Archive for December, 2018

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Jugular Magazine: “An Antidote For Boredom” Where The Passionate Connection Between The Brain & The Heart Can Flow – The Mr. Magazine™ Interview With Max Zambelli, Co-Founder & Co-Editor In Chief, Jugular Magazine…

December 18, 2018

A Mr. Magazine™ Launch Story…

 With our idea, the paper for us was unbelievably magical. If you’re doing something on paper, I have an opportunity for you to touch and discover my magazine page by page. Today, there is every resource available, from Instagram to all things digital, but for us, for the message we want to give, it would be impossible on anything other than paper. Paper is expensive, but we believe that this is the way for us.” Max Zambelli (On why they chose print for Jugular in this digital age)…

 Jugular Magazine is an editorial project, a flat screen “Manifesto,” a mammoth idea characterized by a special and innovative layout. Co-founder and Co-Editor in Chief Max Zambelli said Jugular was born out of the desire to tell real and uncontaminated stories filtered through one of the keywords of the 21st century: DESIGN. Design as the perfect balance between shape, content and substance; where products and experiences merge to convey harmony, beauty, curiosity and emotions at sight, at touch and to the soul.

I spoke with Max recently via Skype from Milan, Italy,  and we talked about this beautiful project that was born out of the passion of people who wanted to go deeper into the story, deeper into the design, and hit that “jugular” where the blood flows passionately between the brain and heart. And just speaking with Max, I could hear his passion for this project, that by the way, already has a death date of 09/15/2023. Unique certainly, as the magazine is. Max said the death date is to remind them to always be different and to remember that the moment now is all that’s important. Be different, be unique and do it now, in the moment. And being a photographer himself, Max feels the creativeness of each image and story that goes into the magazine.

So, I hope that you enjoy this very passionate look into the Jugular and that you feel that flow of uniqueness that runs between mind and heart that touches deeply into each story and image that the magazine brings to its pages. And as a photographer first and an editor second, Max brings total beauty to those depths. And now the Mr. Magazine™ interview with Max Zambelli, co-founder and co-editor in chief, Jugular Magazine.

 But first the sound-bites:

On the concept of Jugular:The Jugular concept arrived because of two people meeting, Lucia Braggion, an interior photographer and Maurizio Marchiori, who comes more from the business side, so two people with a completely different mindset, completely different thinking, with one, more on the production of the image, and Maurizio more on the marketing side. We met in New York, even though we’re both from Italy, and we started talking about why today’s editors are so commercial and they become so poor about ideas. Maybe the new generations of magazines they became very specialized and you can find a fantastic magazine maybe for a skateboarder or a surfer, but specialty in the arts, in design, in architecture; we want Jugular to go a little bit deeper.

On why they have already decided to close the magazine in five years:We want to be very clear and very respectful for the people in Jugular, because the world changes so fast and we’re thinking in five years that maybe the project will be perfect for this period. In five years, maybe I can close my eyes, and I can send to you in the mail or walk in the city and maybe advertising can be on my body and maybe I can make a choice without even using the computer. So, how can I say, especially for our clients, for the people reading, we want to do something interesting now.

On why they chose print as the best vehicle for Jugular:With our idea, the paper for us was unbelievably magical. If you’re doing something on paper, I have an opportunity for you to touch and discover my magazine page by page. Today, there is every resource available, from Instagram to all things digital, but for us, for the message we want to give, it would be impossible on anything other than paper. Paper is expensive, but we believe that this is the way for us.

On the biggest challenge they faced when starting Jugular:To make something completely different. I can do a beautiful story about the City because it’s so beautiful and full of energy, and I can use 40 artists to capture the beauty, and then send it to a magazine. And then someone will be glad to buy it and you can read and see it between one advertising page and another. But we want to give to every artist good space to explain what they do. All the artists we worked with were so surprised, no one magazine gives that space. They all wanted copies to send to everyone, agents, everyone. So, doing this is the real challenge.

On creating an interactive print magazine:I tried to explain, even when people ask why did you create this magazine, and I tell them that I love being the editor, that I want them to relax with the magazine, dedicate one hour to themselves maybe every two or three days to enjoy and go deeper and see all of the stories and enjoy the touch of the paper, the different paper we use. So, it’s something that you dedicate to yourself that you will enjoy. Like spending one hour in the spa.

On anything he’d like to add:What the younger people are thinking about Jugular, they’re saying that in this moment of Facebook, Instagram, or whatever, in all of this, even the Internet, it’s very difficult in this fast moment to give a message. So, what we try to do with Jugular is whatever is the age, young or old, we try to do a product where you will enjoy and discover. The feeling about touching something nice, reading something good, it can be food for your eyes.

On what he would have tattooed upon his brain that would be there forever and no one could ever forget about him:This has already happened, because people are surprised about me when they say, you do a magazine? Why? And I say, why? Because unfortunately, at a certain point I was so boring and I put so much energy to a client of mine because I am a photographer and I was working with a magazine on some interiors. And my work is not just to take a picture, my work is my gift to that brand, that magazine. Something more that only Max can do, can give that magazine. And if that magazine treats me like every photographer is the same photographer, it fails my job, my job would be done.

On what keeps him up at night:I have just one word: passion. The passion for my work; the passion I have for Jugular, because through Jugular I am a different photographer. I have changed completely. Four years ago, I was just a commercial photographer. And I was working to make money. Now I am a different photographer and especially during this period, I think I make very good quality. And  a very high quality picture is not easy. And the image in this moment has to be very strong. And sometimes I can’t sleep because of this and I am always looking for something new and something right for Jugular.

And now the lightly edited transcript of the Mr. Magazine™ interview with Max Zambelli, co-founder and co-editor in chief, Jugular Magazine.

Samir Husni: Congratulations on this mammoth magazine. I had to pay extra weight coming back from New York after buying it on the newsstand. (Laughs)

Max Zambelli: I am so sorry. (Laughs too)

Samir Husni: But it is a gorgeous idea. Everyone who knows me knows that I always say that we were born to die, and you have put those words into action by actually giving the death date of this magazine: 09/15/2023, which is five years from now. So, tell me about the concept of Jugular.

Max Zambelli: The Jugular concept arrived because of two people meeting,one,an interior photographer, and then Maurizio Marchiori, who comes more from the business side, so two people with a completely different mindset, completely different thinking, with one, more on the production of the image, and Maurizio more on the marketing side. We met in New York, even though we’re both from Italy, and we started talking about why today’s editors are so commercial and they become so poor about ideas. Maybe the new generations of magazines they became very specialized and you can find a fantastic magazine maybe for a skateboarder or a surfer, but specialty in the arts, in design, in architecture; we want Jugular to go a little bit deeper.

We couldn’t find a very exclusive eye-level, quality magazine, because most of the time the very famous, if you will, people – I’ll give you an example, if you’re thinking about décor or if you’re thinking about ideas, they miss a little bit because they want to be a bit more facial, they want to be a bit more architectural, they want to be everything, but they lose their way. So, what we are doing when we think of doing something completely different, the phrase “an antidote to boredom” can be a little bit spoiled, as though we are the best and the rest are nothing, but it’s not that. We have a very big respect for all of the magazines, but we’re thinking again in this space, put the human being in the middle of the project, this was our first thought, because in this digital moment we are so fast and so furious, a lot of people don’t have time to discover a store or catch things at the end, such as in the music business, now they have discovered the LP because of the sound. Maybe to some this is old, but it’s not a question of being old, it’s that it’s more deep, deepening the concept.

So, with Jugular, the first value we would like to bring is to be very deep, to dedicate to every artist we are going to have the good space to evolve all of the art and what it does, because for us we get emotional. And an editor would like to transmit that emotion to our topic and maybe people will discover the magazine and they will open it. That’s why even the word “Jugular” is the very important vein that connects the brain to the heart, and you have a very big emotion. Your heart pumps very hard and the jugular vein carries that blood. It’s not just a question of passion, but it’s a connection of the brain and the heart. We call the magazine Jugular because we want to give to that passion to our readers.

To be a magazine right now, you have to be a bit ignorant, but curious. Because you can get everything new in your life, but the attitude today is for the magazine to explain its heart, explain its concept. And being an editor for me is to listen to people. I am a born photographer who will die a photographer, maybe I won’t die an editor, (Laughs) but every time I begin a job – a lot of photographers get started because they have a creativity, their own style; I don’t carry my own style because if I have to do a job or a story and I have to get the best of you, first of all, I have to listen to you. What is your concept; what is your idea; why do this when I should do that? And Jugular has that base.

First of all, it has the passion to put on the paper and we’re a very high quality, high level of print. It’s not just a good visual thing, but a concept, because when we’re looking around, so many times we say, every six months we come out and maybe we are to give an idea  of the name of the story we put inside, but on the other hand, we have the feeling, all of the people working for Jugular, they came together and they’re all under a beautiful umbrella called Jugular, because they are unique. We respect the arts. We don’t want to take someone and change them into a Jugular artist. Jugular became Jugular because of the respect of four different people who are involved in Jugular. It’s a feeling. We are in this moment, 2018, we are the mirror of whatever moment we are in.

Samir Husni: Why are you stopping after five years? Why are you exciting me so much with this new magazine (Laughs) and then telling me at the same time that your death date is already known?

