populist, with so many submissions it's sometimes hard to find a balance between what we all want.

Was inspired by
Roger Hargreaves' Mr Tickle! (well for the colour combination at least).

The submissions sent me down a bit of a rabbit hole of interesting and bizarre websites, and the British Library's Flickr stream of images is incredible. I have to be careful I don't spend too long getting inspired and not actually designing anything.

Lost sleep over
All of it: whether or not we would actually have any submissions by the start of the countdown. Then once the magazine got underway, with only 24 hours to go through content, design it and go to print, there wasn't any time for sleep. Although I did nod off at my desk, to wake with some unintelligible notes stuck to my face at 5am.

Was most pleased by
The number and breadth of submissions and those keen to submit in the future. By all accounts the copies for this issue are disappearing far quicker than the last.

And everyone should buy a copy because
Because it’s bloody great!?! No, grab a copy because we hope it’s something different. It’s meant to be something you can pick up and browse while waiting for your friend to finish on Tinder or get back from the bar. But also something you can take home, spend a bit more time with the longer pieces, or to use as a starting point for checking out the artist’s other work. Plus they’ll look pretty sexy on your wall!

Chanced Arm is distributed for free across London, Manchester and Bristol although copies seems to be disappearing fast, so if you can’t find one, you can buy them for cost in the smallfury shop.