Our goal is to document the lengths people go to for their work, their struggles and their joys.
Work has an innate value that goes beyond the quest for cash, and we believe the stories of people who are brave enough to pursue an obsession, to face adversity, or maybe just to make ends meet, are worth sharing.
Looking at the magazines on offer, and not content seeing independent business represented with stories of smooth sailing, we set out to voice a more honest portrayal of entrepreneurialism. Something that made people want to make things happen without overlooking the obvious hurdles. We focus on struggle more than reward in a hope to represent workers fairly. From labourers who need to make ends meet to the fortunate few pursuing an obsesion, we look at why people dedicate their lives to a craft, but more importantly how people can face such adversity and unfortunate odds and still thrive.
The first volume is about activism and empowerment. We didn’t set out to make a political magazine, but we were drawn to certain stories. Features exploring protest, socialist causes, and work related injustices are hard to disentangle from left-wing politics, but Elbow Grease isn’t pushing any kind of agenda. Instead, we believe certain values associated with these movements – the inherent worth of having a trade, for example – are ones we share, and anything that demonstrates those values is alright by us.
Elbow Grease is very much a work in progress. For example, talking to Eddie and Ruth, curators of the Working Class Movement Library, had a great impact on our direction. When we said our mag celebrates work, they told us that conflicted with the reasons they started their collection. The artefacts they exhibit are to provide insight into the industrial and cultural institutions of the working classes which were under appreciated. This set us off in a new direction where we wanted to give our enthusiasm for work some context. Our strapline soon changed from ‘A celebration of Working Culture’ to ‘Perseverance and Proper Graft’.
The small team behind the mag met in Bristol. The industrial city and its work ethic has played a part in influencing the magazines outlook. We value the history of the subject matter, whether being effected by the miners’ strike through the work of Craig Oldham or exhibiting an archive of Feminist publications from the 70’s, we take great pride in our topics heritage.
“Elbow Grease is a well-put together mag, it’s well structured, makes great use of illustration and brings together engaging characters.”
“Elbow Grease has been well received by our savvy regulars as well as impulse buyers. The subject matter is refreshing, stimulating and ballsy.”
“Elbow Grease is a riot of energy, attitude and social comment, full to the brim with insight into the world of graft.”
“We offer a wide range of reading experiences, but there are spaces. So it’s great when a magazine comes along and really fills an information gap.”
“In the new world of instant gratification and expected entitlement, Elbow Grease is a needed reminder on the benefits of work.”