You can tell that Off The Rails has some Manc in it. This is a magazine that’s always been a bit different.
Moulded by creatives rather than a corporation, it doesn’t look like anything else out there, and never really has.
But it’s the content that sets Off The Rails apart; the wild, weird and wonderful words and pictures within its pages.
Inside every issue, fledgling photographers sit alongside world-famous lensmen. Gallery art and social media snaps share the same pages. Daring editorials and images – the kind that other mags feel uncomfortable about posting – get full spreads.
Off The Rails refuses to play by the rulebook; and now it’s about to do something else very different.
The magazine is going to be available for Mancs, for free.
It’s a move that Manchester’s own Tony Wilson – the supposed author of the famous quote “we do things differently here” – would even applaud.
What readers get, in every issue, is work they simply won’t see anywhere else.
Photos. Poems. Writing. Art. Illustrations. All new. All different. In a single place.
In 2014, Off The Rails began as a little more than a personal project – something that would prove to be a bit of a release for some pent-up creativity.
Co-founders Matt and Lee thought they were being overambitious when they came up with the idea for Off The Rails during a tequila-soaked evening in a New York bar.
But half a dozen years later, the party is still going.
“We were just trying to show off some untapped, world-class quality art from unknown artists,” Matt tells us.
“We had no idea it would get as big as it did.”
Today, Off The Rails has more than a quarter-of-a-million followers on Instagram, with thousands more following on Twitter and Facebook.
The magazine has turned into one of the biggest possible platforms for artists – presenting a space for aspiring creatives to rub shoulders with the famous and glamorous.
The readership is global now. International film stars and musicians are tucked between the covers, with contributions coming in from every corner of the planet.
But, nonetheless, many Mancunian fingerprints are smudged across the print.
Many Off The Rails contributors, stylists and models hail from home turf – and published images from shoots taking place at Heaton Park and Radcliffe have racked up huge engagement online.
Deepening the bond is the fact that Off The Rails struck its first commission deal in Manchester.
Matt and Lee applied an image bank for multiple brands in order to create graphic t-shirts – which ultimately went on to spearhead the company to dizzying new heights.
They’ve been returning the favour ever since, introducing world art to Manchester and pitching up a studio here so they can remain at the centre of a city that’s perennially abuzz with new ideas.
The magazine is always looking for new contributors, too.
“It doesn’t matter about your reputation in the industry. We invite anyone creative to send us ideas,” says Lee.
“It’s about the quality of the work, not the person. We’re different like that.”
The brand new issue of Off The Rails has dropped this weekend.
Use code THEMANC at checkout for 100% off your subscription.