Creative Possibilities in Print: Flemming Bo Jensen

Milnor_Flemming_Loop_-1From travel diaries to limited edition books to portfolio magazines, Flemming Bo Jensen knows his way around the printed page. An interest in photography, journaling, and music inspired his first book projects at a young age—and he has been documenting the world in unique ways ever since. Dan Milnor checked in with him to learn more about his creative life as a photographer and his MagCloud project, Loop.

1. You now work full-time as a professional photographer but you had several prior careers. Tell us about your IT life and your DJ life, and how did these careers influence you becoming a photographer?

I was only ever a hobby DJ, and I still am. I have been into electronic music since the mid-90s, way before I actually started photographing music. It definitely gives me a really important understanding of and connection to the artists at music events. My career as an IT-professional was not something I think influenced me, but it is at times quite helpful because there is quite a lot of software and hardware involved in being a professional photographer these days.

2. When did you really commit to photography and what was it about photography that interested you?

I have been photographing as a hobby since 1997 but it was in 2007 during a three-month trip to Australia that I really decided that I wanted to make photography more than an interest. I wanted to somehow make it a big part of my life. I love the idea of freezing one brief moment in time that maybe no one even noticed when it happened.

3. Did you take workshops, learn online, go to school?

I have done a few workshops and would like to do more. No formal photography education, but I have over the past 15 years or so used online communities and YouTube heavily to learn different skills. The most valuable education really though has been time, continually working at finding my vision, my style, my expression and then constantly trying to be better than the last gig.

4. Travel has also been a huge part of your life. Was photography connected to the travel from the beginning?

My first solo travel was at 18 years old, I went to London for a week. I had a small film point and shoot and I made snapshots and I wrote a travel diary. Returning home I had the film developed and I typed in my diary (on an Amiga 500, that maybe tells you when this was!), printed it out, and glued and pasted together my own travel photo diary from London. I have always dreamed of having my own magazine so I thought this was really cool and it made photography and writing a huge part of travel for me.

5. You currently shoot for Red Bull and a variety of other clients. I’m guessing that the vast majority of your images are used in digital form, online, social, etc. So why continue to print?

Exactly because all my work is mostly used online. I love big wide-angle scenes with lots of things happening in one frame and they need big projections or big prints to really work, not a tiny phone screen. When I really got into music around age 10, I bought several music magazines every week. I love magazines and wish they were still around. I used to dream of having my own magazine. Fortunately, we can do that nowadays!

6. What does going to print force you to do as a photographer?

I don’t print as much as I would like. But you can get away with doing so much crap to the image on screen (I should know, I do it a lot) but this won’t work on print. Print is where you can tell if your picture actually works and you have to be much more careful with processing. And if I am making a book or a magazine, editing for print is so much more fun and harder because the sequencing and the number of pages really means something. And not just for the cost, it means something for experiencing the book.

7. How do you utilize your print pieces once you have them in hand?

I make books or magazines for different reasons. Some years ago I made some big book projects to sell and I sold out both limited edition projects. That was great, but lately, I just make some magazines for me so I get to have my dream of having my own magazines. They are just one-off prints, just for me. I do also make printed portfolio magazines to carry around, it looks a million times better than having someone browse your Instagram feed.

8. What is the response when you hand out a tangible item?

It is funny that handing someone something printed now almost makes people look and ask “how is this possible!” As if pictures can only live digitally. Just that fact makes people look and appreciate the pictures more. Lots of people ask “can I have/buy this?” Hmmm, maybe I should make another for sale book!

9. Tell us about Loop, your MagCloud piece. What was the goal?

I remember using MagCloud ages ago to try out the magazine format. Then about a year and a half ago, I wanted to do a small inexpensive portfolio magazine that I could just give away. The MagCloud Digest is absolutely perfect for this. Somewhere I got the idea of doing a book that was half colour and half black and white but flipped so you “loop” the magazine and start over in either colour or black and white. So it has two covers, and the same intro at both ends of the magazine. Now that was fun to watch people figure this out! I gave them all away to a great response from artists, friends, managers,  etc. I am not even sure I have a copy myself anymore. Bonus when doing a flipped magazine: You get to stand on your head to proofread half the PDF!

