Q+A with Merritt Design’s Jennifer Koskinen

No sooner did Jennifer Koskinen begin using MagCloud to showcase her architectural photography work than she found herself designing MagCloud magazines for her clients, too – quickly parlaying her architectural firm into a photography and graphic design boutique. In fact, MagCloud was a source of inspiration for transforming her architectural skills into graphic design skills.

“I love the creativity of designing photographs and then thinking of how to best present them,” Koskinen says. “MagCloud makes it easy and affordable to experiment with design ideas and try new things.”

  How did your architecture work lead to your new career in photography?

Jennifer Koskinen I fell in love with photography when I got my first camera in the eighth grade. But I’d never considered working as a photographer. I pursued a career in architecture, instead.

After a few years of design work, my firm hired me to shoot scouting photos of one of our projects in pursuit of publication. So I submitted my photographs to a magazine, thinking they’d send their own photographer to reshoot them.

The magazine loved what I sent and wanted to publish them. It was just the validation I needed to start shooting more, and soon I realized that I felt more creative photographing architecture than designing it. I absolutely love photography! It’s hard to believe that I get to do this for a living!

  How did MagCloud inspire you in your graphic design business?

JK I started creating my own magazines with MagCloud to give to existing and potential clients. Everyone loved them, right from the start, and wanted me to design magazines for them, too. I’ve created eight MagCloud magazines so far for other architects, builders, chefs, jewelry designers and so forth, with two more in the works. My clients in turn use the magazines to market their work, which makes for fabulous co-marketing for all of us!

  How did you get started publishing through MagCloud?

JK I’d been interested in self-publishing in general, but could find solutions only for books. When I came across MagCloud, I was immediately excited. The first thing I designed was a magazine for my architectural photography. The magazine format was intriguing, so I even wrote stories and included advertisements for some of my clients.

  How has MagCloud made a difference?

JK Next to my website, distributing my MagCloud magazines to potential clients is the most important thing I can do to attract business. I love the reaction that I get from people when I hand them out. People visibly respond to something they can hold in their hands and flip through at their own pace. I see them feel the paper and the weight of it. The pages hold the color so well. It’s one thing to see my images on a computer monitor – it’s nice to see them in print, too.

There’s nothing else out there that beats the quality and the price point better than these magazines. They’re invaluable, and they give my business credibility. There’s no doubt that my sales have dramatically increased because of MagCloud.

  What tips would you give to someone new to self-publishing?

JK Dive in. When I set out to design something, I look at things I love, study graphical trends, fonts, proportions – even white space and how it’s used. It’s really fun to play with, and MagCloud’s templates make everything so easy. I recommend studying what you like and then creating something that’s your own, including things you’ve noticed and like in other people’s designs. Have fun and try things you’ve never done.

  If your publication were a superhero, who would it be?

JK Pixelgirl! She’s a stylish superhero who can fly – cameras in tow – from location to location, harnessing her amazing powers of composition and her ability to capture the most dynamic subjects in the most beautiful light. And she gets home in time to cook dinner for her son!

MagCloud for Students

Earlier this week, we touched on ways that teachers can use MagCloud for everything from class assignments to printing coursework, but MagCloud can be a great resource for students too. Today we’ll look at a few ways that students can use MagCloud for both schoolwork and extracurricular activities.

Thesis and Final Projects

As we are nearing the end of the school year, many students are likely working to complete a thesis or final project. MagCloud offers a great option for publishing these works, whether you are writing a text-heavy dissertation or putting together a more visual project culminating a study in design or photography.

For text-based works, the MagCloud Standard product can be used for printing and binding up to 384 letter-sized pages, with printing in full color to accommodate both text and any corresponding images and graphics, and a perfect binding that gives your publication a professional look and feel. At the same time, you can make your publication available in a digital format, for viewing as a PDF download or in the recently updated MagCloud application on the iPad.

For students completing projects in an area of art or design, our Square and 8.5” x 5.5” Digest products are both great options for showing off graphic works that are anywhere from 2 to 384 pages long. With a single PDF upload, you’ll be able to create a high quality printed piece that does justice to the work you’ve put into your project, and also have the option for a digital version that can be viewed on any computer or mobile device.

Example Publications:
Photography Series
MFA Thesis
High School Senior Project
BFA Thesis Process Documentation
Graduate Thesis Process Book

Portfolios

For students studying architecture or design, as well as those with a more literary or journalistic focus, having a portfolio of work is of great importance, particularly looking beyond the school year. Whether you’re interviewing for an internship, applying to schools, or looking for a job, having a strong portfolio of your past work will likely be an important factor in achieving your goal. As we’ve discussed before, using MagCloud to publish your portfolio offers a number of convenient options, both during school and beyond.

While you are in school, you can easily update your portfolio on the MagCloud site as you complete new work, simply by uploading a new PDF to your MagCloud account. You’ll also have the option to keep your portfolio private, so only you can see it, or make it public for others to browse on the MagCloud website. When it comes time to apply for the position or program you want, you can order as few or as many print copies of your portfolio as you need, or even direct mail copies to a list of addresses. You can also offer a digital version of your portfolio and direct people to the URL for your publication in the MagCloud storefront, where they can download it as a PDF or view it in the MagCloud application for the iPad.

