How To Make Your Own Magazine
Emma Morsi, the curator behind Bristol’s impossibly cool Nocturnal Magazine comes with the lowdown on setting up your own magazine.
Coming from a place of acute indecision and an obsession with saying yes…
Coming from a place of acute indecision and an obsession with saying yes, my creative practices have always been quite varied. I focussed on fine art, photography and English at A Level while taking up valuable opportunities across Bristol’s creative sector. I’ve delivered workshops, working with international artists as well as leading on marketing projects, with my closest marketing qualification being my obsession with social media.
With a particular desire to have my cake and eat it, I have never felt comfortable confining myself to one practice. In a really self-satisfying way I discovered that through a magazine where I use the arts for discourse I would be able to touch base with all my interests whilst providing a platform to support upcoming creatives and share personal stories. So, very selfishly I set up Nocturnal Magazine
Nocturnal started off as part of my Gold Arts Award, but after incredible feedback and demand, I continued making issues. It has since developed into an interactive magazine and showcase platform using the arts as a medium to discuss social and cultural issues whilst also spotlighting and being an authentic voice to support young creatives.
While I am proud of what I have achieved in the last few years, with hindsight there are definitely some lessons learnt that would have been gladly welcomed earlier on. Sometimes words of wisdom can be so obvious you completely overlook them, but hopefully this will reinstate how powerful even the most basic things can be.
It’s Ok To Ask For Help
You’re not wonder woman, nor does anyone expect you to be. Setting yourself targets and goals is incredibly important, but in order to be the best you can be you need to have an awareness that success is rarely done single-handedly.
Funding Isn’t A Dirty Word, This Is Your Job
In what other industry do people get paid in ‘thank you’s and ‘it’s great experience’, after clocking out hours providing a service? Likewise, there are only so many things you can do for free before rent comes round and you realise that incredible creative opportunities, as great as they are, don’t put food on your table and keep a roof over your head. It’s important to realise the significance of what you do being more than just for ‘experience’. Of course, as an initial start up making these kind of connections is great regardless of money, be tentative and aware that if you do believe in certain projects sometimes the goal is beyond monetary gain. However, when you want to build up a business that requires employing others, there comes a time when you have to cover costs without everything being given in kind. So, do mention funding and payments, don’t shy away from it because at the end of the day, if you don’t ask you won’t get.
Prioritise Like There’s No Tomorrow
In moments of deadlines, everything can seem like the end of the world if not completed on time. Creative folks often have the inane problem of saying yes to a lot without quite realising we have spread ourselves way too thin. However, that’s where prioritisation comes in. Before you know it you’re no longer trying to multitask like a mad man, but able to hold it down and complete what is of utmost importance. This, of course, isn’t easy. Sometimes you may even find yourself spending excessive amounts of time preparing work to delegate, which halfway through often feels like a waste of time, but once you pass that hurdle it is amazing when you can pinpoint what needs to be done when. Which leads me to my next point…
Delegation Is The Best Thing For A Growing Business
It’s all well and good starting a business by yourself or in a small collective, but if you’re planning on expanding there are a few things to consider and delegation is one of them. Our brainchilds can often feel precious and very much like their own little entities which our world begins to revolve around, so it can feel weird and even wrong to hand over parts of your business for others to lead on. Yet, in order to see your brainchild grow up to be everything it can be you will find that you do have to occasionally take a step back and trust in others. This isn’t to be taken lightly. Like you wouldn’t want any random looking after your own child or sibling, be careful with whom you delegate to and make sure they are people you trust. Whilst delegating can initially seem scary, it’s a great way to focus on what you need to and not get lost in the hot sauce.
Collaboration Is Everything And More
Due to the DIY mentality that contemporary creatives have, with enough will we are able to start and create global phenomenons from the comfort of our own bedrooms, and that is kind of a big deal. We live in an age where everything is instant and it seems almost tougher than ever to make a name for yourself with new things constantly popping up. But instead of seeing the other illustrator, or other record label or other magazine as a competitive threat, at Nocturnal we believe in collaboration. You could be working on something pretty great, but when you join forces with someone also doing great things the result can’t be anything but better. Like many collaborations we have seen, from Jay Z and Kanye to Kendrick and Reebok, North Face and Supreme, it’s all a bit of a wonderful madness.
In the two years we have existed Nocturnal’s collaborations have varied from political, to fashion and media, with the production of our latest issue consisting of up to six main collaborations. And we’re not talking little collabs, but partnering up with Bristol Textiles Recyclers to use their whole factory for a photoshoot to showcase the incredible creative work the Freedom Project charity are doing through their sustainable brand Fawohodie using our Issue IV lookbook. By finding a collective narrative that does justice to what each party does, it’s an incredible way of building up long-term partnerships and enhancing your creative practice.
The Future Is Now
Whether or not AI will take over the world is another story but it’s an injustice to yourself to not make the most of the technology that is now so readily available. Whilst staying true to your own practice, it’s important to look into what ways you can make technology advances enhance or assist in the work you do. Even if just in allowing you more extensive ways of research and engaging with your audience to fully immersing it as part of your production process or at the forefront of everything you do.
As a magazine it can be ironic how forthcoming we are about our love for the digital world since the notion that “print is dead” is attributed to it. Yet at Nocturnal we see the digital platform as an extension of what we can do. We are now able to provide a direct showcase platform for creatives who work in film, sound and animation that print alone couldn’t serve justice to. Thus, we are an interactive magazine with film, audio, animation and interactive pop ups embedded throughout, and with augmented reality – go technological advancements – we are able to now bring that into the print world too.
So, it’s not about fighting the future, but seeing what the future can do for you in the present.
Nocturnal is all about finding creative and innovative ways to address, document and discuss social and cultural issues. Collaboration is at the heart of what we do; we work with industry experts and partners to provide our Nocturnal Creatives with invaluable experience in the Arts. If you’re looking to broaden your horizons, try something new on an experimental platform, express your obsessions or just want to share your doodles, we’re here for you.
Do you love to draw and create? Do these tips inspire you? Have you got any tips of your own? Let us know on @rifemag
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