10. Your print experience took on new relevance this year as you landed your first traditionally published book. First off, congratulations, that is a huge accomplishment. Tell us about this book and how it came to be.

Thank you, yes this a major dream come true. It is not my book though, I was the photo-editor on the project and I also have a fair amount of my images in it. The book is a visual journal of a very popular Danish band called The Minds of 99, from their start in 2012 up to now. It features the work of many outstanding photographers and also features all their lyrics and photos of lots of memorabilia, notebooks, old drum sticks,  etc. I have been working closely with and documenting this band for years, and last year this idea about a photo book really kicked into high gear. I was asked to be the photo-editor so I had the big and exciting task of creating, organising, and editing down a huge library of images gathered from many photographers who had worked with the band. Finally, I had an edited library of amazing pictures (all titled, keyworded, etc.) covering everything from their very first recording session in 2012 up to 2019. I could then deliver this to the band and book designer, who then sat down together to design the book and create the final selection of the bands very favourite images. I am super proud of having been a part of this book, it is a huge coffee table book that looks amazing. But as I said, I just played a part in it, many fantastic people contributed to it. The very best part of it though is that it is a book for the fans. This is a book that will be seen and worshipped by thousands of fans. This is very exciting because it takes it out of the closed world of photography, I am not so much interested in making pictures or a book just for other photographers to like, this one is for the fans, fans who are not into photography as such but appreciate the incredible pictures of their favourite band.

Travel journals, photo books, and magazines give you a unique way to organize ideas and preserve memories. Do you have a personal or professional creative project you’d like to see in print? Find the perfect format today!     

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Format Spotlight: Tabloid

Written by Dan Milnor, photographer and Creative Evangelist for Blurb.

Before I get stuck into singing the praises of MagCloud’s Tabloid format, I have a confession to make. I distinctly remember myself saying this. “There is NO WAY I will EVER print anything that utilizes a wire bind.” I also remember I said this with authority as if I actually knew what I was talking about. Well, I didn’t, and I stand corrected. Feast your eyes on the MagCloud Tabloid.

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What you are looking at here is an 11×14, 8-page, wire-o bind Tabloid. The cost; a little under five bucks. My first impression; it’s huge. I’ve often wanted a larger portrait-style book and this tabloid works well to satisfy this need.

Even though I knew I wanted to use this to help promote my Blurb magazine project, I created this tabloid with no specific use in mind. I knew that once I saw this little creature I would find a use for it, and I have. My plan is to use the tabloid to catalog all the covers, so by the time I get a dozen issues under my belt this Tabloid will reflect the entire life of the magazine in single page replicas of each cover.

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The Tabloid is a true lay flat. In fact, it bends back on itself like a true wire bind. You could run images across the gutter but I think it works best with single-page images. The size is fantastic and really makes a statement when you place it on a table or desk. The pages are thick and the entire artifact feels super sturdy.

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How will I use it? I’ll use this when I’m at an event where I’m teaching or helping fellow book-makers understand how to best use the options at their disposal. I’ll have the magazines themselves, in multiple formats, and I’ll have my flyers to hand out, and my Tabloid to highlight all the covers and the history of the project. It’s a great size to pick up and flip through and it’s large enough for people to really see the detail of each cover.

Utilizing MagCloud in support of Blurb is not only strategic and affordable it’s also a lot of fun. Combining both platforms offers a nearly endless variety of creative expression.

 

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Format Spotlight: Digest

MagCloud Digest book made by Dan Milnor

Photographer Dan Milnor explores why setting creative limits is no bad thing, and why the Digest format is a great place to start.

Sometimes what we need to be successful book-makers is a good set of limits. Yes, you heard me, limits. We’ve been taught to believe that “no limits,” is always the best way, regardless of your pursuit, but I’m here to tell you otherwise. Setting limits, for some of us, is the only way we will ever see book-making success. Let me explain.