Max Zambelli: We want to be very clear and very respectful for the people in Jugular, because the world changes so fast and we’re thinking in five years that maybe the project will be perfect for this period. In five years, maybe I can close my eyes, and I can send to you in the mail or walk in the city and maybe advertising can be on my body and maybe I can make a choice without even using the computer. So, how can I say, especially for our clients, for the people reading, we want to do something interesting now.

All the big companies maybe 20 years ago their project was due in five years, maybe three years ago it was three years, now the project is one year. It’s all short, so even for us. We want to give the best on this five years, do the best project that we can do, so we can be a collectible book, because in 10 years you may see another Jugular and you will enjoy it again. We try to do a unique magazine in the world. And we’re trying to find our way, and our way is very clear. We started a year and a half ago and we came out after some very deep thinking about what we wanted to be. The first number is out now. But in the number two, we have already changed completely because Jugular changes when it meets people. We go so much deeper into the story of the people. And we change our ideas.

From the beginning I said that a magazine has to be like a volcano, because our magma can find people globally, can incorporate this idea, this mindset, and Jugular can become bigger and more beautiful. This is our idea. And the people who read Jugular will open it up and say wow. And maybe someone will say I have a friend, a story that will be perfect for Jugular. I want all people to find something in Jugular that’s interesting. This is our goal, so that’s why we’re so different.

I was at a college in London recently, and I’m Italian, and my English is so-so, as you can tell. (Laughs) I was thinking about our community with Jugular, and a professor after seeing the magazine told me, it’s not correct to say community, because community means a bunch of people who are all the same. And Jugular is not that, because Jugular contains a very elaborate and talented group of people, but completely different. So, for us right now that was the best compliment for us. Under the Jugular umbrella, they can survive and they can stay completely different artists, architects, designers or whatever and Jugular can make a very high-level magazine with these different people. They can speak different languages and have very different thinking. And that is a very big compliment for us.

Samir Husni: In this digital age, why did you decide that print would be the best vehicle for Jugular?

Max Zambelli: With our idea, the paper for us was unbelievably magical. If you’re doing something on paper, I have an opportunity for you to touch and discover my magazine page by page. Today, there is every resource available, from Instagram to all things digital, but for us, for the message we want to give, it would be impossible on anything other than paper. Paper is expensive, but we believe that this is the way for us.

Samir Husni: What was the biggest challenge that you and your partner faced when starting Jugular and how did you overcome it?

Max Zambelli: To make something completely different. I can do a beautiful story about the City because it’s so beautiful and full of energy, and I can use 40 artists to capture the beauty, and then send it to a magazine. And then someone will be glad to buy it and you can read and see it between one advertising page and another. But we want to give to every artist good space to explain what they do. All the artists we worked with were so surprised, no one magazine gives that space. They all wanted copies to send to everyone, agents, everyone. So, doing this is the real challenge.

And we love it when the artists we put in the magazine are discovered by readers, it’s one of the best compliments we get to hear people in Miami say they saw the magazine in New York and maybe the shop they saw it in has three to five copies and they sold out in just one month. This is the best compliment that could be given to us.

Samir Husni: You’ve managed to create an interactive printed magazine, you can’t just sit down and read it, you have to get involved with the pages.

Max Zambelli: Yes, I tried to explain, even when people ask why did you create this magazine, and I tell them that I love being the editor, that I want them to relax with the magazine, dedicate one hour to themselves maybe every two or three days to enjoy and go deeper and see all of the stories and enjoy the touch of the paper, the different paper we use. So, it’s something that you dedicate to yourself that you will enjoy. Like spending one hour in the spa.

Samir Husni: Is there anything you’d like to add?

Max Zambelli: What the younger people are thinking about Jugular, they’re saying that in this moment of Facebook, Instagram, or whatever, in all of this, even the Internet, it’s very difficult in this fast moment to give a message. So, what we try to do with Jugular is whatever is the age, young or old, we try to do a product where you will enjoy and discover. The feeling about touching something nice, reading something good, it can be food for your eyes.

Samir Husni: If you could have one thing tattooed upon your brain that no one would ever forget about you, what would it be?

Max Zambelli: This has already happened, because people are surprised about me when they say, you do a magazine? Why? And I say, why? Because unfortunately, at a certain point I was so boring and I put so much energy to a client of mine because I am a photographer and I was working with a magazine on some interiors. And my work is not just to take a picture, my work is my gift to that brand, that magazine. Something more that only Max can do, can give that magazine. And if that magazine treats me like every photographer is the same photographer, it fails my job, my job would be done.

I believe in creativity. You have to do it for money, because you have to survive and pay your bills, but it’s completely different if you have a dream and you get the money through your dream. Jugular is a valuable product because I am doing it with my heart and with my passion and that is unique. And being an editor is completely different. I was just saying that in the last year and a half I did so many things, I learned about marketing and selling advertising and presenting a concept. Being an editor is something completely different.

I can tell you a story about when I received the first copy of Jugular in my hand, the printer gave it to me and I opened it up and I saw every single page and after I had finished, I went into the corner and cried for five minutes because of the attention to detail, and I had been so stressed and so tired because it had been an unbelievable amount of work. And after five minutes I started thinking, okay now I have the product, what was I going to do next, because if you print only 3,000 copies, the world is so big and even if you say it’s a very special project, how can Jugular be in this world? So, we started thinking we would do a communication platform with this. So, it’s not just a good product, but it has to be a good platform for communication, because without that we cannot survive. It’s just too small of a project. I want people to enjoy Jugular and to have more and more people under our umbrella.

Samir Husni: My typical last question; what keeps you up at night?

Max Zambelli: I have just one word: passion. The passion for my work; the passion I have for Jugular, because through Jugular I am a different photographer. I have changed completely. Four years ago, I was just a commercial photographer. And I was working to make money. Now I am a different photographer and especially during this period, I think I make very good quality. And  a very high quality picture is not easy. And the image in this moment has to be very strong. And sometimes I can’t sleep because of this and I am always looking for something new and something right for Jugular.

Samir Husni: Thank you.

 

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House Beautiful Magazine Brings “Open House” To Its Pages, Beckoning One & All To Come Inside To Learn & Enjoy The Beauty And Importance Of Design – The Mr. Magazine™ Interview With Joanna Saltz, Editor In Chief…

December 14, 2018

“I am truly, staunchly against telling the same story on all platforms. There’s a reason that a video exists and we should use that platform to the best of its ability. But there is also a reason that print exists, and it should be all about beautiful and sumptuous photos, and it should be about great stories and great storytelling. The one and the other should influence each other, but never copy.” Joanna Saltz…

 “With House Beautiful, for me this brand has stayed around for so long because people trust it. They trust it and they believe in it, they know it has great taste, great advice and great service. And what I’d like to do with House Beautiful is show how that can really play out in a video space. Show great detail, show great artisanship, show amazing skill, but also great service. For me, House Beautiful can play beautifully on both platforms. I still care deeply about the print product, because that is the thing that invades people’s homes every month and I want to make sure that we earn that space in people’s houses. But I also feel like House Beautiful, taking that trust and building a brand on the digital side is going to be such an extraordinary adventure.” Joanna Saltz…

 

At more than 120 years old, House Beautiful magazine is an interior design staple in the world of home design. It is a well-trusted and treasured brand that people have turned to for design tips and inspirational ideas for generations. And it is still a growing and thriving publication that has a strong digital footprint as well, proving that print and digital together can certainly manifest as a force to be reckoned with.

Joanna Saltz is the editor in chief of both the print and digital faces of the brand. Hired originally as the  editorial director of the brand’s website, where she oversaw the development and relaunch of the site in June, she is now guiding the vision of all of its platforms and loving every minute of the exciting longevity of the legacy brand.

Joanna’s first print issue will be the January/February 2019 edition, which hits newsstands in early January. I spoke with Joanna recently and we talked about the new “Open House” concept of the brand that she has created and her new editors letter concept, where she had a roundtable with five designers, a talented group of people who spoke openly and honestly about the world of design and its importance.  Joanna said her vision for House Beautiful was a warm, welcoming place where all people were invited inside, not just the designer elite. And she added that the January/February issue will speak to how they are trying to create more intimacy within the pages, but also more actionable advice and learning.

It’s exciting times for the legacy brand and exciting times for its editor in chief. And now without further ado, the Mr. Magazine™ interview with Joanna Saltz, editor in chief, House Beautiful.

But first the sound-bites:

On how it feels to be editor in chief of a brand more than 125 years old: I think the best word is overwhelming, but exciting. I feel an extraordinary responsibility to carry this brand forward. For so long House Beautiful has been a beacon of great design. Over the years it has launched great careers; it has reported on amazing trends; it’s really been the touchstone of interior design for so many people. And I would love for my chapter to speak to those real tent poles of this brand.

On whether she thinks digital has the same staying power as some of the print brands, such as House Beautiful, that has been around for generations: For me, it’s less about the medium and more about the relationship that you have with your audience. I have been a print editor for a long time; I was a print editor for 17 years and then I took over Delish. And what I wanted to create for Delish was, I wanted to make it a comforting, fun place for people to learn how to get to know food. I wanted to create recipes that felt engaging; I wanted to invite people in that didn’t fancy themselves chefs.With House Beautiful, for me this brand has stayed around for so long because people trust it. They trust it and they believe in it, they know it has great taste, great advice and great service. And what I’d like to do with House Beautiful is show how that can really play out in a video space. Show great detail, show great artisanship, show amazing skill, but also great service.

