“Despite what you may have heard, reports of the “death of print” have been greatly exaggerated.” - Mark Hooper
That is the intro statement to an eye-opening article from The Guardian UK. Well, it’s not that eye-opening to me because I’ve known it for awhile. In fact, it was one of the core reasons I started this site in the first place, but it’s surprising to hear it come from such a large media source. Typically you hear these statements from the media proletariat, and many times when small groups try to shout out that their niche isn’t dying, it’s usually because they are in denial. I might have been in denial about the whole thing, that is, until now.
“Ironically, I attribute it to the internet,” says Jeremy Leslie, the man behind magculture.com, a site any self-respecting magazine junkie has bookmarked. “A lot of people have discovered their opinions and voices writing blogs and sharing in social networks. A natural next step is to create something permanent … I think the mainstream publishers have let down the industry and individuals are trying to create better publications.”
I’m quoting here because I couldn’t have said this any better myself. I know exactly what Jeremy Leslie is speaking about because I work for one of these mainstream publishers. Granted, a lot of our publications are very niche and run with very small budgets, but the truth is, the books cater as much toward the advertising dollars as the readers themselves. It’s the nature of the beast when you get to a certain level of proliferation.
The article also goes on to say that many online publishers are finding print to be a valid way to get a few more marketing opportunities even if it doesn’t make any money; that it doesn’t have to be a zero sum game between print and digital. However, I know from my own experience lately that the physical books I read get consumed a lot quicker and absorbed a lot more than their digital counterparts. Yes, I still like having the capability to carry thousands of books in my iPad if I want, especially when travelling, but when I want to sit and enjoy some reading, it’s printed books and magazines for me more often than not.
“Print does certain things very well. There’s a sense of reward – almost luxury – of devoting time to the printed page that you can’t put a price on.”
Artists and Designers sell luxury to the masses. No one needs a rock poster from Tara McPherson, or limited edition prints from James Jean. Companies don’t need new logos. Art directors don’t need better illustrations or photography, but we want them because they enrich our lives, both at work and at home. Our work is a luxury; we should use luxurious methods to showcase the work.
Not many years ago, when I would interview and hire other graphic artists for the design studio I work in, the norm was looking through the physical portfolio of each potential candidate. The other day, I forwarded a friends resume over to someone in our company for a possible graphics position. There was no portfolio attached, but rather, a link at the bottom pointing toward his website. Granted, he does really nice work (why else would I refer him), but the because there was no tangible aspect to viewing the work on a website, I felt a bit unsatisfied by the experience. Hopefully, if he’s interviewed, he’ll come to the meeting with a real portfolio in hand.
I don’t care what kind of artist you are; your work looks better on the printed page than it ever will on your blog or Flickr account. If you have a blog, then you seemingly have a lot to say. Why couldn’t you take that editorial content mixed with your own imagery, or maybe the imagery and words of your friends and create a personal digest to give away or sell?
Stampington & Company is a publishing group based in Orange County, CA. Two of their more popular titles are Art Journaling and Artful Blogging, which feature the art and writing of artists all over the world. The beauty of these two books; most of the content is provided by the artists themselves. Stampington does a little edit clean up, some creative layout and they’ve got an instant publication that sells for over $15 per issue. Why can’t you do that? Hell, why can’t I?
Actually, I do have a publication in the works, which I will document and showcase for you as it progresses, but the idea is fledgling at this point. As soon as it becomes more clear, you’ll be the first to know, I promise. Ok, well, maybe my wife and family first, but then you, I promise.
Enough about me, back to you. The question probably remains, “What should I publish”. The answer is unclear, but I’m sure if you look at the publishing going on around you, both digital and analog, and what you feel the world is missing in a print publication, I’m sure you can come up with something cool. Of course there are other considerations, like what types of publications are available, and for those who don’t have a design background, who do you go about putting the pages together.
In future posts, I’m going to talk about these subjects in more detail, try to give you a better understand of exactly how simple this process really is. The product itself is not nearly as important as pushing the idea into fruition. Taking the initial steps of producing a print publication are more essential than worrying about how to get it printed. Even if you only printed one copy of a magazine for your own purposes, you will have added a little more value to yourself and the world around you.
So I ask, what do you want to publish? Let us know in the comments, I promise we won’t steal your ideas. We’ve got enough of our own.