MagCloud, as I’ve written in the past, is a remarkable self-publishing platform. It really is. But MagCloud also offers a near-endless set of options. Magazine, 8×8 Square, Digest, Tabloid, Poster, Flyer, etc. Where do we begin? Why not make all of these things? Right now, like today? Well, that is one approach. But I find that many people get stymied by too many options and this is where our beloved limits come to life.

Make a Digest

I’m going to set a limit you for today. Digest. You are ONLY going to make a Digest. But why Digest? Well, for one, it’s my favorite of all the MagCloud offerings. And secondly,  it’s also the only small landscape format option you have, and my guess is that many of you shoot mostly in landscape format. Now, you do have the option of creating a portrait version with either saddle stitch or perfect bind, but these are the only options I’m leaving up to you.

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The Digest is a 5.25×8.25 in. publication that’s perfect for a portfolio, a mailer, a giveaway, or in my case, a business card. Yes, I use a MagCloud Digest as my business card. I created a fifty-page Digest that showcases the range of photography I create as well as some of the writing I do. When I meet someone I want to work with, I hand it over. The return has been remarkable because the Digest shows I can encapsulate an idea, that I can edit and sequence my work, and that I have an understanding of basic design principles.

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So, the next time you’re feeling stuck because you just can’t make up your book-making mind then think about setting a few limits. One format, twenty-pages, softcover, etc. This can be the spark that lights your creative fire and finally allows you to see your work in print.

 

The Difference Between Blurb and MagCloud

Magcloud_Digest_3Written by Dan Milnor, photographer and Creative Evangelist for Blurb.

If I had a dollar for every time someone asked me the difference between Blurb and Magcloud I would not be rich. Let me make that very clear. I would not be rich. However, I would be able to afford a mid-sized sedan. Maybe not the top-of-the-line package but the one with air conditioning and power windows, yep, that one for sure. I understand the curiosity which is why I’m writing this post. Let’s talk a little about the similarities, the differences and why I think Magcloud is such a wonderful platform.

Blurb acquired Magcloud in 2014, so the companies have been intertwined ever since. I’ve heard Magcloud described as the sister company to Blurb but I think any family member analogy works just fine. Cousin, brother, uncle or maybe even biological twin. Blurb and Magcloud are both printing platforms that allow for the user to make a variety of publications, in a variety of sizes and styles, with numerous material options. They both also offer a variety of design tools and the ability to sell your book or magazine through an online store from where your items can be shipped to destinations around the world. This is the kind of talk that gets bookmakers salivating. I know, I’m right there with you.

The World of MagCloud

Formats

Even though Magcloud has been connected to Blurb since 2014, the platform is unique and works not only as a stand-alone system but also as a wonderful companion to Blurb, or vice versa.  Magcloud offers a line of formats that are native to the system and entirely different from the Blurb offering. Magcloud offers Magazines, Pamphlets, Flyers, an 8×8 Square, Tabloid, Posters, a Digest in both landscape and portrait formats, and even a digital offering. Yes, quite a lineup, and within some of these categories there are even further options. The Flyer for example comes in five trim sizes!  The Tabloid comes in three different trim sizes and the Magazine is printable in both landscape and portrait format! Did I mention that Magcloud offers perfect binding, saddle stitch binding, and wire-o binding? And I’m only scratching the surface here.

Let me make a few suggestions about these formats. A Magazine could be used for telling a long-form story, or collaborating with other creatives on a specific theme or topic. You could use the Pamphlet format for a real-estate need or a newsletter. The Flyer is great for handouts, a program for a gallery show, or even as a mailer to your top clients. The Digest, which is my personal favorite, is wonderful for a portfolio, a look-book, or catalog. The Square also works as a portfolio or even as a photo book style publication. The Tabloid works as a cookbook or calendar and the poster is great as stand-alone artwork, or to accompany a book launch or signing. And finally, the digital option is great for a technical manual, a guide book, or even as a companion to a printed book or magazine.