On what readers can anticipate from the Jan./Feb. issue, her first editorially led issue of House Beautiful: I want House Beautiful to be a place where great design ideas meet. And what I mean by that is, engaging interior designers  in conversation, getting advice from them, making people understand the importance of interior designers in this universe. You will see great, beautiful service. I think that there is a lot to be learned in the home design space right now. We assume a lot of knowledge in our reader, but frankly, I think there is a lot of bad information out there in the universe about what you should be investing in your home. About how furniture is made or what makes a great quality carpet or why you should spend a little bit more on X, Y, and Z.  You save a little bit here, but you could spend a little bit more here. So, you’ll see a lot more beautiful service come to life on the pages.

On her role as editor in this digital age: To be honest with you, for House Beautiful, I feel like my job is host, in that I am inviting people of all opinions, of all aesthetics, of all design styles and ideals, to come in and talk about what makes their point of view different, important, engaging, interesting, and adventurous, all of those things. House Beautiful will not, and should not be, Joanna Saltz’s ideas for how you should design your home. This is an open forum for great ideas and influencers.

 On her first Letter From the Editor: My editor’s letter, starting with the first issue, will be what I’m calling an Open House, which is a roundtable of me and five designers, designers who frankly have very different points of view, very different client bases, very different aesthetics, to talk about a topic. Our first issue, we talk about change and why it’s so scary, why it’s so loaded, why it’s so overwhelming to some people, but also how do you know it’s time to change. How do you know the change is the right move you made or how do you know you should change some things and not others?For me, hearing the conversation is so fascinating and is something that you don’t normally get  to see in interiors magazines. Again, because I truly believe that stories can travel farther than pictures. A story is something that I can share with you over the dinner table.

On how she is going to translate the print stories into digital: What I love about the different platforms is the way they tell the story differently. For me, the digital side comes to life through process or through craftsmanship; it comes to life through seeing spaces with a different sort of perspective. The example that I keep using is this extraordinary wallpaper company, Phillip Jeffries, and how they make this amazing grass cloth. It’s made in Japan and these men hand weave this grass literally into grass cloth. And then they lay it out, they dry it; they just have the whole process. And when you see it come to life on video, no form of print could show what this video can show. That said, print shows these pictures in the most beautiful and exceptional way, so you see this extraordinary video of this stuff coming together on the video and then you see the way it’s applied, the way an amazing interior designer applies it to someone’s bedroom, that to me is the connection of  the two.

On her biggest challenge: There are a few different challenges, I’ll be honest. The attention span is something to definitely be aware of. I left print three and a half to four years ago, and frankly, it’s not the same as it was. And that’s a very short while ago. (Laughs) But I feel like the reader has changed dramatically. And so even now, as I’m pulling together the House Beautiful issue, I can tell that display copy can’t be the same, that we have a different tolerance for the way that we need to invite people into the pages.So for me, one challenge is making sure that every page has an entry point and a way to draw people in. That’s something that is super important.

On whether she feels more at ease being over both print and digital or she enjoyed it more when she was just in charge of House Beautiful’s digital space: It’s easier to control a brand’s whole vision when you’re managing both platforms or all of the platforms. So, on the one hand I do feel like I can send a more unified, 360 degree message about the brand this way. I will say that I am building a fully integrated team and teaching the digital people print and teaching the print people digital is a very fun activity. (Laughs) If my boss is listening, it’s a very fun activity. It’s a great exercise in understanding the best of all of the platforms and using the best of both platforms on either side, I have to say.

On whether it was easy or hard to balance both print and digital: No, it was extremely hard. Actually, it’s funny because I used to think it was hard to go from print to digital, and that was the step I took from my former job to Delish. Day one of Delish was like, can someone tell me where the unique view is? Literally, I was walking around with that deer in the headlights look. Going back from digital to print, it’s almost harder, because certainly with print you have a finite amount of space, you need to make every inch of that page count; you have a lot more pressure engaging your audience, because as you said, things are very distracting. And you are in charge of directing the reader around the page; you as the editor are in charge of that.

On whether her brain finds itself splitting thought processes between House Beautiful and Delish: No, because the two are so different. But they’re so not different too. And a lot of people ask me about working on a food brand and how that positioned me to now work on a home design brand. And it’s funny, there was so much that we used with Delish that were tactile experiences, it was cheese pulls and we used fun music to draw people in and fun little sound-bites at the ends and the beginnings of the videos, but it was always about that experience that you have with food. Home design is no different and the tricks that we’ll need to use to draw people in will be different from Delish, but they’re still tricks. They’re still media tricks that we use to engage audience.

On anything she’d like to add: You asked me the most challenging thing; I think that another challenge is the stakes are higher now than they were when I started Delish. And with Delish, we had nothing. We started with nothing, it was like one million uniques. And we had no real brand identification in the universe and we had nothing to lose. With House Beautiful, this is 120 years of history, there are people who have been reading this magazine for 60 years plus. You have an industry that is so passionate and cares so deeply about the brands within it, but also about each other. And so for me, I just want to do right by all of that. I want House Beautiful to not just survive this shift in media, but to grow and thrive and be influenced, but also to influence. And I am super-excited to get my hands in there. And that’s what keeps me up at night to be honest.

On what she thinks is the biggest misconception people have about her: Well, assuming that people think about me, I think people relate my personal tastes to what my editorial output is. Certainly with Delish, I think everyone thought that I went home and ate cheese and took Jell-O shots all night. (Laughs) Not that there is anything wrong with that, I’m not judging. My editorial strengths lie in communication and service, and helping make difficult concepts easier. And so a lot of what I do here is curate, but also position the content for the audience, and to sometimes try to throw in a couple of things that might surprise and delight, but also try to teach them things, which is a lot of what I’ve been talking about. I think people would be surprised to learn that I care deeply about really healthy food and I don’t actually eat a lot of junk. I love ice cream and drink a lot of Diet Coke, those are my two vices.

On what she would have tattooed upon her brain that would be there forever and no one could ever forget about her: I think I want people to think of me as – what’s that phrase: don’t ask for permission, ask for forgiveness. That’s my mantra. And I think that Troy Young would agree with that statement. So much of what has made me successful, particularly in the Delish space, is just taking a chance, trying something new, trying to be as enterprising as possible, not really having any misconceptions or assumptions about how things are going to work out, be okay with failure, and thankfully I haven’t had to ask for forgiveness that much. (Laughs)

On what someone would find her doing if they showed up unexpectedly one evening at her home: If you’re not catching me yelling at one of my kids, which my daughter brought a bottle of Slime into the living room recently and got it all over the couch, so if you’re not catching me yelling at one of my children, I have three, I love to make things. And it used to manifest itself in baking, I was really into baking for a long time, and I still am a baker, but of late I’ve been changing light fixtures in my bathroom (Laughs), and I made a side table for my living room the other day, and I turned this old pot that my grandmother left me into a planter. I like to get my hands dirty.

On what keeps her up at night: Honestly, I’m a born and bred and deeply rooted people-pleaser. I don’t like to let people down. And with my job here, I don’t want to let the people down who have signed on to join my mission, and I don’t want to let the audience down either. So, that keeps me up at night. Just making sure that I’m doing everything that I possibly can to not let all of the invested parties in this new adventure down.

And now the lightly edited transcript of the Mr. Magazine™ interview with Joanna Saltz, editor in chief, House Beautiful.

Samir Husni: How does it feel to be editor in chief of a brand that’s more than 120 years old?

Joanna Saltz: (Laughs) I think the best word is overwhelming, but exciting. I feel an extraordinary responsibility to carry this brand forward. For so long House Beautiful has been a beacon of great design. Over the years it has launched great careers; it has reported on amazing trends; it’s really been the touchstone of interior design for so many people. And I would love for my chapter to speak to those real tent poles of this brand. The pressure that I feel when I say it often is, “This is my chapter and I’m going to hold it for a little while and then, God willing, someday I’ll pass it along to someone else who will make it their own chapter.” But this brand has always really truly reflected what design is in the United States at that very moment. And I want to continue that tradition.

Samir Husni: And with your background mix of both digital and print, do you envision any digital brand ever being with us 125 years? Do you think digital has the same staying power as some of those print publications?

Joanna Saltz: For me, it’s less about the medium and more about the relationship that you have with your audience. I have been a print editor for a long time; I was a print editor for 17 years and then I took over Delish. And what I wanted to create for Delish was, I wanted to make it a comforting, fun place for people to learn how to get to know food. I wanted to create recipes that felt engaging; I wanted to invite people in that didn’t fancy themselves chefs.

And what I think I’ve done is create a brand that people feel connected to. They feel like they know who we are, they know what our mission is, they understand our perspective on food. And they want to visit us on all of the different platforms. They want to come to our site, they want to go to the Instagram and they want to see our stuff on YouTube.

With House Beautiful, for me this brand has stayed around for so long because people trust it. They trust it and they believe in it, they know it has great taste, great advice and great service. And what I’d like to do with House Beautiful is show how that can really play out in a video space. Show great detail, show great artisanship, show amazing skill, but also great service.

