Under the Gum Tree: A Literary Magazine

For 10 years, Under the Gum Tree has offered writers and artists around the world a place to tell their truth. So often, even our most personal work is shaped by the expectations of others. But on the pages of this micro-magazine, contributors are encouraged to ‘tell stories without shame’ through the mediums of creative nonfiction and visual art. Each edition comprises personal essays, photo essays, and artwork, and with over 30 back issues available, there’s plenty to explore. We caught up with founder and editor, Janna Marlies Maron to learn all we could about this unique publication.

The tagline for Under the Gum Tree, ‘Tell stories without shame’, feels very empowering. Where did this phrase come from? In your experience, what prevents people from telling real stories without shame?

Telling stories without shame grew out of my own experience. In my twenties and early thirties I really struggled with my own sense of self and identity, trying to figure out who I was on my own, separate from how I had been raised. Writing about my experiences, turning them into something beautiful, separate from myself, was integral to my own healing. I experienced first hand the healing power of writing about and sharing my personal story, and I wanted to provide an outlet for others to do the same. 

You describe Under the Gum Tree as a micro-magazine. Could you tell us more about the key features of this format and why it felt right for your publication?

Micro-magazine is less about the format and more about the size of our audience and operating budget. We’re not a commercial magazine and we never will be. We don’t have ads or sponsors, and we serve a small, dedicated audience. These decisions made sense for the type of magazine Under the Gum Tree is because I want the visual and literary art to be front and center, free from distraction. I want to produce a magazine with a high production quality in terms of paper, full color, a glossy cover, that elevates the way the art is presented in our pages. Decisions like these are not always possible at larger publications, where editors have to worry about the bottom line. 

How do you compose each edition of the magazine? Do you try to include pieces with a similar theme? Do the pieces included in each issue need to complement each other? 

We’re a literary magazine first and foremost, and in the literary world writers submit their work to be considered for publication. So we accept submissions and our team of volunteer readers and editors reviews everything in the queue. From there, we make decisions about what to include in each issue based on what we have accepted. We don’t do themes, but we do have themed departments in each issue. Some of our departments include Sound Track (music), Fork and Spoon (food), Stomping Ground (growing up), Those Who Wander (travel), 24 Frames (film). These departments are for personal stories exploring how the different theme or focus affects our lives, shapes us into who we are (not reviews or critique).  

We also include two visual artists every issue: one featured on the cover and interior pages between stories, and one photographer with a photo essay. With the magazine being published quarterly, we usually try to select art for each issue that evokes the mood or tone of the season. 

How did your team of designers, illustrators, and writers find each other?

This magazine would not exist without our amazing volunteer staff. I started with just a few friends who I recruited to help me, and Robin Martin, my managing editor has been with me since the beginning. Others on the team have found us thorough Craigslist ads, Instagram, or writing conferences. Sometimes we recruit, but other times people reach out to ask about getting involved. I’ve been very lucky to have the opportunity to work with such talented people, all of whom seem to find us at just the right time.

You’ve been publishing with MagCloud for nearly 10 years. What is it about the platform that works well for Under the Gum Tree?

When I first started the magazine, I used MagCloud exclusively for our print version. It was an easy and cost effective way for me to do smaller print runs. I think the first issue I printed maybe 40 copies, which is unheard of with traditional printers. These days I do a larger print run with a printer to fulfill subscriptions and our small newsstand distribution, but MagCloud serves as our point of sale for individual print copies. It’s the perfect solution for us because I don’t have to keep inventory on hand or fulfill individual orders myself. The idea that a single issue can be purchased, printed, and sent directly to the customer is a dream. It saves me so much time, and I’ve always been impressed with the print quality as well. 

What advice would you give someone who wants to publish their own micro magazine? What do you wish you’d known when you started?

This is a hard question for me to answer because if I had known when I started how much work publishing a magazine would be, I probably wouldn’t have done it! But I’m the type of person who sets her mind to something, figures things out along the way, and recruits all the help I can get. I started the magazine to see how it would go, and I honestly had no idea that I’d still be publishing it 10 years later.

In a time when content is so readily available online, why do you think printed collections like Under the Gum Tree are still so highly valued and coveted? 

Because it’s gorgeous. When I started the magazine I assumed that people would subscribe and buy the digital version—it’s cheaper, more accessible, less clutter, etc. But every year I am more and more surprised that people consistently choose the print version over the digital. It’s a tactile experience, with the gloss of the full-color art, the thickness of the paper—the print version offers a way for readers to engage with the art, adding beauty to their everyday life when it’s displayed on their coffee tables or bookshelves. 

