London

Big Issue celebrates 200 million sales

Ben Eine signs for the Big Issue celebration Image copyright Ben Eine Signs
Image caption Ben Eines' Big Issue designs are at the Jealous Gallery, Shoreditch from 8-10 April

The Big Issue is marking 200 million sales since its launch in 1991.

Launched by John Bird in 1991, the magazine has become a leading campaigner on issues surrounding poverty and homelessness.

It has partnered with street artist Ben Eine to celebrate the milestone with three collectors' edition covers.

Editor Paul McNamee said the Big Issue was "a print title that is putting on sales as others decline."

Official vendors buy the magazine for £1 and sell it for £2.50 - using the revenue as a means to earn a living.

It was formed in London and is a leading campaigner for the homeless as well as people in vulnerable and insecure housing situations who make up the army of sellers around the country and internationally.

To mark its milestone, Mr McNamee also selected some of the magazine's most memorable covers.

After David Bowie's death, the magazine ran an archive interview Jarvis Cocker had conducted with him as a tribute to the late star(man).

Mr McNamee said photographer Louise Haywood-Schiefer had "just minutes" to grab this portrait of the Dalai Lama. "Brilliantly she caught both his massive personality and the fame that comes with that and a rarely seen impishness. It's a great photo," he said.

The Street Cat named Bob found fame alongside his owner, busker and Big Issue seller James Bowen. Bob became the subject of several best-selling books and Mr Bowen went on to become a charity advocate

"We were joined for this edition by Trudie Styler as guest editor," Mr McNamee said. "She asked if we'd like to see Robert Downey Jnr in a tabard posing as a Big Issue vendor. We said, yes please! And Trudie sorted it. It's a great, strange collection of people in that edition."

The magazine has a number of international editions. This cover, from Japan, features renowned artist Yayoi Kusama.

The first edition resembled a newspaper, and had a cover price of 50p.

This photo of Sgt Rick Clements was taken by rock star Bryan Adams, and used by the magazine to mark the centenary of the outbreak of WW1. "It was a very proud moment when it was named Magazine Cover of The Year by PPA - the Oscars of the British magazine industry," Mr McNamee said.

Artist Ben Eine has created three special "celebration" covers to mark 200 million sales.

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