For me, House Beautiful can play beautifully on both platforms. I still care deeply about the print product, because that is the thing that invades people’s homes every month and I want to make sure that we earn that space in people’s houses. But I also feel like House Beautiful, taking that trust and building a brand on the digital side is going to be such an extraordinary adventure.

Samir Husni: If I’m reading page one of chapter one of your House Beautiful, what can I expect to see? The Jan./Feb is your first issue; what can we anticipate?

Joanna Saltz: I want House Beautiful to be a place where great design ideas meet. And what I mean by that is, engaging interior designers  in conversation, getting advice from them, making people understand the importance of interior designers in this universe. You will see great, beautiful service. I think that there is a lot to be learned in the home design space right now. We assume a lot of knowledge in our reader, but frankly, I think there is a lot of bad information out there in the universe about what you should be investing in your home. About how furniture is made or what makes a great quality carpet or why you should spend a little bit more on X, Y, and Z.  You save a little bit here, but you could spend a little bit more here. So, you’ll see a lot more beautiful service come to life on the pages.

But frankly, the thing that I’m most anxious and excited about is bringing intimacy to the pages. I love looking at interiors, but more than looking at interiors, I love hearing the stories behind those interiors. A lot of these interiors start from a place that a lot of us have connections to, they start with a change of a family life, they start with a move or it starts with a problem they need to solve. I have more kids now, I need to have more space. And that’s something that we can all relate to. So, I want to hear what those backstories are.

It’s funny, someone said to me that your relationship with your interior designer is one step below a therapist. And every time I say that story back to a designer, every designer is convinced they’re closer than a therapist. (Laughs) They believe they’re closer to being marriage counselors, so they’re extremely dialed in with their clients and they’re really working around their lives. And that’s something that me, as someone who just wants a beautiful home, that’s something that I can learn from. So, I want to hear those stories.

I heard two stories recently. One was an extraordinary story from a designer, who was creating a space for a woman who had 17 percent lung capacity. And the details that he was giving me about the kinds of work he was having to do around her life experience was so moving and that connection that he has to his client was so beautiful that whether or not you like that interior, that interior connects with every one of us on a thousand levels. And frankly, whether you can walk away from that story with an actual piece of information, you’ll walk away with a story that you want to tell.

I heard another one too; I was meeting with an extraordinary company recently and they were telling me about how they just built a closet for a blind woman and how it was all about the tactile experience of building the closet.

Now, this is not to say that every single story is going to pull on the heartstrings in that way, but when you hear the detailed information that goes into these design decisions, suddenly this offers an entry point for everyone to get in. I want House Beautiful’s doors to be wide open and I want people of all different walks of life to find solace on these pages, because I really do feel that design right now is at such a peak moment. Design is now what food was three or four years ago, we all want to talk about design.

And whether or not I approve of your taste or your design decisions, if you’re willing to talk to me about design, we’ll be good. We can have this conversation, we have an entry point in and now maybe we can teach you a few things or show you a few things that will surprise you or include you.

Samir Husni: How do you see yourself, as a storyteller, a creator, a curator; what’s your job as an editor in this digital age?

Joanna Saltz: To be honest with you, for House Beautiful, I feel like my job is host, in that I am inviting people of all opinions, of all aesthetics, of all design styles and ideals, to come in and talk about what makes their point of view different, important, engaging, interesting, and adventurous, all of those things. House Beautiful will not, and should not be, Joanna Saltz’s ideas for how you should design your home. This is an open forum for great ideas and influencers.

It’s important for me for this brand to include people, because to me design is not just for the creative elite; design is for everyone. And I feel extremely lucky to be able to show people, and give people access to things that maybe they wouldn’t have necessarily have had access to before.

Samir Husni: I heard that you’re doing something with your Letter From the Editor, that you’re putting your words into action. Can you tell me a little bit about that?

Joanna Saltz: My editor’s letter, starting with the first issue, will be what I’m calling an Open House, which is a roundtable of me and five designers, designers who frankly have very different points of view, very different client bases, very different aesthetics, to talk about a topic. Our first issue, we talk about change and why it’s so scary, why it’s so loaded, why it’s so overwhelming to some people, but also how do you know it’s time to change. How do you know the change is the right move you made or how do you know you should change some things and not others?

For me, hearing the conversation is so fascinating and is something that you don’t normally get  to see in interiors magazines. Again, because I truly believe that stories can travel farther than pictures. A story is something that I can share with you over the dinner table. A photo, if I have it on my phone or if I have to describe it to you…but a story can engage people on every platform. So, if I can invite people in and get those stories out of them, then I feel like I will have done my job.

Samir Husni: And how are you going to translate those stories  outside of print, on the digital scale?

Joanna Saltz: What I love about the different platforms is the way they tell the story differently. For me, the digital side comes to life through process or through craftsmanship; it comes to life through seeing spaces with a different sort of perspective. The example that I keep using is this extraordinary wallpaper company, Phillip Jeffries, and how they make this amazing grass cloth. It’s made in Japan and these men hand weave this grass literally into grass cloth. And then they lay it out, they dry it; they just have the whole process. And when you see it come to life on video, no form of print could show what this video can show.

That said, print shows these pictures in the most beautiful and exceptional way, so you see this extraordinary video of this stuff coming together on the video and then you see the way it’s applied, the way an amazing interior designer applies it to someone’s bedroom, that to me is the connection of  the two. This is the storytelling here, you see the beautiful process. And the storytelling in the magazine is, and here’s how you put it into practice. That to me is how you tell the story.

I am truly, staunchly against telling the same story on all platforms. There’s a reason that a video exists and we should use that platform to the best of its ability. But there is also a reason that print exists, and it should be all about beautiful and sumptuous photos, and it should be about great stories and great storytelling. The one and the other should influence each other, but never copy.

Samir Husni: What do you think is your biggest challenge today? Is it your readers’ attention span, or is all just a walk in a rose garden for you?

Joanna Saltz: No, not at all. There are a few different challenges, I’ll be honest. The attention span is something to definitely be aware of. I left print three and a half to four years ago, and frankly, it’s not the same as it was. And that’s a very short while ago. (Laughs) But I feel like the reader has changed dramatically. And so even now, as I’m pulling together the House Beautiful issue, I can tell that display copy can’t be the same, that we have a different tolerance for the way that we need to invite people into the pages. So for me, one challenge is making sure that every page has an entry point and a way to draw people in. That’s something that is super important.

From a House Beautiful perspective, this brand has done an extraordinary job of speaking to designers and design files, people who are really knowledgeable and get a lot of inspiration from these pages. My challenge will be to continue to engage them with ideas and concepts and visuals that a design file would be surprised by. But also on the other side, engage a new audience of people who maybe didn’t feel super-comfortable dancing in House Beautiful before.

Opening those doors up, as I said before, to people who maybe have a little bit of an active interest in design, and maybe they come in here and see some things that make them feel comfortable and maybe see some things that make them feel overwhelmed, but all in the name of learning about what a good design is.

So, my challenge will really be to balance those two sides of the scale, and hopefully I think we can all learn something from design. I am always skeptical of people who don’t think they have something to learn. Knowledge to me is currency. And it’s the way I’ve driven myself through my career. I’ve taken lateral moves because I feel like the new job that I wanted to take on was teaching me something new and experiential. And I just believe that House Beautiful can be such a place of educating the consumer on a lot of levels, surprising people who have a lot of experience, but also just make it a warm, welcoming place for people who love design.

Samir Husni: Mentally speaking, do you feel more at ease being the editor in chief over both digital and print, or your fun days were when you were the digital person only and now you have the responsibility of both?

Joanna Saltz: It’s easier to control a brand’s whole vision when you’re managing both platforms or all of the platforms. So, on the one hand I do feel like I can send a more unified, 360 degree message about the brand this way. I will say that I am building a fully integrated team and teaching the digital people print and teaching the print people digital is a very fun activity. (Laughs) If my boss is listening, it’s a very fun activity. It’s a great exercise in understanding the best of all of the platforms and using the best of both platforms on either side, I have to say.

I do think that digital people generally know how to write headlines that engage audiences, print people are extraordinarily good at creating content with such depth and precision and beauty. And I think that both sides have a lot to learn from each other. And that is the one thing that we’re all coming together around. It’s creating amazing content and using the best of all of the platforms to create that content.

Samir Husni: Judging by your experience, was it an easy thing to do, balancing those two, or was it difficult?

Joanna Saltz: No, it was extremely hard. Actually, it’s funny because I used to think it was hard to go from print to digital, and that was the step I took from my former job to Delish. Day one of Delish was like, can someone tell me where the unique view is? Literally, I was walking around with that deer in the headlights look. Going back from digital to print, it’s almost harder, because certainly with print you have a finite amount of space, you need to make every inch of that page count; you have a lot more pressure engaging your audience, because as you said, things are very distracting. And you are in charge of directing the reader around the page; you as the editor are in charge of that.

On a phone or a computer screen, there’s one direction to go, it’s up and down and that’s it. On a page, there’s a million directions, a million ways that we can go, so teaching a digital editor to understand the real estate of a print page, the way your audience enters and exits a page, it’s a much more nuanced lesson. And frankly, I am kind of having to reteach myself in a lot of ways.

