Archive for the ‘New Launches’ Category

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Punch Magazine: A New Regional Title That’s Packing A “Punch” On The San Francisco Peninsula – The Mr. Magazine™ Interview With Sloane Citron, Founder & Publisher…

September 26, 2019

I’ve probably started, honestly, 50 publications in my career, I’m just like a serial magazine creator. And of everything I’ve launched nothing has gotten the reaction that this magazine has gotten. Every day we get calls, emails, or whatever, from people who are saying that they love our magazine, that they get so much from it, and they look forward to it every month.”… Sloane Citron.

 A Mr. Magazine™ Launch Story…

A new regional title that began its life in 2018, Punch magazine showcases new ideas, along with the cultures and traditions that encompass the San Francisco Peninsula. And while the magazine may be new, its founder and publisher is far from a novice when it comes to great magazines. Sloane Citron is a self-described “serial magazine creator” who has launched many, many titles throughout his career, including  his first magazine Peninsula, along with Northern California Home & Garden and Southern California Home & Garden, and the lifestyle title Gentry, among others. And in 2018 he launched a beautiful, very high-quality title called Punch, all about the San Francisco Peninsula where he calls home.

I spoke with Sloane recently and we talked about this new title of his and about how things have changed in the world of magazines, which he has been a part of for decades. Originally slated to purchase Sunset Magazine, Sloane moved on to something of his very own when that deal didn’t pan out, and his vision came to life in the form of a large-sized, ink on paper magazine filled with the beauty and charm of the San Francisco Peninsula area, and gave it a title that hails from the British weekly magazine known by the same name and for its humor and satire. It’s a title that definitely catches the eye and ear.

Sloane is a man who loves magazines, ink on paper magazines, that is. His passion for magazines goes back to his childhood when he created his very first title, mimeographed for him by his teacher, when he was only eight years old. The love of magazines is something that he and Mr. Magazine™ have in common.

So, I hope that you enjoy this glimpse into life on the San Francisco Peninsula and a conversation with a man who has enjoyed creating magazines for most of his life, the Mr. Magazine™ interview with Sloane Citron, founder and publisher, Punch magazine.

But first the sound-bites:

On whether people thought he’d lost his mind in launching a print magazine just one year ago: There I was with nothing to do and I had this prototype for a magazine. And I said, you know, magazines are what I love to do and this is a terrible idea and my wife thought I was crazy, but I said, you know, I’m going to just launch it. I’ll take this concept that I have and launch it for the San Francisco Peninsula and just create a really small team and do this. So, that’s what I did. We opened up here in Menlo Park with four full-time people and then I have an art director in Ketchum, Idaho that has worked beautifully, and other freelance people that are doing different things for us. And somehow we put out a monthly magazine.

On whether he believes an ink on paper regional magazine is still relevant or more people are looking to online resources: I’ve probably started, honestly, 50 publications in my career, I’m just like a serial magazine creator. And of everything I’ve launched nothing has gotten the reaction that this magazine has gotten. Every day we get calls, emails, or whatever, from people who are saying that they love our magazine, that they get so much from it, and they look forward to it every month. It’s gratifying that people really enjoy what we’re doing, but I don’t know if there is a need. There are very few publications for which there is a real need, because there’s so much information out there that you can get otherwise.

On magazines being an experience that people want rather than need: I would say that’s the case with this magazine, we really work hard to make it that way. I use the word “luscious” sometimes; we want the covers and the artwork and everything to just be beautiful, so that people want to get the magazine and they want to turn the pages, and enjoy it and feel connected to it.

On advertisers’ reaction in his area to an ink on paper regional magazine: If there wasn’t so much competition here, it would be pretty easy, but I’m competing against my old magazine… you know, I spent 23 years building it and building the name and developing it, so I had to compete head-on with my old company. So, I tried to be competitive, have lower rates, more distribution, and a better product. I felt if we did those three things we’d be able to get our share. But it hasn’t been easy. There’s great downward pressure on rate, honestly, because of lots of factors, including the Internet, with online advertising. There are people who just don’t feel the need for it anymore.

On what he would hope to tell someone he had accomplished in another year from now, on his second anniversary:I hope we get to a consistent revenue figure so that we don’t have to constantly feel like we’re working toward that. That would be the best result of 2020. Second would be that we have revenue coming in from our website; we don’t expect it to be huge, but if we could get a dependable revenue coming from our website, that would be a positive thing so that it supports itself. And also that my staff is happy and productive and enjoying what they’re doing.

On why he named the magazine Punch: I knew that I needed to come up with a name, I had been through this before. I said to my wife, I know, I’ll go retro and call it Peninsula, my first magazine. And she said, I thought you wanted to be new and bright. I said I do, and she said, well, naming it after your first magazine is a terrible idea. Very rarely do I think she’s right, but I thought she was right  this time. (Laughs) So, I started looking everywhere, I’d walk into an office or I’d walk into a room and I’d look for words and inspiration, anywhere I could find it. I struggled and struggled, then finally one night at about 11:30 p.m. I’m on Wikipedia looking at defunct British magazines for ideas. And there was Punch, and I remembered, because I’m a magazine guy, it hit me. I said, I remember there was a Punch magazine, it was a satire magazine and it had closed in the ‘80s actually. So, I said Punch, I kind of like the feel of that. I tested it on covers and mockups, and I liked it. That’s where it came from.

On whether he considers Punch his best magazine launch so far: I do, actually. Honestly, part of my mission with my whole career, part of it was creating magazines, but part of it was building a strong business that was very profitable, because I had a wife and four children and they needed taking care of. I didn’t have the luxury of always doing things that I wanted to, I had to do them from a strong business angle at all times. And with Punch, I’m able to just focus on making it as strong as possible and that’s been helpful in the mission.

On anything he’d like to add: I’ll say that one of the most important things for me is always having a group of people that I enjoy working with and who want to be here. It was somewhat challenging being in Silicon Valley where there is so many plentiful, very high-paying jobs, to find a staff that was interested and motivated to do this. And we were able to do so. That has been a great joy, because we all enjoy being with each other and we’re all very passionate about making this magazine as good as it can be. That has been an important part of this journey for me. Since I created this to have somewhere to go and something to do, to be able to do it with people who are highly professional and creative is very meaningful.

