Archive for the ‘New Launches’ Category

h1

Safar Magazine: A Lebanese Publication That’s Flirting With, Fleeing From & Falling For Graphic Design & Visual Culture – The Mr. Magazine™ Interview With Maya Moumne, Cofounder, Editor In Chief & Creative Director…

August 2, 2019

“We’re not even sure that it’s the best format (print), but it’s where our heart is taking us. And I’m always a firm believer in following your gut instinct and following your heart. To be very transparent, the magazine has not taken off financially at all, but I feel like if we’re stubborn and we study our audience a little better, the magazine will definitely take us there. There’s this aspect of archives that doesn’t exist online and in digital magazines that we’d like to retain with this print magazine.” Maya Moumne…

An independent magazine that focuses on the visual beauty and technique of graphic design in the Arab world is something worth talking about, as graphic design becomes more and more important and prominent in the Middle East. Safar magazine is published both in English and in Arabic in each issue (something done intentionally to attract a wider audience). And with each of its themed issues, the founders, Maya Moumne and Hatem Imam, invite a diverse set of contributors to talk about graphic design in their own individual voices as the theme allows.

On a recent trip to Lebanon, I spoke with Maya Moumne, one of the brand’s founders, and we talked about the unique aspects of the magazine, from the intriguing content of a print publication all about graphic design, a very rare thing in the Arab world, and the public talks between esteemed people in the cultural sphere, that is an extension of the magazine.

The magazine was born from an embryo started by Maya and Hatem in the form of Studio Safar, a graphic design company, mainly commission-based, that indulged their passion for design and print. It’s a lovely magazine and a very welcomed breath of fresh air to graphic design enthusiasts around the globe.

So, I hope that you enjoy this glimpse into the world of graphic design through the eyes of a very passionate young woman who is both an entrepreneur and an artist with a very important mission and dream, the Mr. Magazine™ interview with Maya Moumne, cofounder, editor in chief and creative director, Safar magazine.

But first the sound-bites:

On the story of Safar magazine: In 2012, my partner and I started a design studio called Studio Safar. It was mainly in a commission-based context. Throughout, with the type of work we were doing, my partner and I realized  that we already had a passion for print and it had always been our dream to delve into the publishing realm. So we decided to start a magazine on graphic design because there were no magazines in the area that tackled graphic design specifically. And certainly none that were available in Arabic. When we started we called it Journal Safar and the format of the magazine was very different from the current one that you have seen. It was more like a journal that was published by the Studio.

On the magazine’s tagline, “flirt with, flee from, and fall for graphic design and visual culture”: Say, we’re designing a publication; the role of the graphic designer cannot only be to design the page given the photography and the text, the designer’s role is really enacting the way that you read the publication or that you receive the content. You give me an article and you tell me that this is the text and these are the images. I can design this article in five different ways and in each one of these different ways, you will receive the content in a different manner. You’ll understand the content differently. So, the rule of the designer really is to flirt with the viewer. What we’re trying to do with the magazine is get people to flirt with this idea of design being an agent of cultural production, and getting them to fall for it, and also getting them to flee from misconceptions around design or trends around design.

On why she and her partner, Hatem Imam, decided print would be the best format for the magazine: We’re not even sure that it’s the best format, but it’s where our heart is taking us. And I’m always a firm believer in following your gut instinct and following your heart. To be very transparent, the magazine has not taken off financially at all, but I feel like if we’re stubborn and we study our audience a little better, the magazine will definitely take us there. There’s this aspect of archives that doesn’t exist online and in digital magazines that we’d like to retain with this print magazine. And for that reason the magazine is completely translated into English and Arabic in one publication or one document for the sake of having this material there five to ten years down the line. In Arabic, the dictionary of graphic design terms does not exist because graphic design is a very new field.

On where her journey began: My family moved to Canada many years ago and they stayed there for about eight years, but they eventually moved back to Lebanon. I was very young when they moved back to Lebanon, and when everyone asks me where I was raised, I say that I was raised in Beirut but the first half of my childhood was in Montreal, Canada. But the rest of my life, such as character-building, interest-building, everything, was in Beirut, Lebanon and nowhere else.

On what got her hooked on graphic design: The infinite possibilities. The fact that a graphic designer can be someone who is so well-informed about a musical project because they have to design a printed ephemera or an online ephemera around that musical project. And the fact that a graphic designer can be so well-informed about helping cybersecurity because they’re working with a cybersecurity company on their communications strategy. It’s really the infinite possibilities.

On the future of graphic design in the Arabic world since it’s a relatively new field: I can tell you from working based out of this region that people are turning more toward hiring graphic design agencies versus advertising agencies, and that’s been a really big shift and accomplishment in understanding the value of graphic design versus advertising. More and more advertising agencies are closing and more and more graphic design agencies are opening. I’m pretty confident that the times will change and graphic designers will be given much more agency than they are right now.

On the eclectic mix of stories and articles in the current edition and what made them decide to bring such a diverse group of individuals together in one issue: Most of the time the articles that we pick could really be a midnight project; I wake up at 3:00 a.m. and think, I really want to learn more about this or that. And then I’ll think, who’s a good designer? Whose research has touched on that? Or whose research is based on that? I’ll contact them and if they’re interested, then they’ll write an article about that. Other ideas will come really whimsically, almost accidentally.

On the biggest stumbling block they have had to face: I would have to say that it’s the finances. Every other part of it was a lot of hard work, but a very enjoyable process. I wouldn’t call it a stumbling block.

On what she would hope to have accomplished with the magazine one year from now: There’s a lot that I hope to accomplish with the magazine, but there are two things that I will mention in this interview. One of them is graphic designers will understand and learn that their role isn’t just to design what clients tell them to design; their role is much more important than that. They are actually cultural producers. That is one thing I would like to achieve with the magazine in one year.

On where people can go to get a copy of the magazine: For now, our Instagram account is the best way because we’re in the process of distributing the last issue to the distribution company and to bookstores around the world. And while we have one centralized link where people can just visit online to purchase the magazine from, they’re going to have to contact us and we can tell them where they can go online and what bookstores they can get it from based on what city they live in.

On anything she’d like to add: I’d like to elaborate a bit more on the last answer I gave and say that for example, with the launch of this last issue, an organization with so much history and so much prestige like Onassis Culture, based in Athens, took a particular interest in us and partnered with us to create the launch event of our last issue. And the launch event wasn’t just a matter of selling the magazine and partying and drinking, it included a series of public talks between Paul Holdengräber, who is someone that I have so much respect for and I was star struck when I met him, and we conducted a talk between three people in an auditorium with a stage and an audience, to talk about matters that are related to cultural production, nostalgia and design.

On what someone would find her doing if they showed up unexpectedly one evening at her home: Definitely having a glass of wine, it relaxes me. Definitely reading relaxes me, and definitely watching a movie relaxes me.

On the biggest misconception she thinks people have about her: I don’t know and I don’t really care what misconceptions people have about me.

On what keeps her up at night: It’s funny that you ask that because I actually do wake up in the middle of the night thinking about work. There are two main things: what’s the next step, which is always on my mind, what am I going to do next, let’s do this or do that. And the second one is how am I going to pay the bills.

And now the lightly edited transcript of the Mr. Magazine™ interview with Maya Moumne, cofounder, editor in chief, and creative director, Safar magazine.

Samir Husni: Can you tell me the story of Safar?

Maya Moumne: Yes, of course. In 2012, my partner and I started a design studio called Studio Safar. It was mainly in a commission-based context. So, if an art institution wants to design an identity, they’ll hire us, and if a publisher wants to have a book designed, he or she will contact us and we’ll design the book for them. And we have worked with art institutions, clients mainly in the cultural sector, some musicians, some corporate agencies and such.

Throughout, with the type of work we were doing, my partner and I realized  that we already had a passion for print and it had always been our dream to delve into the publishing realm. So we decided to start a magazine on graphic design because there were no magazines in the area that tackled graphic design specifically. And certainly none that were available in Arabic. When we started we called it Journal Safar and the format of the magazine was very different from the current one that you have seen. It was more like a journal that was published by the Studio.

In the last issue we decided that in order to make the publication more accessible, and to change this misconception of graphic design being something that is only service-oriented, we need to reach a larger audience, so we changed the name from Journal Safar to Safar alone, hoping that with the coming years the magazine will overpower the Studio. We’re hoping that people will recognize Safar as the magazine and not just the Studio, which is currently what’s happening.

We’ve also changed the type of articles that exist in the magazine that we publish. Before they were a bit more abstract than they are right now. We’re going more in the direction of content that is not just from graphic designers, and that’s the only way that we can disrupt that misconception.

Samir Husni: Your tagline is that you want to “flirt with, flee from, and fall for graphic design and visual culture.” Can you expand a little bit on that?

Maya Moumne: Of course. Everything that we do comes from our personalities, my partner and I, Hatem Imam. And also from the nature of the type of work that we do at the Studio and the culture that exists there. Every project that we take on, especially the commissioned ones, there is always a phase where we are trying to provoke the client, evoke the client, and we try to get them to question the nature of their own business. We feel very strongly that the rules of the graphic designer, in any given project, are so essential.

Say, we’re designing a publication; the role of the graphic designer cannot only be to design the page given the photography and the text, the designer’s role is really enacting the way that you read the publication or that you receive the content. You give me an article and you tell me that this is the text and these are the images. I can design this article in five different ways and in each one of these different ways, you will receive the content in a different manner. You’ll understand the content differently. So, the rule of the designer really is to flirt with the viewer.

What we’re trying to do with the magazine is get people to flirt with this idea of design being an agent of cultural production, and getting them to fall for it, and also getting them to flee from misconceptions around design or trends around design.

Samir Husni: Has anyone asked you or your partner, Hatem, whether you both have lost your minds, doing a print magazine in this digital age?

Maya Moumne: Yes, we have been asked that for sure.

Samir Husni: So, why did you decide print is the best format to flirt, flee and fall for graphic design?

Maya Moumne: We’re not even sure that it’s the best format, but it’s where our heart is taking us. And I’m always a firm believer in following your gut instinct and following your heart. To be very transparent, the magazine has not taken off financially at all, but I feel like if we’re stubborn and we study our audience a little better, the magazine will definitely take us there. There’s this aspect of archives that doesn’t exist online and in digital magazines that we’d like to retain with this print magazine. And for that reason the magazine is completely translated into English and Arabic in one publication or one document for the sake of having this material there five to ten years down the line. In Arabic, the dictionary of graphic design terms does not exist because graphic design is a very new field.

Samir Husni: I read a bit of your bio; how did your journey start, is it from Lebanon to Canada back to Lebanon?

Maya Moumne: My family moved to Canada many years ago and they stayed there for about eight years, but they eventually moved back to Lebanon. I was very young when they moved back to Lebanon, and when everyone asks me where I was raised, I say that I was raised in Beirut but the first half of my childhood was in Montreal, Canada. But the rest of my life, such as character-building, interest-building, everything, was in Beirut, Lebanon and nowhere else.

Samir Husni: What got you hooked on graphic design?

Maya Moumne: The infinite possibilities. The fact that a graphic designer can be someone who is so well-informed about a musical project because they have to design a printed ephemera or an online ephemera around that musical project. And the fact that a graphic designer can be so well-informed about helping cybersecurity because they’re working with a cybersecurity company on their communications strategy. It’s really the infinite possibilities.

And where I learned about graphic design was at AUB (American University of Beirut). Their graphic design program is quite particular because it’s not a technical program at all. In fact, a lot of it is critiqued for being very theoretical and not practical enough. But I think that the big theoretical part of their graphic design program is what enables the graphic designer to graduate from this degree and really delve into any field that they want.

