Thursday, September 16, 2010

Prairie Artsters: Going Out on A High Note*

Running a magazine isn't easy business. As the print industry is undergoing changes in the online age, major adjustments are being made across the board as information overload does not necessarily translate into funds in the bank. Edmonton's own Notebook Magazine, which has featured hundreds of Edmonton artists across the country, will be releasing its last print issue this fall. Catching up with Steven Teeuwsen, who has been mostly operating the publication as a solo basement venture, he confirms that the publication will be moving online.

VUE WEEKLY: How's Notebook been going for the past while?

STEVEN TEEUWSEN: I haven't put out an issue since January and I stopped paying myself. I was waiting on funding, but that's not sustainable, unless I sell a lot of advertising. I've fallen behind on that, partially because I'm burnt out. A lot of people warned me about burning out when I started, but I didn't give it much thought. I thought it was an excuse for being lazy! Now, I think it's very real.

VW: What was the total lifespan of Notebook?

ST: The first issue was out by January 2007. This will be the 12th issue, and final one. I'm really proud of them on the book shelf. I definitely have mixed emotions. It's bittersweet. I'm really excited to be able to work on something else, but the print magazine was something special too. When I started, I wanted to work on it for three to four years, and I've done that, and I was able to work full time at it for the better part of that time.

VW: What were some of your personal highlights?

ST: Getting distribution through Magazines Canada and getting it on the shelves from coast to coast was really satisfying. Especially for the younger artists, like Jesse Tempest, who moved out to Halifax to attend NSCAD and her work was out there before she even arrived.

It's also been great how people have contacted me from across Canada about the magazine. It's progressed a lot visually from my first issue which looked like a high school project. It's come a long way.

VW: What were some surprising challenges?

ST: Copyediting was never something I gave much thought to until you see it in print, and you can't go back and it's staring at you every time you open the magazine.

So much of it was new to me, that it all had the feel of throwing myself in, from booking venues, approaching people about advertising. It was intimidating at times, but people were so positive.
Part of me wishes I was more self-motivated all the time. When I started it I could work all day and all night and I had a lot of energy. As it progressed I ended up knowing how to do things better, but procrastinated on other things, like selling advertising. I have no major regrets—there's ways it could have been managed better, but I'm so happy with how far it's come. When I started I had this idea that it would be this interactive collective, and if I could have shown myself the 12 issues then ... it's definitely better than I thought it would have been.

VW: Well it's not the end.

ST: No, it's not the end. After wrapping up this issue and the distribution and finishing up subscriptions, I'm organizing for new online content to appear each week. It is the evolution of the project and it is environmentally more friendly. It was always disheartening when the covers are ripped off and sent back to you if they didn't sell.

It's meant a lot to me that people have expressed how much they appreciate being able to show their work around Edmonton and across Canada. It's definitely been a really fulfilling project to do as your work-a-day hours

*First published in Vue Weekly

No comments: