The Big Issue celebrates 200 million sales

To celebrate The Big Issue's 200 millionth sale, we've published there special covers designed by celebrated street artist Ben Eine

On April 7, 2016 The Big Issue will celebrate 200 million sales in Britain.

In almost 25 years since its founding, the iconic magazine has changed the publishing landscape and the lives of thousands and thousands of people, working on the simple ‘A hand up, not a hand out’ mantra.

The first cover of The Big Issue, published in September 1991.

The Big Issue is not a charity, it is not a governmental agency, yet in that time it has allowed the poorest in Britain to earn more than £100 million. Without The Big Issue that huge figure would have had to come from begging, crime or the Exchequer. It is calculated that this money has resulted in an additional return for society of almost £500 million. This is through a simple business solution to a societal problem.

We’re delighted to be here, to be a print title that is putting on sales as others decline

“We’re so proud to be able to mark this occasion,” said editor Paul McNamee. “When John Bird established The Big Issue in 1991 he wanted to offer the poorest in society a means to earn their own living, to work their way back up from the bottom, to see a future. John always thinks big but I don’t think even he would have seen 200 million sales.


If you pay for the magazine you should always take it. Vendors are working for a hand up, not a handout.

“We’re delighted to be here, to be a print title that is putting on sales as others decline and to remain a vital force for the men and women who want to earn but have seen normal life close down.”

Big Issue MD, Russell Blackman added “200 million copies sold is an incredible land mark and testament to all the vendors that have stood out there, in any weather, running their own micro-enterprises with a sense of dignity. The social impact that has been created by these sales is profound.”

Street artist Ben Eine.

To mark this fantastic date, The Big Issue has teamed up with prolific street artist Ben Eine who is most notable for his alphabet lettering on shop shutters and walls, to design a very special edition front cover of the magazine. Eine, one of Britain’s best urban artists, has created an exclusive cover using his unique lettering style. There are three Big Issue covers to collect. If you can’t find all three versions on sale from a vendor, you can buy them from The Big Issue shop.

Ben Eine designed Big Issue covers
The three special edition Big Issue covers, exclusively designed by Ben Eine

In collaboration with Eine and Jealous Gallery in Shoreditch, London, The Big Issue will ‘Celebrate’ the landmark 200 millionth copy of the magazine sold with a special one-off exhibition of three new Ben Eine editions produced and hosted by Jealous Gallery from April 8–10.

I am honoured to be able to be in a position where I can give something back

At the public opening on Friday April 8, Eine’s new prints (one finished example below) will officially launch to fans and collectors alongside a selection of his previous print editions, produced in the Jealous Print Studio. There will be three editions of 150 signed and numbered ‘Celebrate’ prints available in Eine’s trademark Vandal, Circus and Shutter fonts. Plus, copies of the 200 millionth special edition of The Big Issue, featuring his artwork on three collectable covers will be for sale, signed by The Big Issue founder John Bird and Ben Eine. A percentage of sales will go to The Big Issue to help with their on-going mission to help vendors help themselves.

“I am honoured to be able to be in a position where I can give something back and The Big Issue is an organisation that I feel passionate about,” said Eine. “Any of us can become homeless pretty easily.”

“Jealous are delighted to be working alongside Ben Eine and The Big Issue on this unique and exciting project,” added Jealous Gallery director Dario. “We are humbled that our space will facilitate such a good cause and proud to create the prints that will accompany this milestone.”

Issue 1199

The public opening on Friday will be at the Shoreditch gallery (Jealous East) from 10am–4pm, then the last 50 editions of each print will be available at the launch evening from 6.30pm–9.30pm also at the Shoreditch gallery, which can be found at 53 Curtain Road, London EC2A 3PT. Any remaining prints will then be available on the Jealous website from 11am on Saturday April 9.