Samir Husni: As you look at the entire subject of graphic design in the Arabic world and the Middle East, and as you said, it’s a brand new field, where do you see graphic design going and moving five years from now?

Maya Moumne: I can tell you from working based out of this region that people are turning more toward hiring graphic design agencies versus advertising agencies, and that’s been a really big shift and accomplishment in understanding the value of graphic design versus advertising. More and more advertising agencies are closing and more and more graphic design agencies are opening. I’m pretty confident that the times will change and graphic designers will be given much more agency than they are right now.

If we look at the ladder of design, design includes architecture, product design, interior design, industrial design , urban design and graphic design. I’m sure I’m missing a few more, but on that ladder graphic design is on the very bottom of it. They’re paid less than any other designer on the ladder and they’re also given much less importance. In Lebanon, for example, there are a lot of design festivals or design biannual for fashion designers, product designers and industrial designers, but there really isn’t much for graphic designers. And there are no programs that help graphic designers start new projects or apply for master’s degrees, such as financial aid and that sort of stuff.

But I’m pretty sure it’s going to change with time, and if anything that’s the mission of the magazine. I’d like to have a second compartment to the magazine, which is an online platform in addition to the print one, that would be an authority on graphic design.

Samir Husni: As I look at the current issue and I see the eclectic mix of articles and stories, from discussing posters for old movies to drag queens, to an interview that you did in Italy with Maurizio Cattelan. What was the thinking behind putting all of these different subjects together, yet they are all connected through graphic design and visual culture?

Maya Moumne: First and foremost, we started the theme as Nostalgia, and the theme of the last issue being about nostalgia too, in particular. And we try also to not let all of the articles discuss the technical aspect of graphic design just to be able to blur the lines a bit between what technical graphic design is and what visual culture is. And we feel that they fall hand in hand with each other. For example, the article on the print chimera that came with the Lebanese film posters in the ‘70s, ‘80s. and ‘90s. This was about how the history of film production leaves out all of the print aesthetics that came with the films. And all of that printed material was what made the films understandable for people and helped them to learn about the films.

If you read about the history of film production in a certain region, these texts on that history usually leave out the print part, the design part of it. And this article talks about that in particular. So, in that sense, it’s an article that’s related to nostalgia and it’s related to graphic design. And it talks about things that we like to read about.

Most of the time the articles that we pick could really be a midnight project; I wake up at 3:00 a.m. and think, I really want to learn more about this or that. And then I’ll think, who’s a good designer? Whose research has touched on that? Or whose research is based on that? I’ll contact them and if they’re interested, then they’ll write an article about that. Other ideas will come really whimsically, almost accidentally.

Samir Husni: What was the biggest stumbling block that you faced when you decided to launch the print magazine and how did you overcome it?

Maya Moumne: I would have to say that it’s the finances. Every other part of it was a lot of hard work, but a very enjoyable process. I wouldn’t call it a stumbling block.

Samir Husni: If you and I are having this conversation a year from now, what would you hope to tell me you had accomplished with the magazine?

Maya Moumne: There’s a lot that I hope to accomplish with the magazine, but there are two things that I will mention in this interview. One of them is graphic designers will understand and learn that their role isn’t just to design what clients tell them to design; their role is much more important than that. They are actually cultural producers. That is one thing I would like to achieve with the magazine in one year.

And the other thing is to prove everyone wrong in showing that a magazine about graphic design can reach people who are not only graphic designers, and that it can make money.

Samir Husni: If someone wants to get a copy of Safar, how would they do that?

Maya Moumne: For now, our Instagram account is the best way because we’re in the process of distributing the last issue to the distribution company and to bookstores around the world. And while we have one centralized link where people can just visit online to purchase the magazine from, they’re going to have to contact us and we can tell them where they can go online and what bookstores they can get it from based on what city they live in.

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

Maya Moumne: I’d like to elaborate a bit more on the last answer I gave and say that for example, with the launch of this last issue, an organization with so much history and so much prestige like Onassis Culture, based in Athens, took a particular interest in us and partnered with us to create the launch event of our last issue. And the launch event wasn’t just a matter of selling the magazine and partying and drinking, it included a series of public talks between Paul Holdengräber, who is someone that I have so much respect for and I was star struck when I met him, and we conducted a talk between three people in an auditorium with a stage and an audience, to talk about matters that are related to cultural production, nostalgia and design.

These public talks are a very important extension of the magazine, it’s not just about it being a print magazine but it’s about a cultural exchange and dialogue. And that’s what I would like to add.

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; designing; watching TV; or something else? How do you unwind?

Maya Moumne: All of the above. (Laughs) Definitely having a glass of wine, it relaxes me. Definitely reading relaxes me, and definitely watching a movie relaxes me.

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

Maya Moumne: I don’t know and I don’t really care what misconceptions people have about me.

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

Maya Moumne: It’s funny that you ask that because I actually do wake up in the middle of the night thinking about work. There are two main things: what’s the next step, which is always on my mind, what am I going to do next, let’s do this or do that. And the second one is how am I going to pay the bills.

Samir Husni: Thank you.

Advertisements
h1

RQ (Root Quarterly): A New Regional Magazine That Combines Local Art & Culture Along With Information About The City, All In One Beautiful Design – The Mr. Magazine™ Interview With Publisher & Editor In Chief, Heather Shayne Blakeslee…

July 22, 2019

“What I’m offering people is a chance to reconnect with their attention spans, with their ability to critically think, and with their ability to enjoy long-form profiles of artists and others who are in their city.” Heather Shayne Blakeslee (On why print)…

A Mr. Magazine™ Launch Story…

Root Quarterly, or RQ as the magazine is lovingly called, is a new title that Publisher and Editor in Chief, Heather Shayne Blakeslee, says is one part magazine, one part collaborative art project, and one part social experiment. The magazine offers insightful and provocative essays, profiles of local makers and artists, cultural criticism, fiction, poetry, and carefully-curated recommendations for getting the most out of life in Philadelphia—including a cocktail or dinner recipe here and there—all in a beautifully designed and printed magazine you can hold in your hands and settle down with on a Sunday afternoon, or argue over at Thursday night happy hour.

I spoke with Heather recently and we talked about this great new title and about its uniqueness in the Regional space. While on the one hand, RQ is a literary magazine that gives you the best in fiction, poetry and essays, it also has all the regional recommendations you could need or want for the city of Philadelphia. It has multiple personalities that lends itself to some fantastic reading and to some knowledgeable information.

And it has a creator who knows the value of a great team and the value of good storytelling. Heather is not only a publisher and editor, but she’s a businessperson, and a musician, keeping her eye on the future of this new print title by focusing on one goal, providing the best high-quality content that she can. With a goal like that, how could she be anything but successful.

So, now let’s get to the “root” of the story about RQ, the Mr. Magazine™ interview with  Heather Shayne Blakeslee, publisher and editor in chief, RQ magazine.

But first the sound-bites:

On the genesis of RQ (Root Quarterly) magazine: It had a long and maybe humorous start, going back 10 years or so. I was joking with my brother and he was joking with me. We were at a party in Brooklyn, and he’s kind of a witty guy, so he walked up to me and said, “Hey, didn’t I see you on the cover of Fancy Bitch magazine?” (Laughs) And I started laughing. He’s an art director and photographer and I’m a writer and editor and we had been batting around forever the idea of starting a magazine that was for women, but wasn’t a traditional women’s magazine. I thought about it for a really long time. I restarted the idea of thinking about putting a magazine together and looked at the landscape in Philadelphia and realized that we had very little arts and culture coverage anymore. The city paper, which was one of our main weeklies, went dark. And Philadelphia Weekly, which was still around, was much diminished from the state that it had been in 10 years ago even. And so, there was room for a publication like this, but it really has a dual purpose.

On why she chose print as a component for the magazine: I think people are so used to being able to fly off the handle in comment sections and have knee-jerk reactions to things. What I’m offering people is a chance to reconnect with their attention spans, with their ability to critically think, and with their ability to enjoy long-form profiles of artists and others who are in their city.

On whether any of her friends or colleagues thought she was crazy for starting a print magazine in this digital age: (Laughs) It’s interesting because, actually, the first thing that people say when they see the magazine is, “It is so beautiful. I can’t wait to sit down with this when I have time alone to enjoy it.” I did salons for a year before I started the magazine; I asked friends and colleagues to host salons in their homes. I asked them to create lists of people who might be interested in hearing more about a project like this. We did about seven or eight of them; I probably talked to about 100 people over the course of the year to get really specific feedback. Universally, people said if you do this, we will buy a subscription. They all said they would love to have something like this.

On whether the power of print today is more about just nostalgia: I think it’s absolutely more than nostalgia. One of the things that I’m curious about, frankly, is how un-self-aware we are as a species (Laughs), especially in the last 100 years or so, about the fact that our society has radically changed in the way that we organize ourselves. And our technology has radically changed.  Our minds and our brains and our bodies have not changed that quickly. There is a continuing evolutionary process going on here and we’re not meant to have 2,000 friends. And we’re not meant to organize ourselves even in the large groups that we do now in cities and in nations. And we’re not meant to consume as much information as the human mind consumes. It’s overwhelming to people.

On whether there have been stumbling blocks for her on this magazine journey: There are stumbling blocks at every turn. The main one though is time. I have a small business doing strategy and consulting for non-profit organizations and small businesses and doing editorial services. I have two major clients that I work with and this is the third thing that I’m working on, in addition to also being a musician who records and plays in Philadelphia. I’m on the Board for the local Folksong Society, so there’s a lot going on. Time, for me, is the main thing.

On the “root” origins of the magazine’s name: For me, I am a gardener and a plant person. And I am a lay biologist, so that’s a big world that’s important to me. I am not from Philadelphia, I’m from Central Pennsylvania. So for me, part of it is just being rooted in this particular region. It’s being rooted in, as I said, our own reality, rather than the online world, which is much more easily manipulated. And it’s about trying to connect and grow with other people and creating an intentional community of people who want this kind of thing in their lives.

On what she would hope to tell someone a year from now that she had accomplished with the magazine: I hope we’ve attracted additional investment; I hope our print runs have gone up; and I hope that we have attracted the people, whether they are writers and artists, or subscribers and supporters, who want to continue to make the project grow. We have already exceeded our very modest expectations that we set for ourselves in the first year. I was thinking if we got 250 people to subscribe the first year, that would make me happy and it would help to pay for some of the print runs. And nearly 100 people, some of them sight unseen, not even having seen a copy of the magazine, have subscribed already. (Laughs) And we’re just getting started and I think there’s a lot of room for growth on that and a lot of potential.

On anything she’d like to add: Yes, because you’re a magazine person, and maybe would be interested in the kind of hybrid that we’ve come up with. I don’t think that I have seen anywhere, especially in the U.S., a quarterly magazine that is both a city magazine, in that it will offer people the carefully curated recommendations of things that are happening in the city of makers, artists, destination restaurants, and other things like that, but that will also be publishing fiction, poetry, essays, and profiles of artists. It really is splitting the difference between a city magazine and an arts and culture journal.

On what someone would find her doing if they showed up unexpectedly one evening at her home: First of all, often in the evening, and this is the other reason why I suppose we’re able to do this because it’s really being done in partnership with many people, including my life partner, Walter, who is our copy chief, he and I read books aloud to each other in the evening. And often on things that we end up wanting to write about or have others write about in the magazine, we spar all the time on arguments and exposing each other to new thinkers, new writers and authors. So, a lot of our evenings are spent doing that. That’s sort of how our relationship is based, I suppose.