Example Publications:
Yearbook/Photography Student Portfolios
Architecture Design Portfolio
Interior Design Portfolio
Fashion Design Portfolio
Architecture Portfolio for Graduate School Admissions

Resource for Student Groups

During the school year, MagCloud is a great resource for students outside the classroom. At all levels of education, students active in clubs, sports and other extracurricular activities can use MagCloud for printing flyers, newsletters, and even full-length magazines. For example, when a club or sport is looking to attract new members or publicize an event, the MagCloud Flyer and Pamphlet products can be a great way to get the word out and offer additional information, without requiring a large volume of prints.

For groups that are more established, particularly at the college level, MagCloud’s Standard, Square and Digest product types offer a great opportunity for creating newsletters to stay in touch with both current members and alumni alike. Groups can take advantage of MagCloud’s direct mailing service for recipients who prefer receiving something in print, and simultaneously offer the same publication in digital formats for downloading as a PDF or viewing on the iPad.

A number of middle school, high school and college-aged students have already used MagCloud to publish student-run magazines on topics ranging from art and literature to fashion and lifestyle. Regardless of the topic, MagCloud lowers the barrier to entry for creating these types of magazines, with no upfront costs and no minimum print runs. Students can offer their publication through the MagCloud storefront for customers around the world to purchase and read in both print on demand and digital versions. Printed copies can also be ordered for local distribution as they are needed instead of all at once as a large bulk order, cutting down on the cost of storage and potential waste.

Example Publications:
BYU Editing Students’ Travel Magazine

UF Asian American Students’ Magazine
Emerson College Lifestyle Magazine
AIGA Colorado Design Magazine
Journalism Students’ Fashion Magazine
High School Literary and Art Journal

Are you a student who has used MagCloud, either in or outside the classroom? Let us know in the comments below!

Publisher Spotlight: Portfolio Contest Winners Sean McCloskey, Cemal Ekin and Jeremiah Johnson

In this post, we’re excited to highlight the work of the top three winners of the MagCloud Portfolio Contest.

This photo of U2 is Sean's favorite concert photo. It was taken on the final night of their 2001 U.S. tour. (Credit: Sean McCloskey)

Sean McCloskey
Photographer Sean McCloskey, grand prize winner of the MagCloud Portfolio Contest, got his start shooting concerts while in college. His passion for the business led him to publish his first magazine just two months after graduation. He’s now been in the photography business for more than 16 years and as well as a magazine publisher for the past 13 years. Sean’s MagCloud contest entry is a showcase of his first 15 years in the concert photography business.

Thanks to MagCloud, Sean has been able to break out of the local market and get more eyes on his work. He found a way to not only distribute digitally but also easily maintain the high quality print distribution that’s so important to photographers.

He currently has four publications on MagCloud.com: SFL Music, Movie Zone, Streets and his submission for the Portfolio Contest. Check out Sean’s work and join us in congratulating him once again!

Photo of the Hagia Sophia from inside the dome. (Credit: Cemal Ekin)

Cemal Ekin
Cemal Ekin, one of our contest runners-up, is a true MagCloud whiz. He stumbled across the service when looking for a new way to spark innovation in his classroom at Providence College. His students began creating and publishing MagCloud magazines each semester – their publications were a hit and Cemal saw an opportunity to spread the word about his own work.

The portfolio he entered in our contest, along with his other publications, have really made an impact with clients and have helped attract new business opportunities. Whether at an unveiling party for his latest publication or a closed-door meeting with new prospects, it’s the quality of MagCloud’s print and binding that grabs the audiences’ attention. Obtaining shots of the Hagia Sophia from inside the dome is a rarity, and Cemal’s portfolio of this work not only wooed his community into voting for him in our contest but also spread his work to new contacts – notably ARTstor.org (a premiere collection for art and art history research) who accepted his photos of the dome’s detailed mosaics and structure of the dome into their exclusive collection.

Ekin has even written up the process he uses for preparing his photos for printing through MagCloud on his site, KeptLight.com. A big fan of the ease of publishing workflow, he breaks the process down in digestible steps. Have a look!

Don’t forget to view all of Cemal’s MagCloud publications here, including his portfolio submission. Bravo on your win, Cemal!

Entryway and mud-room of the PrairieHouse project. (Credit: Jeremiah Johnson)

Jeremiah Johnson
Designer and amateur photographer Jeremiah Johnson created his MagCloud portfolio to showcase his architectural and graphic design work along with his budding photography skills. Seeking work, he needed a solid portfolio to leave behind at job interviews and cold calls. From the start, Jeremiah knew that MagCloud’s publishing quality and value was tough to beat.

Jeremiah was thrilled to receive job offers from the first three firms he submitted his MagCloud portfolio to and accepted an offer from an architecture firm in Minneapolis. In addition to his design and photography skills, Jeremiah said that “the professional quality of the publication is what caught the eye of potential employers who often receive spiral bound booklets of inkjet printed pages from applicants.”

Congratulations on the win and the new job, Jeremiah! View his portfolio here and catch even more of his great work here.