The Digital Companion

The online journal to Offscreen — for all the things that don’t fit into the magazine. We regularly publish behind-the-scenes posts about the making of an indie magazine. Why not grab the RSS feed and follow along?

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A super quick time-lapse video tour around the (shared) Offscreen office here in Melbourne. Love the sunlight we’re getting, but ask me again in three months when we’re in the middle of this city’s brutal summers. :)

On the future of print

So many conversations I have about indie publishing inevitably end with the big question about the future of print. Here are some of my (ever-expanding and ever-changing) thoughts on this topic:

To me it seems that up until a few years ago there was still this perception out there that publishing a print magazine is this sacred art form reserved to intellectual masterminds. Then more and more people realised that you don’t need a floor of editors and marketeers to put words on paper. In fact, many creatives already have all the necessary tools installed on their computers, so it’s just a matter of learning how to put different skills and disciplines together to make a thing and call it a magazine. Once you accept that you are not bound by the whims of advertisers, the heritage of traditional mainstream publications, and the rules of the newsstand, your magazine can be anything you want it to be. That’s not to say that it’s easy (or highly profitable). Producing good content and creating a physical object always comes with a fair set of challenges, but then again, if you want to create a memorable online experience, building a great digital product is no less laborious.

Undoubtedly, the rise of (indie) print can also be attributed to the inherent physicality of the medium at a time when so much of our life is contained in a completely ephemeral environment. Some folks out there realise more and more that reading everything on screens often feels temporary and unsubstantial. Holding an object that you can open and close, start and finish, gives us a heightened sense of accomplishment and ownership. And as materialistic as it may sound, we do like to have objects in our lives that we can identify with. You can’t express your values and interests through an iOS Newsstand archive, but you certainly can with a bunch of books and magazines sitting on your coffee table at home or in your office.

Don’t get me wrong though, I think for certain types of content, print is indeed dead. I don’t need to read yesterday’s news on paper today. I do however enjoy a lengthy piece of commentary or analysis on said news in print form. There needs to be a clear incentive for me to open my wallet. Rather than spending $2 on transient content, meant to be discarded within 24 hours, many of us are more likely to invest $20 in a more timeless product with high production values. It’s hard to resist the multi-sensory experience of print if it makes good use of its innate strengths.

Maybe in ten years we look back at the current trend of indie magazines realising that it was just a fad, serving the in-between generation that was clinging to a dying medium. But then you look at the radio and TV — they all have undergone tremendous change since the internet came about. I think as long as you are nimble enough to adapt to a changing world (as most indie mags are), you’re gonna be ok, no matter what industry you find yourself in.

A bit of blatant promotion: I’m working (again) with Tom Froese on yet another illustration for the upcoming issue, and I simply love his creative approach. The work he produces is just beautiful and it’s an honour to have him in the magazine. :) Keep it up, Tom!

For a little piece in a yet-to-be-revealed magazine, my mate Tim Lucas and I have been out and about earlier this week taking some photos of me working from the various Melbourne cafés that I use as ‘satellite offices’. One of them was Industry Beans in Fitzroy, a bustling cafe/roastery with solid coffee, decent food and, of course, wifi to get some work done. :)

All photos by Tim Lucas

Done is beautiful — one in every issue No8.

The UpsStanding Desk is a wooden construct that turns any normal desk into a standing desk. It’s height-adjustable and packs flat for easy transport. Such a great idea! I wish they offered int’l shipping. Back their Kickstarter project and grab one for just $200.

My buddy Benedikt Lehnert has recently compiled a compact little typography guide shining light on some common mistakes and misunderstandings when it comes to working with type. The guide is now also available as a handy little printed booklet! Grab one here.

This guy is better at sandboxing than you.

Photo by Justin Kemp, via BP

This beautiful portrait and interview with Joachim Sauter, a successful German media artist, designer and Professor at the Universität der Künste Berlin, makes me miss Berlin really badly. Luckily, I’ll be visiting in the first 2 weeks of June! :)

Photos by FvF, one of my all-time favourite websites.

The Connections You Make

When I started my research for a printer and shipper that would align with my budget and quality requirements and were approachable enough to ask some silly newbie questions, I inevitably created a link between two Berlin-based companies that I thought could work well together: AZ (printer) and OML (shipper).

After the release of issue No1, impressed with the quality of Offscreen, I helped Thomas Williams move the production of his two publications Process Journal and MADE Quarterly from Asia/Australia to Berlin in Germany. Since then I’ve been recommending my printer and shipper to a lot of publishers around the globe, and subsequently even set up a little website listing the services we use.

When I ordered a copy of Gather and Fold’s first print edition a few weeks ago, I had no idea where the magazine was printed. But as soon as I received the envelope in the mail, I recognised the packaging and shipping label: it was coming from OML in Berlin and is probably even sitting on the same shelf, right next to Offscreen. Looking at the publication’s masthead I can find the name of my printer alongside a special thanks to Thomas Williams (who I assume introduced them to both companies.)

It’s pretty amazing how sometimes things in life come back to you full circle. Don’t hesitate to share your contacts and make connections between people you believe do great work!

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