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Interview: Helen Martin of Lionheart magazine

Image Credit: Kasia Fiszer

We all know that feeling when you stumble across something special. You sit there wondering how this thing could have remained a mystery to you for so long. I recently had that experience with Lionheart magazine.

Through our serendipitous connection with Papersmiths, I discovered this amazing magazine and the wow factor was hard to ignore. The illustration on the cover was mesmerizing and felt so fresh compared to the usual glossy magazines out there. I just had to have a copy and rushed off to a café to devour it over a pot of tea and a pastry.

Lionheart is an independent magazine published in Bristol with a focus on style, culture, stories, interviews, travel, photography, craft, and illustration. I discovered many fascinating things and truly relaxed in a way I hadn’t felt in a long time.

So, it was a great pleasure to be able to interview the founder and editor of Lionheart magazine, Helen Martin.


Can you tell us a bit more about Lionheart for our readers who have not yet experienced its amazingness?

Lionheart is an independent lifestyle print magazine with its very first issue going to print at the end of 2011. Each issue has a theme, for example; home, bravery, shapes. The magazine is now on its 10th issue and I am just starting issue 11 – this is a part I really love, I have lists, scrapbooks, thoughts spinning. The hope is that the magazine makes readers feel inspired, excited and good about themselves through interviews, illustration, stories, photography, style etc.


What was your “aha moment” when you decided Lionheart magazine was something you had to make a reality?

I remember the moment! I was on the deck of a little bungalow in Thailand, reading and writing. I was thinking about the current magazines on offer and felt desperate to combine all the elements of life that bring me inspiration and joy. Attainable, fun, interesting and intelligent, I thought if I could gather some of the talented people I knew to contribute and talked to some of those amazing people who have such stories to tell and ideas to share, I could create a magazine. I’ve always made little books, throughout my whole life and I could see this little magazine before me, like theatre! Each page made with true passion for the content and the audience. I knew I had to do it. I left the balcony, walked through the tall trees and to the beach to the water. My partner and I had shared a cold drink and I told him about my plan! I’ve got a photo of the moment somewhere and it brings me a little pow in my heart when I see it!


Each issue of Lionheart has a specific theme e.g. pattern and colour, home, time etc. How do you decide on each theme and what do you look for when considering what to include in that issue?

It’s a combination of ideas, themes and feelings. I tend to have a little break after each issue and then slowly I begin collecting. I find myself with collections of colours, scraps of paper, pots of paint, scents, the pull to travel somewhere, trying/discussing/thinking about something, new pens, postcards, fabrics, music, film. It all works together and a theme emerges. I’ve normally built a list by then and I contact those who I have noted along the way, plus of course I tell my brilliant designer, Holly Giblin, who is always so good at sharing the vision! Along with some of my long-term great contributors and it all starts. I feel like I’ve been living that theme for a while by then, then midway through the magazine I normally get really scared for a week before it all comes running together and I LOVE it. The theme and the mag sings! (ROARS!)

All adventures contain setbacks along the way. I love hearing about these because they show the strength of the dreamer to overcome challenges. Could you please share a memorable failure (or two!) since your journey started in 2011 and what you have learnt from them?

Definitely! All kinds of things, low res images found just before print, my absolute obsession with commas and when I get a bit scared having to ask Holly to put them in a feature, then out again at the last minute. Oops! Once I forgot a whole double page spread, somehow I’d missed two pages of the magazine. Once we had pages printed upside down in the middle of the magazine (which the printer sorted!). I’ve had magazines sent to the wrong address and just ‘lost in transit’ – hundreds of them! Thankfully they were found after some detective work, but it was 24 hours of mystery. Every issue we only just have the magazines before launch. It’s always very intense at the end! Endless challenges – just filling up my buggy with packs of magazines to post with three children, that can be pretty hard work.


I read in an interview that many people told you: “Print is dead and that it wasn’t a wise decision (to start a magazine).” What would you tell someone who is trying to follow their passion but are coming up against negative opinions?

Follow your instinct! Find the people who believe in your idea, they are out there and they are GOLD.


What can we expect in issue 11 of Lionheart? Any teasers are more than welcome!

It’s all a bit secret at the moment, but I absolutely promise it will be a bright collection, with some extra special pieces inside. I’m VERY excited about this one! Thank you for supporting Lionheart with this interview and kind words, it really means the world!


Thank you Helen for sharing an insight into the inspring world of Lionheart and helping us all roar a little more! Nothing makes me happier than to read about people who follow their passion, I can feel your excitement leaping off the page.

Make sure you check out issue 11 when it comes out and in the meantime you can pick up back issues on their website or you may be lucky enough to find them at a local stockist.

Image Credit: Caroline Rowland