Tools

Magcloud is also unique when it comes to its creation or design tools. If you already have a PDF ready for print then you can upload it directly. If you’re at the start of your project, Magcloud offers a wonderful template system which makes it incredibly easy to secure the right look for your precise publication style. You simply choose the format, the binding, and your software of choice then download that template and begin your masterpiece. Your favorite software could include Adobe InDesign, Adobe Photoshop, Pages for Mac, Microsoft Word for both PC and Mac, Microsoft Publisher and for those of you who prefer to go old-school, and I mean REALLY old school, you can even download a template for Quarkxpress.

How I use MagCloud

But what does all this mean? Why is Magcloud so important, so interesting, and so strategic? Let me share with you why I have been a consistent Magcloud user since 2007.

First, the quality of the printing. Magcloud printing is beautiful and utilizes acid-free and FSC-certified paper, which means it’s from responsibly managed forests and verified recycled sources. Magcloud publications are also recyclable, making it easy on consumers and the environment.

I also love the fact I have multiple binding options with Magcloud. Maybe I’m in a perfect binding mood or maybe I’m in a saddle stich frame of mind. Doesn’t matter because I have the options.

Then there’s the template system. I have no design background and even I can use these templates! The template system assures me I am working with precise dimensions regardless of what I’m attempting to build.

Next, I love the format options. My personal favorites are the Digest and 8×8 Square, but I have used just about every offering in the system and they all have strategic uses.

Finally, the cost. Magcloud is so inexpensive it can be astounding to see just how little you have to spend to get something that looks so great. Hint, there is a pricing calculator on the site!

Like any other printing platform, my advice is this. Start small, be fearless, and make a test book or magazine. An 8-page, Magcloud Digest is $1.28 per copy.  Yes, you read that correctly. And these are beautiful, strategic little objects that work well as a portfolio or even a business card. And again they are $1.28 per copy. What’s not to like? Learn from your test book and then move on to making your full scale opus.

Magcloud lives in a unique space in the printing world and should be on the top of your list for any print project that fits the platform. Blurb and Magcloud are related, yes, but each system offers its own pathway to book-making success.

The Perfect Project: Make a Poster

 

MagCloud Posters

When I was a young boy, I shared a room with my older brother Nick. The walls were covered in posters. Mine, if I remember correctly, were mostly Bruce Lee and Chuck Norris with maybe a solar system recap thrown in for good measure. My brother’s posters reflected the motocross and skateboarding icons of the day. And there was a Kiss poster. Yes, I distinctly remember a Kiss poster. The posters we had were beautiful and significant for two reasons. First, the size. The posters were large, not crazy big just larger than what we would have seen in a magazine, or a television screen. And two, the posters were simple. The images chosen were chosen by someone who could identify iconic images. And when you have a strong image you don’t need much else.

All these decades later, as I begin to embrace my life as a 50-something, I still have posters on my walls. Sure, I have other things as well including a lot of artwork. Paintings, graphics, and a seemingly endless number of photographs, both large and small. But the posters remain as well. My posters now reflect my current work projects. You see, I realized something. MagCloud offers posters. They are beautifully printed, arrive on stout paper, and are the perfect size for accenting my office and surrounding area.

MagCloud posters are either 12×18 in., or 18×12 in., depending on your preference and come with a standard UV coating, assuring their presence on your wall for quite some time. And they are shockingly inexpensive, coming in at just $2.00.

Why You Should Make a Poster

Posters, for me, are a reminder of my accomplishments. Sure, they add a visual element to my workspace but they also remind me of what I’ve been able to achieve. For example, my (so far) four-issue magazine series is represented by 4 different posters.

A poster is also so simple to create. When I need something simple to get me over the creative hump, the poster steps in nicely. One page, simple design, done, hit print, wait by the mailbox.

My goal? A wall of posters each reflecting an issue of my magazine. Sure, I’m still a great distance from realizing this goal but each time I inch closer the reality will be reflected in a 12×18 in. gem tacked up for the world to see.