On what someone would find him doing if they showed up unexpectedly one evening at his home: I’m usually either reading or reading the news on the computer, or I’m watching the Giants on TV. I’m very passionate about the Giants, I watch all their games. And often I’ll be watching the game and reading the news from about 15 sources, which is kind of what I do.

 On what he thinks is the biggest misconception people have about him: People think I’m an extravert, because when I go out to sales calls or out to events and things like that, I can be very jovial and out there, but honestly, I’m a complete introvert. As my staff knows, I only go to things under extreme pressure, events. I get invited, obviously, to a lot of events and I almost never go, even though it would be good for the magazine, because I just can’t stand it. So, I only go to the things that I really have to. (Laughs) And that includes our own events. I’ve missed some of those as well.

On what keeps him up at night: Believe it or not, even though I’m not doing this for financial rewards… we lost a client the other day, they said they were going to do more digital now. And that actually kept me up at night. Even though it didn’t change my world, it just so ate at me that a client would leave us, it kept me up at night.

And now the lightly edited transcript of the Mr. Magazine™ interview with Sloane Citron, founder and publisher, Punch magazine.
 

Samir Husni: You launched Gentry magazine back in the early ‘90s and you’ve seen the magazine industry go up and down. Did people think you’d lost your mind for launching a new print magazine in 2018? And here you are now celebrating your one year anniversary.

Sloane Citron: Let me give you a little background real quick. I knew I wanted to be a publisher when I was eight years old. I started a publication at school and the teacher mimeographed it for me and I had the kids go out and sell it for a nickel. I got to keep three cents and they got to keep two cents.

In high school I started a magazine at Andover, and then in college I ran the college newspaper for four years, or was involved with it. I did an internship while I was in college at Los Angeles magazine. And that’s when the city/regional bug hit me and I said, this is great. This is what I love to do.

But I didn’t want to be a journalist, and people kept confusing that. Being a publisher and a journalist was two different things, I wanted to start things. And I knew I needed some credentials, so I went to Stanford Business School so that people would take me seriously.

My first job was at Miami magazine back in the early ‘80s and was the general manager who kind of fixed that for them, even though I really didn’t know what I was doing, but I learned on the job, if you will. But I wanted to come back to California, because I liked it here and my wife was from here.

So, I was able to raise some money, because I had seen that the Silicon Valley was really starting to develop and I launched the first magazine in this area called Peninsula, because we’re the San Francisco peninsula. I patterned it after New York Magazine, I copied their logo and their style, because I didn’t know what else to do. That was a paid title, subscriber and newsstand-based, and I grew that company quite large.

I started the first home and garden magazine in California, one for Northern California and one in Southern California. And then I saw that there were these hotel books, one was for San Francisco and one was for Los Angeles, and I got this idea and I started doing sub-markets. I did about a dozen of them all over California, at Beverly Hills, the West Side. Up here I did the Peninsula, I did the Wine Country, the East Bay, and that was a really good little business.

But I sold that company. My investors wanted to sell because we had done well, so we sold it. Then I started Gentry magazine with a partner. I didn’t love the editorial concept, but I had this idea that I wanted to try because I thought the whole model of a subscription-based magazine and newsstand was ridiculous. With a subscriber base, you’re constantly having to use direct mail, you’re constantly having to do renewals; it was such a strain on launching the company and so expensive. And the newsstand people were all corrupt and never paid us, wanted money under the table, so I said I’m going to create a new idea.

I created this concept that I called at the time, and this was 1992, “Saturation Delivery.” Instead of being subscriptions, we went to all the main areas of affluence, and they had to be entire areas, it couldn’t be picked off, such as a house here and a house there. It had to be a whole region or a whole city. The idea was to create a really beautiful magazine, better than you could do if it were paid, make it as great and strong as possible, and then give it away to all these people, put it on their doorstep every month or mail it to them. The cost for starting this company was a fraction of my first one and we were profitable after eight months, because the advertisers loved it, because we were going to every home they wanted to go to. And we had a beautiful package, plus we controlled our own newsstand, we only went to a few newsstands where we could control it, and I didn’t have to deal with that.

So, I didn’t have to have a circulation department. We had one person who did it part-time, but I eliminated the whole craziness and expense of a circulation department. No direct mail campaigns, no renewals, no insert cards; in fact, I made it difficult for people to buy subscriptions. We didn’t list it in the magazine anywhere.

That was a model that I kind of feel like I created. There wasn’t anyone doing it at the time, not that I knew about anyway. And now you have a lot of people doing it, like DuJour does that, so it’s common now, but back then it was all subscriber-based. But the model really worked extremely well and the company took off. I started a bunch of other magazines through that company. Then we sold half the company in the early 2000s when things were really good. It turned out to be a good move.

In 2016, a couple of things happened, I hit 60 years old and my partner was having a couple of health issues, and it just seemed like a good time to make a move. So, I exercised my sell option and I sold my half to her family, and thought I was done with publishing, which kind of answers your question. The business was great and it got me through my lifetime and I loved it, but it was done at that time.

And then, honestly, I was kind of bored. My wife is a major real estate agent here and before I knew it she was asking me to do stuff with her all the time, which was terrible. (Laughs)

Samir Husni: (Laughs too).

Sloane Citron: Some people could do that, I couldn’t do it. But then a weird thing happened, I got a call from a New York investment banking firm that does magazines The man’s name was Reed Phillips and he had actually been on the buying side of some of the magazines that I sold. And he told me that he had a great opportunity for me. And I asked him what he had in mind. He told me that Sunset Magazine was for sell. If you live out west, that’s a very iconic title, it has been around for over 100 years.

And I looked at it and told him that I thought I could make something happen with it, because Time owned it and they just totally mismanaged it, they bought it but just didn’t have any interest in it, especially with the new ownership. Once they spun it off Time Warner, they just depleted the thing. I knew I could take the brand and do a lot of things with it. I came up with a new look and feel for the magazine and spent six months raising the money, putting together a prototype and a team, working with the Time people. And I kept narrowing the team down to 12 of us, then there was eight, then four. And at the very end they told me that I was going to get it. But suddenly I didn’t get it.

