PARTICIPATORY SPORT FOR CRAFT ARTISTS
Last week, I had the great pleasure of visiting the editors and staff behind Art Jewelry Magazine, a publication of Kalmbach Publishing based out of Waukesha, Wisconsin, a stone throw away from Milwaukee. I live in the Northern parts of Chicago, the drive was an easy 1.5 hrs, very pleasant and straightforward amidst sunny Fall weather. I met with the editors and staff of the magazine, they graciously showed me around their wonderfully calm offices and answered all of my questions patiently.
Q: How many magazines are published under the Kalmbach umbrella?
A: 16 magazines get produced right here on site in Waukesha, the newest addition is "Discover" a science magazine.
Q: How many employees work for Kalmbach and how many of them for Art Jewelry Magazine?
A: Kalmbach has about 400 employees, there are four of us who produce Art Jewelry Magazine with the addition of our art department and the people in circulation. The magazine is printed just down the street, in Sussex at Quad Graphics. All work is done right here in Wisconsin, nothing gets outsourced to China.
Reidin Dintzner, (Assistant Editor), Theresa D. Abelew (Editorial Associate)
Q: If I wanted to submit work for possible inclusion in the magazine, how would I do that?
A: We always welcome submissions. For an initial contact, just send a low resolution image of the work and a brief description to any one of us via email. Don't worry about the wording, we have editors who will help with that later on. We just need to get a good idea of what your project or work is about, that's all.
Q: When it comes to photo submissions, what are you looking for?
A: We prefer work to be shot on neutral background, graduated or grey works really well for us, white is ok too, we do not recommend shooting on black background. Images on "busy" backgrounds, such as fabrics, grass and the like are not suitable for us. We have an online photo gallery of really bad images that we shot ourselves as examples of how NOT to photograph your jewelry.
Q: What happens next with my submission?
A: Every month, Theresa compiles a power point presentation of all new submissions from the previous month. We also actively scout for content i.e. at SOFA, the SNAG conferences, a number of regional craft shows and, of course, online. All of that content is evaluated during our monthly New Proposal Meeting where we pick entries that fit into our upcoming issues.
Q: Where do you look for ideas and inspiration online?
A: We get a lot of information via our facebook page and through our own connections. In addition, we like the etsy metal group a lot and pinterest has been a real treasure trove for us as well. We wished everybody would take the time to tag their online images more thoroughly and supply their name and website info as well as media and size information. This would help us a lot when we scout for ideas. If we don't know who made the work, we cannot consider it for publication. (Side note for my crafthausers: Guys - I have told you this again and again, if you don't believe me, please believe Art Jewelry Magazine. Tag your images! OK, moving on.)
Q: Is there anything in particular you are looking for in the submissions?
A: There really are no constraints. We look for work in all metal media including wire, polymer and metal clay. We are specifically interested in new ideas, work we haven't seen before, something eye-catching, innovative and fresh.
Q: Who is your audience and what is the circulation?
A: Our audience runs through the entire field from engaged hobbyist to professionals to academic makers. The biggest segment are people interested in higher end craft, technical articles, and the craft show circuit. We currently have 30.000 subscribers to Art Jewelry Magazine (paper version and online version combined). By the way, our sister magazine, Bead & Button has 120.000 subscribers!
Q: These are pretty impressive numbers. Please name 3 aspects your subscribers like best about your magazine.
A: Our magazine centers around three core aspects: Education, Inspiration and Community. On top of the list of favorite aspects would be our technical articles. Our subscribers simply love them and find them incredibly useful to advance their skills. We aim to show interesting techniques that focus on a certain aspect of a maker's work solely. We understand that people need to make a living from their work and the workshops they give so we never give away a how-to to an entire piece. The craft community overall is very giving and our artists are willing to share certain aspects of their work in order to advance everybody's understanding.
Next up is the inspirational aspect, the work that we show inspires our audience to pick up a new way of working, to try a skill they previously didn't know existed, and to transform that new found technique into something unique. We foster our community through artist interviews and gallery segments, our subscribers tell us that they cherish every issue cover to cover and save every single copy to keep handy at the bench or worktable. Our upcoming November issue is about untraditional materials. We issued a call for subscribers willing to give quilling paper a try and sent them a box with materials to play with. Those are really fun projects that keep our community engaged and interested.
Q: When did Art Jewelry Magazine start?
A: Our first issue came out in 2004, we publish the magazine every other month, so over the length of time that makes for a large reference library of techniques, tips and tricks of the trade.
Q: What are you currently working on?
A: We work about 4-6 months ahead of the publication date. Currently (October 2013) we are putting the finishing touches on our March 2014 issue, which is pretty much done at this point. Every issue has a main topic, the March 2014 issue will be all about education. We are also already hard at work on the May 2014 issue and are actually looking into June 2014 as well. It's all about planning. The June issue will be our tools/studio issue. Tool making, tool reviews, tool usage, tool maintenance and so forth, safety considerations, studio setup, studio storage ...
Q: If a crafthaus reader would want to send in something to be considered for the TOOL/STUDIO issue, when is that deadline?
A: We need that to be in by November 15, 2013. At that point we would like to have the basic storyline finished, so the earlier everyone can email in their images and ideas to us the better. Tell us what you are doing and why, 1-2 photos and a short paragraph suffices for starters.
Q: Some people are really good at what they are doing but they worry that writing is not their strong suit, how can you help them?
A: If your story gets picked, you will be assigned an editor to work through the project with you one-on-one. That includes all the writing. We are here to make you look good.
Q: What is special about working for Art Jewelry Magazine?
A: We have a well equipped studio where our technical editor, Annie Pennington, test drives upcoming technical articles and takes a look at products that we receive for review in the magazine. We double check that the tips, tricks and techniques we share in the magazine actually work.
All of our staff are strongly encouraged to spend time in the studio as well. We ask all staff to reserve 4 hours per week to be in the studio, that typically happens on Friday afternoons. This time away from the desk is firmly anchored in every staff members calendar!
A very warm THANK YOU to Hazel, Annie, Reidin and Theresa for allowing me to visit Kalmbach Publishing and bending their ears. I hope I get a chance to come out again soon. That studio sure looked amazing!