My experience at Seventeen taught me a lot about that, because in a lot of ways teenaged girls who were reading the magazine were reading a magazine for the first time, they were young. So, you were really sort of creating pages and stories where you were almost giving them a roadmap. Every story had to be a roadmap and you had to very clearly mark where to enter and then direct them where to go next. I think that experience has really helped me with this, because I think that digital editors are fantastic and digital editors at Hearst, they have special talents here. But crafting storytelling and crafting storytelling for the page is a challenge.

Samir Husni: Do you find yourself thinking about House Beautiful and then another part of your brain is thinking about Delish?

Joanna Saltz: No, because the two are so different. But they’re so not different too. And a lot of people ask me about working on a food brand and how that positioned me to now work on a home design brand. And it’s funny, there was so much that we used with Delish that were tactile experiences, it was cheese pulls and we used fun music to draw people in and fun little sound-bites at the ends and the beginnings of the videos, but it was always about that experience that you have with food. Home design is no different and the tricks that we’ll need to use to draw people in will be different from Delish, but they’re still tricks. They’re still media tricks that we use to engage audience.

And whether that’s through a gorgeous blanket or a rug or wallpaper or something, or through an amazingly funny and charming interior designer who has great responses, or through a beautiful story that touches your heart, we’re going to use all of those same touchstones through all of our different platforms, they’re just manifesting themselves differently. So, the brain is the same, it’s the execution and the output that’s really the difference. It just comes down to how you communicate with your audience.

Samir Husni: Is there anything else you’d like to add?

Joanna Saltz: You asked me the most challenging thing; I think that another challenge is the stakes are higher now than they were when I started Delish. And with Delish, we had nothing. We started with nothing, it was like one million uniques. And we had no real brand identification in the universe and we had nothing to lose. With House Beautiful, this is 120 years of history, there are people who have been reading this magazine for 60 years plus. You have an industry that is so passionate and cares so deeply about the brands within it, but also about each other. And so for me, I just want to do right by all of that. I want House Beautiful to not just survive this shift in media, but to grow and thrive and be influenced, but also to influence. And I am super-excited to get my hands in there. And that’s what keeps me up at night to be honest.

Samir Husni: What do you think is the biggest misconception people have about you?

Joanna Saltz: Well, assuming that people think about me, I think people relate my personal tastes to what my editorial output is. Certainly with Delish, I think everyone thought that I went home and ate cheese and took Jell-O shots all night. (Laughs) Not that there is anything wrong with that, I’m not judging. My editorial strengths lie in communication and service, and helping make difficult concepts easier. And so a lot of what I do here is curate, but also position the content for the audience, and to sometimes try to throw in a couple of things that might surprise and delight, but also try to teach them things, which is a lot of what I’ve been talking about.

I think people would be surprised to learn that I care deeply about really healthy food and I don’t actually eat a lot of junk. I love ice cream and drink a lot of Diet Coke, those are my two vices. But I don’t tend to eat all of the things you see on Delish all of the time. And certainly on the design side, I care deeply about quality in the home and spending money where I need to spend money there. So, I would say that the tastes they see on all of my different platforms directly correlate to my own personal tastes at home. I’m just a storyteller.

Samir Husni: If you could have one thing tattooed upon your brain that no one would ever forget about you, what would it be?

Joanna Saltz: I think I want people to think of me as – what’s that phrase: don’t ask for permission, ask for forgiveness. That’s my mantra. And I think that Troy Young would agree with that statement. So much of what has made me successful, particularly in the Delish space, is just taking a chance, trying something new, trying to be as enterprising as possible, not really having any misconceptions or assumptions about how things are going to work out, be okay with failure, and thankfully I haven’t had to ask for forgiveness that much. (Laughs)

Thankfully I work in an environment where that kind of entrepreneurship is extremely valued. I’ve always said this about Troy Young, that a lot of bosses say they want innovation, but are too afraid to take chances. And I would say that Troy is someone who appreciates people who are thinking outside of the box. He cultivates a culture of that here. He doesn’t want to know why something didn’t work out, he wants to know what your thought process was behind trying it in the first place. And I love that about working for him.

Samir Husni: If I showed up unexpectedly at your home one evening after work, what would I find you doing? Having a glass of wine; reading a magazine; cooking; watching TV; or something else? How do you unwind?

Joanna Saltz: If you’re not catching me yelling at one of my kids, which my daughter brought a bottle of Slime into the living room recently and got it all over the couch, so if you’re not catching me yelling at one of my children, I have three, I love to make things. And it used to manifest itself in baking, I was really into baking for a long time, and I still am a baker, but of late I’ve been changing light fixtures in my bathroom (Laughs), and I made a side table for my living room the other day, and I turned this old pot that my grandmother left me into a planter. I like to get my hands dirty. I’m not a DIY’er, I would not say that about myself. I can see things in my head much clearer than anything ever turns out, but I like to tinker. So, if I’m not cooking, I’m making something.

Samir Husni: So, can we say through osmosis the pages of House Beautiful and Delish are coming alive through you? (Laughs)

Joanna Saltz: They’re coming through my hands. (Laughs too) And that is basically what’s happening. I have access to so much incredible stuff in this position, so many amazing design ideas, but even suddenly in that conversation that I had with the interior designers, one of them had said something amazing about how everybody’s rugs were too small, stop using small rugs. So, now I’m on this crazy hunt for bigger rugs. (Laughs) You’ll catch me running around the house making and doing and my husband rolling his eyes as though saying please stop turning the house upside down. And the designer is completely accurate, every rug in my house is too small.

Samir Husni: My typical last question; what keeps you up at night?

Joanna Saltz: Honestly, I’m a born and bred and deeply rooted people-pleaser. I don’t like to let people down. And with my job here, I don’t want to let the people down who have signed on to join my mission, and I don’t want to let the audience down either. So, that keeps me up at night. Just making sure that I’m doing everything that I possibly can to not let all of the invested parties in this new adventure down.

I don’t sleep that well, and there have been quite a few nights where I’ve been thinking a lot of things through. It’s humbling to see the people who have taken a leap of faith to join me on both brands. It’s humbling to see the leap of faith that the executives of this company have taken with me. And I want the audience  to believe in me. And that’s something that I don’t stop thinking about truthfully.

 Samir Husni: Thank you.

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Strung Magazine: For Both The Armchair Adventurer & The Seasoned Outdoor Enthusiast, Strung Magazine Takes You to “Life At The Treeline” And Captivates You Into Staying There – The Mr. Magazine™ Interview With Tyler Justice Allen, Editor In Chief…

December 10, 2018

A Mr. Magazine™  Launch Story…

“We decided to go with a print publication because we wanted to create something that would leave a lasting impression on the reader. We went with an oversized format, Strung is 9.5 x 12 inches, so it’s a full inch taller and wider than you’ll find most publications. And it’s printed on heavy grade, not finished paper. So, we wanted to create something that was almost akin to a coffee table book.”… Tyler Justice Allen on why they chose print in a digital age.

 

Strung Magazine* is a new title from the same people who brought you Tail Fly Fishing Magazine, only Strung is dedicated to considerably more outdoor activities and sports than just fly fishing. As its tagline entices, Strung shows you that passionate, yet slightly dangerous “life at the treeline” and begs you to glance down from those lofty heights, throwing caution to the wind as you follow your outdoor passions. From hunting to fishing, rock climbing to snowboarding, Strung takes you on that ultimate adventure with beautiful photography and great storytelling.

For truth in reporting purposes, Mr. Magazine™ would just like to mention that I have worked with the publisher of Strung, Joseph Ballarini, on Tail Fly Fishing Magazine, so I am familiar with the passion that the people behind this magazine have. And Strung is definitely about passion, and according to editor in chief, Tyler Justice Allen, that passion for many outdoor endeavors is what makes the magazine stand out from all the others.

I spoke with Tyler recently and we talked about this new title that aims to put another option in the outdoor space when it comes to untamed adventure. Tyler said they chose print for their new magazine because they wanted to leave an impression upon their readers, and what better way to do that than with the feel and texture of the oversized book that would look so fantastic on anyone’s coffee table. It’s an experience-filled publication that also gives its readers an unforgettable experience, and it’s exactly what print should be about in this day and age.

So, join me for an exciting glimpse at “life at the treeline” as we get good and “Strung” on wild, outdoor adventure with Tyler Justice Allen, editor in chief, Strung Magazine.

 

But first the sound-bites:

On how Strung began:A little over a year ago, Joseph Ballarini and I were talking about creating a new magazine that was focused primarily on freshwater fishing, but also brought in other elements of the outdoor lifestyle. In that Strung was born. And we were able to create a publication that was targeting folks that pursue more than one outdoor activity. And in the case of Strung, we ended up going after the people who may engage in fly fishing, responsible hunting, rock climbing, alpine climbing, paddle sports, be it rafting or kayaking, as well as having a strong focus on wildland stewardship and conservation.

On the name Strung:I was trying to come up with a name that pertained to a variety of different outdoor endeavors, and we stuck with Strung because it pertained, one – to fly fishing, if you think about stringing up a fly rod, it pertained to bow hunting, a bow is strung, and also when you’re rock climbing and you are between pieces of protection, it’s referred to being “strung out,” so it’s related to three of the things that we’re focusing on.