They asked me could I close within a week. And I said no, I can’t close within a week, I didn’t even have a lawyer yet. So, they called me back and they said they were sorry, but they were going with a group in L.A. because they could close within a week. And three weeks after that, and it’s a joy talking to you because you understand all this, it was announced that Time was sold to Meredith. So, they needed to get rid of whatever they were getting rid of in order to close their deal with Meredith and sell themselves.

So, there I was, and this is the answer to your question in a long way, there I was with nothing to do and I had this prototype for a magazine. And I said, you know, magazines are what I love to do and this is a terrible idea and my wife thought I was crazy, but I said, you know, I’m going to just launch it. I’ll take this concept that I have and launch it for the San Francisco Peninsula and just create a really small team and do this. So, that’s what I did.

It’s funny, I had some money that I was going to put up and one of my best friends insisted that he be a part of it. He had made some money like they do here, with an IPO, he had been at Solar City and made a bunch of money, and he said I insist on being a part of this. So, he threw some money into it.

We opened up here in Menlo Park with four full-time people and then I have an art director in Ketchum, Idaho that has worked beautifully, and other freelance people that are doing different things for us. And somehow we put out a monthly magazine.

I don’t know what the end goal is. I knew I needed to be relevant because honestly, I love ink on paper, that’s where my heart is, but I knew that I needed to do a proper website, so we just completed our website, which is pretty cool, I think. It mirrors the magazine well. The idea is to just try and do my best with it, but I have no idea what the future holds.

Samir Husni: As you celebrate the first anniversary of Punch, are you more convinced than ever that in this day and age there is a real need for an ink on paper magazine for the Peninsula, or do you find most people going online?

Sloane Citron: That’s a great question. I’ve probably started, honestly, 50 publications in my career, I’m just like a serial magazine creator. And of everything I’ve launched nothing has gotten the reaction that this magazine has gotten. Every day we get calls, emails, or whatever, from people who are saying that they love our magazine, that they get so much from it, and they look forward to it every month. It’s gratifying that people really enjoy what we’re doing, but I don’t know if there is a need. There are very few publications for which there is a real need, because there’s so much information out there that you can get otherwise.

I look at it as entertainment, but we do fill a need in some ways. If you look through the magazine, we do hikes; we do food; we try to help people get the most out of living here. It’s an expensive place to live and if you’re going to live here, you should enjoy your lifestyle. So, we really go out of our way to try and find things that people learn from and will enjoy doing. Need is probably not the right word. If we weren’t around the world wouldn’t be much different.

Samir Husni: I tell my magazine students, no one really needs a magazine. The magazine must be like chocolate, an experience that people want to enjoy.

Sloane Citron: That’s exactly right. And I would say that’s the case with this magazine, we really work hard to make it that way. I use the word “luscious” sometimes; we want the covers and the artwork and everything to just be beautiful, so that people want to get the magazine and they want to turn the pages, and enjoy it and feel connected to it. So, you’re exactly right, that’s a good analogy.

Samir Husni: Being 100 percent ad dependent, your revenue is coming from advertising, or 99 percent of it is, what was the advertisers’ reaction in your area to an ink on paper magazine when you approached them?

Sloane Citron: If there wasn’t so much competition here, it would be pretty easy, but I’m competing against my old magazine… you know, I spent 23 years building it and building the name and developing it, so I had to compete head-on with my old company. So, I tried to be competitive, have lower rates, more distribution, and a better product. I felt if we did those three things we’d be able to get our share. But it hasn’t been easy. There’s great downward pressure on rate, honestly, because of lots of factors, including the Internet, with online advertising. There are people who just don’t feel the need for it anymore.

This is almost like a non-profit, honestly. Our goal here is just to break even, and that’s what we’re doing. Hopefully, we’ll grow some more so that we do a little bit more than that. There’s probably room for one or two regional magazines in the market, depending on the market size. And we have more than that here. Modern Luxury also has a title here called Silicon Valley, so it’s not easy. There’s less print advertising and there’s downward pressure on the pricing, those are the two things.

 Samir Husni: You didn’t have a non-compete deal with Gentry after you sold it?

Sloane Citron: I did for two years. When I signed it I said, I’m never doing anything else, are you kidding me? (Laughs) But I can’t help it, it’s what I’m passionate about. I figure I’ll do what I’m passionate about until I can’t do it anymore.

Samir Husni: As you look toward the future, and if you and I are having this conversation on your second anniversary, what would you hope to tell me that you had accomplished in another year?

Sloane Citron: I hope we get to a consistent revenue figure so that we don’t have to constantly feel like we’re working toward that. That would be the best result of 2020. Second would be that we have revenue coming in from our website; we don’t expect it to be huge, but if we could get a dependable revenue coming from our website, that would be a positive thing so that it supports itself. And also that my staff is happy and productive and enjoying what they’re doing.

Samir Husni: Why Punch? Where did you come up with the name?

Sloane Citron: I knew that I needed to come up with a name, I had been through this before. I said to my wife, I know, I’ll go retro and call it Peninsula, my first magazine. And she said, I thought you wanted to be new and bright. I said I do, and she said, well, naming it after your first magazine is a terrible idea. Very rarely do I think she’s right, but I thought she was right  this time. (Laughs)

So, I started looking everywhere, I’d walk into an office or I’d walk into a room and I’d look for words and inspiration, anywhere I could find it. I struggled and struggled, then finally one night at about 11:30 p.m. I’m on Wikipedia looking at defunct British magazines for ideas. And there was Punch, and I remembered, because I’m a magazine guy, it hit me. I said, I remember there was a Punch magazine, it was a satire magazine. And it had closed in the ‘80s actually. So, I said Punch, I kind of like the feel of that. I tested it on covers and mockups, and I liked it. That’s where it came from.

Samir Husni: Do you consider Punch your best launch so far?

