When people hear of a magazine called Meatpaper, they immediately conclude that it must be a recipe-laden publication for cooks or a trade magazine for those in the livestock and butchering business. Meatpaper is directed at neither. Actually, it is very hard to describe. Created by San Francisco-based Sasha Wizansky, whose background is fine art, graphic design and sculpture, the concept for Meatpaper started as an art project. About four years ago, Wizansky says she was struck by the realization that “everyone had a story to tell about their relationship to meat. I realized that a magazine would be a perfect way to explore this idea.”
Teaming with journalist/radio reporter Amy Standen, Wizansky self-produced what she describes as “the only magazine about the idea of meat – what we call the fleischgeist” — defined as “the spirit of the meat.” She says fleischgeist refers to “the growing cultural trend of meat consciousness, a new curiosity about not just what’s inside that hotdog, but how it got there, and what it means to be eating it.”
As quirky and off-the-wall as the idea sounds, it works because the design, articles and artwork are fascinating and beautifully presented. Images range from the photojournalistic to surrealistic fine art. Editorial content runs the gamut from poems about meat by such literary greats as Sylvia Plath to a story about an 11-year-old Alabama boy who kills a 1,051-pound wild pig and an interview with a Belgian meat artist named Jan Fabre.
Wizansky’s keen artistic eye is evident throughout the magazine. She also illustrated many of the articles in each issue. Now a quarterly publication, Meatpaper has developed an almost cultlike following around the world. The magazine sales are nearly evenly split between subscribers and newsstand sales, available nationally from Barnes & Noble. Even more impressive are the number of photographers, artists and writers who are willing to volunteer their talent to provide content. “We’ve been pretty blown away by the response,” Wizansky says. “People send us artwork and concepts all the time.”