Get started on your poster project today

2019 MagCloud Holiday Shipping Deadlines

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‘Tis the season for gifting! From custom posters to personalized calendars, MagCloud offers the tools and templates you need to create beautiful, one-of-a-kind holiday gifts for your clients, friends, and family.

To ensure your gifts and publications arrive in time for the holiday fun, be sure to place your orders by the dates below:

For delivery by December 24th* in the U.S., be sure to order by these dates:

UPS Ground: December 11th

UPS 3-Day Select: December 13th

UPS 2-Day: December 16th

UPS Next Day Air Saver: December 17th

For deliveries to destinations outside of the US, please check the shipping calculator.

Photography in Print: An Interview with Frank Jackson

Frank Jackson is a self-taught photographer, natural poet, and the artist behind these beautiful MagCloud books. In the run-up to his latest photography exhibition at the University of Groningen, we caught up with him to find out how he takes moments of inspiration from the camera to the page.

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01. Tell us about your creative process. Where does your inspiration come from? How do you decide what to photograph?

I take pictures because I can’t draw. I’m completely self-taught and I don’t believe you need a degree on a piece of paper to know what good photography or art is.

I don’t have a clear cut process or end goal when it comes to creative projects. Sometimes I happen to photography, sometimes photography happens to me. Sometimes I’ll go for weeks without taking a picture. Photography is all about understanding and mastering the light. How it falls, how it moves. You need to be ready to capture those moments of light when they happen.

I like to take photos that represent humanity, community, connection, or that remind us that someone was here. That’s why I first started taking photos of the elements that are left behind on the tables of coffee shops. These are always unposed images, taken just as they are. My books, double shot and triple shot combine these images with the deliberately posed photos I take with a specific coffee cup, which I’ve kept with me since I picked it up from a coffee shop in Berlin. The cup reminds me of me. It has cracks. It’s been through something. I carry it everywhere with me.

02. So many people are fearful or unsure of starting their own creative projects. What advice would you give them to help them take that first step?

Fear is an excellent motivator if you use it in the right way. And look at it this way. I feel fear about my upcoming exhibition. I don’t know who will show up or how it will go. But, I’d rather feel fear because I’m having an exhibition than not. And remember perfection doesn’t exist. So there’s no point aiming for it. Mistakes and imperfections are often what makes work interesting, even good. The trick is to like what you do, and to not be unhappy if other people don’t like it.

Words, yet no deeds
A poem by Frank Jackson, 1999

Fear
we spend most of our lives
trying to be
something else
somebody else.
then…(hopefully)in a clear moment(some clarity) you find yourself(?) somebody(YOU!) must learn to love even when it seems no one
else does.
in a small way everything is a collection of gestures toward REALITY.(is there a real world?)
FEAR/reality=REALITY/fear.
to believe the truth is understanding true fear.
BECAUSE to believe the truth is to admit we can no longer be strangers to reality……….
and that is the most frightening THING in the world.
WHAT! are you afraid of?
who you are
who you want to be
who you will never be
who you have become.
LOVE and MONEY don’t make the world go ’round
fear does.
(faith is common sense management of fear)
who do you love
what do you love
DO you love….you(?)

 

03. What is your go-to photography gear?

I always travel with at least two cameras on me.

I use a Sony A7r III because its small yet full frame and gets me wonderful detail in the digital files…but wait there is MORE!

I’m still also shooting with a number of film cameras:
Hasselblad 503cw medium format
Hasselblad Xpan panoramic
Leica M6 35mm
Baby Crown Graphic 2×3

Linhof 4×5

If I’m taking a shot that involves plenty of highlights, I will under-expose and then work on the shadows in post-processing to bring out the look and feel of a film photo.

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04. What would you say the role of photography is? Why is it important?

People today have a very short attention span. We are so visual. We want all the lights and the action… Only people who like to read will take the time to sit and pore over a publication. So a single image can be powerful. There’s a reason why the front cover of a magazine is so important.

Words illustrate the world and make you feel. Photos show you the world as it really is.