Each edition of Under the Gum Tree offers an abundance of thought-provoking inspiration. Where do you look for personal and artistic inspiration? 

I’m inspired by stories, both listening and reading. That includes a good podcast, hearing an author read her work, socializing with friends. That includes reading published books, client manuscripts, the submission queue. Regardless of the story, I’m constantly in awe of and inspired by learning from others, how we all continue to wrestle with, process, and overcome the struggles we face in life.

How do your roles as an editor, author, podcast host, and coach overlap and complement each other? 

Everything I do is in support of telling and sharing true personal stories. I do this work by publishing the magazine, featuring writers on my podcast, and working with authors as an editor and coach to help them finish their book manuscripts. I believe in the healing power of personal storytelling, and the world needs more of us to share ourselves with each other. My work is in service of that purpose. 

Check out the Spring 2021 issue of Under the Gum Tree and explore over 30 more editions.

11 Tips for Photographing Spring

Spring is an exciting time to have your camera in hand. The natural world is in bloom, so you can look forward to more daylight hours, warmer temperatures, and even a brighter outlook! Use the change in seasons to get inspired, explore new photography subjects, and enjoy a fresh perspective. 

Here are some spring photo tips to guide you as you venture out into the world. 

1. Tell a Color Story  

It’s a vibrant world in March, April, and May! Natural landscapes and city streets are alive with color—from flowers to fashion trends—so follow those hues. Add a pop of color to your photos. Seek out bright patterns and textures to use as a backdrop or fill part of your photo. You can even create a series of pictures using a single color as your inspiration. 

2. Try New Techniques 

Springtime is all about new beginnings, so apply the same approach to your photography practice. Take a new lens out for a spin, or experiment with manual settings on your camera. Try a new photography technique you’ve read about, like long exposures or bracketing images. 

3. Light the Way 

No matter what you photograph, good lighting is essential. Use the intensity of the light and how it interacts with your subject to tell a visual story. Soft light at dawn or dusk creates a quieter, serene mood, while strong, midday sun can have you battling harsh shadows and blown out highlights. A dramatic, backlit image can be effective as long as you plan for it. So give yourself time to experiment and find the best lighting for each photo. 

4. Find Symbols of Spring 

Choosing a theme can be just the motivation you need to start a new photo project. Step outdoors and have fun capturing all the classic symbols of spring. Blossoming trees and flowers, bright umbrellas and galoshes, rainbows, birds and other wildlife can renew your curiosity and creativity behind the camera. 

5. Follow the Activity 

It’s a bustling time of year as people and animals emerge from their winter slumber, so notice where everyone gravitates on warm spring days and go there! The season is also full of social events and celebrations (graduations, weddings, parties). If you’re visiting family and friends, bring your camera so you can photograph people dancing, kids playing, frisbees flying, and pets on the go. 

6. Get a Fresh Perspective 

Spring is a time of transition, so why not change things up? Instead of taking photos at eye level, try different vantage points. Get down low to capture bright blooms and sprouting foliage in a garden, then turn your lens upward and try framing clouds, trees, skylines, or buildings in unexpected ways. Mix up your approach to portraits too!

7. Add a Sun Flare 

Usually you want to prevent strong glare in photos because it can detract from the subject. As a spring challenge, see what happens when you let a sun flare take center stage. Using a smaller aperture will produce stronger, more defined flares, while wide open apertures will soften the glow. As you compose the shot, see how other objects (branches, windows, lakes) play into the shot. 

8. Focus on Flowers 

Sometimes photographers need to stop and smell the flowers. Pull out your macro lens or use the macro setting on your camera to take some close-ups in the garden. If you’ve never used a macro lens, this can be a huge game-changer as you explore colors, details, and textures in a whole new way. 

9. Go with the Flow 

Rain showers come and go as they please in spring, so there’s no sense in trying to fight them. Use the weather changes to experiment with light, contrast, movement, and even blur. Notice the dramatic shift in colors and lighting as clouds roll in, follow people and objects caught in a sudden burst of wind, or play with reflections in puddles. 

10. Pick an Observation Spot 

Just as you can learn a lot by shooting photos on the go, you can also discover new things if you stay in one spot and focus on your surroundings. Pick a park bench or a café on a busy street, and see which subjects catch your eye. If you usually take photo walks with a specific goal in mind, this is a way to open up your creative practice and find beauty in stillness. 

11. Start Early or Stay Up Late 

When is the last time you woke up early to photograph a sunrise or stayed up late to do long exposures of the night sky? Use the longer days of spring to extend your photo shoots and think outside your normal routine. This will also give you a chance to adjust your camera settings and learn about different qualities and challenges of daytime or nighttime lighting.   

Once you have a collection of new images on your camera roll, you can start editing them and planning your next print piece.

Meet Your New Business Card: The Digest

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

One thing is for certain, 2020 has been a challenging year. But things are starting to look up and many of us are looking at 2021 as a year to return to the creative world with vigor. Regardless of current circumstances, there is a lot of wonderful work being produced but making work is only half of the story. The other half is getting that work out into the world and delivering it in a way that gains the attention it deserves. One way to do this is to turn the expected into the unexpected.

I do this by using a very atypical “business card.” Sure, we live in the Digital Age, but print is still my preferred delivery mechanism for getting my work in front of clients. I work full-time for Blurb so my days of doing nothing but photography are over, but I do still meet people and brands I want to work with. And when I do, I utilize my “business card” to get their attention.

What is my “business card”? Good question. Currently, my card is a 50-page MagCloud Digest that highlights the range of my skills but also the range of work that I like doing. This is more than my contact information. This printed piece is a testament to who I am as a creative person. My MagCloud Digest has a section about documentary photography, another about portraiture, and even a section about some of the writing I’ve done. There is enough content on these pages for someone to truly begin to understand who I am, not just what I do.

Why did I choose Digest? Well, there are several reasons. First, the size. The Digest is a 5.25” by 8.25” publication that can printed in either portrait or landscape aspect ratio. I used landscape because many of my images were made in landscape format. I also love the fact this format isn’t super formal. Digest is approachable and feels like something you want to pick up. MagCloud makes it simple by offering one paper choice and one cover choice so the only decision I had to make was what content I wanted to include on those pages. And finally, price. The Digest is so affordable I can order 10 or 20 at a time and not have to worry about budget.

I don’t send this business card to just anyone. I reserve this little item for those clients I truly find intriguing, the clients I want to find a way to work with regardless of whether or not they have ever heard of me. There is something so wonderful about receiving something in the post. Print forces me to make decisions about my work I might not have made in the digital space. I need to choose a cover, sequence my images, and then find the right design. Good clients understand this and appreciate receiving something with thought behind it.

Make the most of new opportunities in 2021 with a stand-out business card. Start creating.

Holiday 2020: Shipping Deadlines

Our carriers are experiencing extraordinarily heavy shipping volume, so we recommend placing your order immediately. While our carriers can’t guarantee delivery dates, we suggest UPS 2-Day or Next Day Air Saver shipping for the fastest possible delivery. 

‘Tis the season for gifting! From custom posters to personalized calendars, MagCloud offers the tools 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., we recommend ordering by:

UPS Ground: December 9th

UPS 3-Day Select: December 14th

UPS 2-Day: December 15th

UPS Next Day Air Saver: December 16th

*Shipping dates subject to change

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

Tips & Tricks for Creating a Zine

If you’re already a fan of zines, you know they are an amazing way to share art and ideas—with total creative freedom. If you’re new to zine culture, welcome to the wide (and sometimes wild) world of DIY publishing.

Zines are basically self-published booklets that are produced inexpensively, in a small print run, for quick distribution. Traditionally, they were handmade, xeroxed, and stapled in small batches, then passed out free or sold cheaply, making them accessible and affordable for everyone involved. Some early zines were created by science fiction fans in the 1930s, but the rise of zine culture is more closely tied to the punk music scene (1970s and 80s) and the feminist riot grrrl movement (1990s).

Today artists, writers, and activists still use zines as a mode of social, political, and creative expression outside of mainstream publishing. Zines are incredibly versatile and made for experimentation. Some are glossy and high-design, some are edgy and free form. At its heart, the zine format is about DIY creation, making your own rules, and a free exchange of ideas. You can start a conversation or share creative work.

Choosing a Theme (or Not)

Zines can be anything you want them to be. You are the creator, editor, and self-publisher, so think about what excites you most. Art. Poems. Comics. Photography. Music. Illustration. Flash fiction. Animals. Portraits. Travel. Interviews. Recipes. Gardening. Doodles. Graphic design. You can be spontaneous (challenge yourself to create a zine in 24 hours) or think long term (collect text and images on a specific topic). There are no limits—unless you want there to be.

Ideas & Inspiration

You may have already started brainstorming, but here are some ideas to build on:

Photo essay: Turn a set of Polaroids or digital images into a visual story, with or without captions.