Sloane Citron: I do, actually. Honestly, part of my mission with my whole career, part of it was creating magazines, but part of it was building a strong business that was very profitable, because I had a wife and four children and they needed taking care of. I didn’t have the luxury of always doing things that I wanted to, I had to do them from a strong business angle at all times. And with Punch, I’m able to just focus on making it as strong as possible and that’s been helpful in the mission.

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

Sloane Citron: I’ll say that one of the most important things for me is always having a group of people that I enjoy working with and who want to be here. It was somewhat challenging being in Silicon Valley where there is so many plentiful, very high-paying jobs, to find a staff that was interested and motivated to do this. And we were able to do so. That has been a great joy, because we all enjoy being with each other and we’re all very passionate about making this magazine as good as it can be. That has been an important part of this journey for me. Since I created this to have somewhere to go and something to do, to be able to do it with people who are highly professional and creative is very meaningful.

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?

Sloane Citron: I’m usually either reading or reading the news on the computer, or I’m watching the Giants on TV. I’m very passionate about the Giants, I watch all their games. And often I’ll be watching the game and reading the news from about 15 sources, which is kind of what I do.

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

Sloane Citron: People think I’m an extravert, because when I go out to sales calls or out to events and things like that, I can be very jovial and out there, but honestly, I’m a complete introvert. As my staff knows, I only go to things under extreme pressure, events. I get invited, obviously, to a lot of events and I almost never go, even though it would be good for the magazine, because I just can’t stand it. So, I only go to the things that I really have to. (Laughs) And that includes our own events. I’ve missed some of those as well.

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

Sloane Citron: Believe it or not, even though I’m not doing this for financial rewards… we lost a client the other day, they said they were going to do more digital now. And that actually kept me up at night. Even though it didn’t change my world, it just so ate at me that a client would leave us, it kept me up at night.

 Samir Husni: Thank you.

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NatuRx Magazine: A New Title For Better Living Through Cannabis – The Mr.™ Magazine Interview With Peter Moore, Editor In Chief…

September 15, 2019

A Mr. Magazine™ Launch Story…

“… We need to sort out the good from the bad; we need to follow the best science that’s going down now, and there have been tremendous impediments to studying cannabis that are only now just falling away, so we feel like we’re in a position to emphasize the usefulness of cannabis. So, that’s why we went with NatuRx, because we wanted to put the focus, not on the “stoner” excesses that cannabis has been a part of in the past, but instead look at it as a tool for better living, and that’s where the subline came from: Better Living Through Cannabis.” Peter Moore…

Active Interest Media’s (AIM) newest entry into the marketplace is NatuRx (pronounced Nature Rx), a multimedia platform whose mission is to educate health-conscious consumers about cannabis. Peter Moore, former editor at Men’s Health, is the editor in chief of this new title that’s tagline is “Better Living Through Cannabis.” And as Peter told me in a recent conversation, what differentiates this cannabis title from all of the others out there is its stand on being a guide for people when it comes to the best and worst cannabis scenarios, sorting the good from the bad, and helping people better understand cannabis. NatuRx is determined be a critical and watchful eye on this new world of green and to explain the healing powers and usefulness of the plant. And of course, it is the first big national service magazine focusing on cannabis.

Talking with Peter, I hear his passion for service journalism and in serving his readers. Helping people to better understand what cannabis can be used for when it comes to better health and fighting the detriments of certain conditions, such as PTSD, is so apparent in his words and in his vision for the magazine.

And as President & CEO Andrew Clurman said in a recent AIM press release, “As the publisher of wellness magazines such as Yoga Journal, Clean Eating, and Better Nutrition, we’ve been inundated with questions from our readers about the safe, legal use of CBD and THC as part of an active lifestyle. Our editors have been reporting on this emerging category for years, so it was a natural choice for us to create a new type of cannabis magazine, one that approaches cannabis from a health and fitness perspective and will appeal to affluent, educated adults.”

Peter would definitely agree as he told me how important his mission as an editor and the mission of advertisers for this magazine about cannabis is and will continue to be: “Our mission as editors will be to discover the very best uses for it, and that will also be the mission of the advertisers who will show up in NatuRx. What can we responsibly offer to people that will really improve their lives? I feel like with this magazine, as with Men’s Health, edit and advertising will be in lockstep, expressing different aspects of the same mission.”

It’s a beautifully done title and one Peter is very passionate about. And he believes in the people who are contributing and working on the magazine, describing them as some of the best in the business. A man whose professional life is filled with words and conversation, Peter enjoys painting in his spare time, clearing his thoughts with acrylics and watercolors to better prepare him for the next day of magazine passion. So, please enjoy this Mr. Magazine™ interview with a man who believes service journalism should be just that: a service to the readers and plans on delivering that with NatuRx, Editor in Chief, Peter Moore.

But first the sound-bites:

On when he moved to Colorado: I was laid off from Men’s Health in December 2015 and my wife and I had been looking around for what the next big thing was going to be for us. I had been coming out here to ski, backpack and backcountry ski for 20 years from Men’s Health, because I love to do all that stuff. And we thought, you know what, now’s our chance, let’s move to Fort Collins. So, we arrived here in May 2017.

On the interest in starting NatuRx magazine: The conversation had turned from “let’s get high” to “what use can we put cannabis to” and “what’s it good for?” And as a guy who had been trained for 20 years at Men’s Health and in service journalism, it was occurring to me that there’s a big need out there to understand the drug, to explain it, to see what it’s good for and what it’s not good for, up sides and down sides, it’s all a service magazine mission. And ironically enough, four months later, there was Jonathan Dorn inviting me down to Boulder, an hour away from Fort Collins where I lived, saying we really should do a magazine on cannabis. And the more we talked the more excited we got. Then the next thing you know, he was saying that we had a commitment from Meredith to partner on this, they’re our partner in the first issue, and we have newsstand commitments for a circulation of about 250,000. And people just kept signing on.