On the biggest misconception she thinks people have about her: That’s a super interesting question. (Laughs) I’m not sure I have an easy answer to that. People who know me well, who have either worked for me for a long time or have been my friend for a long time, or both, I think they recognize that I can come across as somewhat stern or very demanding, but that’s born from a desire to do really good work. Being demanding of the people who are around you is okay as long as you give them equal support, love and attention.

On what keeps her up at night: Oh gosh, so many things. (Laughs) I did sustainability work for a really long time, more than 10 years, and I think we continue to degrade our level of discourse to the point where we may not be able to solve issues like climate change or we may not be able to reconcile our modern world with the more modest ways that our bodies and our brains have evolved. That we may create things that destroy us. That’s the main thing that keeps me up at night, whether it’s the threat of nuclear war or the threat of climate change or the threat of AI advancing more quickly. I’m totally with Yuval Harari on that trifecta of monsters that keeps us up.

And now the lightly edited transcript of the Mr. Magazine™ interview with Heather Shayne Blakeslee, publisher and editor in chief, RQ (Root Quarterly) magazine.

Samir Husni: Tell me about the genesis of RQ (Root Quarterly).

Heather Shayne Blakeslee: It had a long and maybe humorous start, going back 10 years or so. I was joking with my brother and he was joking with me. We were at a party in Brooklyn, and he’s kind of a witty guy, so he walked up to me and said, “Hey, didn’t I see you on the cover of Fancy Bitch magazine?” (Laughs) And I started laughing. He’s an art director and photographer and I’m a writer and editor and we had been batting around forever the idea of starting a magazine that was for women, but wasn’t a traditional women’s magazine. I thought about it for a really long time.

I started working about four or five years ago at a small, independent publisher in Philadelphia. And ended up being the editor of one of the magazines there. And I realized how much I loved putting print magazines together and learned how to do it there. After the 2016 election, I realized in part that the level of civil discourse in the country  and the level of journalism had deteriorated to the point where people couldn’t talk to one another anymore, even if they had a small disagreement about something. And that was due in part to social media. And to people not getting together in rooms face-to-face.

So, I restarted the idea of thinking about putting a magazine together and looked at the landscape in Philadelphia and realized that we had very little arts and culture coverage anymore. The city paper, which was one of our main weeklies, went dark. And Philadelphia Weekly, which was still around, was much diminished from the state that it had been in 10 years ago even. And so, there was room for a publication like this, but it really has a dual purpose. One is arts and culture in Philadelphia, and ideas, essays, and analyses from mostly writers from here. Although, I’m open to a handful of people occasionally in each of the issues weighing in that are not from this region. But part of it is also around re-teaching ourselves critical thinking skills, analysis, and rhetoric.

Samir Husni: And you don’t think digital would have helped with that?

Heather Shayne Blakeslee: I don’t, because I think people are so used to being able to fly off the handle in comment sections and have knee-jerk reactions to things. What I’m offering people is a chance to reconnect with their attention spans, with their ability to critically think, and with their ability to enjoy long-form profiles of artists and others who are in their city.

Samir Husni: Did any of your friends or colleagues ask you if were you out of your mind for doing a print magazine in this digital age?

 Heather Shayne Blakeslee: (Laughs) It’s interesting because, actually, the first thing that people say when they see the magazine is, “It is so beautiful. I can’t wait to sit down with this when I have time alone to enjoy it.” I did salons for a year before I started the magazine; I asked friends and colleagues to host salons in their homes. I asked them to create lists of people who might be interested in hearing more about a project like this. We did about seven or eight of them; I probably talked to about 100 people over the course of the year to get really specific feedback. Universally, people said if you do this, we will buy a subscription. They all said they would love to have something like this.

So, I definitely wouldn’t have done it if the reaction had been tepid or lukewarm, but lots of people were really excited about it. I also had offers of help, people who offered to donate some money. I had offers where people said they would like to host one of these, could I come and talk to their friends. So, I’m going to keep doing that and keep connecting with people in person.

Certainly, there are people who have said, “Heather, are you crazy?” (Laughs) But they also have said, “If anybody can do it, you can do it.” So, I’m just going to continue on with the experiment, and it’s an experiment that may fail, but we’re going to give it our best shot.

Samir Husni: Can you elaborate a little on the power of print in this digital age, because one of the accusations that I receive is that I’m so nostalgic. Is it nostalgia or is there more to the power of print in today’s world?

Heather Shayne Blakeslee: I think it’s absolutely more than nostalgia. One of the things that I’m curious about, frankly, is how un-self-aware we are as a species (Laughs), especially in the last 100 years or so, about the fact that our society has radically changed in the way that we organize ourselves. And our technology has radically changed.  Our minds and our brains and our bodies have not changed that quickly. There is a continuing evolutionary process going on here and we’re not meant to have 2,000 friends. And we’re not meant to organize ourselves even in the large groups that we do now in cities and in nations. And we’re not meant to consume as much information as the human mind consumes. It’s overwhelming to people.

And it absolutely makes sense to me that we medicate ourselves with drugs, and don’t pay attention to what we eat, and we wonder why everyone is anxious and suppressed. I think even more than just thinking of it as a magazine, it’s really a way to reconnect with the idea that we have to slow down and be more mindful. And we have to accept that our minds are not equipped to handle the digital age. But we keep telling ourselves it’s progress, so I don’t think it’s nostalgia, I think it’s just an acknowledgement of our reality.

Samir Husni: Has it been a walk in a rose garden for you from the time you conceived of the idea and executed it? Or has there been some stumbling blocks along the way?

Heather Shayne Blakeslee: There are stumbling blocks at every turn. The main one though is time. I have a small business doing strategy and consulting for non-profit organizations and small businesses and doing editorial services. I have two major clients that I work with and this is the third thing that I’m working on, in addition to also being a musician who records and plays in Philadelphia. I’m on the Board for the local Folksong Society, so there’s a lot going on. Time, for me, is the main thing.

Money will come from being able to invest in the project and I’ve seen that already. Producing a really high-quality product and being explicit about what the vision of the magazine is has really been great, in terms of attracting investment and people who are supportive of it. But time is a huge issue and being able to find the right team of people who are willing to work as volunteers for as long as they need to. But we’ve been able to assemble a really great team over the course of the last year and I absolutely would not be able to do this without their support.

The biggest, almost-snafu was losing our designer the week before we went to print with almost nothing finished. Luckily, I’ve been working in the business world for a long time and my first instinct was, okay, how do I fix this? And I just got on my phone and texted the designer in town that I knew ideated and executed work quicker than anyone I knew, and he’s also a joy to work with. And he designed a beautiful magazine in six days, even with a full-time job and moving that week. So, having the right team of people who are dedicated and willing to get onboard behind you is just absolutely critical.

Samir Husni: Here’s a question where the pun is intended; what’s the “root” of the name of the magazine?

Heather Shayne Blakeslee: (Laughs) For me, I am a gardener and a plant person. And I am a lay biologist, so that’s a big world that’s important to me. I am not from Philadelphia, I’m from Central Pennsylvania. So for me, part of it is just being rooted in this particular region. It’s being rooted in, as I said, our own reality, rather than the online world, which is much more easily manipulated. And it’s about trying to connect and grow with other people and creating an intentional community of people who want this kind of thing in their lives.

Samir Husni: Heather, if you and I are having this conversation a year from now, what would you hope to tell me you had accomplished with the magazine?

Heather Shayne Blakeslee: I hope we’ve attracted additional investment; I hope our print runs have gone up; and I hope that we have attracted the people, whether they are writers and artists, or subscribers and supporters, who want to continue to make the project grow. We have already exceeded our very modest expectations that we set for ourselves in the first year. I was thinking if we got 250 people to subscribe the first year, that would make me happy and it would help to pay for some of the print runs. And nearly 100 people, some of them sight unseen, not even having seen a copy of the magazine, have subscribed already. (Laughs) And we’re just getting started and I think there’s a lot of room for growth on that and a lot of potential.

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

Heather Shayne Blakeslee: Yes, because you’re a magazine person, and maybe would be interested in the kind of hybrid that we’ve come up with. I don’t think that I have seen anywhere, especially in the U.S., a quarterly magazine that is both a city magazine, in that it will offer people the carefully curated recommendations of things that are happening in the city of makers, artists, destination restaurants, and other things like that, but that will also be publishing fiction, poetry, essays, and profiles of artists. It really is splitting the difference between a city magazine and an arts and culture journal.

The closest thing that I can think of would be The New Yorker, but of course that’s a huge operation and a weekly and it also has national interest, but that is a little bit of what I’m thinking. I looked at magazines like Harper’s, The Atlantic, and The New Yorker, but also the London-based magazine, Riposte, is something that I enjoy. California Sunday Magazine is another that I really enjoy.

I also don’t see people paying enough attention to the design of the magazines. That is also really important to me, to have very high-production quality. And very, very good design, because I think if you’re going to ask people to subscribe to a print journal at this point, it kind of has to be an art object that they want to put on their coffee table and that they will not usually put into a recycling bin.

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; gardening; watching TV; or something else? How do you unwind?

Heather Shayne Blakeslee: (Laughs) All of those things. First of all, often in the evening, and this is the other reason why I suppose we’re able to do this because it’s really being done in partnership with many people, including my life partner, Walter, who is our copy chief, he and I read books aloud to each other in the evening. And often on things that we end up wanting to write about or have others write about in the magazine, we spar all the time on arguments and exposing each other to new thinkers, new writers and authors. So, a lot of our evenings are spent doing that. That’s sort of how our relationship is based, I suppose.

I’m also a musician, I’m a singer/songwriter that does folk and Americana. I have a new record coming out in the fall with a band called Sweetbriar Rose that I’ve led for many years. And I also have been playing the cello for the last five years, so that gets me into a very meditative state and gets me away from words and into music and vibrations; just kind of centering myself in that way.

And I definitely spend a lot of time gardening, and I do cook to relax as well, but often I’m also listening to a podcast, usually Sam Harris, whose podcast used to be called “Waking Up” and is now called “Making Sense.” He’s one of my favorites.

It’s interesting because I’m also targeting this magazine at Gen Xers and Boomers; any enlightened millennials are welcomed to come along for the ride as well. (Laughs) I had a “Letter to the Editor” once at the magazine I was working at a couple of years ago that was interesting because it was about an editorial concerning my editor’s notes, and she failed to realize that the editor’s notes were in dialogue with the entire magazine that came after it.

And it was curious to me because I was thinking about it and these are people who just download songs. They don’t see the album anymore. And I think musicians are a little bit more tuned into the fact that we do think of things a little more holistically.

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

Heather Shayne Blakeslee: That’s a super interesting question. (Laughs) I’m not sure I have an easy answer to that. People who know me well, who have either worked for me for a long time or have been my friend for a long time, or both, I think they recognize that I can come across as somewhat stern or very demanding, but that’s born from a desire to do really good work. Being demanding of the people who are around you is okay as long as you give them equal support, love and attention.

I think that’s one of the reasons that the group of people that I have right now, who have gravitated toward the project, because they too are often more intellectual and not as emotional as other people are. But I can guarantee you I bleed just as red as everybody else and I’ve had my heart broken just as many times. (Laughs) I think I just have a disposition that bends toward rationality and reason and calm.

