Mag to champion unknown web gurus

With many print magazines battling to avoid circling the drain, it's a brave person these days who eschews the web for ink and paper. But that’s precisely what designer Tim Smith is doing with his latest project. Make Awesome is a magazine designed to celebrate the work of the unknown within the web industry, the young and “those who inspire us to take risks”. Right now, Smith is looking for funding via a Kickstarter project, and he aims to get the first issue of his magazine out in April 2013. .net spoke to Smith about his approach, the thorny issue of pricing, and what he expects to include in the magazine.

.net: Given existing web publications, why do you feel the need to add another player?
Smith: First, this is a passion of mine. I'm creating this publication most of all because I'd love to create a magazine. Secondly, I feel like a lot of publications have a focus on the popular players in the industry. I'd like to take a different approach; one I think people will find refreshing.

.net: Why is that? Is there a risk of magazines and people getting too entrenched in their existing ways of thinking?
Smith: Yes, I think so. It's only natural to want to talk with and about people who are popular. But what about the others? There are tons of other people who are doing great work and have a very interesting approach to their careers and design. I'd love to be the person that enables people without a huge Twitter follower count to have a voice and be regarded as great.

.net: The high price-point seems a bit of a risk as is often the case in self-publishing. Why did you decide against doing something online?
Smith: I wanted to take a risk. I know how to start and run an online publication. I've done it before. However, I've always had a nostalgic love for print publications. The way they feel in your hands; the smell of ink on the paper; and the experience of reading while having a hot cup of coffee. That's an experience I'd love to have the honour of creating for someone. I know this is a huge risk with a lot of room for failure, but I think things that are worth it are a great deal of work and scary.

.net: In terms of the content, you talk about four interviews but also 93 pages. How are you planning on structuring the magazine? Presumably it won't just be four massive interviews?
Smith: [laughs] No – about a week ago, I sat down and spent a good deal of time on a content organisation document. Since I've never done this before, it was an interesting challenge to decide what would go into the magazine and, as unfortunate as it is, I can't just increase the point size to fill pages! (I totally did that in high school.) So I structured the magazine in sections or departments.

The magazine will have an Ode to Music section, where designers will talk about their favourite artists or songs that heavily influence them. We have a Back to School section, which will be a dedicated column for students – something that will be very honest and upfront about the hurdles of design as a job. Each issue will also contain a cocktail recipe, because everyone needs some fun! In between these sections, we'll have our four main interviews and also one-page Q&A pieces.

.net: With a months-long lead to each issue (assuming you get funded), how will you ensure content remains as current as possible?
Smith: The first issue of the magazine, if funded, would be printed and shipped in April. I'm hoping it will be sooner, but I'm giving plenty of time for unforeseen circumstances. My hope is that we can create timeless content. Because we will not have tutorials in the magazine, my goal is to help people think not only about what they're doing at work and why but also how our jobs are only the tool that helps us live and have fun.

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