On the magazine’s unique tagline:“Life at the treeline.” That was something that Joe and I developed when we were first coming up with the concept of Strung. For us, life at the treeline is living life right on the edge, right where things start to change. And up on a mountain, the treeline signifies the boundary between the safer, lower slopes and the more dangerous exposed areas in the Alpine area. So, it seemed fitting for our audience and with what we were doing.

On why they decided on a print publication in this digital age:We decided to go with a print publication because we wanted to create something that would leave a lasting impression on the reader. We went with an oversized format, Strung is 9.5 x 12 inches, so it’s a full inch taller and wider than you’ll find most publications. And it’s printed on heavy grade, not finished paper. So, we wanted to create something that was almost akin to a coffee table book.

On what differentiates Strung from the rest of the outdoor magazines on the market:And what makes Strung a bit different from the other outdoor magazines out there is we are tackling such a variety of outdoor endeavors that we’re unique just in that right. Most magazines are covering one or two different sports, you have large fly-fishing publications that are focused exclusively on that sport; you have hunting publications; then you have publications similar to Outside Magazine, for example, that does look at a variety of outdoor sports and recreation, but they don’t bring a fly fishing or responsible hunting component into the fold. And that’s where you find us. We’re trying to bring all of these together and I haven’t seen another publication that is really trying to tackle all of them.

On what he thinks the fascination with magazines and with print is for his magazine publisher, Joe Ballarini, since he is an emergency room doctor first:That’s a great question and I can only speculate, but I think it offered a great outlet for Joe’s creative side. Being an emergency room doctor you’re looking at things that may be very black and white, and you’re not necessarily able to utilize the creative side of your brain and utilize any sort of creative agency that you might want. So, being able to create these two publications, Strung and Tail Fly Fishing Magazine, it really gives him a chance to flex that side of his brain and do something a little bit different.

On the most pleasant moment for him in launching Strung:The most pleasant moment honestly has come in probably the last seven or eight days when our contributors, advertisers, and VIP’s started to receive the magazine and the feedback that we have begun to get. We had a pretty good idea that we had created a quality publication, but we weren’t entirely sure how it was going to be received. And as people are getting it, we’ve heard nothing but wonderful feedback. And that has definitely been validating for us.We’ve been working on this initial issue for almost a year now, and to have it finally come to fruition and be as attractive and of this caliber of quality as we could possibly imagine, has been very fulfilling. And it’s good to know that we were able to create something of this quality and to know that we’re just going to get better from here.

On if it took them a year to create the first issue, how long will it take to create the second issue: I’m actually almost finished with our second issue. I have been working on multiple issues at a time, just trying to get ahead of the game and make sure that we have adequate content moving forward. Content collection is not always the easiest thing and I’m a bit of a stickler for ensuring what we put into the magazine is the highest quality content that we could have and that means time, so if I’m able to work on two or three issues at a time and collect content along the way it just means we’re going to have a better final product.

On anything he’d like to add:I hope that folks are willing to give Strung a try. It’s a beautiful magazine and hopefully people will enjoy the variety of content that we’ve been able to include. We have some wonderful well-known contributors, incredible photographers that we have working with us, as well as newer players, newer folks who are just getting established and that I can guarantee you are going to be big names as they get their foot in the doors.

On the biggest misconception he thinks people have about him:I think people may assume that all I typically do with my time is fish and work, but I do other things. I made a little bit of a name for myself  in the fly fishing world and have worked in a variety of roles in the fly fishing industry over the past eight or nine years. But as much as I love to fish, there are other things that I do just as much if not more frequently. I consider myself to be a hunter as well as a rock climber, as well as an alpine climber, as well as a snowboarder, as well as a kayaker; I’m not a one trick pony. I try and do a lot of things with my time.

On what he would have tattooed upon his brain that would be there forever and no one could ever forget about him:That whatever he undertakes to do is going to be done with maximum effort. My personal mantra is anything worth doing is worth doing right. And I don’t want to do anything halfheartedly. I would rather not do it at all than do something halfheartedly. So, if it’s coming from my hands or from my brain, you can be assured that it was my best effort.

On what someone would find him doing if they showed up unexpectedly one evening at his home:You still might find me fly tying or more commonly, hanging out with my dog and my wife. I do enjoy cooking. I cooked professionally for a number of years after I got into the fly fishing industry, because I needed to do something to make ends meet and I still very much enjoy cooking for my family, fly tying, reading, and brewing beer when I can.

On what keeps him up at night:Deadlines; in the end, it’s deadlines. There are a lot of things to be concerned about in the world right now, with the current state of political affairs and everything else, but really in the end just making sure that I am doing my personal best to continue to create and to put new ideas out into the world.

 

And now the lightly edited transcript of the Mr. Magazine™ interview with Tyler Justice Allen, editor in chief, Strung Magazine.

Samir Husni: Tell me the story of Strung Magazine.

Tyler Justice Allen: A little over a year ago, Joseph Ballarini and I were talking about creating a new magazine that was focused primarily on freshwater fishing, but also brought in other elements of the outdoor lifestyle. In that Strung was born. And we were able to create a publication that was targeting folks that pursue more than one outdoor activity. And in the case of Strung, we ended up going after the people who may engage in fly fishing, responsible hunting, rock climbing, alpine climbing, paddle sports, be it rafting or kayaking, as well as having a strong focus on wildland stewardship and conservation.

Samir Husni: Tell me about the name; how did you end up with a name like Strung?

Tyler Justice Allen: I was trying to come up with a name that pertained to a variety of different outdoor endeavors, and we stuck with Strung because it pertained, one – to fly fishing, if you think about stringing up a fly rod, it pertained to bow hunting, a bow is strung, and also when you’re rock climbing and you are between pieces of protection, it’s referred to being “strung out,” so it’s related to three of the things that we’re focusing on.

Samir Husni: You also have a unique tagline.

Tyler Justice Allen: Yes, “life at the treeline.” That was something that Joe and I developed when we were first coming up with the concept of Strung. For us, life at the treeline is living life right on the edge, right where things start to change. And up on a mountain, the treeline signifies the boundary between the safer, lower slopes and the more dangerous exposed areas in the Alpine area. So, it seemed fitting for our audience and with what we were doing.

Samir Husni: You’re an editor and I’m sure you’ve seen your share of print magazines come and go, so why did you decide to do a print magazine in this digital age and what differentiates it from the rest of the outdoor magazines out there?

Tyler Justice Allen: We decided to go with a print publication because we wanted to create something that would leave a lasting impression on the reader. We went with an oversized format, Strung is 9.5 x 12 inches, so it’s a full inch taller and wider than you’ll find most publications. And it’s printed on heavy grade, not finished paper. So, we wanted to create something that was almost akin to a coffee table book.

It’s 128 pages and what we wanted is something that included such high quality content and that was visually appealing enough that folks might actually leave it out. Hopefully, it’s not something that they’re going to immediately put in the recycle bin or put onto the shelf, but something that they might leave out on their coffee table to go back to or for their guests to read when they come by. But we certainly have a digital presence as well, Strung is available digitally and a digital subscription comes with the print subscription or the digital version can also be purchased separately. We really wanted something with some staying power and something that people would come back to and read time and again.

And what makes Strung a bit different from the other outdoor magazines out there is we are tackling such a variety of outdoor endeavors that we’re unique just in that right. Most magazines are covering one or two different sports, you have large fly fishing publications that are focused exclusively on that sport; you have hunting publications; then you have publications similar to Outside Magazine, for example, that does look at a variety of outdoor sports and recreation, but they don’t bring a fly fishing or responsible hunting component into the fold. And that’s where you find us. We’re trying to bring all of these together and I haven’t seen another publication that is really trying to tackle all of them.

And there are more and more readers, especially folks of a younger generation, who aren’t necessarily focused on just one sport, they’re not just fly anglers, they’re not just snowboarders, they’re not just climbers; they’re doing a variety of things  depending on the season. And that’s who Strung is for.

Samir Husni:  And for truth in reporting, I’d like to mention that I’ve worked with Joe (Ballarini) before on his other magazine Tail.  And since you worked with Joe on this new venture, this new magazine, what do you think is the fascination with magazines and with print for him, since he is an emergency room doctor first?

Tyler Justice Allen: That’s a great question and I can only speculate, but I think it offered a great outlet for Joe’s creative side. Being an emergency room doctor you’re looking at things that may be very black and white, and you’re not necessarily able to utilize the creative side of your brain and utilize any sort of creative agency that you might want. So, being able to create these two publications, Strung and Tail Fly Fishing Magazine, it really gives him a chance to flex that side of his brain and do something a little bit different.

And also to create two unique publications the likes of which you don’t find out on the market, Tail being unique in that it is the only fly fishing magazine dedicated to saltwater, and Strung being what it is, focusing on this variety of different outdoor activities, it just gave him the chance to do something unique and creative.

Samir Husni: What has been the most pleasant moment in your experience launching Strung?

Tyler Justice Allen: The most pleasant moment honestly has come in probably the last seven or eight days when our contributors, advertisers, and VIP’s started to receive the magazine and the feedback that we have begun to get. We had a pretty good idea that we had created a quality publication, but we weren’t entirely sure how it was going to be received. And as people are getting it, we’ve heard nothing but wonderful feedback. And that has definitely been validating for us.

