By Lee Dean
Over in Australia there’s a Porsche magazine that combines high-end design values with grass-roots stories that journey beyond the cars, and it’s set to launch in the UK
Words: Julian Milnes
Have you ever wondered where your Porsche has been, and similarly, just where it can take you? It’s a question that’s being asked by the sumptuously compiled Duck & Whale magazine, whose striking photography and design resonates against real-world stories across the globe, delivering an altogether intriguing result.
“I wanted to deliver a different type of experience on the printed page, to focus as much on the people as the cars,” says editor and founder Lee Dean. Those subsequently unearthed personal journeys are recounted over up to 16 pages, turning stories into proverbial odysseys.
Take the one about the Aussie farmer who uses his vintage ‘76 911S daily to visit his post box due to logistics, tackling dirt tracks and deconstructed tundra along the way. The car was subsequently tracked down through legend and word of mouth, then purchased in good faith, farm modifications disbanded, the car is now back on the street.
“The key time is to try and make it as much about the people as the cars. I love photographing the different things that people do to their cars. If they made a little change here or there, it creates that unique story.”
However, while Lee grew up with a fascination for motors, whether reading about them or tinkering with them, he admits his passion for Porsche only fully bloomed after working as a designer on one of Australia premier automotive magazines, Wheels.
“It became clear that Porsche was something special, a brand that stood out, so admittedly the obsession came a bit later on and I worked my way backwards from there,” says Lee, who drives a ’73 911. “It plugs me straight into the essence of what these cars are about; how they produce different emotions. Mine’s a bit of an old club racer, it delivers such a visceral experience. It’s what makes Porsche so special, the enthusiasm created around the cars.”
Having also worked in various creative roles in publishing and advertising, including a two year stint in London, Lee decided to combine his knowledge and enthusiasm to create something new.
“I felt there was a need for something different at this point, one that aimed to blend creative design with Porsche culture.” They say in business a great way to approach it is as an ignorant hero, someone who isn’t aware how hard it is to achieve the goal.”
And so with this in mind in 2016 Duck & Whale’s first photo shoot took place, recruiting a friend’s 964 and a photographer, Lee planted the flag and established the magazine’s blueprint with his first feature.
“I knew if I told enough people I was going to launch this magazine I’d have to follow through on my word!” And so the good word was spread.
Being completely independent is key to Duck & Whale’s philosophy. It doesn’t have kowtow to external commercial pressures or have the editorial narrative dictated by mainstream audiences, who’ve been brought up on standard road tests.
“I found that a lot of stories were short and lacking detail in mainstream magazines, Duck & Whale set out to deliver a more emotional journey. Our stories go over 16 pages, even our short stories are six pages,” explains Lee.
“For me, Porsche people are enthusiasts that really appreciate amazing engineering and quality attention to detail, so it’s seemed only natural to want to dive deep into these stories.”
This is complemented by Lee’s love for a car that’s been there and done that. “I love a Porsche that’s well driven, had a nice long life that gets used regularly. But what does that say about the owner and their relationship with it? Why have they altered the car in a certain way? That’s what Duck & Whale is about, we’re covering these people and their stories,” says Lee.
“I love the honesty of Porsche people, all the cars have their quirks and I think you can relate to them as individuals, with their own personalities. It’s funny, before social media you’d go on the forums and get to know people via their car’s problems and the trouble or hardships they were bringing. I mean, running an air-cooled can sometimes be a pain in the arse, like a relationship you’ll fight sometimes, but you’ll also kiss and make up!”
The desire for integrity and quality across the board in Duck & Whale even extends to the paper stock, which switches from an initial 40 pages of high-grade gloss, to 40 matt, then back to 40 gloss.
“People are amazed that we’re doing it, they love the quality feel of the magazine, the smell of the ink, the aesthetics – it all shines through, which shows we’re on the right track.”
The genesis of stories are a mix of Australian and global Porsche culture, which reflects the way the public consume information now via social media, says Lee. “It’s brought everyone closer, so Duck & Whale tends to be like that, I get approached by so many people from all over the world and try and encapsulate that world-wide Porsche passion.”
Lee’s personal favourite features include an interview with cult Belgium-based Porsche photographer Bart Kuykens, who mixed his passion for analog Leica cameras with vintage Porsches to create the book A Flat 6 Love Affair. While a focus on the GT2 RS, entitled Road Trip Acid Test, with owner and collector Kim Burke delivered a spacey affair, which took the reader into a different dimension via the GT’s interstellar capabilities.
“That’s the great thing with Duck & Whale, it can take you to places that have yet to be fully explored!”