Back in 2006 I met with Vincent Heeringa and Martin Bell for the first time. It was at Dizengoff, a cafe in Ponsonby that models its self on a New York Jewish deli. The meeting was memorable for its lively conversation about magazines and how terrible the advertising journal of record Ad Media was – that and the chopped liver I ordered (but have never bothered with again).
One step further back. Martin and Vincent had been publisher and editor of Unlimited magazine, a local business title that had been born in the heady days of the so-called New Economy. It had been a success but was not the main focus of its owners, who had a portfolio of magazines. Vince and Martin had made a bid to buy the mag but it had been rejected. The guys had had left by the time I met them and were squatting in a tiny office at AUT where they had a contract for their new company HB media to be the AUT press (or something like that). A member of a group I had been running The Company Of Friends for Fast Company magazine recommended that I meet Vince. We all had lunch and talked at length about magazines, publishing and building communities.
We decided to fix the world via the medium of magazines, beginning with a publication that would kill AdMedia magazine. That sounds unkind, but it seemed easily achievable. Then we had a change of heart. That goal was too trivial. I'd been reading The Creative Economy, A Whole New Mind and The Rise of the the Creative Class which, combined with anxiety about the monoculture New Zealand's dependency on primary production, made me wonder about whether a publication to promote a more diversified creative economy might be a little more worthy of our attention and talents.
Idealog was born.. We found sponsors willing to underwrite the venture (which I have always thought was pivotal to the magazine's existence - we were bootstrapping and that was our venture capital). We took concept boards around ad agencies - most of whom didn't have a clue what we were talking about - 'creative economy…? We'll book our clients into issue three' …Quietly thinking there would be no issue three. I remember one media buyer asking our ad manager if she couldn't just buy a spread in Unlimited (he had been head of sales there before jumping ship - without HB Media
But it launched. For the first few issues I was creative director and art director. The launch issue was quirky and different. I shot the lead story for our business magazine using top fashion photographer Tony Drayton - the set was my office (or rather the office I shared with The Department of Motion Graphics - who also donated the graphics in the 'map' image of the spread). It was all a bit odd. Good odd. There was even a story, much to my horror, about primary production by Rod Oram. I tried my best to make it conform to the idea of being a showcase for terrific design, illustration and photography - I even hired one of my students from Massey University School of Design to contribute the typography for the Milk Mavericks story. It was all very ambitious. Slick and a bit raggedy round the edges - we used the printer's in-house mac facility to pull it together - cobbling the unsexy bits together at the last minute before going to press. But it was well received and now it has passed the 50th issue milestone (equivalent to 100 in dog magazine years, as it is bi-monthly). The magazine is slicker now, is onto its second editor and seems to have staked out a place in the New Zealand media landscape. It has been business magazine of the year every year of its life (from 2006). Everyone involved with it should be proud. It was different.
Now it just needs a challenger to shake it up.
This blog is a notepad of contemporaneous and sometimes extemporaneous thoughts about creativity, strategy and ideas.