On the magazine’s title and not having the word “cannabis” in it: What we wanted to do was focus on the healing powers in particular. And its usefulness. I come out of the tradition of tons of useful stuff at Men’s Health. And part of what came out of the conversation I told you about was that people were looking for ways to improve their lives. One of the things that I’m proud of is while the magazine is called NatuRx, the subline is “Better Living Through Cannabis.” And I think that’s the focus that people have, this is a tool for living or it can be if you employ it in the right way. And people may not understand how it can be a positive in their lives, rather than a negative.

On empowering a brand on multichannel platforms: I think what we start with is an idea and a need. We live in a world where people select the version of it that’s going to fit best with their lives. So, for some people taking an online course is the way to go. And AIM has shown tremendous skill at putting that out there. Some people live on their phones and their tablets, for them NatuRx.com may be where they want to consume the content. Others want to hold a magazine in their hands. And for people of a certain generation, the magazine is still the best way to get their information. And it’s certainly an extraordinary design vehicle, especially because AIM puts its money where its mouth is, as far as paper stock and the great creative director, Bryan Nanista, who has a long history himself in this industry.

On how as an editor he balances between the art of creation and the art of curation: That’s where my experience at Men’s Health comes in very handy. I was trained for a couple of decades in how to sort out good information from bad, good studies from bad studies, reputable sources from non-reputable sources. And thank you very much Men’s Health magazine for giving me those skills. Even more important, how to apply those skills in the Wild West of cannabis, because some of the sources are… well, people have rushed into this area because there’s this so-called Green Rush toward cannabis, people trying to make their fortunes right now, and that means they’re putting out a lot of garbage. And there are also reputable, good companies that are putting out great stuff too.

On whether the Internet is a blessing or a curse to him as an editor: It’s widely known that “Dr. Google” can be a quack. And there are a lot of people who take at face value the first thing that shows up in their feed when they do a search. Overall, I would say that the Internet has been a blessing, if you have the tools to use it in the right way, but in the wrong hands those tools can do damage. Frankly, as a health editor, it’s a great thing for me that people do need help to be pointed in the right direction and I feel like I have the skills to help them judge what’s good, bad, and dangerous. And that they need that help means they’re going to be turning to NatuRx, and we certainly hope so.

On how he copes with all of the changes taking place in the magazine industry and the merger between church and state: I’m no stranger to that merger and I lived through it at Men’s Health, absolutely, with fairly intense partnerships between Men’s Health, advertisers and the editorial side. There is an old school part of me that says, gosh, it’s too bad that world went away, but it did go away. So, now what I need to do is use my brain and my instincts and my research to note that there are places we can’t go and shouldn’t go, and there’s not even any advertisers’ interests that we go there because it’s going to scuttle our credibility with readers. It’s all about a relationship with the reader.

On whether he expects a long-lasting relationship with his audience or a one-night stand after the first issue: My role when I was sitting in that room with that group of people after the Memorial service a couple of years ago, was as somebody who could answer questions from a base of knowledge and understanding, and take a sober look at an intoxicating drug, and at intoxicating possibilities, and people really need that. I feel like it’s a shoulder-to-shoulder relationship, where we’re going through this revolution along with people, but maybe we are a slightly more prepared, better-researched, discerning group who can guide the conversation with what we know and be honest about what we don’t know.

On what differentiates NatuRx from all the other cannabis magazines already on the market today: I feel like we are the first big national service magazine concentrating on cannabis. And given the background of all the people who are contributing to it, I think we have a track record on the staff of being among the very best to do this kind of reporting. So many of the magazines that I see out there are enthusiast magazines, meaning supporters, drunk with the possibilities, whereas I think that NatuRx is going to take a step backward to assess the progress of the revolution and to guide people to the parts of it that are going to serve them best. We’re going to be a critical eye on cannabis and we’re going to support the best advances and the most promising treatments and uses for cannabis. So, I feel that is going to be a good niche for us and it’s something that people really need right now.

On the biggest misconception he feels people have about him: I’ve always felt that some people look down their noses at service journalism and maybe I did too before I landed at Men’s Health. But the mission of somebody who is out to use all the tools that are available to journalists now to improve lives has been transformative for me as a journalist. My education at Men’s Health showed me that you really can help people if you provide timely information in the right format and with the right tone. And that’s an expertise that I have now and I’m grateful to Men’s Health and Rodale for providing that to me. And I’m just thrilled that this revolution swept along in cannabis and that I arrived in Colorado at just the right moment to find a new way to help people. And that’s my mission.

‘The Morning Commute, by Peter Moore

On what someone would find him doing if they showed up unexpectedly one evening at his home: What you will find me doing often is being upstairs in my renovated barn in my backyard in Fort Collins where my day-to-day office is, and the half of it facing east is my editorial office and the other half facing west is my art studio. I’m an acrylics painter and watercolorist and if I turn around it’s looking pretty nice over there with all my paintings leaning against the wall. I’m not Picasso, but I’m working hard at it and it’s something that I love to do, in particular because it does not have anything to do with words. And I need that, something that’s going to take me off the hook from talking and writing all the time. So, at night I just shut up and paint.

On what keeps him up at night: The thing that scares me and scares a lot of editors that I’ve seen on your blog is the attack on the press, which is one of those pillars of our democracy. Having a free and active, aggressive press. And the assault on that is unprecedented and unhealthy. It requires great care on our part to answer it in the right way. And the way to answer it is by using all of our skills to find out what’s wrong, what’s evil, and what’s great about what’s going on right now. And to justify people’s faith in that pillar of democracy.

And now the lightly edited transcript of the Mr. Magazine™ interview with Peter Moore, editor in chief, NatuRx magazine.

Samir Husni: When did you move to Colorado?  

Peter Moore: I was laid off from Men’s Health in December 2015 and my wife and I had been looking around for what the next big thing was going to be for us. I had been coming out here to ski, backpack and backcountry ski for 20 years from Men’s Health, because I love to do all that stuff. And we thought, you know what, now’s our chance, let’s move to Fort Collins. So, we arrived here in May 2017.

Given my background as a health writer and editor, all my old pals from the New York magazine industry were suddenly crowding around and giving me assignments to write about cannabis. It’s not like I had any particular expertise or even much experience with cannabis before we came out here, but at the urging of my old magazine buddies I began investigating it carefully and personally, yes, Samir…

Samir Husni: (Laughs)

Peter Moore: (Laughs too) …and when you develop an expertise, people notice it. And Jon Dorn did. So, there you go.

