Photographer and visual artist Adi Ashkenazi was simply looking for a way for artists to meet, collaborate and share their work when he launched his W25 Magazine Web site (w25mag.com) in late summer 2008. Since then, the site has become a community portal for artists, featuring art, photography, fashion, style and music.
Photographers, illustrators, art directors, musicians and others in the expressive arts register with the site and freely submit their work, as well as their ideas and comments. Known for its edgy, trendy focus, the site became an instant hit — just as Ashkenazi anticipated.
“I was interested in seeing other people’s projects — I think all artists are,” he says. “I created the site as a ‘home’ for all artists. I wanted to show not only well-known artists with proven portfolios, but any artist with an artistic soul. W25 is where art lives and evolves.”
Originally from Tel Aviv, Ashkenazi has made New York City his artistic home since 1998. The magazine’s W25 title comes from his West 25th street address. He began making photographs as a youth, and today shoots commercial and fine photography. His art is featured in exhibits around the world.
It wasn’t long before contributors and visitors to the W25 Magazine Web site began asking for a print magazine — a request that Ashkenazi wanted to fulfill, but had no budget for mass printing.
“I started looking for a print-on-demand solution and found MagCloud just by searching the Web,” he says. “I liked that MagCloud didn’t have any upfront costs and that we didn’t have to commit to any sort of minimum order. I also like the concept of printing based strictly on orders that people place so that we’d never have wasted paper. Keeping our operation green is important to me.”
Ashkenazi asked some artist friends to help him select several unusual fashion photographs and illustrations for the first print issue, which appeared in October 2008 ($12.50). Ashkenazi does all the design and layout himself, and he promotes the magazine through the W25 Magazine Web site, a Facebook group (now nearing 1,000 members) and by word of mouth. He also receives quite a bit of media and art-related blog coverage.
Now, eight issues later, Ashkenazi remains just as pleased with the results as he did from the beginning.
“From the very first proof, MagCloud’s quality has been beautiful,” Ashkenazi says. “I’ve tried a few other vendors just to compare, and they are a far cry from what MagCloud can do.”
Demand for newspapers and general news magazines may be on the decline, but Ashkenazi says magazines like his will continue to grow in popularity. “People like to buy unique magazines and artsy magazines,” he says. “These are not the kind of magazines you read and throw away. These are the kind of magazines you keep and collect.”
And the kind of magazine where artists like to see their work showcased. Ashkenazi receives so many quality submissions each week from all over the world that he’s revised his original bimonthly publishing schedule to a monthly one. He accepts published and unpublished work for consideration, looking primarily for pieces that stretch the boundaries of self-expression.
“I like simple yet sophisticated work, and I’m interested in the way something is presented and the story behind it,” he says. “I wouldn’t publish anyone specifically because of what he or she has done in the past. I just look at the art, itself.”
Ashkenazi notes that the site and magazine require a significant amount of personal time on his part. He includes his own work only occasionally, and never as a leading feature. So why spend so much time promoting others?
“This is a community that I wanted to build — I get a lot of satisfaction from it,” Ashkenazi says. “I receive emails from artists all the time, thanking me for sharing their art. They’ll say something like, ‘I was so down and something nice finally happened when you published my work.’ It makes me feel really good.”
Ashkenazi often suggests MagCloud to other artists for use as a promotional tool. “Putting portfolios together costs a fortune these days,” he says. “But with MagCloud, you can put together an issue of your work and submit it to your clients every few months. It’s an amazing niche in the market.”
Ashkenazi is confident that W25 Magazine will continue to grow, and that he’ll eventually hire staff members and attract advertisers. That MagCloud makes the print process so easy, he says, is reason enough for others interested in publishing to give it a try.
“If you want to make something that people will buy, why not do it?” he says. “And with MagCloud, it doesn’t cost you a dime. If W25 Magazine starts getting, say, 50,000 orders, I will consider other options. But for now, print-on-demand is perfect, and MagCloud delivers the best quality out there. It makes everybody happy.”