Get to know Nouveau Projet: Canada’s Magazine of the Year

Nouveau Projet Issue no. 5, Spring-Summer 2014. Gold Medal in Art Direction of an Entire Issue, 2014 National Magazine Awards

At this year’s National Magazine Awards held on June 5 the jury awarded the prestigious prize of Magazine of the Year to Nouveau Projet, an independent French-language literary and cultural magazine published by Atelier 10 in Montreal.

Launched in 2012, the magazine’s mandate is to help us better understand the challenges of our time and lead a more balanced, satisfying and meaningful life. A catalyst and rallying point of progressive forces in Quebec in the 2010s, it seeks to encourage and nurture public discussion, while looking upon our time with a curious, sincere and thorough gaze.

In addition to winning Magazine of the Year, Nouveau Projet also won the Gold Medals for Art Direction of an Entire Issue and Words & Pictures, as well as the Silver Medal for Editorial Package and Honourable Mention in Fiction, Personal Journalism and Best Single Issue, marking a breakout performance that has piqued the interest of magazine readers and fellow members of the Canadian media industry.

Nouveau Projet editor Nicolas Langelier accepts the award for Magazine of the Year from NMAF President Joyce Byrne and Joanne Larocque-Poirier, Head of Prizes for Canada Council for the Arts. (Photo: Dave Todon / KlixPix)
Nouveau Projet editor Nicolas Langelier accepts the award for Magazine of the Year from NMAF President Joyce Byrne and Joanne Larocque-Poirier, Head of Prizes for Canada Council for the Arts. (Photo: Dave Todon / KlixPix)

About Nouveau Projet the National Magazine Awards jury said:

Nouveau Projet is a near-perfect symbiosis of subject matter, expert writing and exceptionally original design. It sets itself apart thanks to inspiring themes and bold covers. The magazine offers a fresh take on the genre and dares to cover topics that are virtually absent in other media. The energy of the editorial team is tangible page after page. Nouveau Projet embodies the spirit of print magazines.

Earlier this year we chatted with Nicolas Langelier, founder and editor-in-chief of Nouveau Projet–part of our Off the Page / En Marge interview series with National Magazine Award winners. You can read the original interview in French, or continue below for an excerpt translated into English.

Nicolas Langelier (Photographe : Maxime Leduc); Nouveau Projet numéro 6
Nicolas Langelier (Photographe : Maxime Leduc); Nouveau Projet Issue no. 6, Fall-Winter 2014: Silver Medal, Editorial Package, 2014 National Magazine Awards.

NMAF: What was your reaction to receiving a nomination for Magazine of the Year for Nouveau Projet?

Nicolas: It was both a great surprise and a source of pride. For a small independent magazine that has been published only for a few years, even to be a finalist for Magazine of the Year is an unexpected honour. I am grateful to the National Magazine Awards Foundation for taking into account the diversity of magazines and their resources.

NMAF: To what do you attribute the early success of the magazine?

Nicolas: From the start our obsession has been quality in everything we do, from the choice of our subjects to our presence on social media. Our readers can really sense this constant concern for quality; it’s something they are willing to pay for.

It also seems to me that we have a niche to fill in the Canadian media landscape. With the general trend towards shorter texts, more sensational topics, faster publishing — this environment has created a place for people to counter that trend with quality content.

Our readers tell us that we are doing a great job in delivering this, and I think it is because we offer something that many publications think their readers don’t need.

"La pointe des utopies" by Remy Bordillon and Pierre-Yves Cezard. Gold Medal in Words & Pictures
“La pointe des utopies” by Remy Bordillon and Pierre-Yves Cezard (Nouveau Projet). Gold Medal in Words & Pictures, 2014 National Magazine Awards.

NMAF: The excellence of Nouveau Projet has been recognized with several National Magazine Awards, including Art Direction of an Entire Issue, Words & Pictures and Magazine of the Year. What impact do these awards have for you and the magazine?

Nicolas: It’s certainly something that has had a positive impact for us, perhaps more by raising our profile among others in the Canadian magazine industry than among the public, which may not know them well yet (in Quebec at least). This recognition from our peers, advertisers, and current and future contributors means a lot to us.

NMAF: You frequently participate in the National Magazine Awards as a member of our volunteer jury. While you were president of the Association des journalistes indépendants, you created the Grands Prix du journalisme indépendant. How would you describe the critical role that awards programs play in the industry, for magazines and creators?

Nicolas: They are essential. To have these kinds of institutions that value excellence and support the entire industry; it seems absolutely necessary. This is true for breeders of cows, for architects, and for those who create magazines: we need these incentives to compare ourselves with the talent and rigour present elsewhere in our industry, and to demand the best from ourselves.

"Faux-self mon amour," by Fanny Britt (Nouveau Projet) ; Gold Medal, Personal Journalism, 2012 National Magazine Awards
“Faux-self mon amour,” by Fanny Britt (Nouveau Projet) ; Gold Medal, Personal Journalism, 2012 National Magazine Awards

NMAF: What does the future hold for Nouveau Projet and your publishing house, Atelier 10?

Nicolas: I want us to become a reference for culture and ideas in Quebec–and the rest of the Francophonie, eventually. To publish the best authors and visual artists, and discover and engage new readers. To produce various types of publications, always with great rigour and quality.

I still believe much in paper as a medium to convey ideas, information, and values. Those who predict the death of print–I want to prove them wrong. This does not mean that we should neglect digital opportunities; everything we do is also available in digital versions. But paper has a special place in my heart, and I think this is also the case for the majority of the public. We enjoy both!

Ultimately, I hope that our work has a positive impact at the cultural, social and intellectual levels. If we do all this, in the face of obstacles and difficult conditions, it is because we believe that changes are needed in our society, and we also believe that the media continue to have a key role to play in advancing discussion and debate. Yes, the past fifteen years have been tough on our industry, but it’s up to us to find ways to continue to fulfill our role. It would be extremely unfortunate for humanity if a simple change in the economic environment deprived us of the essential service that is quality media.

This interview has been edited and adapted from its original French, published in January 2015. Discover more about Nouveau Projet at nouveauprojet.com and on Twitter @nouveau_projet.

Nouveau Projet in the National Magazine Awards Archive:
2014: Magazine of the Year
2014: Gold Medal, Words & Pictures (“La pointe des utopies”)
2014: Gold Medal, Art Direction of an Entire Issue (“Automne/Hiver 2014”)
2014: Silver Medal, Editorial Package (“Régénérescences”)
2012: Gold Medal, Personal Journalism (“Faux-self, mon amour“)

Honourable Mention:
2014: Best Single Issue, Fiction, Personal Journalism
2013: Personal Journalism, Essays, Art Direction of an Entire Issue, Magazine of the Year
2012: How-To

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