05. How has the industry changed over the course of your career as a photographer?

One of the biggest changes has been the rise of what I call social mediocrity. People post photos on social media just for followers and likes. They don’t know if the work they’re putting out is any good, they just rely on social feedback from their followers. People also seem to take more pictures of themselves or their food, which I don’t understand. I eat my food.

It used to be that you had a darkroom in which you processed your photos. You would have to wait. And film was very unforgiving, there was nowhere to hide.

06. What is your relationship to print? What role do you think print has in a digital world?

For me, photography isn’t alive until it’s in print. There’s nothing like having something to hold, something tangible. Printing your images means you don’t just love what you do, you like your work too. You want to share and celebrate it. Printing is the final act of photography.

Printing makes you a better photographer. It makes you examine your work in ways that you can’t on a screen.

Photography isn’t alive until it’s in print.

07. How do you approach the making of a photo book? Do you think photo books need to have a narrative or can they be a loose collection of images?

When I was making double shot, I scattered images all over the floor, stood back, and looked at them. Any images that didn’t stand out and catch my eye, I turned them over; they weren’t going in the book.

When I’m making a book I usually start with the cover. Once I have that, I know I’ve got a book in the making. For example, I already know what the cover of my new project ‘Twist of Fate’ will be.

There’s a difference between a portfolio and an Art Photography book. A portfolio is open-ended; images can be swapped in and out, it’s never really finished. An Art Photography book is a finished piece of work. Interestingly paid work is often won on the basis of these finished, curated pieces of art work, rather than your portfolio. In fact, that’s exactly how I ended up photographing Stevie Wonder!

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08. Why choose self-publishing as opposed to a more traditional route through a publishing company?

Look, I’m not Lenny Kravitz. No one is asking me to make a photography book, and make 500 copies knowing that it’s going to sell out before the exhibition. So if you don’t have that pull, self-publishing is the route you go down.

09. As an artist who self-publishes your own books, how do you market and promote your work?

I’m terrible at this aspect of self-promoting. But to be honest I want people who are drawn to me to find me. I do exhibitions and interviews with people in the industry, and I have prints, books, and postcards for sale. But I don’t push it.

10. Why Magcloud? What drew you to the platform?

Mainly it was the quality of the black and white printing. It’s something that people comment on whenever they look through my books. They think it must have been really expensive to print. But it wasn’t.

I also enjoy the Digest book because it’s not too big and not too small. It’s easy to look through. I’ve been in situations where I’m pitching for work, draw out the Digest book and the potential client is so happy to see something small and accessible rather than an oversized, cumbersome book.

11. What software do you use to design your books? Do you use the MagCloud templates or upload PDFs?

I use the Adobe InDesign templates for MagCloud projects. Outside of that I also use Affinity, which I can use on an iPad. I’d like to see some MagCloud templates for Affinity as it’s a popular tool amongst photographers.

12. How much does profit factor into your book-making process and decisions?

Money doesn’t mean anything to me. My advice to people looking to make a living off their creative work would be to keep doing your day job, so that money doesn’t have to factor into your creative process at all.

13. What project would you love to work on next?

I’m working on a book called Twist of Fate which will be a combination of photography and poetry.

Find out more about Frank’s projects. 

GO
A poem by Frank Jackson, 2010

go: here, see there…wander wide no corners cut. 

go: to be gone…make your past a face in the crowd. 

go: because it’s all behind you now. 

go: and take the long way home.

2018 MagCloud Holiday Shipping Deadlines

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With the holidays fast approaching, you may have already started work on the festive edition of your magazine, or started creating personalized gifts for clients, friends, and family.

To ensure your MagCloud holiday gifts and publications arrive in time for the festivities, be sure to place your orders by the dates below:

For delivery by December 24th* in the U.S., be sure to order by these dates:

UPS Ground: December 12th

UPS 3-Day Select: December 14th

UPS 2-Day: December 17th

UPS Next Day Air Saver: December 18th

For non-U.S. customers, please check the shipping calculator.

If you’re still very much in the idea stage of gift-making, there’s still time to create something special! Especially if you use one of our pre-designed templates. Get started today.

