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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Last last-minute reminder that I’m in London and speaking at tomorrow’s The Modern Magazine event, along with an amazing bunch of other, much more talented magazine makers. Tickets are still available. Be quick! If you are there, please grab me for a chat. :)

Hey friends! I just launched Offscreen Issue No9. Shipping will stretch over two days beginning next week Wednesday, September 17th. Order now to be part of the first shipment and receive your magazine even before many of our stockists!

Once again a huge ‘thank you’ to everyone involved in making this issue happen, in particular to our sponsors:

Reminder: I’ll be speaking about Offscreen at the upcoming The Modern Magazine conference in London! Hope to see you there!

I’m really glad that I was able to be part of IndieCon 2014 here in Hamburg, as far as I know the first conference in Germany dedicated to independent magazines (with a focus on German-speaking publishers, of course). The conference emerged out of a master thesis by Malte Brenneisen and Urs Spindler, analysing the extensive German magazine scene in an attempt to define what ‘indie’ really means.

And that question was very much the underlying theme of the event, too. IndieCon was set in a spectacular location here in Hamburg, ironically the posh HQ of one of Germany’s biggest publishing houses, Hoffmann & Campe. But the irony wasn’t lost on the event organisers, as indie publishers quite literally took over the building in a well-executed ‘pirate’ theme.

The event opened with a keynote by Oliver Gehrs, publisher of German magazine Dummy, that was meant to provoke and criticise, basically reminding indies to focus more on producing publications with soul and attitude and unique quality content, rather than making a bunch of pages look pretty and then selling them for big bucks. In my opinion, it was a fitting way to open a conference that was as much a celebration of indie publishing as it was a reality check in an industry where many “do it for the love of it”. But in all honesty, at times it was also loaded with a typically German seriousness — the ol’ Weltschmerz — that doesn’t leave a lot of room for making things ‘just for fun’, with no intention of changing the world.

Overall, I felt that everyone really enjoyed being amongst people struggling with the same issues such as monetisation, finding/building an audience, moral questions around generating content on a small budget (i.e. not paying contributors), etc. But some of the workshops also went into more practical details, such as how to price a magazine or how to minimise cost in the production process. I met a lot of new faces, but also finally got a chance to shake hands with people whose work I admired for so long.

My talk went well (I think), even though Offscreen was a bit of an exception amongst all the other magazines on display which, of course, focused mainly on the German-speaking market. Nevertheless, it was a successful event by all means, and I believe everyone left with new lessons learned and new ideas sparked.

Again, thanks to the organisers for having me, to the sponsors like AZ Druck (my printer) and Adobe Typekit who helped financially in getting me over there to attend/speak and make the event happen.

I’m off to Berlin now for the production of the new issue! Can’t wait to get my hands covered in ink! Photos to come soon.

We have a date! Issue No9 launches September 11, starts shipping September 17. Can’t wait!

Almost time to pack my bag again. You’ll find me at these events in the next few weeks:

IndieCon in Hamburg (speaking)
upfront in Berlin (attending)
CSSConf in Berlin (attending closing party)
The Modern Magazine in London (speaking)

I’ll be in Berlin during the time in between Hamburg and London. Hit me up if you want to have a coffee and talk magazines/tech. :)

A heartfelt ‘Thank You’ to all the good people who supported last week’s fundraiser for the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre. After expenses I was left with $421 which I rounded up to $450. You can find a donation receipt here.

For a week fairly close to a new issue release, this wasn’t bad. But yes, we can do more! There will be further fundraisers in the future, for sure. :)

Fundraiser 2014: Help me support asylum seekers in Australia

Short version:

Starting today, ending next week Wednesday Aug 20th, I’ll donate all profits from sales of current and back issues to the Asylum Seeker Resource Center here in Australia, an organisation that helps refugees with the difficult challenge to get into and settle in Australia.

Buy any back or current issue and about $12 of each issue sold will go towards the Asylum Seeker Resource Center to support human rights and help refugees find a better life in Australia.


Help now, buy a copy

The longer, more f*cked-up version:

In March last year, I’ve donated the profits of that month to Watsi to help fund urgent medical treatments for the poor — in total around $2000. A few months ago, I auctioned off the last few brand new copies of issue No1-3 through ebay. They sold for $311, with the money, again, going towards treatments of people in need via Watsi. Since issue No7 I make small donations to the World Land Trust with every issue — a tiny step towards making print magazines more sustainable (I also use recycled materials only).