Samir Husni: I tell everyone I interview with magazines about cannabis, you do it for educational and medicinal purposes, of course.

Peter Moore: But it’s so interesting and I mentioned it in my editor’s note in the first issue; we were at a Memorial service a couple of years ago, and at about 8:00 p.m. after the Memorial service the adults in the room were sitting around and of course, now that I live in Colorado, the conversation turned to Colorado cannabis legalization.

And all of these people were gathered from all across the country, each started recounting their own use of cannabis; a lot of it for medicinal purposes, but recreational as well. We’re of the generation that went through that in college dorm rooms decades ago. But the conversation had turned from “let’s get high” to “what use can we put cannabis to” and “what’s it good for?” And as a guy who had been trained for 20 years at Men’s Health and in service journalism, it was occurring to me that there’s a big need out there to understand the drug, to explain it, to see what it’s good for and what it’s not good for, up sides and down sides, it’s all a service magazine mission.

And ironically enough, four months later, there was Jonathan Dorn inviting me down to Boulder, an hour away from Fort Collins where I lived, saying we really should do a magazine on cannabis. And the more we talked the more excited we got. Then the next thing you know, he was saying that we had a commitment from Meredith to partner on this, they’re our partner in the first issue, and we have newsstand commitments for a circulation of about 250,000. And people just kept signing on.

Albertsons chain of grocery stores; the magazine is going to be in more than 800 of those and their affiliates across the country by the end of September. Plus Meredith’s circulation is right behind it. And we’ve also got a really good team from Active Interest Media, who saw this in their participant media empire, as a very natural adjunct to the other stuff they have going.

I was thrilled to be asked by Jon, who was a pal of mine when Backpacker was owned by Rodale, to collaborate on this as well. So, here we go. A big magazine launch and I’m thrilled to be a part of it.

Samir Husni: Tell me about the name NatuRx. This is one of the few cannabis magazines that does not have the word cannabis in the title.

Peter Moore: Well, what we wanted to do was focus on the healing powers in particular. And its usefulness. I come out of the tradition of tons of useful stuff at Men’s Health. And part of what came out of the conversation I told you about was that people were looking for ways to improve their lives. One of the things that I’m proud of is while the magazine is called NatuRx, the subline is “Better Living Through Cannabis.” And I think that’s the focus that people have, this is a tool for living or it can be if you employ it in the right way. And people may not understand how it can be a positive in their lives, rather than a negative.

The recent difficulties with Vape pens shows you there is a downside to juvenile use among teenagers and young people. So, we need to sort out the good from the bad; we need to follow the best science that’s going down now, and there have been tremendous impediments to studying cannabis that are only now just falling away, so we feel like we’re in a position to emphasize the usefulness of cannabis. So, that’s why we went with NatuRx, because we wanted to put the focus, not on the “stoner” excesses that cannabis has been a part of in the past, but instead look at it as a tool for better living, and that’s where the subline came from: Better Living Through Cannabis.

Samir Husni: Peter, you’ve been involved with service journalism, as you said, for over 20 years. You’ve done it through multiple channels; do you feel that today you can’t practice service journalism in only one channel? AIM is launching NatuRx in print, tablet, mobile, education, social, events, email; do you create the brand and then have its products, or is it that you start with the product and create the brand as you grow?

Peter Moore: I think what we start with is an idea and a need. We live in a world where people select the version of it that’s going to fit best with their lives. So, for some people taking an online course is the way to go. And AIM has shown tremendous skill at putting that out there. Some people live on their phones and their tablets, for them NatuRx.com may be where they want to consume the content. Others want to hold a magazine in their hands. And for people of a certain generation, the magazine is still the best way to get their information. And it’s certainly an extraordinary design vehicle, especially because AIM puts its money where its mouth is, as far as paper stock and the great creative director, Bryan Nanista, who has a long history himself in this industry.

It all comes down to where people want to be when they’re receptive to the information they need to improve their lives. And I think that’s where AIM hangs its hat, in being there for readers in all the places they want to be.

And it’s a time for great opportunity as well, because when I was beginning my journalism career, there were 78 total magazines. And now, through your work I’ve learned that there are 800 launches per year and 5,000 titles that are out there now, and that isn’t even taking into account all of the various formats that can exist out there.

Samir Husni: As you put your editor’s hat on and look at the wealth of information out there, the good, the bad and the ugly, how do you balance between the art of creation as an editor and the art of curation as an editor?

Peter Moore: That’s where my experience at Men’s Health comes in very handy. I was trained for a couple of decades in how to sort out good information from bad, good studies from bad studies, reputable sources from non-reputable sources. And thank you very much Men’s Health magazine for giving me those skills. Even more important, how to apply those skills in the Wild West of cannabis, because some of the sources are… well, people have rushed into this area because there’s this so-called Green Rush toward cannabis, people trying to make their fortunes right now, and that means they’re putting out a lot of garbage. And there are also reputable, good companies that are putting out great stuff too.

And that’s what we need to do, sort out between the bad, crazy stuff that you see on the Internet and in your emails all the time, and the people who are doing it the right way and putting out quality products based on solid research , and that’s our mission as editors is to be an advocate for readers saying head this way, not that way, that way being danger-wise. If we can do a good job of sorting between danger and advantage, we’re doing an amazing service for people, especially right now.

Samir Husni: You mentioned especially right now, how in your 20-year career, and you started before the Internet was widely available, to today where almost anyone has access; how has your job or your thinking changed since then? Is the Internet a blessing or a curse?

Peter Moore: It’s widely known that “Dr. Google” can be a quack. And there are a lot of people who take at face value the first thing that shows up in their feed when they do a search. Overall, I would say that the Internet has been a blessing, if you have the tools to use it in the right way, but in the wrong hands those tools can do damage.

Frankly, as a health editor, it’s a great thing for me that people do need help to be pointed in the right direction and I feel like I have the skills to help them judge what’s good, bad, and dangerous. And that they need that help means they’re going to be turning to NatuRx, and we certainly hope so.