We’ve been working on this initial issue for almost a year now, and to have it finally come to fruition and be as attractive and of this caliber of quality as we could possibly imagine, has been very fulfilling. And it’s good to know that we were able to create something of this quality and to know that we’re just going to get better from here.

Samir Husni: If it took you a year to create this issue, how long will it take you to create the second issue? 

Tyler Justice Allen: I’m actually almost finished with our second issue. I have been working on multiple issues at a time, just trying to get ahead of the game and make sure that we have adequate content moving forward. Content collection is not always the easiest thing and I’m a bit of a stickler for ensuring what we put into the magazine is the highest quality content that we could have and that means time, so if I’m able to work on two or three issues at a time and collect content along the way it just means we’re going to have a better final product.

Samir Husni: Is there anything you’d like to add?

Tyler Justice Allen: I hope that folks are willing to give Strung a try. It’s a beautiful magazine and hopefully people will enjoy the variety of content that we’ve been able to include. We have some wonderful well-known contributors, incredible photographers that we have working with us, as well as newer players, newer folks who are just getting established and that I can guarantee you are going to be big names as they get their foot in the doors.

So, I hope folks will give us a try and to keep checking back to see what new things we’re creating and putting into the magazine.

Samir Husni: What do you think is the biggest misconception people have about you?

Tyler Justice Allen: I think people may assume that all I typically do with my time is fish and work, but I do other things. I made a little bit of a name for myself  in the fly fishing world and have worked in a variety of roles in the fly fishing industry over the past eight or nine years. But as much as I love to fish, there are other things that I do just as much if not more frequently. I consider myself to be a hunter as well as a rock climber, as well as an alpine climber, as well as a snowboarder, as well as a kayaker; I’m not a one trick pony. I try and do a lot of things with my time.

Samir Husni: If you could have one thing tattooed upon your brain that no one would ever forget about you, what would it be?

Tyler Justice Allen: That whatever he undertakes to do is going to be done with maximum effort. My personal mantra is anything worth doing is worth doing right. And I don’t want to do anything halfheartedly. I would rather not do it at all than do something halfheartedly. So, if it’s coming from my hands or from my brain, you can be assured that it was my best effort.

Samir Husni: If I showed up unexpectedly at your home one evening after work, what would I find you doing? Having a glass of wine; reading a magazine; cooking; watching TV; or something else? How do you unwind?

Tyler Justice Allen: You still might find me fly tying or more commonly, hanging out with my dog and my wife. I do enjoy cooking. I cooked professionally for a number of years after I got into the fly fishing industry, because I needed to do something to make ends meet and I still very much enjoy cooking for my family, fly tying, reading, and brewing beer when I can.

Samir Husni: My typical last question; what keeps you up at night?

Tyler Justice Allen: Deadlines; in the end, it’s deadlines. There are a lot of things to be concerned about in the world right now, with the current state of political affairs and everything else, but really in the end just making sure that I am doing my personal best to continue to create and to put new ideas out into the world.

Samir Husni: Thank you.

* Truth in Reporting:  I have consulted with the publisher of Strung on his previous magazine Tail and discussed the plans for the launch of Strung.  However, although my name is listed as publishing consultant on Strung, I have not worked or received any money for the listing of my name on the masthead.

 

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John L. Walters: The Editor Who Keeps An “Eye” On Graphic Design Worldwide. The Mr. Magazine™ Interview.

December 5, 2018

A Behind the Scenes Look at Eye Magazine: The International Review of Graphic Design…

“I think what we’ve seen throughout the maturing of web publishing is we have had to rediscover what we like about the magazine format. If you go back to 1920s when you see the magazine form come into focus with the idea of the double-page spread and the drama of the big picture across two pages, or the way you can use type to animate the page and excite the reader. That’s been developed and refined and changed for nearly 100 years and it’s what you would call a mature medium, whereas, because online technology and the actual devices used changes all of the time and it keeps getting updated and reengineered, that hasn’t had a chance to settle.” John L. Walters…

Eye Magazine is a beautiful and collectable graphic design journal, published quarterly for professional designers, students and anyone interested in critical, informed writing about design and visual culture. Eye, the international review of graphic design, shows the design disciple the latest and most arresting visual displays and the importance of fusing all of the elements, from the editorial to the typographical, together to create the most powerful design possible.

John L. Walters is the editor of Eye, and also an author, composer, and music writer. I spoke with John recently and we talked about the power of design in a magazine and the inimitable magazine format that complements design so brilliantly. It was an absolutely delightful conversation and one that opened up an extraordinary insight into the world of design and all of its components.

So, I hope that you enjoy this glimpse into Eye Magazine and many of the aspects of graphic design that may or may not have been known to you. I think you will enjoy becoming a pupil of Eye (yes, pun intended). And now the Mr. Magazine™ interview with John L. Walters, editor, Eye Magazine.

 

But first the sound-bites:

On two special issues of Eye Magazine that covers the subject of magazines themselves:Yes, two special issues. It’s a subject that has always interested the magazine, before my time and since I’ve been editor. And regularly we cover the subject of editorial design in magazines, because I think there is an aspect of graphic design that is constantly being renewed. The subject matter, the content, is always changing. And then the way magazines are designed is constantly evolving and the technology with which we put magazines together is also constantly changing.

On whether the changes going on today cause publishers to have to do something differently with print than digital:Well, it’s something that you referred to once, magazines have always been competing with other forms of communication, whether it’s radio or TV, newspapers, and now we have all of the myriad means of distributing information online, some of which resemble magazines, however work in totally different ways than magazines. So, I think what we’ve seen throughout the maturing of web publishing is we have had to rediscover what we like about the magazine format. If you go back to 1920s when you see the magazine form come into focus with the idea of the double-page spread and the drama of the big picture across two pages, or the way you can use type to animate the page and excite the reader. That’s been developed and refined and changed for nearly 100 years and it’s what you would call a mature medium, whereas, because online technology and the actual devices used changes all of the time and it keeps getting updated and reengineered, that hasn’t had a chance to settle.

On how he would define Eye:We have a phrase that we use on the masthead: we’re an international review of graphic design, and we try to stick to that. It’s a magazine for all graphic designers. We’ve really stuck to that all the way through the magazine and as you know, we’ve maintained exactly the same format all the way through. If you have  a shelf with copies of Eye from number one to 97, the present one, they line up precisely.

On magazines being about the experience and not just content:I think you’re right, the magazine format gives a certain kind of authority to the things that you write about. And it gives you a chance to look at what’s been happening. If it’s an overview, you’re looking at what’s happening with a particular area that connects together. If you’re doing a profile, such as the one about Michele Outland in the new issue, you’re looking at the person and you’re looking at the work, and in her case, you’re looking at two different magazines. So, that provides a way of showing that content is equal in a way that’s more than a blogpost a little news item, or a thing that focuses on just one aspect of that.

On what advice he would give someone who was thinking about starting a new magazine:It always pays to be realistic and of course, you have to look at all of the financial challenges of putting a magazine together, from paying contributors, writers and photographers, to dealing with the print bills and the distribution, and dealing with the way you promote and advertise your magazine. There are lots and lots of aspects of magazine making that can be a little hidden behind the shelves of magCulture or whatever your favorite independent mag store is. But I don’t think I’d discourage anyone from going into magazines. One of the editors I worked for used to say it’s the best job in the world.

On what he thinks is the biggest challenge facing the magazine industry today:I don’t know if I can speak in general about that subject, because I know people who work at very different magazines, they work on newspaper magazines, smaller mainstream magazines, and my wife, who’s a magazine journalist, and also works in a very mass market area of women’s publishing, which has definitely transformed in the last two years. So, I think each of those titles, each of those sectors, faces its own challenges, which are quite different. I think it’s very good that magazine people get to talk to each other to sort of find out what’s going on, because I think there’s a lot that the mainstream sector can learn from the Indie sector.

On what he thinks is the biggest misconception people have about him:The biggest misconception is that I will see someone’s email if they assign it to the editor. It’s one of the great worries of an editor, that you will just miss a great story from a great new writer, because it’s the first time they’ve emailed you and it might end up in your junk mail; it might not even look like a serious proposal and of course, as you probably know, we are always very pleased to have new contributors. Each copy of Eye Magazine, I would say, has four or five, even more, writers who are new to magazines. So, that’s one of the ways that we aim to keep it fresh and find new voices and find new experts. I’m always very keen to find new writers and hear from them.

On what he would have tattooed upon his brain that would be there forever and no one could ever forget about him:My job, really. I’m the editor of Eye Magazine and I’m very proud to do that. And it’s also a great responsibility, and if I go to give a talk – recently we did a film night, a  presentation, and it was very good to be able to introduce the magazine. Going back to my earlier point, it was very good to be able to introduce the magazine in a social setting, where we were showing some short documentaries about graphic design.

On what someone would find him doing if they showed up unexpectedly one evening at his home:It varies, because I do end up going out quite a few evenings because there’s some event going on to do with design or sometimes to do with music. I still occasionally write about music as well as design, typography and digital content. When I’m at home my wife and I like to chat and we both like to read. My wife is also an editor and writer and she’s an expert in children’s books and children’s literature, so she has a new project that she’s been working on. So, a lot of our evening activities rotate around design, literature and music.

