The Motif Magazine Strives to Spread Ebullience with The Happy Issue

The Motif Magazine makes a booming resurgence after a 3-year hiatus with their latest issue, the Happy Motif. The ongoing pandemic sparked up inspiration for Stockholm creative director Jakob de Tobon and while spending time in his country home he curated a celebration focused on freedom, ebullience, and pure joy. Featuring an array of young, established, and upcoming contributors, Tobon teamed up with his wife, Anya de Tobon, and casting directors Evelien Joos and Shaun Beyen to showcase various glimpses at happiness throughout the globe. We spoke to Tobon about the difficulty of collaborating in a pandemic, creating true expressions of joy, and looking inside oneself to find genuine happiness.


Image courtesy of The Motif Magazine

How did The Motif Magazine start?
I loved S/S/A/W, but after 10 issues I got tired of doing more or less the same issue over and over again. With The Motif Magazine as the creative director, I get the chance to invent something new for every “motif”. Last time it was a huge blue block of a magazine, this time colorful but classic hardcover books filled with happiness!

It’s been about three years since you released your last issue “The Blue Motif”. What led you to make a resurgence and create the “Happy Motif” in the middle of a pandemic?
I and the Motif team felt that now is the time when the world needs a bit of happiness. If the book makes someone smile, that would be incredible.


Image courtesy of The Motif Magazine

You worked with a diverse group of creatives for this issue: Sara Blomqvist, Andreea Diaconu, Delwin Kamara, Sarah Blais, Vito Fernicola, and Ronan Mckenzie to name a few. How did you, Evelien Joos, and Shaun Beyen come together to select the cast for this issue?
Lots of Skype calls between Sweden and Belgium! It has been a difficult issue to make because of the pandemic, but we are very happy to have been able to shoot all over the globe anyway. Photos have been taken in Canada, Nigeria, Sweden, Australia, etc. Paintings were done in Norway and the USA. Texts were written in Greece and Portugal. Even if there have been less traveling and more Zoom.

How was the co-creative experience working alongside your wife, Anya de Tobon?
Difficult since she is the beauty director and I don’t like makeup! Good thing she is the best makeup artist in the world and always comes up with new ideas on making makeup relevant.


Image courtesy of The Motif Magazine

What would you say is your happy place?
Easy – that is my family’s summer house in the Norwegian mountains. We shot up there with Frida Gustavsson for SSAW some years ago.

Freedom, peace, family, and home are common themes reflected throughout the happy issue, did you give the contributors certain themes to showcase or did you give them creative freedom, and why?
We chose the creatives because we wanted their style and true expressions. That said I always try to control the theme and make the issue have strong unity. Normally I’m on all the sets but this time it has been impossible on some shoots because of COVID-19, so we’ve had to rely on Zoom so this issue has been a bit looser in the creative direction. In the end that might be perfect for a happy motif though!


Image courtesy of The Motif Magazine

You were able to capture different moments of happiness from contributors all around the globe. How can happiness transcend in dark societal collective times and what were some aspects of your life that brought you joy in the peak of the pandemic?
Of course, that is very different for people around the world but hopefully, the pandemic made us look inside and find out what really makes us happy. I have been lucky and was able to spend time with my family in our country house and nature, while also working on The Happy Motif – hopefully, the readers will get the same feeling from the book.

“Happiness is contagious in the best of ways, so when you find it, share it and spread it.”

How can fashion magazines contribute to moving society forward and cultivate novelty?
Independent culture can and fashion magazines are a small part of that. It’s difficult to stay independent and not just follow the money…so the next time you’re in the magazine shop, try to look further than the Conde Nast shelf.

What do you want readers to feel when looking through this new issue?
Crossing my fingers for happiness…and the feeling that the pandemic is fading out and we are all soon going to meet again.


Image courtesy of The Motif Magazine

What future plans do you have for The Motif Magazine?
The concept is supposed to be very free and indie. We don’t care about advertisers or seasons so the next issue might drop in a few months but it could also take 3 years again. Inspiration will decide!