Tobias Lengkeek about the Pandemie Magazine

10 June 2020

Part of a series of interviews with KABK alumni, highlighting their creative initiatives in times of Corona.

In times of quarantine, boredom is lurking. Not if you ask Tobias Lengkeek, Fine Arts alumnus (2016) who started the Pandemie Magazine (Pandemic Magazine) with a group of befriended artists.

They offer short stories, illustrations, comics, quizzes, and more. The fourth edition of the magazine is about to drop on July 8th, perfect timing to get to know the magazine and Tobias a bit better; so we ask:

How are you doing?

No one close to me has physically been affected by the Covid-19 disease. And I’m also fine and busy at the moment. I have a big assignment for Nationale Nederlanden (one of the largest insurance and asset management companies in the Netherlands). As part of the redevelopment of their office buildings in Rotterdam and The Hague, I'm developing designs for the walls on several floors.

Another thing which I’m currently working on is a project called ‘troost kunst’ of the Stedelijk Museum Schiedam. This project will feature one of my paintings on posters throughout Schiedam and its surrounding areas. The original painting is currently on display in the real ‘troost kunst’ exhibition. I also work at NEST, a gallery in The Hague, where I’ve continued to work despite the situation, and last but not least, I started Pandemie Magazine together with a few befriended artists.

Pandemie Magazine #2
Second edition "Barre Tijden"

How do the current Covid-19 measures affect your own practice?

When I'm not working on commission, I can always continue to work on my own paintings and art. In that sense, this period is comparable to a normal, quiet period, but of course, we don't know yet what the effect will be in the future. On the other hand, the Pandemic Magazine wouldn't have come into being without Covid-19, since it was a direct reaction to the crisis.

Why did you start Pandemie Magazine?

A lot of activities were cancelled which saved us time. As with any crisis, life always finds a way to go on. It is worthwhile and interesting to reflect on the crisis, we do so through our magazine. Besides that, we contribute to counteracting the boredom that comes with being in quarantine.

Who are you working with on the magazine? How did you get together?

The editors of Pandemic Magazine consist of: Folkert Koelewijn, Teuntje Fleur, Malyssa ten Hove (alumna Fine Arts, 2013), Rooz Boersma, and me (alumnus Fine Arts, 2016). Malyssa had the idea to start a magazine to kill our time and create content that would help others kill their time.

Pandemie Magazine - first edition ‘Krijg de Corona’
First edition ‘Krijg de Corona’

Malyssa knows designer Teuntje Fleur because the play basketball together. Teuntje Fleur's friend Folkert is a photographer. Rooz, Teuntje's sister, also plays basketball and was forced to leave her job as a ski instructor in Austria because of Covid-19 and came home. I am Malyssa's boyfriend. Coincidentally we all live on the same street and Teuntje Fleur has her own riso printer, which allows us to print, fold, staple, and send the magazine according to RIVM guidelines. Everyone was immediately enthusiastic and so began the setup of the first edition ‘Krijg de Corona’ best translated as 'Get the Corona'. We didn't expect it to be received so well, and of course, this motivated us to continue making the magazine. We are currently working on the 4th edition! It was as if the universe wanted it this way.

The magazine is full of entertaining quizzes, (silly) jokes, satire, puzzles, DIY tips you name it. Can you tell us something about the creation of the magazine?

Tobias Lengkeek anti-ad design
Tobias Lengkeek designs an advertisement for each edition of the Pandemic in which nothing is advertised at all.

For each edition, we come up with a theme that reflects the current zeitgeist. Based on a theme we come up with the content. Everyone makes their own contribution for the magazine and some parts are created together. It works well to work together so we can inspire each other, which speeds up the process.

Pandemie #3
Pandemie #3, article: Folkert Koelewijn, design: Teuntje Fleur

In addition, we actively look for guest contributions that we think fit in well with the theme and tone of the magazine (for instance Pandemie Magazine 3 had contributions of alumna Lies de Rooij (Fine Arts, 2013) and Cedric Ter Bals (Fine Arts, 2018). In this way, we create a coherent whole in which the balance between the various disciplines is very important to us.

The magazine is printed with a Risograph. This is a Japanese stencil printing technique that is durable. We print on Amazone-free paper. We use the RIVM guidelines and we write stamp codes on the envelopes ourselves to avoid a trip to the post office.

The magazine is grafted on to help its reader get through these crazy times, what do you prefer to do yourself in this time of quarantine?

I have an 11-month-old daughter who I enjoy spending a lot of time with. In addition, I'm doing some construction work on my balcony when I have time to spare. Of course, I also enjoy working on my own contributions for Pandemie Magazine.

The magazine of course runs completely on the current Covid-19 crisis, what happens when the crisis is over? Would that imply the end of the magazine?

The current situation was indeed the reason to start this magazine. In addition, the content is completely inspired by the spirit of the time in which it was created. So, it had to be conceived and executed quickly, time after time. To give an example: the first edition from idea to physical magazine was realised in a week. This would normally not have been feasible, but this was made possible by the time we had due to the crisis.

Pandemie Magazine - third edition "Alles Went"
Third edition "Alles Went"

For each edition, we check whether the time and relevance are there to produce the next issue. We’re already noticing that it is becoming more difficult because the measures are gradually lifted, and we, therefore, have less time left. Of course, we are convinced that nobody is going to forget this period and that there will always be a relevance. Therefore, we don't rule out making more editions, but the pace will certainly not be as high in the future. We are now busy with Pandemie Magazine 4!

Pandemie Magazine 4 will be published on July 8th and is for sale via Instagram.