On what keeps him up at night:(Laughs) Reading about Donald Trump and Manafort and the whole crew.

 

And now the lightly edited transcript of the Mr. Magazine™ interview with John L. Walters, editor, Eye Magazine.

 

Samir Husni: Why two special issues on magazines from a magazine?

John L. Walters: Yes, two special issues. It’s a subject that has always interested the magazine, before my time and since I’ve been editor. And regularly we cover the subject of editorial design in magazines, because I think there is an aspect of graphic design that is constantly being renewed. The subject matter, the content, is always changing. And then the way magazines are designed is constantly evolving and the technology with which we put magazines together is also constantly changing.

And as you probably know, the whole independent sector has reaped benefits from the fact that you can now make a magazine of very high standards and it’s much easier. You don’t have the massive startup costs that you had back in the day; all of the old methods of publication – we can now produce very good quality pages in our studios, in our bedrooms, if that’s what we want.

As magazine makers, we have taken advantage of those changes in order to change what we do and improve the quality of what we do, and it seemed like a subject that was worth paying attention to.

Samir Husni: As you look at all of the changes, the innovation that took place say 100 years ago, whether it was in the type of paper or the type of presentation or design, how do you think the changes that are taking place today, changes with the presentation, with the design of the magazine affect print? Is there something that you have to do differently with print than digital? Maybe something that says: we’re not trying to compete with digital, but here’s what we can do in print.

John L. Walters: Well, it’s something that you referred to once, magazines have always been competing with other forms of communication, whether it’s radio or TV, newspapers, and now we have all of the myriad means of distributing information online, some of which resemble magazines, however work in totally different ways than magazines.

So, I think what we’ve seen throughout the maturing of web publishing is we have had to rediscover what we like about the magazine format. If you go back to 1920s when you see the magazine form come into focus with the idea of the double-page spread and the drama of the big picture across two pages, or the way you can use type to animate the page and excite the reader. That’s been developed and refined and changed for nearly 100 years and it’s what you would call a mature medium, whereas, because online technology and the actual devices used changes all of the time and it keeps getting updated and reengineered, that hasn’t had a chance to settle.

I think what we’re seeing now is a kind of interesting golden age of magazine design where really good design is in collaboration with the writers and editors and all of the other parts of the team. They can produce something very strong and powerful that may be hitting a smaller section of the market, but it’s serving that smaller market really well. And that makes it an exciting area to still be in. Ten years ago when we went independent with Eye, the future seemed very uncertain, but right now there are things to worry about, but it feels like we’re in a very strong area of activity.

Samir Husni: If someone asked you to define Eye, what would be your elevator pitch about the magazine today?

John L. Walters: We have a phrase that we use on the masthead: we’re an international review of graphic design, and we try to stick to that. It’s a magazine for all graphic designers. We’ve really stuck to that all the way through the magazine and as you know, we’ve maintained exactly the same format all the way through. If you have  a shelf with copies of Eye from number one to 97, the present one, they line up precisely.

I would also say that it’s a magazine of design and visual culture, because designers by their very nature, in fact our readers who are graphic designers, are not just interested in design, they’re interested in aspects of the visual world that help them do their job, help them understand what’s going on, and maybe inspire them to do new things. There are things that are not strictly graphic design that we put in and that interest our readers. Of course, there’s also a big focus on typography, so every four issues we do a typography special issue, recognizing that type, design and typography lies right at the heart of graphic design.

Samir Husni: One of the things that I’ve always advocated is that magazines are much more than content, that if the magazines were all about nothing but content, then they would be dead in this digital age. Magazines are more about the experience. As an experience maker or an experience creator, can you define the process that you go through with Eye to create that experience?

John L. Walters: I think you’re right, the magazine format gives a certain kind of authority to the things that you write about. And it gives you a chance to look at what’s been happening. If it’s an overview, you’re looking at what’s happening with a particular area that connects together. If you’re doing a profile, such as the one about Michele Outland in the new issue, you’re looking at the person and you’re looking at the work, and in her case, you’re looking at two different magazines. So, that provides a way of showing that content is equal in a way that’s more than a blogpost a little news item, or a thing that focuses on just one aspect of that.

And that goes with regular things that we do in Eye, such as the “Reputations” interview, that gives us a chance to give a really meaty appraisal of someone’s work, which might go back generations, as it does in the case of David Driver. And also gives us the opportunity, with a very articulate interview, to really understand how they tick and how they think and do the job of graphic designer/art director.

Samir Husni: With your experience and background, if someone came to you and said they were thinking about starting a new magazine, what advice would you give them? Or would you tell them to just forget about it?

John L. Walters: (Laughs) It always pays to be realistic and of course, you have to look at all of the financial challenges of putting a magazine together, from paying contributors, writers and photographers, to dealing with the print bills and the distribution, and dealing with the way you promote and advertise your magazine. There are lots and lots of aspects of magazine making that can be a little hidden behind the shelves of magCulture or whatever your favorite independent mag store is. But I don’t think I’d discourage anyone from going into magazines. One of the editors I worked for used to say it’s the best job in the world.

You get to deal with such a lot of interesting people and collaborators, and the creative rapport you have with your fellow writers and assistant editor, art director/designer – it’s such a great way of collaborating and putting things together, the pages become a feature and it becomes a part of the magazine and you feel very proud. So, I think that experience, whether you’re young, old, or somewhere in between, it’s still one that’s worth trying. It’s been our observation with the Indie magazines that some magazines just come out for two or three issues, it’s a kind of testing ground for the makers. They learn about what they’re interested in and maybe learn then how to design, how to make a design work, which isn’t as easy as in some instances it may look in our pages. It takes a great deal of very deep thinking about material that goes on for a long time before text and images are assembled on the page.

We’ve also seen over the years that a magazine can also be a Launchpad for other things. It may be that the young magazine makes it now, but will be inheriting a very different media world in the next 20 years, and be able to use those magazine skills to make something that we can only dream about.

Samir Husni: What do you think is the biggest challenge facing the magazine industry today?

John L. Walters: I don’t know if I can speak in general about that subject, because I know people who work at very different magazines, they work on newspaper magazines, smaller mainstream magazines, and my wife, who’s a magazine journalist, and also works in a very mass market area of women’s publishing, which has definitely transformed in the last two years. So, I think each of those titles, each of those sectors, faces its own challenges, which are quite different. I think it’s very good that magazine people get to talk to each other to sort of find out what’s going on, because I think there’s a lot that the mainstream sector can learn from the Indie sector.

Going back to the personal view of Eye Magazine, obviously the biggest challenge is just getting your magazine out into the market to the widest possible range of people who will enjoy it. And distributing it in a subscription base and then be able to distribute without too much hassle, things getting lost, and also getting out to shops, so that someone who has never heard of the magazine can walk into a magazine store, find it on the shelves, and decide that they like it and become one of our most ardent supporters, you know that moment when you find a magazine and it’s just right for you and you fall in love with it and you start following it. And that’s more difficult to do now that there are fewer mag stores. So, I think we need some brave new Indie mag stores to make that possible for a new generation of readers.

Samir Husni: What do you think is the biggest misconception people have about you?

John L. Walters: (Laughs) The biggest misconception is that I will see someone’s email if they assign it to the editor. It’s one of the great worries of an editor, that you will just miss a great story from a great new writer, because it’s the first time they’ve emailed you and it might end up in your junk mail; it might not even look like a serious proposal and of course, as you probably know, we are always very pleased to have new contributors. Each copy of Eye Magazine, I would say, has four or five, even more, writers who are new to magazines. So, that’s one of the ways that we aim to keep it fresh and find new voices and find new experts. I’m always very keen to find new writers and hear from them.

Samir Husni: If you could have one thing tattooed upon your brain that no one would ever forget about you, what would it be?

John L. Walters: My job, really. I’m the editor of Eye Magazine and I’m very proud to do that. And it’s also a great responsibility, and if I go to give a talk – recently we did a film night, a presentation, and it was very good to be able to introduce the magazine. Going back to my earlier point, it was very good to be able to introduce the magazine in a social setting, where we were showing some short documentaries about graphic design. The finale of the evening was a film we’d made about Eye – number 94, which is the Type Special Issue we did with 8,000 different numbers, covers, which has won awards and it’s probably drawn more acclaim and attention than any other issue of the magazine.  We haven’t had the opportunity to show the documentary in the United States, but we’re hoping to make that available next year.

Samir Husni: If I showed up unexpectedly at your home one evening after work, what would I find you doing? Having a glass of wine; reading a magazine; cooking; watching TV; or something else? How do you unwind?

John L. Walters: (Laughs) It varies, because I do end up going out quite a few evenings because there’s some event going on to do with design or sometimes to do with music. I still occasionally write about music as well as design, typography and digital content. When I’m at home my wife and I like to chat and we both like to read. My wife is also an editor and writer and she’s an expert in children’s books and children’s literature, so she has a new project that she’s been working on. So, a lot of our evening activities rotate around design, literature and music.

Samir Husni: My typical last question; what keeps you up at night?

John L. Walters: (Laughs) Reading about Donald Trump and Manafort and the whole crew.

Samir Husni: Thank you.

 

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