Samir Husni: As I look at the media kit for NatuRx, I see a combination of the traditional and the non-traditional, like ad rates from the basic inside-front cover to the advertorial spread to the guest-expert interview spread. As an editor, how do you cope with all of these changes taking place in the industry and the merger of church and state?

Peter Moore: I’m no stranger to that merger and I lived through it at Men’s Health, absolutely, with fairly intense partnerships between Men’s Health, advertisers and the editorial side. There is an old school part of me that says, gosh, it’s too bad that world went away, but it did go away. So, now what I need to do is use my brain and my instincts and my research to note that there are places we can’t go and shouldn’t go, and there’s not even any advertisers’ interests that we go there because it’s going to scuttle our credibility with readers. It’s all about a relationship with the reader.

At Men’s Health, and I believe at NatuRx, that relationship with the reader is important on the ad pages just as its important on the editorial pages. And I felt like, at Men’s Health certainly for 20 years, the advertisers were in it for the same reasons that we were, which was to provide information that was going to help people live better lives.

In a burgeoning industry, a soon-to-be, and is now, and will increasingly become, a multibillion dollar industry in the U.S., especially as legalization, that wildfire, spreads across the land, this is going to be a very big industry with its hands in all sorts of things. There will be competition for liquor intoxicants, in the fashion realm for fabric, sleep remedies, pain remedies; there isn’t a part of U.S. commerce that will not be impacted by cannabis. It’s going to be everywhere.

Our mission as editors will be to discover the very best uses for it, and that will also be the mission of the advertisers who will show up in NatuRx. What can we responsibly offer to people that will really improve their lives. I feel like with this magazine, as with Men’s Health, edit and advertising will be in lockstep, expressing different aspects of the same mission.

Samir Husni: As you move toward that relationship with your audience, your customers, whether they’re readers or advertisers; what do you expect the first issue to be like between you and them: a first date, a one-night stand, a love affair, or a long-lasting relationship?

Peter Moore: My role when I was sitting in that room with that group of people after the Memorial service a couple of years ago, was as somebody who could answer questions from a base of knowledge and understanding, and take a sober look at an intoxicating drug, and at intoxicating possibilities, and people really need that. I feel like it’s a shoulder-to-shoulder relationship, where we’re going through this revolution along with people, but maybe we are a slightly more prepared, better-researched, discerning group who can guide the conversation with what we know and be honest about what we don’t know.

There is so much that will be coming to light about this in the next few years, especially as the government monopoly on the source of research-grade cannabis breaks down. Recently, there was a big lawsuit from Dr. Sue Sisley in Arizona to end that government monopoly. She’s doing a double-blind study on the impact of cannabis on PTSD. There are going to be a thousand sources blooming on research and information on cannabis. Some of it is going to be cautionary, some very exciting and positive, and we’re going to help sort that out for readers. I think we’re sorting it out for ourselves, each of us on the editorial staff at the same time; we’re sorting it out for a potentially gigantic audience of people who need that information.

Samir Husni: If someone came to you and said, okay, you’re launching another cannabis magazine, where would you put it among the 20-plus titles already out there? Whether it’s MJ Lifestyle for women, Marijuana Ventures, Kitchen Toke – cooking with cannabis, or Ember; is it a competitor to those, a complementary, a corrective magazine? How would you define your unique selling proposition in the midst of all of these other titles on the market today?

Peter Moore:  I feel like we are the first big national service magazine concentrating on cannabis. And given the background of all the people who are contributing to it, I think we have a track record on the staff of being among the very best to do this kind of reporting. So many of the magazines that I see out there are enthusiast magazines, meaning supporters, drunk with the possibilities, whereas I think that NatuRx is going to take a step backward to assess the progress of the revolution and to guide people to the parts of it that are going to serve them best. We’re going to be a critical eye on cannabis and we’re going to support the best advances and the most promising treatments and uses for cannabis. So, I feel that is going to be a good niche for us and it’s something that people really need right now.

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

Peter Moore: I’ve always felt that some people look down their noses at service journalism and maybe I did too before I landed at Men’s Health. But the mission of somebody who is out to use all the tools that are available to journalists now to improve lives has been transformative for me as a journalist. My education at Men’s Health showed me that you really can help people if you provide timely information in the right format and with the right tone. And that’s an expertise that I have now and I’m grateful to Men’s Health and Rodale for providing that to me. And I’m just thrilled that this revolution swept along in cannabis and that I arrived in Colorado at just the right moment to find a new way to help people. And that’s my mission.

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; smoking some cannabis; reading a magazine; cooking; gardening; watching TV; or something else? How do you unwind?

Peter Moore: (Laughs) What you will find me doing often is being upstairs in my renovated barn in my backyard in Fort Collins where my day-to-day office is, and the half of it facing east is my editorial office and the other half facing west is my art studio. I’m an acrylics painter and watercolorist and if I turn around it’s looking pretty nice over there with all my paintings leaning against the wall. I’m not Picasso, but I’m working hard at it and it’s something that I love to do, in particular because it does not have anything to do with words. And I need that, something that’s going to take me off the hook from talking and writing all the time. So, at night I just shut up and paint.

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

Peter Moore: The thing that scares me and scares a lot of editors that I’ve seen on your blog is the attack on the press, which is one of those pillars of our democracy. Having a free and active, aggressive press. And the assault on that is unprecedented and unhealthy. It requires great care on our part to answer it in the right way. And the way to answer it is by using all of our skills to find out what’s wrong, what’s evil, and what’s great about what’s going on right now. And to justify people’s faith in that pillar of democracy.

Samir Husni: Thank you.

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The Wonderful World Of New International Magazines… A Mr. Magazine™ Musing

September 12, 2019

In today’s digital world, many people think print magazines, both new and established, are barely hanging on by the hair of their inky chin chins. I assure you, that is not the case. From the west coast to the east coast, north to south, new magazines in the United States are being loaded onto newsstands daily, and the ink of legacy print, for the most part, still smells as strongly today as it did years ago; albeit, often in a totally different way.