While money is always of short supply and my budget for creating new issues hasn’t increased much over the years, I still wish I could do more to give back and raise awareness of problems that I feel strongly about. While I can’t afford a whole month of profits for charity this year, I’d like to dedicate one week to raising money (and awareness) for an issue that’s close to my heart, being located here in Melbourne, Australia.

Most of my international readers won’t know, but here in Australia the two biggest political parties are currently violating human rights by refusing to let asylum seekers enter the country. Both parties are taking part in a public campaign of fear-mongering to convince the public that ‘illegal immigrants’ are threatening our country, taking away our wealth, and destroying all that’s good about Australia. (If you are interested in Australia’s shameful attitude towards migrants, a short history lesson here.)

The result is that the Australian military intercepts refugees arriving on ramshackle boats near Australia’s coast in order to lock them up in detention centres where they wait for years to be processed and then sent back home or to other countries. Australia has numerous of these prisons off-shore, in neighbouring countries such as Nauru — I assume because lawful supervision of its conditions and practices is more difficult. Media cannot enter these facilities. Riots breaking out inside these detention centers are not a rarity, and neither are stories of self-harm and suicide.

As an immigrant myself, I feel ashamed about how this country treats people that have escaped war zones and persecution in the hope for a better life. They risk their lives to reach Australia, just to be locked up for years and then sent back or resettled in other countries. Amongst many here in Australia, there is a sense of shock and disgust about how openly and aggressively the leaders of this country are disregarding human life that’s not ‘certified Australian’. We seem to reach a new ethical low with every day that passes. Ironically this happens in a country that wouldn’t exist in its current form without people arriving here by boat in the first place.

One organisation that keeps up my hope is the Asylum Seeker Resource Center (ASRC). Its many volunteers and advocates support refugees by providing food, shelter, health services, general advice, and legal support. It’s also an important lobbyist and proponent for the humane treatment of all asylum seekers in this country.

So starting today, for the next 7 days I’ll donate all profits from sales of current and back issues to the ASRC here in Australia. Because I don’t buy into the bullshit our neo-liberal, conservative government is selling us, and because I think no matter what your political view, we all have enough to share a little with those who need it most.

Please help me in my effort: buy any current or back issue and the profit (about $12 per issue) will go towards supporting the Asylum Seeker Resource Center to hold up human rights and help refugees find a better life in this country.

Note that this applies to current and back issues only, future issues are excluded. It’s a great opportunity to get those missing back issues. :)

Thanks for your support!
Kai Brach, Publisher


Help now, buy a copy

PS: I usually try to steer clear from politics with anything Offscreen-related, and I will continue to do so. I just wanted to provide a bit of background why I’ve chosen to give to ASRC.

Another issue in the making, another donation to the World Land Trust. You can help, too!

I remember when I first came across Ugmonk’s website. It wasn’t just the beautiful products that drew me in, it was the story behind them.

What seemed like quite a big fashion label at first, turned out to be a one-man show. Reading through Jeff’s journey, taking Ugmonk from side-gig to full-time job, running the entire operation from his parents’ basement, I felt inspired to create my own thing, too. A bit envious about what Jeff had created, I bought a tee (the Mountains shirt) to see what the fuss was all about.

The fascination with real products and creating my own brand lay dormant for another two years, when in 2011 I stumbled across a few magazines which reignited my enthusiasm for making something physical and selling it online. And the rest is history, as they say.

Ever since I first saw it, the Ugmonk brand has been a huge inspiration — and continues to be, as Jeff is launching more amazing products and is giving back with fundraisers.

That first shirt I bought from Jeff became one of my favourites, not least because it reminded me of Jeff’s story and what a single person can achieve if you work hard and don’t lose focus. And that’s why it’s such a pleasure and honour to announce the Mountains-Offscreen Bundle. For one week only, you can grab the legendary Mountains Tee, plus a copy of any available issue of Offscreen for just $32 (plus shipping). Needless to say, it makes for a great gift, too. So don’t miss out!

Issue No9 is still a while away, but I managed to secure the sponsors for this issue very early. As usual, I’m super proud and grateful for having the following companies support my efforts in making a great mag for you all:

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