Happy Holidays!

 

 

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Panta: The Making of a Magazine

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PANTA is an independent magazine by Book a Street Artist that celebrates creative culture around the world. It features the work of emerging artists and writers and focuses on artistic and cultural initiatives that have the power to take on social, cultural and environmental issues. Art is for everyone, but often limited to an elite in the spaces of galleries, museums, theatres and concert halls. PANTA’s mission is to break this ideology and create a platform to support projects by creative talents who use their craft—be it street art, photography, design, illustration, writing, music, performance, architecture and other creative vocations—to try to make a positive impact on society.

 In the same rogue spirit of street art and getting projects out of galleries and into the world where they belong, PANTA is self-published through MagCloud. To find out more about the publishing power they found in MagCloud, we spoke to the creative and strategic minds behind Panta, an independent magazine that celebrates the power of creativity to address social, cultural and environmental issues around the world.

The magazine is beautiful. Who is to blame for starting all this?

Thank you! We work hard on it, so that’s always nice to hear. The culprits are Charlotte Specht, Guille Lasarte and Mario Rueda. Charlotte and Mario created a startup called Book a Street Artist and Guille sometimes took photos of the artists for them. Then one day, the three of us decided to make a little something ‘extra’ for the startup, just for fun and to fulfill our creative needs. And we divided the tasks rather well. Charlotte is in charge of production, Mario is in charge of marketing, and Guille does the design. But we all end up doing a little bit of everything.

The subtitle is “Book a Street Artist Magazine.” What does that mean and how did it drive the launch? 

Well, this is actually a subtitle we’re trying to get away from. The magazine is published by Book a Street Artist, but we don’t necessarily only feature pieces on artists in the agency’s portfolio. We do not—and never have—feature only street art. Since the beginning, the idea was to tell stories of artists of all kinds who have a strong message.

Your blend of ingredients of street art, photography, art, design, music, etc. is such a diverse mix of subjects.  What binds all these topics together?  

What binds them all together is their message and their objective, although sometimes we feature an artist’s work simply because we fall in love with it. We’re now trying to tag the magazine as an “artivism” magazine that showcases the work of artists who are trying to combine their craft with a good cause—be it social, cultural, political, environmental, and so forth. Art is a very strong tool to promote positive change, and we want to bring that to people’s attention, to show that there is much more to art than what we can find in the institutionalized art world. We are more interested in the bigger picture of what art has the power to achieve for communities and society at large. And there are so many artists doing great work out there, we wanted to have a channel to present it.

Art is a very strong tool to promote positive change, and we want to bring that to people’s attention, to show that there is much more to art than what we can find in the institutionalized art world.

Were there fears in starting your own magazine? Were you ever told “don’t bother?” 

No, mainly because we didn’t ask anyone, we just did it. We were ignorant of many things back then but since all three of us are very passionate about this project, we just said we’ll do what we want and learn as we go.

Was there a sales goal from the beginning or was it simply a desire to create your own publication that inspired you to begin publishing? 

Definitely the latter. The independent publishing scene is growing exponentially, and rarely are the publishers/editors solely interested in financial gain when they start an indie magazine. For us at least, it’s more about making something beautiful and celebrating art with a cause rather than making a lot of money. We curate the magazine carefully, and we always make sure the advertisers are in line with the magazine’s ideology.

So many creatives are fearful of starting their own “thing.” What advice would you have for them? 

Don’t ask too many people because everyone has an opinion. We don’t mean don’t listen and try to learn everything you can about something you’re interested in developing, but don’t bother with people who will go down the pessimistic route. Just go for it and, if possible, try to find partners to team up with who are as passionate about the project as you are. You will need them, and they will need you for support for the project to grow. No man is an island!

I would imagine doing your own magazine comes with all kinds of freedom as opposed to say working on assignment for someone else, but what are the limitations of self-publishing? 

Well the freedom is what we are after—no censorship, no adjusting things according to someone’s interests. That’s the beauty of independent publishing. That being said, the limits are, obviously, financial. We run a small ship and we want to grow, but it’s a big challenge.