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

Heather Shayne Blakeslee: Oh gosh, so many things. (Laughs) I did sustainability work for a really long time, more than 10 years, and I think we continue to degrade our level of discourse to the point where we may not be able to solve issues like climate change or we may not be able to reconcile our modern world with the more modest ways that our bodies and our brains have evolved. That we may create things that destroy us. That’s the main thing that keeps me up at night, whether it’s the threat of nuclear war or the threat of climate change or the threat of AI advancing more quickly. I’m totally with Yuval Harari on that trifecta of monsters that keeps us up.

And this magazine is in some ways a response to all of that and trying to get people to slow down, recognize the world that’s around them, including the existential threats that we face right now as a species with climate change.

Samir Husni: Thank you.  

 

 

h1

Day + Night: Creativity & Print Innovation Inside A Small Cassette Case – The Mr. Magazine™ Interview With Josef Reyes, Publisher/Editor/Designer…

July 8, 2019

“A friend of mine recently judged the ASME’s (American Society of Magazine Editors) earlier this year and she had this interesting line, which was, nice paper no longer cuts it. You have to go beyond that to really make something special. And I think that’s where print still has a lot of power; you can make it a more distinct experience in the way that digital can’t really replicate. And that’s why I’m making print magazines in this day and age.” Josef Reyes…

 

 A Mr. Magazine™ Launch Story…

  Created to rest inside a small cassette case, Day + Night is a new magazine that highlights New York City through 14 songs that are important to the 14 contributors whose content lives within the small pages of this highly innovative title. Josef Reyes is the mastermind behind this great new publication and says giving voice to the diversity of NYC and showcasing how special the City is, was the driving force behind this first issue.

A designer by trade, Josef brings the nostalgia of the ‘70s and ‘80s to the forefront with his incredible design, throwing back to the days of the mixed tape and the uniqueness and meaning behind each song recorded on those cassettes.

I spoke with Josef recently and we talked about Day + Night and the headspace it takes you to by simply holding it in your hands. The dimensionality and subsequent quality of the content within combines to make this one of the most unique magazines Mr. Magazine™ has ever owned.

When you open the transparent case, and the publication slips out, it reveals two “sides,” Side A and Side B, giving you the Day and Night. Each story told (7 on Side A and 7 on Side B) showcases a particular song that has meaning to the writer and highlights something New York City. It’s an amazing concept and a literal hats off to the City. And who knows what might be next? A different metropolis? Or maybe even your hometown.

Either way, Mr. Magazine™ hopes you enjoy this very delightful interview with Josef Reyes as he talks about this great new title.

But first the sound-bites:

On the idea behind Day + Night: I first had the idea to do this back in 2015 actually and it was directly inspired by another magazine that I saw which was from Singapore and called Rubbish. And the thing about that magazine is they think of different formats for each issue. And that first issue I saw was all about plant life in Singapore and they packaged it inside a flower press. It really impressed me. That being said, this was not the first time I had seen a magazine do something like that, but I thought it was well-produced and well-conceived. And it really inspired me to think about what else could be done in unorthodox formats.

On whether the magazine will always be about New York City or will it evolve to other cities: While I did say that I always wanted to make a New York City magazine; in fact, initially this was going to be different cities, with more about cities in general. But in the process of trying to hone down the idea, I felt that it would feel more special if it was about one city. And since I live in New York City, that made perfect sense. But I did structure it in a way that there is a flexibility to expand it to other cities. Look at the cover, there’s a line that reads in New York City, so I could switch that out to other cities. But I think for now I want to focus it on New York City. I feel that there’s something special about being very specific. At the same time, I’m keeping it open.

On being publisher, editor and designer and which of those three hats he thrives under: I am a designer by profession, so that’s certainly my starting point. As a designer though, what I am most drawn to is the fact that we have the skills to give people a voice. I also see publishing in some ways as an inevitable arm of being a designer. But certainly, first and foremost I am a designer and I am very proud of this product.

On what he is trying to accomplish or to say by creating a tangible print object in this digital age, one with such a limited edition: The limited is really more of a consequence of the available funds. (Laughs) We need more of that. As far as the reality of it, I think in this day and age what print still has power over is in terms of its specific dimensionality and materiality. If you use it right you can really use it to amplify the message that you’re sending out. As far as the reason why I feel like this format works, and I really believe that it’s more than a gimmick, even though it may seem like that, but because of its small size and because it’s in a cassette case, if you are familiar with that format then it will automatically bring you back into that headspace of making mixed tapes.

On whether he feels that publishers have misused digital by just throwing print magazines onto the screen and who needs to rethink the design, print or digital: Obviously, they’re very different mediums. I don’t think we’ve figured out a way to make that sort of multi-style designing effective yet, because here’s the problem, you design something for print and when you do, if you do it right – for example, if you art drag a photograph you try to make it work within the page size, the spread size, all that stuff. But then when you transport it to digital, all that doesn’t matter anymore. (Laughs)  But the problem is there are different needs, especially now. I feel like we need something more vertical, things like that. As far as who needs to rethink design, print or digital, I guess the answer is both. But the problem is I don’t think it’s been resolved as to how they can make something special for both cases.

On how often he will publish Day + Night and where can people get a copy of the magazine: Right now this is coming out of my own pocket, so it’s limited by that. Ideally, I would love to publish another one by the second half of this year. I think realistically would have to be a yearly thing. I’m committed to doing three issues in this means. But basically I want to spend that time building up some sort of reputation, and hopefully by issue four we can scale up. So right now it’s primarily available at some stores in New York City. I don’t have a distributor. And I kind of like it right now because I feel like that makes it special. There’s something to us only being available in certain places.

On the cover price: It’s $10. And definitely not what it costs to produce. (Laughs)

On whether Day + Night trumps an earlier quote he made about fax cover designs being his favorite project ever from what he has done over the years: (Laughs) Yes, for sure. This definitely trumps it. What I was saying in that quote was what I like about draft design is that the things you make are things that people use on a daily basis. It’s not an expensive chair or things like that. And I think this is too. If we grow enough to keep the price point at that range, it still makes it accessible to a lot of people. There’s something very democratic about draft design that I like.

On anything he’d like to add: The name Day + Night is very generic, which I kind of like I guess. (Laughs) It fits in with the whole design of it, which is referencing blank tape packaging. In some ways I wanted it to feel as generic as possible. And that would allow the stories to really take on their own personalities. My hope is that readers get a real sense of what New York City feels like and that they get it through as diverse a range of perspectives as possible. I think that’s one of the things that make magazines great. They allow for different voices to coexist together. And the best magazines are able to do that in such a way that it’s still one unified voice.

On what someone would find him doing if they showed up unexpectedly one evening at his home: I consume a lot of magazines for sure, I really love the industry. And I really love the business. That being said, it does make me sad the state of the way things are.

On the biggest misconception he thinks people have about him: It may be inevitable that people would say this; going back to Day + Night, one pet peeve of mine is when the extent of feedback that I get from people is they think it looks good. (Laughs) And it’s understandable because it is a very visual product and they know that’s what I do, but I would say that in this project that 80 percent of the effort was in the editing. It wasn’t actually the visual part. The visual part was more of a classic one, instead of the editing part. Again, it’s understandable that people would only comment on the visual aspect of it, but I do wish that they would also respond to the editorial aspect of it. It’s not just a visual project, it’s more than that. We’re trying to give people a voice.

On what keeps him up at night: The industry, for sure. There are definitely a lot of new magazines opening up, but from the point of view of a career, it’s just getting shakier and shakier. I guess that’s why I’m doing this project. In some ways I’m trying to take control of that track, and not be beholden to what’s happening in the industry. That certainly keeps me up at night. It doesn’t look good as far as the major players are concerned. That being said, there is still some very inspiring stuff being made and that’s what keeps me going too.

And now the lightly edited transcript of the Mr. Magazine™ interview with Josef Reyes, Publisher/Editor/Designer, Day + Night.

Samir Husni: What’s the idea behind Day + Night? And how many old people like me will know that this looks like a cassette tape? (Laughs)

Josef Reyes: (Laughs too) I first had the idea to do this back in 2015 actually and it was directly inspired by another magazine that I saw which was from Singapore and called Rubbish. And the thing about that magazine is they think of different formats for each issue. And that first issue I saw was all about plant life in Singapore and they packaged it inside a flower press. It really impressed me. That being said, this was not the first time I had seen a magazine do something like that, but I thought it was well-produced and well-conceived. And it really inspired me to think about what else could be done in unorthodox formats.

Around the same time, 2015, I started hearing about cassettes making a comeback, which kind of baffled me because it’s not a great format, really. (Laughs) But at the same time, it really intrigued me because I grew up with cassettes and had some nostalgic feelings about it. But I also loved the form factor of it; I loved the small size. I don’t recall how I started thinking in those terms, but I started thinking about what if there was a book inside a cassette case and tried to retrace how I arrived at that. Certainly, the whole process of thinking about alternate formats probably got me there.

So actually it was the format that came first, not any sort of concept. I sort of worked backward from there, just thinking about what sort of editorial concept would demand such a form. When I think about cassettes, the first thing I think about are mixed tapes. Mixed tapes are basically communication tools, especially the ones made for specific people. There is a reason why you select the songs that you do; you’re trying to say something. And over the years I’ve heard all of these analogies about how a magazine is like a mixed tape; you’re assembling these stories into a flow. And that makes it literal. So, I started thinking in terms of what if a magazine was a mixed tape, but without thinking about how when you make a mixed tape you have specific reasons why you select them.

And the other idea that was circulating in my mind was that I’ve always wanted to make a New York City magazine. And I love the city magazine format, but I wanted to see what other format types there were, other than the usual listings. The thing about a city like New York is that it has such a distinct sense of place, because in a city like this you can get so many different experiences out of it, but nonetheless it’s still one, single entity.

And coming back to the mixed tape idea, I started thinking about how when you hear a certain song it brings you back to a very specific headspace. When you her a certain song, you’re instantly back to a certain moment. Then I began to think of asking people to think of a certain song that brings back a strong memory that is set in New York City and then just write about that in 350 words. So we asked 14 people, and that’s 14 songs, which is about the length of an album or a mixed tape. And that’s how this worked out.

There is one last element, which was thinking further about the cassette as a format. The Side A/Side B thing is of course such a central element of that. Back when I came up with this idea in 2015, I couldn’t figure out how that would be executed. Back then I thought it would be more semantic; it could be like Side A is about maybe happy memories, or Side B is about sad memories, or about love and hate, so on and so forth. But the problem was I felt that I was limiting construct, so I continued just thinking about it.

Finally last summer I had this breakthrough where day and night was the perfect split for that because on the one hand it’s very specific, but also really broad. And I feel like this could keep going with this structure. So that’s it in a nutshell, the whole evolution of the idea.

Samir Husni: There used to be a magazine in the 1920s, 1930s, and 1940s called Day and Night. It was an oversized magazine about entertainment and celebrities. As you explain the concept for this Day + Night, is it always going to be about New York City or are you going to explore other cities as well? How is the future of the magazine going to evolve?

Josef Reyes: Good question. While I did say that I always wanted to make a New York City magazine; in fact, initially this was going to be different cities, with more about cities in general. But in the process of trying to hone down the idea, I felt that it would feel more special if it was about one city. And since I live in New York City, that made perfect sense. But I did structure it in a way that there is a flexibility to expand it to other cities. Look at the cover, there’s a line that reads in New York City, so I could switch that out to other cities. But I think for now I want to focus it on New York City. I feel that there’s something special about being very specific. At the same time, I’m keeping it open.

Samir Husni: You are the publisher, editor and designer. Which of those three hats do you thrive under?