But what about international titles, what is the health status of magazines in other countries? Well, Mr. Magazine™ is happy to report life in the wonderful world of magazines would appear to be flourishing around the globe.

Here are 12 new titles from all over the world, proving that ink on paper is alive and well everywhere. And please take note of the abundance of “me time” titles: Declutter Your Life, Dream Journal, and Wellness, to name a few. People everywhere are beginning to realize the importance of stepping away from those screens every once in awhile.

In alphabetical order):

Aww is a new magazine from Hong Kong that’s first issue is the “Meow & Woof” issue and has more than 200 illustrations from many different artists, along with great content on the topic of pets. The illustrations are wonderful and the content is diverse and has everything from recipes to travel, with animal elements. The Zen is amazing.

Bellissimo is from two London-based photographers, Paolo Zerbini and Ivan Ruberto, and according to its creators: it is dedicated to glorify the understated. The first issue takes us on a hidden tour of the beach of Rome, Ostia, and showcases photographs of places not commonly known, but amazingly unique. It’s a great new title.

Cacao Magazine is the first international print magazine fully dedicated to craft chocolate. And much like the chocolate making process itself, the layout of the magazine follows the “bean-to-bar” sequence. This new title was born in Berlin and its first issue is dedicated to the craft chocolate enthusiasts of Germany. Mr. Magazine™ is looking forward to issue two. Yummy.

Citizen is a new quarterly magazine for everybody engaged in the challenge of creating the future city. Published by the London School of Architecture, the magazine’s mission is to allow people living in cities to have more fulfilled and more sustainable lives. It’s beautifully well done and very well received here in Mr. Magazine’s™ world.

Creative Journeys is a new title from the creators of Project Calm magazine, our friends over in the U.K., and is filled with creative ideas and craft projects inspired by travel. It’s packed with artistic inspiration from around the world and you can read about art, music, mindfulness, maps, photography and prints.

Dream Journal is another new magazine from Future pic, a global multi-platform media company based in the U.K., but with offices in Australia in the U.S. The magazine was born to guide you on a path to reflection, self-evaluation and being more mindful. Learn more about what dreaming is and use the dream diary to record and reflect on your dreams.

Learn How to Declutter Your Life is from the same folks who brought you the Dream Journal and is an interactive decluttering guide created to help one organize and simplify their life. And don’t we all need that?!

Recharge magazine is the third new title from Future pic and teaches us that it’s all too easy to get caught up in the busyness of our everyday lives and the demands placed upon us, whether by family members, friends, colleagues or clients. We have to Recharge, else we burn out.

Simply Lettering is another British title for anyone interested in modern calligraphy, from complete beginners to seasoned experts. The first issue comes complete with a brush lettering starting kit and practice sheets and templates. Some more me-time is waiting.

Take Care magazine is a collection of creative responses to the U.K. housing crisis, ranging from art and literature to journalism. Five friends who were between London and Glasgow created the magazine: Sarah Bethan Jones, Charlotte Fountaine, Frances Gordon, Lewis Gordon and Romany Rowell. It came to life through Kickstarter and the niche title is only shipping to the United Kingdom for now.

Tortoise Quarterly is a new magazine from Tortoise Media in England. Tortoise Media was another Kickstarter success story and was started to slow down the news. They do no breaking news; just what drives today’s news stories. The launch issue of its magazine is called “Journeys,” and is very proud of its slow news ways – translation – Tortoise Quarterly loves its print format.

(A Journal for) Wellness is one more new title from the same folks across the pond that gave us Creative Journeys and Project Calm. This beautiful journal covers some key areas in your day-to-day living – Eat, Sleep, Move, Relax, Think, Grow and Create – to help you improve, develop or just explore your wellbeing.

And there you have it! Magazines are sprouting everywhere, from one corner of this big beautiful world to another. Mr. Magazine™ is very happy to bring you this glimpse of international beauty when it comes to new print titles.

Keep an eye out for more from Mr. Magazine’s™ Wonderful World of Magazines. You never know what I may find out there, or where I’ll find it!

Until the next time…

I’ll see you at the newsstands, here and across the pond…

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The Tecknoskeptic and 14 Other New Magazines Arrived At The Newsstands In July/August 2019

September 3, 2019

It’s been a long, hot summer, sizzling with sunshine and great new magazines! So, if you were looking for dynamic reading material for your days beside the pool, July and August were definitely the months for it!

In the fall of 2018, a brand new print magazine was created called The Technoskeptic. At that point founder and publisher, Mo Lotman, said the magazine was not sold through Barnes and Noble or any national distributor. Mr. Magazine™ found Issue #3 (the first he’d seen on newsstands) and was certainly glad he did. The magazine’s mission statement is: The mission of The Technoskeptic is to promote awareness, critical thinking, and social change around the use and impact of technology on society and the environment. The magazine is savvy, very well-done, and totally absorbing. Welcome to The Technoskeptic!

A fashion and pop-culture magazine, Cool America strives to offer diverse and beautiful content that will bring people from all walks of life together. Editor in chief, Vaughn Eric Stewart, writes in his first editor’s letter: an inclusive America is a cool America. And the premiere edition of the magazine is certainly cool! Thank you for your beauty in both photography and content, Cool America; we welcome you to the fold!

As a way to refresh its ‘Worklife’ brand, Staples has launched a quarterly ink on paper magazine, along with a digital version, podcasts, live events, and a entire digital community, hoping to continue the conversation with its customers long after the ‘staples’ have been replenished. The premiere issue of Worklife includes an interview with author, Daniel Pink, talking about motivational mistakes and how to correct them; there is advice for the workplace and all that entails, from stress to keeping the peace;  and The Decider, which is a flowchart tool that, in the premiere issue, helps readers decide whether a particular meeting is a must-attend. It’s a great addition to the brand and Mr. Magazine™ is keeping this one in the office with him!

Well, autumn is right around the corner and Mr. Magazine™ is looking forward to meeting you again right here to discuss the great new titles for fall!

So, until then…

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.

 

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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.

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.  

 

 

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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.

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