Offscreen Magazine Issue No.1

Offscreen magazine creator and editor, Kai Brach, wrote a piece on his experience bringing his idea to life. It’s a great read for anyone interested in Offscreen or the logistics of willing an idea from concept to cash:

When I set out to become a publisher around 6 months ago, I basically knew nothing about the indie publishing industry […]. In retrospect, I think this naïvety was rather beneficial, because at no point did I know what massive task would be waiting for me around the corner.

My copy of Offscreen’s inaugural issue arrived about a week ago and I’ve been slowly working my way through it since.

From the minute I took the magazine out of its carefully bubble-wrapped shipping envelope I knew it was something to be savoured. Each morning last week, I jumped out of bed, made some great coffee and settled in to the stillness of the early morning to pore over each carefully crafted page.

I don’t read a lot of design-related material normally, but Offscreen seems very approachable for non-designers.

Many of the articles are interviews with designers and don’t leave much room for lengthy narrative or expanded opinion pieces, however, the interview questions are direct and relevant, which leads to snappy-feeling answers. I never felt bogged down by excessively conversational dialogue or dull chit-chat. It all seems tightly edited and restrained: No filler.

The typography and layout of the magazine seemed clean, to my inexperienced eye. The choices of colour and use of imagery give the content a light, uncrowded feel that prevents fatigue while reading, unlike some print media.

One of Offscreen’s weakest elements is the photography. While the pictures are generally well suited to the content and have been carefully edited and placed in the layout, in some cases they are clearly amateur shots. The reason, understandably, is to control costs, as Brach explains:

Since there was literally no budget to send photographers to all of our interviewees, they themselves had to get active and ask friends or colleagues to take photos.

This is a minor criticism, which didn’t detract from my enjoyment of the content.

Other than the interviews, a couple of unexpected features stood out: The ‘On The Desk Of’, double page spread is a quirky, fun, set of photos and descriptions of objects found on the desk of a guest designer. The company photo montage spots were tastefully done and made me feel a pang of nostalgia for my old chums at CampaignMonitor, whose beautiful offices were featured in images.

Overall I was thoroughly impressed by Offscreen. That this is Brach’s first attempt at a print magazine, and that he learnt all of the skills on the job, makes it an astonishing achievement.

Brach sums up his experience nicely:

The biggest challenge of this endeavour was not fighting off other people’s snarky remarks, but to keep convincing myself that I truly believed in it. Nobody doubted this project more than myself.

I can’t wait for issue two.