Music: Use song lyrics or favorite concert photos as inspiration for a series of poems, stories, or illustrations.

Text/image projects: Exciting things happen when you put stories and text together.

Places: Collect stories, quotes, pictures, or ephemera that remind you of cities and landscapes you love. 

Collage: Layer text and drawings with your own photographs or magazine cutouts to create an avant-garde assemblage with cool patterns and visual textures.

Top 10 lists: Funny, serious, or surreal—who doesn’t love a good list?

Nature: Create an ode to local flora and fauna. Scan and collage images of leaves and flowers, to mix in with photos, drawings, and text.  

Weekly or monthly editions: Launch a regular zine series, with each edition featuring writing, drawings, or photos from the past week or month.


Creating zines is a fantastic way to connect with writers, artists, and makers far and wide. Here are a few things to try as you forge your own indie publishing collective:

  • Find someone working in a different artistic medium than you and combine forces (writer + photographer, poet + illustrator, musician + graphic designer). The possibilities are endless!  
  • Invite friends and members of your creative community to contribute work. You might take turns editing and publishing editions.
  • Make sure everyone is on board and establish some basic guidelines (e.g. how contributors are credited or compensated, who owns the rights to content after publication).

Layout & Design

Despite the relatively simple concept of zines, you have some exciting creative choices to make.

  • How will the look and feel of your zine relate to the ideas and images inside?
  • Is there a style, color palette, font type, or visual flow that fits the overall theme? Clean lines and layouts, or cut-and-paste collage? Black and white, or multicolor?
  • If you create a series, will some elements of the cover, design, and typeface be consistent, or will each issue look totally different?

There’s no right or wrong answer here. Maybe you just want to print a one-off zine and see what happens. Go for it!


Holding a zine in your hands is part of the appeal, so the size and heft do factor into a reader’s experience. Check out MagCloud’s Magazine, Digest (half-size), and Square Booklet formats to find the right trim size and binding style for your custom zine.

Staying on Budget

One advantage of the zine format is its simplicity, which keeps production costs down. It’s easy to replicate the DIY print model and get a unique look while staying within a limited budget (you can design, publish, and distribute a zine without leaving home). Plus, all MagCloud projects give you the flexibility of print on demand (customers can order 1 copy or 100), so you never risk overprinting and underselling. If funds are tight, set a maximum page count for your project. You can always put the profits from your first zine to fund a second issue.


If you make a collaborative zine, be sure to send contributors copies to distribute. Then it’s up to you whether to sell it online through your own MagCloud storefront or personal website, or hand it out at shops, events, and festivals. It’s all about putting your creative work out into the world, so have fun sharing your zine with friends and fans.


Cultivating a Creative Life: Photographer Nick Tauro Jr.

For photographer Nick Tauro Jr., creative expression is a way of life—and self-publishing is a big part of it. The process of designing unique, interactive formats for viewers to experience his photography is just as important as the images themselves. He spoke to photographer Dan Milnor about everything from camera gear and musical influences to creating a self-sustaining artistic practice.

Dan: Before we begin, I want to explain to people who you are and how you work. You don’t work full-time as a photographer, but you are one of the most prolific and productive photographers I know, even managing to do nonstop collaborations with other creatives scattered around the globe. Who ARE you and how is this possible? Can you tell us or is this top secret?

Nick: I’m just a passionate creator . . . that’s the simple answer. I do have a day job, which is actually in the world of media and advertising. But my photography, my self-publishing . . . that is all mine. I’m not doing it for a paycheck, which grants me the freedom to do whatever I want with it. I had a bit of an epiphany a few years ago when I was reminded that life is really short, and I did not want to ignore this deep desire to make my art and share it with others. My wife and I both live a creative life. There’s no kids and no pets. My photos, my art . . . these are my passions and what I hope will be a positive contribution to the world. I don’t know how many spins around the sun I have, but I don’t want to leave anything on the table when I go.

Dan: Is there a common goal for most of your projects? Sell a certain number of copies? Recognition? Pure artistic expression?

Nick: I’d say all three, though mostly just to be able to express myself, regardless of whether 2 or 200 people end up buying a book or zine. The more work I produce, the more I realize that I enjoy the entire process of bringing my vision to a tangible finished product. I have a very strong aversion to photos being seen on a screen as their final destination. There is no substitute for seeing a photo in a frame on the wall, or even better, in a book or a zine. Tactile, face to face, having time to pay attention to the photos. After I got bit by the print on demand bug, I realized that the joy of shooting extended into the process of image selection, sequencing, laying out the book design, and finally, getting that final printed piece in my hands.

