21 June 2009

We Make Magazines

I am ashamed of my blogger self. This post has been in the works for some time now and I haven't actually had time to sit and look over my notes and share with you all the good stuff from the We Make Magazines seminar I attended at the Portfolios last weekend. The seminar was truly a celebration of independent publishing with three editors sharing their experiences of self publishing. Attempting to be a mini editor myself I was thrilled to hear the stories of Danny Miller from Little White Lies, Karen Lubbock from Karen Magazine, and Becky Smith editor of Lula magazine who was s surprise speaker. Chaired by the brilliant Jeremy Leslie the editors all presented a slide show of their magazines and briefly talked us through how/why they started the magazine, how they make layout+ content decisions, and what being independent publishers meant to them. At the end of the seminar I was in awe of these editors who had the courage to follow passions and create something spectacular.

Now for those of you who weren't able to attend the event, I managed to get a hold of both Danny and Karen for mini-interviews and they touched up on topics discussed at the seminar.

Little White Lies is Danny Miller's labor of love project. The magazine is a bi-monthly, movie magazine that features cutting edge writing, illustration and photography to get under the skin of cinema. They also venture beyond the boundaries movies, exploring the worlds of music, art, politics and pop culture through connected themes of cinema and film. They are now on their 23rd issue.

Some interesting info Danny shared with us on the day of the seminar: Took control of school magazine+college magazine/He knew at a very young age that all he wanted to do is design magazines/Worked for a year on Adrenaline magazine/Would show up on their doorstep and try to get involved and help out with Adrenaline whenever he could/ Learned about themes from Adrenaline where each issue was based on a metaphysical theme like speed or California/Process of launching a mag included striking a deal with distributors, making a dummy issue, creating a media pack/Launched the magazine with no money in his kitchen/Collaborate with companies and individuals on design projects to celebrate an issue of LWL has evolved into more than a magazine and acts as a design agency too on many projects to keep alive and innovative

Fashion Ambition: When did you start Little White Lies?

Danny: We started work on it late 2004, and issue one came out March 2005.

FA: Why did you want to start your own magazine?

Danny: To tell our thoughts and opinions to anyone who'd listen, but also because we simply love magazines.
FA: What is the inspiration behind the concept?
Danny: Films - and their richness, beauty and variety. They deserve in depth discussion and dissection.

FA: How did you fund your magazine?

Danny: Out of our own pockets, and by getting into debt.
FA: What is your process of completing an issue, from sketch to finish?
Danny: It's pretty methodical these days, and everything is done very intuitively. We've finely crafted the process, from early meetings through to the late nights that see us through final production and design of the issue.

FA: What is a typical day in the life of Danny consist of ?
Danny: Writing and answering hundreds of emails. Going to a couple of meetings. Staring at various boring looking financial documents.
FA: Where does your magazine take life? At your home, in the office?
Danny: Very much in the office.

FA: Do you look up to any editors or mentors?

Danny: There are a few I worked with, for sure. I've been very lucky to have learnt from solid people.
FA: Do you have a support group, who are they and how have they supported you?
Danny: All of my friends and colleagues here at LWL are my support group, because we all fully understand the feelings and difficulties you come into contact with when doing something of your own.

FA:Where do you see Little White Lies in the future? 10 years from now?
Danny: I see it still around, and very very similar to how it is now. It won't be some big glossy mag or nuffink.
FA: Any advice for upcoming editors and independent publishers?
Danny: Look and learn. Research other mags as much as you can and when you've done that and you understand how things work, put them all to one side and get started doing your own thing.

FA:What should independent publishers avoid doing?

Danny: Being too hasty. Flogging a dead horse.
FA:What should they more of?
Danny: Not sure what this question means, sorry!

FA:Final thought.
Danny: Be patient, and be nice.
Karen magazine is an extraordinary ordinary magazine that celebrates/documents/showcases everyday life. Karen's aim was to make work involving conversations with people in her community, with the invisible, and with herself. Karen covers a lot of what was discussed at the seminar in our interview but I found her to be of great character and individuality. And she gave us a few good laughs with her.
Fashion Ambition: When did you start Karen?
Karen: 2003

FA: Why did you want to start your own magazine?
Karen: In 2003 I started to make it. I am interested and have studied and researched how celebrity and Œthe ordinary are mediated. At this time the saturation of Celebrity was growing, as was that of reality media. I wanted to make work composed entirely from moments from ordinary day to day life as it happens, with no re-touching! To use the form of a magazine which is itself part of the everyday to display and communicate moments of interaction and shared experience. To communicate a quiet pleasure in the shared experience of ordinary human existence. To produce a magazine that through design and selection of content and indeed all visual components embodied these intentions. To create this was not without risk. Why include for example a conversation about bunions or mole catching, or about the local butcher and think that another person would want to read about it? But I absolutely believed in the work. Trust and dignity are strong themes.

FA: What is the inspiration behind the concept?

Karen: They still are, the people that are in my life, and come into my life. Numerous practitioners. My local gazette newsletter (I live in a village) which contains lots of small details about what's going on and who's doing what.

FA: How did you fund your magazine?

Karen: I fund it.
FA: What is your process of completing an issue, from sketch to finish?
Karen: I collect, write, photograph, collect, photograph, write, design, edit, design, edit, publish.

FA: What is a typical day in the life of Karen consist of ?

Karen: There is no typical day. Everyday is a mixed bag. Conversations, sounds, listening, speaking, brushing teeth, having a wash, staring at nothing, smiling, washing and combing hair, feeding the cat, earning some money, walking somewhere, eating, celebrating, treating; I could go on the ordinary days are so full.

FA: Where does your magazine take life? At your home, in the office?

Karen: I make my mag at home. But I collect the work where ever I am physically. On your agenda at the moment.. Sweets, old ladies, dentists, baby food, cats, I could go on!
FA: Do you look up to any editors or mentors?
Karen: There are many artists and designers who work/have worked with the vernacular of the everyday but with their own particular focus of interest and/or medium of communication. I admire any one who makes work.

FA:Do you have a support group, who are they and how have they supported you ?

Karen: Not exactly. I have a partner, family, some friends, some readers. They listen, suggest, support the work, and believe in the work and me.
FA: Where do you see Karen in the future? 10 years from now?
Karen: Brushing it's teeth and getting ready for another day. I will have developed other work in the style of Karen, In fact I am working on a new project now.

FA: Any advice for upcoming editors and independent publishers?
Karen: I guess be clear about what you are doing, why you are doing it, who will read it and how will you get it out in to the world. And who's financing it and for how long? How will you publicize the work and sustain this? If you are a team, establish who owns the work and maybe get something legal down on paper.
FA: What should independent publishers avoid doing?
Karen: Making something that already exists. Immediately really think about who would read your work. I would advise don't over - design. I wouldn't take out a loan to pay the print bill!

FA: What should they more of?
Karen: Specialist independent titles that have a relevance to a reader.


Ondo Lady said...

What a great write up. Thanks a lot for sharing, almost makes up for missing the damm thing.

Wafa Obaidat said...

Your most welcome! I went to another one called we design magazines and that was pretty fantastic, will post about it soon :)

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