Josef Reyes: I am a designer by profession, so that’s certainly my starting point. As a designer though, what I am most drawn to is the fact that we have the skills to give people a voice. I also see publishing in some ways as an inevitable arm of being a designer. But certainly, first and foremost I am a designer and I am very proud of this product.

There is a lot of effort being put into how we select people for this. For example, in this issue and hopefully throughout the life of this, we put a lot of effort in getting a very diverse and broad range of contributors. And we hope to keep going with that. But yes, the object nature of it is definitely my first priority.

Samir Husni: What are you trying to accomplish or to say by creating a tangible print object in this digital age, one with such a limited edition? Are you saying that there’s still room for print, but it has to be limited in this digital age? What’s your message to the world of journalism, print and digital?

Josef Reyes: The limited is really more of a consequence of the available funds. (Laughs) We need more of that. As far as the reality of it, I think in this day and age what print still has power over is in terms of its specific dimensionality and materiality. If you use it right you can really use it to amplify the message that you’re sending out. As far as the reason why I feel like this format works, and I really believe that it’s more than a gimmick, even though it may seem like that, but because of its small size and because it’s in a cassette case, if you are familiar with that format then it will automatically bring you back into that headspace of making mixed tapes.

For example, I met Jeremy Leslie (magCulture) here in New York last May at a popup shop. I came over and showed him the magazine and when he was looking through it, anyone could see in his eyes that he was instantly back in the ‘80s making mixed tapes. (Laughs) And that’s exactly the effect that I want to have happen, to instantly transport you back to that.

Now that being said, if you are someone who is not at all familiar with this format; in fact, just recently I gave someone in their twenties a copy of this, and he couldn’t figure out how to open the cassette case. (Laughs) He didn’t know what it was. But I think that’s also fine. There is something very different about it and very novel. I feel like that becomes a distinguishing point.

A friend of mine recently judged the ASME’s earlier this year and she had this interesting line, which was, nice paper no longer cuts it. You have to go beyond that to really make something special. And I think that’s where print still has a lot of power; you can make it a more distinct experience in the way that digital can’t really replicate. And that’s why I’m making print magazines in this day and age.

Samir Husni: As a designer, do you feel that print must be designed in a different way? There is a lot of copying from print onto digital screens. Do you feel that publishers have misused digital by just throwing print magazines onto the screen? Who needs to rethink design, is it the print design or the digital?

Josef Reyes: Obviously, they’re very different mediums. I don’t think we’ve figured out a way to make that sort of multi-style designing effective yet, because here’s the problem, you design something for print and when you do, if you do it right – for example, if you art drag a photograph you try to make it work within the page size, the spread size, all that stuff. But then when you transport it to digital, all that doesn’t matter anymore. (Laughs)  But the problem is there are different needs, especially now. I feel like we need something more vertical, things like that.

I’m seeing this problem where if you design it for print, it kind of limits what you can do digitally and vice versa. But then when you do try to design it for everything, then you kind of lose the impact in each case. So as far as rethinking it, right now a lot of print designers are having to take to digital more and more. There are a lot more magazines closing now and focusing on digital properties. But I am finding that a lot of print designers are still thinking in terms of pixel-perfect types of design. And vice versa I guess.

Many of the magazines that I see coming out now, I feel like they don’t capitalize enough on how print has very specific dimensions and materiality. A lot of new magazines that I see now, they’re agnostic as far as what the medium is. And that’s sort of been lacking too.

As far as who needs to rethink design, print or digital, I guess the answer is both. But the problem is I don’t think it’s been resolved as to how they can make something special for both cases.

Samir Husni: How often will you publish Day + Night and where can people get a copy of the magazine?

Josef Reyes: Right now this is coming out of my own pocket, so it’s limited by that. Ideally, I would love to publish another one by the second half of this year. I think realistically would have to be a yearly thing. I’m committed to doing three issues in this means. But basically I want to spend that time building up some sort of reputation, and hopefully by issue four we can scale up. So right now it’s primarily available at some stores in New York City. I don’t have a distributor. And I kind of like it right now because I feel like that makes it special. There’s something to us only being available in certain places.

Now that being said, what I’ve found after releasing this issue is I’ve been getting a lot of requests from everywhere really, overseas and in this country, so I think definitely by issue two we need to look into having a proper infrastructure for selling this online. But right now for this issue it is primarily sold at New York City magazine stores. And again, that’s really a consequence of small scale. We’re in a phase where we’re trying to see what the demand is and how we can grow based off of that.

Samir Husni: What’s the cover price?

Josef Reyes: It’s $10. And definitely not what it costs to produce. (Laughs)

Samir Husni: From everything you’ve done so far, and you’ve done a lot, you were quoted that your favorite project is not in your portfolio, it’s not a magazine, it’s not on the bookshelves; it was fax cover sheets you designed. Does Day + Night trump that now?

Josef Reyes: (Laughs) Yes, for sure. This definitely trumps it. What I was saying in that quote was what I like about draft design is that the things you make are things that people use on a daily basis. It’s not an expensive chair or things like that. And I think this is too. If we grow enough to keep the price point at that range, it still makes it accessible to a lot of people. There’s something very democratic about draft design that I like.

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

Josef Reyes: I thanked Adam Moss in this first issue because I worked at New York magazine for two and a half years and it was definitely a huge influence in terms of just general magazine making. And actually at around the time I was finishing up the issue was when the news broke that Adam was retiring, so in some ways I just wanted to dedicate the first issue to him.

The name Day + Night is very generic, which I kind of like I guess. (Laughs) It fits in with the whole design of it, which is referencing blank tape packaging. In some ways I wanted it to feel as generic as possible. And that would allow the stories to really take on their own personalities. My hope is that readers get a real sense of what New York City feels like and that they get it through as diverse a range of perspectives as possible. I think that’s one of the things that make magazines great. They allow for different voices to coexist together. And the best magazines are able to do that in such a way that it’s still one unified voice.

As I mentioned earlier, this issue we really put a lot of effort into making sure that we had as broad a range of people as possible. I think more and more in this day and age it just becomes more important to give everyone a fair and balanced platform. I hope that when people read this magazine they come away feeling that, first of all, they get a real sense of how diverse the City is and how all of that makes it one special place.

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?

Josef Reyes: I consume a lot of magazines for sure, I really love the industry. And I really love the business. That being said, it does make me sad the state of the way things are.

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

Josef Reyes: It may be inevitable that people would say this; going back to Day + Night, one pet peeve of mine is when the extent of feedback that I get from people is they think it looks good. (Laughs) And it’s understandable because it is a very visual product and they know that’s what I do, but I would say that in this project that 80 percent of the effort was in the editing. It wasn’t actually the visual part. The visual part was more of a classic one, instead of the editing part. Again, it’s understandable that people would only comment on the visual aspect of it, but I do wish that they would also respond to the editorial aspect of it. It’s not just a visual project, it’s more than that. We’re trying to give people a voice.

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

Josef Reyes: The industry, for sure. There are definitely a lot of new magazines opening up, but from the point of view of a career, it’s just getting shakier and shakier. I guess that’s why I’m doing this project. In some ways I’m trying to take control of that track, and not be beholden to what’s happening in the industry. That certainly keeps me up at night. It doesn’t look good as far as the major players are concerned. That being said, there is still some very inspiring stuff being made and that’s what keeps me going too.

Samir Husni: Thank you.

h1

77 New Titles Launched In The First Six Months Of 2019… The Mr. Magazine™ Launch Monitor

July 1, 2019

Continuing the normal trend of one year up – one year down, the first six months of 2019 show a slight decrease in new magazine titles. We have 77 new magazines for the first half of 2019 versus 105 titles for the first half of 2018. So, the year has begun with a deficit of 28 titles in comparison to last year. However, negativity does not belong on our radar when it comes to print, just the facts. And the slight decrease in the numbers reflects only those facts, no predictions. Because of course if Mr. Magazine™ is looking into his crystal ball, the future of print looks bright indeed. Always has, always will.

And while the numbers may be a bit short in comparison to last year, the creativity and innovation certainly wasn’t lacking. June 2019 gave us a new title that could fit into a cassette player, that is, if it wasn’t ink on paper. Day + Night is an intriguing look at the city of New York in the daytime on “Side A” and then flip the cassette-sized magazine over and on “Side B” you can visit New York at night. The minds of magazine makers are amazing! Welcome Day + Night!

PRINT IS DEAD. LONG LIVE PRINT.

This statement is on the RQ website. This new Philly-born title is one part magazine, one part collaborative art project, and one part social experiment. Publisher and Editor-in-Chief Heather Shayne Blakeslee says that this new magazine offers you insightful and provocative essays, profiles of local makers and artists, cultural criticism, fiction, poetry, and carefully-curated recommendations for getting the most out of life in Philadelphia—including a cocktail or dinner recipe here and there—all in a beautifully designed and printed magazine you can hold in your hands and settle down with on a Sunday afternoon, or argue over at Thursday night happy hour. And Mr. Magazine™ is thrilled to welcome RQ to the fold.

So, as we gear up for another long, hot summer, get ready for a Jumping July as the new titles are already lining up at the newsstands. But until then, please enjoy our beautiful June covers.

And as always, Mr. Magazine™ will see you at the newsstands…

******And please remember, if Mr. Magazine™ can’t physically hold, touch and purchase the magazine, it does not enter the monthly counts. And counts now include only the titles with a regular frequency that are either new, first-seen on Mr. Magazine’s™ radar, or arriving to the national newsstands for the first time.

h1

Welcome To The Newsstands: April & May Usher In 20 New Titles…

June 4, 2019

April & May continue the magazine excitement as 20 new titles are born on the nation’s newsstands.It’s been a wonderful Spring for the world of ink on paper! Check out the titles below…

From the Outdoor Sportsman Group, one of the largest media companies solely devoted to bringing the best in content and entertainment to America’s 80-million+ outdoor sports enthusiasts, comes a new title called Backcountry Hunter. The magazine focuses more on the adventure of hunting, rather than a set of impressive antlers. Backcountry Hunter covers all aspects of wilderness hunting in the western U.S., Alaska and Canada, with a particular emphasis on DIY adventures for the hardcore sportsman. While Mr. Magazine™ himself may not be an avid hunter, I am an avid magazine lover and this one is amazing!

The latest digital brand to expand into ink on paper, Bumble, the dating app, now has its own lifestyle magazine produced in partnership with Hearst Magazines titled Bumble Mag. The dating app has really grown into a social platform and may have felt the need to present a more tangible way for the digital site’s users to engage with the brand, but whatever the reason behind the print extension, Mr. Magazine™ says welcome to yet another cyberspace resident who has seen the light and realized the value of ink on paper!

A niche magazine delivering articles and photographs related to sports history, this new title, Sports History Magazine, focuses on the history of sports, not today’s live streaming or the graphic replays of gridiron heroes in real time, but an actual ink on paper magazine that captures the essence of some of the best (and worst) times in the history of sports. Founder and Editor in Chief, Gill Schor, is the entrepreneur whose own passion for sports history motivated him to fill a void in this very niche market. In fact, Mr. Magazine™ interviewed Gill in early May and we talked about this great new magazine. Check out the conversation here.