Well the freedom is what we are after—no censorship, no adjusting things according to someone’s interests. That’s the beauty of independent publishing.

Why Magcloud? What would you love to see in the future with this platform? 

We didn’t want PANTA to be an “e-magazine” and exist solely online, but we didn’t have money to invest in a print run either. So Magcloud seemed like a great service to use for on-demand printing. It’s because of Magcloud that we were ever even able to see the magazine in its intended form—the print form—and for our readers to have it available for purchase online.

How do you find your contributors? 

Endless hours of research! And over the years, we’ve created a strong network of regular contributors who form the PANTA family.

What is the dream story you haven’t yet been able to run? Or the dream interview that eludes you? 

There are many artists who are doing amazing work for important causes who are way too busy or simply non-reachable for an interview. We don’t want to mention specific names because we haven’t given up on reaching them yet!

 What is the one thing you need that you don’t have? 

A suitcase full of cash for a larger print run and other PANTA-related investments we’d like to do!

Order your copy of the latest issue of Panta Magazine through the online MagCloud shop, available in both print and digital formats. Feeling inspired? Create, print, share, and sell your own publication with MagCloud. Get started!

Alex Ogle and Kickstarter Success

Alex Ogle is one of our favorite artists, comic book makers, and illustrators, and he recently financed an art book through Kickstarter. We were lucky enough to catch up with him and chat about his success.

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First things first, why do a Kickstarter for a print-on-demand comic book project?

Depending on your success level, print-on-demand can be a great resource. Comics are traditionally printed in the largest numbers possible to lower the cost of each book. With my first successful Kickstarter, I had 214 backers and my lowest level to include books was $18. That is many times higher than the current comic book cover price. This helps cover costs on a quick-turnaround, small run that can be shipped out immediately to your backers. Traditional printing minimums are often around 500 copies and take much longer to get the books in-hand.

The nice thing about on-demand is I can get extremely small runs like 50 copies before my next convention within days, not weeks. I feel like now is a great time to be making indie comics this way.

How did you determine your reward levels?

You should always take into account shipping the books to yourself, printing costs, packaging, and shipping to your backers. This can give you a real cost-of-production per book. But the best way to start is to write out your levels with what feels right to you as a consumer and what would appeal to you. Then, run the numbers and make sure you are covered on all your levels. The most important thing is to make an interesting and fun product.

How much overall planning and number crunching did you do?

I go over the numbers until I feel comfortable. I think it is important to make sure there is enough profit (above cost) to cover the unexpected. If you are prepared, then your project has the greatest chance to be an amazing experience.

Getting backers is key, of course, to success. The big question is: How do you get them?

Do something interesting and tell everyone! I made postcard-sized announcements and gave them out at several comic conventions. I posted on message boards about my art and included info about the campaign. I shared images on social media and even tried some paid social media ads. (I’ve never had much return on any paid ads, so it’s probably not the way to go from my experience.)

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You’ve done four Kickstarter campaigns, and three were successful—which is a pretty good success rate since the overall Kickstarter success rate is reported to be about 40%. What did you learn from that first one that didn’t get fully funded?

One thing you should know about Kickstarter is that you can’t delete the campaign if it fails. My first campaign was about getting back into creating comics. I made a simple campaign about that only. The problem is I didn’t focus at all on the produced product of the campaign. It’s pretty much a perfect example of what not to do.

It seems like you’ve used practically the whole MagCloud arsenal. How many formats have you used, and which is your favorite?

So far, I’ve used Standard, Digest, Tabloid, and Poster. My favorite is Tabloid. I love showing off the 11×17 version of “The Changing Tales” at conventions. It really looks like something special in that scale.

Did you use our Group Ship option for any of your backer levels? (This is the ability to send out books to multiple addresses through a single order)

In the past, I have preferred to hand-sign all the books which have held me back from using the service. Possibly in the future, I’ll give an option for an unsigned, directly-shipped version.

Any parting tips for others looking to Kickstart their projects?

Be entertaining and you will do well!