Photography by Nick Tauro Jr.

Dan: What’s in your bag? Just kidding. No seriously.

Nick: I have way too many film cameras that I like to play with. I usually bounce between a classic Pentax K1000, a Holga, or my sweet Kyocera Samurai half-frame. When I shoot digital (which is a rare thing lately) I like to put a Lensbaby on my DSLR to degrade the pristine image quality and bring some surprise and serendipity to the process. I will say that no matter what camera I use, I never carry more than one with me at a time. My photo buddies like to bust my chops that they never see me with a camera in my hands, so I guess I keep my gear under wraps most of the time.

Dan: For someone like you, the arrival of print on demand must have been a memorable day. What does it do for a storyteller like you?

Nick: I love having an affordable, accessible outlet for my work. Both Blurb and MagCloud make it super easy to pursue an idea and get it into print, quickly and cost-effectively. Even if I only print one copy of something just for myself. It is such a wonderful service, and the quality for the price is outstanding. There is literally no barrier anymore to getting your work out in the world. I’m a big believer in circumventing the gatekeepers, and self-publishing allows me to do just that.

Dan: Even though Blurb and MagCloud are related, they are both very different systems and offerings. What in particular about MagCloud works for you and what doesn’t?

Nick: I think MagCloud is a great balance between price, quality, and ease of use. I’m not too keen on hardcover books, which is really the thing I’d go to Blurb for, that and additional paper choices. That’s the one thing . . . I wish I had a bit more choice of stock through MagCloud.

Dan: Is there one MagCloud format that most resonates? Your favorite?

Nick: My favorite is the 8×8 Square Booklet, usually perfect bound. That’s sort of my “go-to” format. I find that the square format gives me a lot of flexibility to mix and match vertical and horizontal photos in my layouts. What’s really satisfying is when you line up all my books on a bookshelf, it brings consistency to my entire body of work. I also like running the book title along that skinny spine.

Square Booklet

Dan: One of the things I LOVE about MagCloud is the products are so inexpensive, which means if your goal is to sell something you can still mark it up and offer it at acceptable prices. Do you sell your projects and what has been the response?

Nick: I do sell just about everything I print. I try to be realistic about the size of my audience, so I don’t run too many copies beforehand. There’s nothing worse than having a stack of unsold books in my office. I will say that I have nurtured a small list of subscribers via my website, who form the core of my audience. These are the folks who I can rely on to buy whatever I put out. So that has helped gauge demand somewhat. I also like to print, release, sell, and move on. If I only run 10 or 20 copies of a title, once they are gone, they are gone. MagCloud in particular allows me to produce books and zines that are at a price point that most folks will still consider a purchase that’s not a huge investment, and I’m able to pour any profit into my next project. It has worked out to be a self-sustaining endeavor, for which I am grateful.

Dan: I noticed that many of your projects are based on a multitude of objects: CDs, books, magazines, card sets, etc. Why do this and how do you decide which objects to make?

Nick: I am a big music junkie, which includes owning a ridiculously large vinyl LP collection. I am also very interested in graphic design and packaging. So I try to instill some of these influences into my work. Often my zine titles are inspired by particular songs or bands. I’ll throw in a Pavement or Joy Division reference, just to see if anyone is paying really close attention. I also love playing with different formats, since I want to give the viewer a unique experience when they engage with my photos. The delivery platform is something some photographers might not consider, but I think it’s really just another way to differentiate yourself from the crowd. For example, my latest project comes in a record sleeve, a CD case, and cassette case formats! Also, I’ve had the good fortune to collaborate with a number of great musicians over the years, which has been really satisfying creatively. That was always a dream of mine as a kid when I would have my headphones on and listen to an album, looking at the artwork on the sleeve, and imagine that one day, that could be my work on there.

Photography by Nick Tauro Jr.

Dan: MagCloud offers many different software options for creating your publications. What is your preferred path?

Nick: When it comes to my work, I’m a bit of a control freak, so I prefer to use InDesign to layout my publications. The MagCloud and Blurb PDF export settings make it super easy to go to print.

Dan: What’s on your MagCloud wish list? What do you want?

Nick: I would love a newsprint option! That’s one stock I have yet to print on, but I’m sure it would be a blast. I could publish my own photo weekly gazette, and sell them on the street corner.

There’s nothing like seeing your best work in print. Explore the creative possibilities and discover the MagCloud format that inspires you.



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!     


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.


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.


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.


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.



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


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.


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.