The long, hot summer awaits us and rest assured there will be a great collection of new titles to both fan the flames of the season and cool us off! But until then…

I’ll see you at the newsstands…

And now our great covers for April & May:

 

******And please remember, if Mr. Magazine™ can’t physically hold, touch and purchase the magazine, it does not enter the monthly counts. And counts now include only the titles with a regular frequency that are either new, first-seen on Mr. Magazine’s™ radar, or arriving to the national newsstands for the first time.

h1

Sports History Magazine: A New Publication That Revisits Some Of The Best & Most Provocative Moments In The World Of Sports – The Mr. Magazine™ Interview With Gill Schor, Founder & Editor In Chief…

May 7, 2019

A Mr. Magazine™ Launch Story…

“The digital platform is basically to collect all of the articles that I’ve been writing myself and other authors and journalists, and put them in a digital archive that’s available to a readership. And along with that goes out a weekly newsletter to interested parties. Now, I wanted to do a print version of that because it’s very hard for me to make money on the digital end, so I figured if I do the print I could try and explore ways through subscriptions, advertising and newsstand sales to see if I could monetize the idea of Sports History Magazine.” Gill Schor…

Sports History Magazine is a new publication that focuses on the history of sports, not today’s live streaming or the graphic replays of gridiron heroes in real time, but an actual ink on paper magazine that captures the essence of some of the best (and worst) times in the history of sports. From the black and white photographs that take us all back to those times, to the engaging stories that pull back the edges of the eras to allow us to once again revel in those great sports moments.

Gill Schor is the entrepreneur whose own passion for sports history motivated him to fill a void in this very niche market. From banker to transportation guru, Gill has expertise in a wide field of businesses, but publishing is something that he is tackling as he goes forward. But his passion is serving him well as the magazine’s content is both engaging and spot on for the topic.

I spoke with Gill recently and we talked about his hopes for this new magazine and what he believes his target audience to be; sports history buffs, of course, but curious millennials as well. The future for this magazine seems bright.

So, I hope that you enjoy this very interesting conversation with a man who is both an entrepreneur and a passionate dreamer who has brought his chimera to life, the Mr. Magazine™ interview with Gill Schor, founder and editor in chief, Sports History Magazine.

But first the sound-bites:

On the idea behind the print magazine and the digital website: The digital platform is basically to collect all of the articles that I’ve been writing myself and other authors and journalists, and put them in a digital archive that’s available to a readership. And along with that goes out a weekly newsletter to interested parties. Now, I wanted to do a print version of that because it’s very hard for me to make money on the digital end, so I figured if I do the print I could try and explore ways through subscriptions, advertising and newsstand sales to see if I could monetize the idea of Sports History Magazine.

On his decision to do a sports history title: I was a banker by profession and I was laid off during the Great Recession in 2008, and then I started my own business but sold it, and then I wanted to venture into publishing. I’ve always enjoyed sports history in particular, reading stories about athletes, games and events from the past. Everything today is all streamed, or live, and graphic, but I wanted to stick to some traditional media form, the written word. And I was also a history major in college, so that was also the knowledge behind my mind.

On having no background in publishing and launching a magazine anyway: With no background in publishing, that’s correct, but some background in writing. It was a lot of trial and error and I see myself as an entrepreneur more than anything else, because before this I ran a transportation company, which I sold and before that I was in finance. I would say that my expertise is my knowledge of a little bit of everything, not a lot of one thing. I did a lot of reading and I spoke to people in the industry, I have some contacts in the industry, and very slowly I’m making my way into the business. Every day you learn something new. And it’s picking up some traction. So the challenge right now is to find the sweet spots to the business model.

On what he thinks the “sweet spots” to the business model are: I think it’s a combination of advertising, newsstand sales, and subscriptions. Combine that with a well-written and well-presented sports history magazine and I think that can work.

On why he thinks there’s a necessity for a print publication about sports history: I think there’s definitely an opportunity out there. If you go to Barnes & Noble’s newsstands, you’ll see dozens and dozens of publications out there that are broken up into every single niche you can imagine. So, maybe not all of them make money, but some of them make money. And there’s a reason why they’re there, why they haven’t disappeared.

On how he felt when he saw that first printed issue: It was a wonderful feeling to get the first issue, but it needed revisions because what you do on the screen and how you lay it out, you really need to see it in your hands and on paper. The first copy that came out, I wasn’t too satisfied with it. I loved the concept and I saw the potential, but the actual copy that I got, I wasn’t too happy with it. So, I went back to the designer and worked with her a little bit more, and we did a second revision and then the second copy that came out, I was happy.

On the biggest challenge that he faces: I think the biggest challenge that I’m facing right now is finding the money to support the venture. Right now, I have all of the content that I need; I’ve accumulated enough articles and photographs for probably two years’ worth of issues. But what I need is the money to launch and to do the primary investment and go forward. So, I can do limited editions, limited prints, but if I want to do 15, 000 or 20,000 copies and spread it to the world, right now I can’t afford that.

On whether the magazine is more of a love affair or a business: The part that I love about publishing now is, again, the novelty side of it and the topics. I love sports history. I’ve gotten a lot of kudos for the idea and people read through them and they like them. I think it can be a good business.

On who his target audience is: The audience is people of all ages, but they have to have a specific interest in the history of sports. In other words, with some of the baby Boomers, it may bring some nostalgia on their end if they start reading stories about their sports heroes when they grew up. They’ll see photographs of these people, black and white photographs, and it might ring some bells in their heads. That’s one segment of the population. The other one is young folks who are curious, curious about sports history, or the ones who have kind of had enough of their fill of the latest scores or what’s going on now. These graphic streams that go into their handheld devices, maybe they want some substance and some real history. There are people like that out there as well.

On the one thing he would have done different with the launch if he could do it over today: I think I could have controlled my costs better, because at the outset I really didn’t know much about the business, so it was basically learn as you go. I spent some money in areas which I think I shouldn’t have, it just didn’t work out and it was a waste. So, it was a learning experience. Some digital marketing ventures and some other places where I put money in. I learned those lessons.

On what he would like to do or tell someone he had accomplished with the magazine a year from now: A year from now what I would like to do is have a partner in the launch. Somebody who is either in the business as a media company or somebody who has financial resources, such as an investment group who wants to get into the business. So, a year from now I’d like to say that I had partnered with some people and we have a circulation of at least 5,000 or 10,000 out there with subscriptions and good acceptance in the market.

On anything he’d like to add: Sports History is a very interesting topic. Most people enjoy sports, maybe they haven’t been presented with sports history, but it’s something that people would enjoy reading and going through photographs and learning about sports history stories. They might have a lot of these a-ha moments, wow I didn’t know that, type of thing from some of these articles.

On the biggest misconception he thinks people might have about him: I know I have admirers and sometimes they might think more of me than what I am, because they see me remotely. They might think that I’ve achieved more than I have, but I try to keep myself very basic, very grounded. I don’t talk big or way over my head. But they know when I grab something, when I’m serious about something, I take it all the way.

On what he would have tattooed upon his brain that would be there forever and no one could ever forget about him: Driven with ideas, good business sense, good vision, good planning, good coordination, good organization, just a good head on his shoulders.

On what someone would find him doing if they showed up unexpectedly one evening at his home: You could find me reading a book or having dinner with my family, maybe watching a movie on TV, or going to the gym.

On what keeps him up at night: Fear of failure. That’s always kept me up; I don’t like to fail. I’ve failed in the past, yes, you can’t make it without failing once or twice, you can’t, because otherwise you’re not taking the risks. Fear of failure is what keeps me up. I’m healthy and my family is healthy, so thankfully those kind of worries aren’t there.

And now the lightly edited transcript of the Mr. Magazine™ interview with Gil Schor, founder and editor in chief, Sports History Magazine.

Samir Husni: You’ve just launched a new magazine, Sports History, and you’ve launched a weekly digital entity, Sports History Weekly, what’s the idea behind doing the print edition and also doing the website?

Gill Schor: The digital platform is basically to collect all of the articles that I’ve been writing myself and other authors and journalists, and put them in a digital archive that’s available to a readership. And along with that goes out a weekly newsletter to interested parties. Now, I wanted to do a print version of that because it’s very hard for me to make money on the digital end, so I figured if I do the print I could try and explore ways through subscriptions, advertising and newsstand sales to see if I could monetize the idea of Sports History Magazine.

Samir Husni: Are you a historian? Are you a magazine fanatic? Why did you decide to start this whole venture?

Gill Schor: I was a banker by profession and I was laid off during the Great Recession in 2008, and then I started my own business but sold it, and then I wanted to venture into publishing. I’ve always enjoyed sports history in particular, reading stories about athletes, games and events from the past. Everything today is all streamed, or live, and graphic, but I wanted to stick to some traditional media form, the written word. And I was also a history major in college, so that was also the knowledge behind my mind.

So, slowly I got the idea. I looked around and saw that there were no publications out there that focused exclusively on sports history. You’ve certainly got tons of magazines on sports, Sports Illustrated being one of the most famous ones. And occasionally they might have an article or two on some figure or events from the past, but there’s nobody out there that just focuses on sports history as a magazine in itself. So, I decided to take advantage of this vacuum and launch something on my own.

Samir Husni: With no background in publishing whatsoever, how did you do it?

Gill Schor: With no background in publishing, that’s correct, but some background in writing. It was a lot of trial and error and I see myself as an entrepreneur more than anything else, because before this I ran a transportation company, which I sold and before that I was in finance. I would say that my expertise is my knowledge of a little bit of everything, not a lot of one thing. I did a lot of reading and I spoke to people in the industry, I have some contacts in the industry, and very slowly I’m making my way into the business. Every day you learn something new. And it’s picking up some traction. So the challenge right now is to find the sweet spots to the business model.

Samir Husni: What do you think that sweet spot is?

Gill Schor: I think it’s a combination of advertising, newsstand sales, and subscriptions. Combine that with a well-written and well-presented sports history magazine and I think that can work.

Samir Husni: Do people think you’re out of your mind by doing a print magazine in this digital age? At least, you acknowledge that you can’t make money from the digital side, but why do you think there’s a necessity for a print publication about sports history?

Gill Schor: I think there’s definitely an opportunity out there. If you go to Barnes & Noble’s newsstands, you’ll see dozens and dozens of publications out there that are broken up into every single niche you can imagine. So, maybe not all of them make money, but some of them make money. And there’s a reason why they’re there, why they haven’t disappeared.

And there is still something to be said about leafing through a magazine or a book. They haven’t totally disappeared, they’re still there. I enjoy it. And there is certainly a segment in the population that enjoys it, maybe it’s the older folks, the Baby Boomers, I don’t know. But I also think that if you make interesting and engaging content with rich photographs in the magazine, I think you can get some interest and turn that into a money venture.

Samir Husni: When that first issue came off the press, can you recall that moment and how you were feeling? Did it feel like you were on top of the mountain then and ready to see what was next?

Gill Schor: It was a wonderful feeling to get the first issue, but it needed revisions because what you do on the screen and how you lay it out, you really need to see it in your hands and on paper. The first copy that came out, I wasn’t too satisfied with it. I loved the concept and I saw the potential, but the actual copy that I got, I wasn’t too happy with it. So, I went back to the designer and worked with her a little bit more, and we did a second revision and then the second copy that came out, I was happy.

And going forward for the next seasonal issue and with two choices, I have an idea that with each issue there are ways to tweak and revise to find the spot that pleases you most, in terms of how it looks and how it reads.

Samir Husni: What is the biggest challenge that is facing you?

Gill Schor: I think the biggest challenge that I’m facing right now is finding the money to support the venture. Right now, I have all of the content that I need; I’ve accumulated enough articles and photographs for probably two years’ worth of issues. But what I need is the money to launch and to do the primary investment and go forward. So, I can do limited editions, limited prints, but if I want to do 15, 000 or 20,000 copies and spread it to the world, right now I can’t afford that.

