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Head Full of Snakes · Issue II


31st January, 2013
Lucy Feagins
Thursday 31st January 2013

Head Full of Snakes Issue II - a motorcycle magazine unlike any other!  Photos by Sean Fennessy.

Head Full of Snakes Issue II - Published and designed by Stuart Geddes and Luke Wood.  Photos by Sean Fennessy.

Head Full of Snakes Issue II - Published and designed by Stuart Geddes and Luke Wood.  Photos by Sean Fennessy.

Head Full of Snakes Issue II - Published and designed by Stuart Geddes and Luke Wood.  Photos by Sean Fennessy.

You might recall in August last year we ran an interview with stupendously clever and controversially bearded local designer Stuart Geddes of Chase & Galley. Don't pretend you don't remember. The story was expertly photographed by the one and only Sean Fennessy, and Stuart looked ravishing in his amazing yellow leather jacket, in a kind of fictional Wes-Anderson-character sort of way. (Y'all can chill out about the beard now, he's shaved it off).

As you know Stuart is an exceptionally talented and well respected local creative, specialising in book design. He's worked on some seriously stunning publications over the past few years, many of which we have featuring here, including Stuart Harrison's amazing book  Forty-Six Square Metres of Land, The Melbourne Design Guide, and the re-design of Dumbo Feather magazine in 2011.

Stuart works incredibly hard in what can only be described as a seriously painstaking job!  So, what does a book designer do on his days off...? Why, creates his own publication of course!

Stuart is a motorcycle enthusiast from way back. Last year he joined with fellow bike lover, New Zealand based Luke Wood to create Head Full of Snakes - a dense, beautifully designed indie publication about motorbikes, the culture that surrounds them, and the people who love them. The magazine really is a labour of love - not only is the content all produced by Stuart, Luke and their small team of collaborators and friends, but additionally, they print the WHOLE MAGAZINE in 3 colours on Stuart's own Risograph machine, meticulously collating the pages manually, and outsourcing only the binding. This is clearly completely MAD, and that, my friends, is why it is awesome!  A truly handcrafted publication, in every sense of the word.  (For a few behind the scenes pics of the insane collation process check out the HFoS blog!)

Head Full of Snakes is one of those intense projects, created with a level of perfectionism you really only see in a 'love' job.  It's so thoughtfully researched and written, and beautifully laid out in a 'just blokey enough but just beautiful enough' way.  At just $25.00 a pop these babies are destined to completely sell out, just as they did last year... and when they're gone, they're gone!  If you have a motorbike-loving lad (or lass!) in your life, this might be the perfect anti-Valentines gift for him / her!

This month Stuart and Luke have released Head Full of Snakes issue II!  We asked Stuart a few questions about the project -

What can we expect to find inside of issue two of Head Full of Snakes?

There's a bunch of stuff in there! It feels like a big issue, even though it's only 6 pages longer than the first (it's 114 pages). There's a couple of long interviews with motorbike people; David Beanham of Modak Motorcycles in Elizabeth Street, whose family has run Modak for 60 years; and Joe Grose, who restored a 1920s Harley Peashooter. There's also a great interview with Nicolai Sclater (Ornamental Conifer), A curated section by New York based This Long Century, a special Research Report by The Acid Sweat Lodge, a pull-out paper dart board and an embroidered patch made for us by Cash's, the last woven label manufacturer in Australia (along with a story about them by Carolyn Fraser). There's a whole lot more in there, but I'm sure you don't want me to go on.

How long has issue two been in development, and what challenges did you face getting this latest issue out of your brains and onto the shelf?

Really Luke and I started to talk about issue two as soon as issue one was done, so about a year ago. We were going to make it bi-yearly to begin with, but half way through the year we were both so busy that we thought it best to put issue two off - we followed story leads for most of the year, but the intense content gathering phase was really between October and the end of the year.

Luke (who is in Christchurch) came over here at the beginning of January to finalise the design and start the marathon of printing. The marvellous Penny Modra (of ThreeThousand) did our copy editing again, we had a bunch of friends and volunteers helping with the collating, and this time we outsourced the binding; but aside from that the whole thing is us. And so for 5 days we printed on it on our Risograph machine for 16 hours a day (and there was an all-nighter in there somewhere), and we worked out somewhere along the way that the print run is something like 202 000 individual prints. Some of the agony of production are detailed on the blog!

Buy Head Full of Snakes issue II from Motto Melbourne, The Modern Motor Cycle Company & on the HFoS website!

Head Full of Snakes Issue II - Published and designed by Stuart Geddes and Luke Wood.  Photos by Sean Fennessy.

Head Full of Snakes Issue II - Published and designed by Stuart Geddes and Luke Wood.  Photos by Sean Fennessy.

The Design Files acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of the lands on which we work, the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nation. We pay our respects to Elders past and present.

First Nations artists, designers, makers, and creative business owners are encouraged to submit their projects for coverage on The Design Files. Please email