When I launched Let’s Explore Magazine, I was finding out where the magazine, the platform as whole and myself as a publisher were BELONGING. With the help of an incredible group of people, I was able to Kickstart and launch a magazine of my own, sharing inspiring stories by creators from all over the globe. After that, it was a matter of figuring out where to take it next. I stood at a CROSSROADS and had to find a way how to manage this inspiring project besides a full time job. As with many ideas, projects or creative endeavors, doing something just once is fairly easy. After that, it becomes easier to think of reasons not to do it again. The process of the second issue of LEM, was nothing short of an amazing time. I met many inspiring makers, who had incredible stories to share, and I soon realized, that keeping the magazine going would be something I just had to do, no matter what. I had chosen my path.
2017 has been an amazing year on so many levels. I had learned more about myself than ever before. I’d like to believe, that Let’s Explore Magazine and Let’s Explore Publishers have played an important role in that learning curve. I’m learning to open myself up to strangers, to ask for advice, to experiment more and above all to stick with why I am making this magazine.
In a way, LEM is teaching me who I’d like to be as a person. It started off as a way of expressing myself. I was in desperate need of a creative outlet and it didn’t really matter what that was. I started with a website, because, well, why not learn something new along the way. I then designed a dummy magazine, from where it then snowballed. People across 30 countries were willing to fund my crowdfunding campaign and help me create a magazine, filled with stories that inspired. I was actually able to make a magazine of my own.
LEM, initially, was about the magazine itself and to a certain extend, about me living the dream of an indie publisher. Eventually I realized that this wasn’t enough. The more I spoke about the magazine, the platform and my publishing agency, the more I realized it wasn’t necessarily about me finding a creative outlet in the form of creating a publication. With the Crossroads-issue, it already became more about connecting with people; online and in real life. It became about genuinely listening to them and learning from them. It became about the makers who are willing to share their story in the magazine and on the website. And last but not least, it became about those, who are willing to buy the magazine or go to the website, with an open mind, read the stories and perhaps finding inspiration or connecting with a story on a personal level.
But 2017 was also a year of frustration. I started to realize that I became an addict. Addicted to connecting with people, creating new work, collecting memories and making stories. It’s not the worst addiction, that’s for sure. But combining it with my full time design job proved to be little more than a challenge. Besides that, we had just bought our first house and making it into a home was something I wanted to spend a decent amount of time on as well. I couldn’t tame the desire to create another issue of my magazine and this started to annoy me.
Weeks on end, I tried to find the time to get the next issue going, but there wasn’t any. After some sleepless nights, I remembered why I positioned LEM as a when-ready magazine. The idea is that the magazine will only be launched once it’s up to my standard. When the stories are perfect – if that’s at all possible – and the lay out compliments those stories. In my mind, time should never be a deciding factor in creating this particular publication. I have no hard deadlines to meet. It’s about making a gorgeous product and that takes time. There is no room for rushing into things.
Once I re-realized my pursuit, I got my sleep back. The reason I have such a drive regarding LEM is not only that I want to create an inspiring magazine, but more so why and how it’s being made. Up until this point, what kept me going was my desire to create, because I knew instinctively I wanted to and I knew others wanted me to do so as well. But I didn’t know exactly what it was that kept me going at it tirelessly. I’d like to believe that my dedication to the idea behind LEM has provided me with the stamina to stick with this passion project and will secure future issues, no matter what will come on my path, or how long it will take me to make an issue.
Image by: Sydney Rae
Image by: Jonathan Pielmayer
Image by: Pablo Heimplatz
Image by: Ethan Weil
The biggest lesson I learned in 2017, has to do with rediscovering the purpose of the magazine and my role as its maker. This rediscovery was a direct result of my perseverance and trust in what my gut was telling me, regarding the fact that this passion project is here to stay. Besides the when-ready approach, another part of the concept of LEM is that the magazines’ themes should reflect the process the publication itself is going through. Exploring questions like: How is it evolving? What is it learning about its purpose? And: How can it become a better publication all together? I’d like to celebrate this next step in the publication’s evolution, by giving issue 02 the theme:
I’m interested in how you interpret the theme, what perseverance means to you. Is it a positive characteristic, or is it a nuisance that keeps you from listening to your true self? Did it bring you, or people close to you, somewhere that you could never have expected? Did it push your boundaries in a good way?
I don’t necessarily expect life altering, shocking, otherworldly or soul searching stories. Please, don’t feel daunted by how big the theme could be. You can make it as big as you want. Possible storylines could touch upon:
Perseverance is not giving up. It is persistence and tenacity, the effort required to do something and keep doing it till the end, even if it's hard.
The fool didn’t know it couldn’t be done, so he just did it.
Also, there are different stages in a process you can highlight. You could work around only one stage or work with a combination of stages. It’s entirely up to you, where you’re taking your story. The same goes for story format, but more about that further down. Here are some moments of a journey you could talk about (but please don’t feel limited by them):
I like to approach the making of the magazine as an organic process, in which you as a storyteller, will get a lot of room to experiment and explore your boundaries. The making of the magazine is a collaboration between the contributors and myself. I’m available to brainstorm with each selected contributor about their story, to help wherever I can. To be clear, it’s your story, not mine! In the end, I’ll make sure the stories sit nicely next to each other, making the magazine a coherent collection of inspiring stories.
My goal is to create a timeless, wonderful magazine together with amazing storytellers and time shouldn’t be a factor in getting it finished. But to make sure we will not spend an eternity procrastinating, I have some general deadlines in mind.
In this first stage I’m looking for a rough idea of your story. Please submit your story idea in max 300 words and max 10 images. Also include what expectation regarding the format you have (see below). Will you be doing a written essay, short story, photo essay or something else? This can change along the way, but I’ll need a bit of guidance up front to keep a pleasant words-images-balance in the magazine, that will enhance the reading experience.
I like experiments, happy accidents and fuckups. So, don’t feel constrained by narratives and story forms I propose. Go nuts and surprise me and perhaps yourself.
Once I’ve completed the excruciating task of making a selection of stories to be published, I’ll be emailing the storytellers who pitched a story to let them know whether or not they made the cut. From there I’ll be working with the selected makers on the finalization of their story. If you want to, we can brainstorm about where to take your story, explore it’s boundaries and/or try multiple angles. I’ll keep a close eye on the theme and make sure your story will work with the other stories. Other than that, I hope I’ll be able to provide a safe environment for you to experiment in.
This is also when I’ll start the design fase. Because only than, I can work towards a lay-out the compliments the story. Something that is often overlooked, yet an extremely important element in my opinion. Also, this is another reason to keep a close eye on the deadlines.
I hope you’ll find inspiration in the theme of issue 02 and it will trigger you to submit in your interpretation of it. I’m really looking forward to reading your story and I can’t wait to dive in head first into the next issue. If you have any questions or suggestions, please don’t hesitate to drop me a line.
– Kilian –