Samir Husni: Is the magazine more of a love affair than a business? For example, when you created your transportation company, you were not in love with cars and transportation, correct?

Gill Schor: No, but I had an idea in mind. I always look for little uncharted areas, so when I started my transportation company I launched it with all Hybrid vehicles, all electric cars. And that didn’t exist back then, that didn’t exist 10 years ago. Today, yes, it’s no longer a novelty, but back then it was an environmental side to the business which actually drew a lot of attention from customers. They jumped on it because it’s a very competitive field. If somebody wants to go out to the airport, they have at least 10 or 15 options that they can choose from. But the fact that I marketed it as the only environmentally friendly service, that caught people’s attention. And that’s the part that I was in love with back then.

And the part that I love about publishing now is, again, the novelty side of it and the topics. I love sports history. I’ve gotten a lot of kudos for the idea and people read through them and they like them. I think it can be a good business.

Samir Husni: Who is your audience? Who are you targeting the magazine for?

Gill Schor: The audience is people of all ages, but they have to have a specific interest in the history of sports. In other words, with some of the baby Boomers, it may bring some nostalgia on their end if they start reading stories about their sports heroes when they grew up. They’ll see photographs of these people, black and white photographs, and it might ring some bells in their heads. That’s one segment of the population. The other one is young folks who are curious, curious about sports history, or the ones who have kind of had enough of their fill of the latest scores or what’s going on now. These graphic streams that go into their handheld devices, maybe they want some substance and some real history. There are people like that out there as well.

It’s an educated population; it’s a middle-ground read. I think it would go well in libraries, actually, and I’m working with some distributors or agencies that supply magazines to libraries, to try and put this in their stacks.

Samir Husni: If you could do one thing different from what you’ve done so far, what would it be?

Gill Schor: I think I could have controlled my costs better, because at the outset I really didn’t know much about the business, so it was basically learn as you go. I spent some money in areas which I think I shouldn’t have, it just didn’t work out and it was a waste. So, it was a learning experience. Some digital marketing ventures and some other places where I put money in. I learned those lessons.

Samir Husni: As you move forward, if you and I are having this conversation one year from now, what would you hope to tell me you had accomplished with the magazine?

Gill Schor: A year from now what I would like to do is have a partner in the launch. Somebody who is either in the business as a media company or somebody who has financial resources, such as an investment group who wants to get into the business. So, a year from now I’d like to say that I had partnered with some people and we have a circulation of at least 5,000 or 10,000 out there with subscriptions and good acceptance in the market.

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

Gill Schor: Sports History is a very interesting topic. Most people enjoy sports, maybe they haven’t been presented with sports history, but it’s something that people would enjoy reading and going through photographs and learning about sports history stories. They might have a lot of these a-ha moments, wow I didn’t know that, type of thing from some of these articles.

From my end, I’m an entrepreneur, I make sure that things get done. And once they get launched there’s a plan behind it, a vision behind it. We don’t aim for the moon; we’re realistic with what’s possible and what’s not. And it’s all about calculated risks. Nobody says that this venture is going to succeed 100 percent, but it’s a calculated risk. It’s not a reckless risk.

Samir Husni: What’s the biggest misconception you think people have about you?

Gill Schor: I know I have admirers and sometimes they might think more of me than what I am, because they see me remotely. They might think that I’ve achieved more than I have, but I try to keep myself very basic, very grounded. I don’t talk big or way over my head. But they know when I grab something, when I’m serious about something, I take it all the way.

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

Gill Schor: Driven with ideas, good business sense, good vision, good planning, good coordination, good organization, just a good head on his shoulders.

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?

Gill Schor: You could find me reading a book or having dinner with my family, maybe watching a movie on TV, or going to the gym.

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

Gill Schor: Fear of failure. That’s always kept me up; I don’t like to fail. I’ve failed in the past, yes, you can’t make it without failing once or twice, you can’t, because otherwise you’re not taking the risks. Fear of failure is what keeps me up. I’m healthy and my family is healthy, so thankfully those kind of worries aren’t there.

Samir Husni: Thank you.

h1

MJ Lifestyle: The Magazine Elevating The Feminine Voice… – The Mr. Magazine™ Interview With Jennifer Skøg, Founder, Editor & Chief Creative, MJ Lifestyle Magazine…

April 4, 2019

“I am a photographer by trade, so I have been a fan of print for almost my entire life. If it’s stuck in a computer it’s not going to be seen; we have so many files that are just stuck in the Worldwide Web, but not necessarily something beautiful that you can touch and feel and experience. And so because of my background with fine art and high-end photography, that gave me one option for my magazine, and that was to be finely printed on ecofriendly paper. I believe that imagery often teaches people things; people feel things from imagery sometimes more than reading. So for me, imagery was a big part of getting people to understand and educate themselves on the benefits of cannabis.” Jennifer Skøg…

A Mr. Magazine™ Launch Story…

A luxury cannabis publication that not only respects the plant and educates readers about its much-touted benefits, but also empowers women to be strong leaders in their chosen lives and careers, MJ Lifestyle strives to showcase real women from all cultures and ethnicities, believing in the diversity of the world in which we all exist. The magazine is not a “stoner” title, but instead is one that chooses its partnerships carefully in order to maintain the integrity that Founder Jennifer Skøg is determined it will display.

I spoke with Jennifer recently and we talked about the magazine and its compelling imagery and editorials. Jennifer is a photographer by trade that specializes in intimate feminine photography, so making women feel comfortable while empowered in front of the camera is something that she is passionate about. Just as she is about her own personal usage of cannabis, a plant that she respects and is an advocate for when it comes to the many health and wellness issues the plant can address. And Jennifer realized that modern day women were not being properly represented in the space, so MJ Lifestyle was born. With an all-female team that she credits as being incredible, Jennifer is determined to elevate the female voice in the world of cannabis.

So, I hope that you enjoy this Mr. Magazine™ interview with a woman who is a magazine entrepreneur, a professional photographer, and a soccer mom, all rolled into one delightful person, Jennifer Skøg, MJ Lifestyle magazine.

But first the sound-bites:

On why she chose print for MJ Lifestyle magazine in this digital age: I am a photographer by trade, so I have been a fan of print for almost my entire life. If it’s stuck in a computer it’s not going to be seen; we have so many files that are just stuck in the Worldwide Web, but not necessarily something beautiful that you can touch and feel and experience. And so because of my background with fine art and high-end photography, that gave me one option for my magazine, and that was to be finely printed on ecofriendly paper. I believe that imagery often teaches people things; people feel things from imagery sometimes more than reading. So for me, imagery was a big part of getting people to understand and educate themselves on the benefits of cannabis.

On the concept of cannabis and feminism behind the magazine: Really, when I first got into the industry I was just starting to shoot for brands and helping to elevate imagery for those brands, and what we quickly realized was that women were not properly represented in the cannabis space, real professional women. It was typically more of a stoner culture type of thing and not a positive light for cannabis at all. I have actually been a consumer for most of my adult life and have definitely hidden my consumption from my professional world for fear of being judged or missing out on work, people not hiring me.

On how she came up with the tagline “For Women With High Taste”: That was actually our first tagline and it’s funny because we were switching back and forth between “For Women With High Taste” and “For Women Of High Taste.” There’s a big difference between “with” and “of” and some of our women of color thought Women With High Taste were born with it and Women Of High Taste was something that you accumulated overtime or something you gave yourself. We were trying to connect, obviously women, with having high-end values and aspirations and taste. But we’re actually changing that; we don’t know exactly what we want to do yet, but it’s really about elevating your feminine voice.

On the magazine selling out so quickly on its website and whether she feels she was right on target with seeing a need for the magazine in the marketplace: We weren’t expecting it to sell out so quickly; we actually got a really big order that was unexpected, which sold us out almost immediately. And that was really exciting and we’re still very excited, but also the hard part for us is marketing and advertising. And right now, because our magazine has to do with cannabis, we’re not able to advertise anywhere basically. So, we’ve had to get really creative with influential type stuff, social media, and just building an audience. So, yes we sold out online, but right now our biggest thing is we’ve got 400 stores that we still need to sell the magazine out in. We’re definitely trying to continue raising awareness.

On the concept of romancing the plant, merging photography, women, nudity, and art, all between the pages of MJ Lifestyle: As I mentioned, I’m a photographer by trade; I actually teach and one of my specialties is intimate photography of women. Over the past 20 years of doing this, that’s been singlehandedly the most rewarding thing that I’ve done. Almost every time I’m able to photograph a woman and have her feel comfortable in front of the camera and it’s like opening her world up to a type of self-love she’s never known before. So, that’s been easy to weave in because we are talking about self-love so much. We’re talking about caring for ourselves, caring for our families, and making those educated decisions. And so for us yes, we are romancing the plant, but there’s a very fine line between glamourizing it and obviously, kind of paying tribute to it.

On the wide diversity of the magazine and whether that was intentional: Oh no, it’s intentional. It’s absolutely intentional. And that’s the thing, especially with what our world is going through with racism right now, and social justice being a huge thing that we have in our cannabis space too, social equity and social justice, and so it’s a big thing for us to make sure diversity is key. I am a white woman and grew up with a somewhat privileged lifestyle, I’ve worked very hard, but I’ve also, because of the color of my skin, things have probably come easier for me than most other people of color. So, the only thing I can do is use my privilege to make sure that we’re raising awareness for everybody and including everybody.

On whether launching the magazine was a walk in a rose garden for her or has she faced any challenges along the way: It’s been very, very difficult. Not just entering into a new industry of cannabis, but also a new industry of magazine publication. Lots of things that I didn’t know before, but also things internally. Not every single woman can work with every woman and we have definitely had some trimming of the negative energies, so it’s been a bumpy ride, just trying to make sure we have the right team with us. We have recovered significantly from it, and we are very grateful.

On having to be over 21 to click into the website content and if it’s the cannabis or the nudity that required that: It’s the cannabis. I think there might be minor nudity, but no, it’s the cannabis. And that’s the reason why we can’t advertise anything. And even the young twenties are not in our demographic. We’re definitely thirty and up, so we really don’t want this getting into the hands of younger kids.

On what she hopes to accomplish with the magazine one year from now: It’s really exciting and fun; we’re meeting and participating in a lot of events, so we’re getting out there in the field and getting to know women. And not just at cannabis events, but holistic events, yoga, or business events, women being empowered. We want this to not be stoner culture, we want this to be real life. So, we’re trying to bridge that gap between the stoner culture and real women. For us, it would be that we had evolved into a greater team, putting on more events, and having another couple of issues under our belt.

On anything she’d like to add: The other really difficult part for us is that we really are trying to respect the plant and so we have to be very careful who we are partnering with, because there are companies that don’t have the best intentions, or we have cut companies that are coming in and flooding the market with misogynistic type of marketing, with half-naked women, and on their billboards you’ll see women with bongs and it’s just not appropriate. So for us, that’s one of our biggest things, making sure that the people we are partnering with have good intentions, integrity; obviously they have a safe product to consume, but also we’re about business too, we’re not here saying money is money. We’re very much pride over profit.

On the biggest misconception she thinks people have about her: Probably that we have money. (Laughs) What most people think is that we have a pretty well-oiled machine, but we’re really just taking it one day at a time. And we’re working really hard, but at the same time we’re also trying to enjoy our lives.

On what someone would find her doing if they showed up unexpectedly one evening at her home: Moms are busy. I pick up my kids; I do homework; I start dinner; I clean up after dinner, and by the time it’s 7:00 p.m., I actually go back to my computer and get to work. I take a couple of minutes to snuggle with my kids and if it’s been a really long day, I’ll fall asleep with them (Laughs) And falling asleep with them is the best ever. Sometimes I’ll consume some cannabis, but not until the kids are down or they’re away. I actually don’t drink a lot of alcohol, it upsets my stomach and that’s one of the reasons that cannabis has been my kind of “vice,” so to speak, for so long.

On what she would have tattooed upon her brain that would be there forever and no one could ever forget about her: Makes women feel amazing, feel beautiful, and powerful.

On what keeps her up at night: (Laughs) Work. I’m non-stop working; my office is in my house, so I’m literally on the desk. It’s sad because sometimes you’ll see that when all of my family wants quiet time, my husband is on his computer and I’m on mine and my kids are on their devices, it’s very techy. I am a great mom, but I’m also at my computer often.

And now the lightly edited transcript of the Mr. Magazine™ interview with Jennifer Skøg, founder, editor, & chief creative, MJ Lifestyle Magazine.

Samir Husni: When I saw MJ Lifestyle, I was impressed by the size of the magazine and the fact that you call it the “fine print” magazine. Tell me, why are you doing a print magazine in this digital age?

Jennifer Skøg: I am a photographer by trade, so I have been a fan of print for almost my entire life. If it’s stuck in a computer it’s not going to be seen; we have so many files that are just stuck in the Worldwide Web, but not necessarily something beautiful that you can touch and feel and experience. And so because of my background with fine art and high-end photography, that gave me one option for my magazine, and that was to be finely printed on ecofriendly paper. I believe that imagery often teaches people things; people feel things from imagery sometimes more than reading. So for me, imagery was a big part of getting people to understand and educate themselves on the benefits of cannabis.

Samir Husni: Can you tell me the genesis of MJ Lifestyle, because you go beyond cannabis; you’re combining feminism and cannabis, can you expand a little on that concept?

Jennifer Skøg: Really, when I first got into the industry I was just starting to shoot for brands and helping to elevate imagery for those brands, and what we quickly realized was that women were not properly represented in the cannabis space, real professional women. It was typically more of a stoner culture type of thing and not a positive light for cannabis at all. I have actually been a consumer for most of my adult life and have definitely hidden my consumption from my professional world for fear of being judged or missing out on work, people not hiring me.

So, this was something for me, coming out of the shadows so to speak and opening up about this, it expanded my eyes as to how much not just the plant had been criminalized and stigmatized, but women in general all over the world have had to fight for equality, and we need to support each other. We’re in a world where women are competitive, we get catty and it would be nice if we didn’t have to compete. It would be nice if we could help each other out. All of us need help at times, it takes a tribe to do anything. Whether it’s raising kids or getting our jobs done completely or throwing out a brand new notion like cannabis is friendly. That’s why we’re mixing the two.

And we’re battling a lot of misogynistic brands who think it’s okay to completely expose women or undermine women and put us in a negative light, so to speak. So, we’re really wanting to bring that unity and sisterhood into the magazine as well.

Samir Husni: How did you decide on the magazine’s tagline, and I see it’s even on your business card: “For Women With High Taste?”

Jennifer Skøg: That was actually our first tagline and it’s funny because we were switching back and forth between “For Women With High Taste” and “For Women Of High Taste.” There’s a big difference between “with” and “of” and some of our women of color thought Women With High Taste were born with it and Women Of High Taste was something that you accumulated overtime or something you gave yourself. We were trying to connect, obviously women, with having high-end values and aspirations and taste.

But we’re actually changing that; we don’t know exactly what we want to do yet, but it’s really about elevating your feminine voice. And a lot of it is not necessarily about getting high, so we definitely want to try and get that kind of terminology out and be a little bit more professional and scientific health wise.

Samir Husni: I noticed on your magazine’s website that the second issue, which is now on newsstands, has sold out online, from the website. Do you think that your gut feeling that there was a need for this magazine in the marketplace was right on target?

Jennifer Skøg: As far as us selling out so quickly?

Samir Husni: Yes, and the need for the magazine. Evidently there is an audience for it or it wouldn’t have sold so quickly.

Jennifer Skøg: We weren’t expecting it to sell out so quickly; we actually got a really big order that was unexpected, which sold us out almost immediately. And that was really exciting and we’re still very excited, but also the hard part for us is marketing and advertising. And right now, because our magazine has to do with cannabis, we’re not able to advertise anywhere basically. So, we’ve had to get really creative with influential type stuff, social media, and just building an audience. So, yes we sold out online, but right now our biggest thing is we’ve got 400 stores that we still need to sell the magazine out in. We’re definitely trying to continue raising awareness.

But this hasn’t been done before. We had a thought in our minds and at first no one was able to understand what we were trying to accomplish, but now that the first two issues are out I think it’s beginning to click in people’s minds. We’ve actually had quite a few brands come to us recently, grateful that they can find us and looking for a way to have a more refined audience and a more refined way of educating potential consumers. A lot of people are trying to get away from the High Times and the adult magazines and have it be something more.

Samir Husni: As I flipped through the pages of the magazine, it’s like you’re romancing the plant with the imagery and the photography. Tell me more about that concept of merging the photography, the women, the nudity, the art, all between the pages of MJ Lifestyle.

Jennifer Skøg: As I mentioned, I’m a photographer by trade; I actually teach and one of my specialties is intimate photography of women. Over the past 20 years of doing this, that’s been singlehandedly the most rewarding thing that I’ve done. Almost every time I’m able to photograph a woman and have her feel comfortable in front of the camera and it’s like opening her world up to a type of self-love she’s never known before. So, that’s been easy to weave in because we are talking about self-love so much. We’re talking about caring for ourselves, caring for our families, and making those educated decisions. And so for us yes, we are romancing the plant, but there’s a very fine line between glamourizing it and obviously, kind of paying tribute to it.

In the beginning it was very hard for me because I don’t want to glamourize it; I have two small children, I don’t want them to think that it’s cool to be smoking anything. So, while we want it to be a very nonjudgmental space and inclusive and diverse, at the same time we’re trying to really show how we can be more safe about our consumption and not have smoking everywhere. But also loving ourselves, loving our bodies, being body-positive and just trying to create something we don’t have, empowering women to be their own leaders and founders in their space. And all of this just really fits together for us. I’m essentially my own target market. I’m a self-made soccer mom. (Laughs)

I’m literally a stay-at-home working mom, it’s a whole lot of jobs in one. And every woman is just trying to figure things out. So, this is a way that we can really give resources and support throughout our sisterhood.

Samir Husni: Talking about every woman and sisterhood, it seems to me that you have not left a single ethnic group or race out of the magazine. Was that intentional or you’re just casting the widest net possible?

Jennifer Skøg: Oh no, it’s intentional. It’s absolutely intentional. And that’s the thing, especially with what our world is going through with racism right now, and social justice being a huge thing that we have in our cannabis space too, social equity and social justice, and so it’s a big thing for us to make sure diversity is key. I am a white woman and grew up with a somewhat privileged lifestyle, I’ve worked very hard, but I’ve also, because of the color of my skin, things have probably come easier for me than most other people of color. So, the only thing I can do is use my privilege to make sure that we’re raising awareness for everybody and including everybody.

For me it’s really important that we do that; we don’t want just a bunch of white women everywhere. That’s not what our world is and that’s not what makes our world beautiful. So yes, for us, it’s extremely intentional that we’re trying to include every single culture, background, and group so that we can have everyone represented.

Samir Husni: I can hear the passion in your voice talking about the magazine and its audience; has it been a walk in a rose garden for you, so easy to put the magazine together, or have you faced some challenges along the way?

Jennifer Skøg: It’s been very, very difficult. Not just entering into a new industry of cannabis, but also a new industry of magazine publication. Lots of things that I didn’t know before, but also things internally. Not every single woman can work with every woman and we have definitely had some trimming of the negative energies, so it’s been a bumpy ride, just trying to make sure we have the right team with us. We have recovered significantly from it, and we are very grateful.

Really, we’re a small group of women, all of us have our own side hustles and I’m the main one putting all of the pieces together, but I have an incredible community of women where we’re creating resources right now. We don’t have public or private funding or any funding right now, we’re funding this ourselves. So, a lot of it is trading resources. I have women working with the magazines and then I’m helping them by photographing their products, helping them with their websites, giving them business coaching, anyway that we can evolve and grow each other is what we’re doing until we’re able to actually be profitable.

Samir Husni: I’ve noticed on your website that you seem to be positioning yourself as an adult magazine because you have to be over 21 to click into the website content; is it the cannabis or the nudity that required that?

Jennifer Skøg: It’s the cannabis. I think there might be minor nudity, but no, it’s the cannabis. And that’s the reason why we can’t advertise anything. And even the young twenties are not in our demographic. We’re definitely thirty and up, so we really don’t want this getting into the hands of younger kids.

Samir Husni: If we’re having this conversation a year from now, what would you hope to tell me you had accomplished with MJ Lifestyle?

Jennifer Skøg: It’s really exciting and fun; we’re meeting and participating in a lot of events, so we’re getting out there in the field and getting to know women. And not just at cannabis events, but holistic events, yoga, or business events, women being empowered. We want this to not be stoner culture, we want this to be real life. So, we’re trying to bridge that gap between the stoner culture and real women. For us, it would be that we had evolved into a greater team, putting on more events, and having another couple of issues under our belt.

We have one coming out this summer and it’s on policy and social justice. This is a huge issue coming out that we’re working on right now. It involves a lot of reaching out to people, a lot of interviews, and then me flying to go and do photos. (Laughs) It’s a crazy, busy life, but really exciting.

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

Jennifer Skøg: The other really difficult part for us is that we really are trying to respect the plant and so we have to be very careful who we are partnering with, because there are companies that don’t have the best intentions, or we have cut companies that are coming in and flooding the market with misogynistic type of marketing, with half-naked women, and on their billboards you’ll see women with bongs and it’s just not appropriate. So for us, that’s one of our biggest things, making sure that the people we are partnering with have good intentions, integrity; obviously they have a safe product to consume, but also we’re about business too, we’re not here saying money is money. We’re very much pride over profit.

Samir Husni: What’s the biggest misconception you think people have about you?

Jennifer Skøg: Probably that we have money. (Laughs) What most people think is that we have a pretty well-oiled machine, but we’re really just taking it one day at a time. And we’re working really hard, but at the same time we’re also trying to enjoy our lives.

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; playing with the kids; reading a magazine; cooking; watching TV; or something else? How do you unwind?

Jennifer Skøg: Moms are busy. I pick up my kids; I do homework; I start dinner; I clean up after dinner, and by the time it’s 7:00 p.m., I actually go back to my computer and get to work. I take a couple of minutes to snuggle with my kids and if it’s been a really long day, I’ll fall asleep with them (Laughs) And falling asleep with them is the best ever. Sometimes I’ll consume some cannabis, but not until the kids are down or they’re away. I actually don’t drink a lot of alcohol, it upsets my stomach and that’s one of the reasons that cannabis has been my kind of “vice,” so to speak, for so long.

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

Jennifer Skøg: Makes women feel amazing, feel beautiful, and powerful.

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

Jennifer Skøg: (Laughs) Work. I’m non-stop working; my office is in my house, so I’m literally on the desk. It’s sad because sometimes you’ll see that when all of my family wants quiet time, my husband is on his computer and I’m on mine and my kids are on their devices, it’s very techy. I am a great mom, but I’m also at my computer often.

Samir Husni: Thank you.

%d bloggers like this: