At every in-person show we do, we hear the same set of questions again and again: why are you vegan? What is a small press magazine? And, appropriately enough for this post today, how did you get the idea to start something like this?
Well, it really started from one place: the public library. Back when I still worked at a thrift store, from 2009-2011, I would go there after work at least once a week and read all the new magazines that would come out. I became fixated on page counts, monthly themes, editorial direction, and of course, the design of every issue. I always felt dissatisfied with mainstream magazines, and this steady stream of new issues really blew up my dislike of them. There were a host of improvements I thought I could make, or someone in charge should make if they could.
I wanted more magazines with uncluttered design.
I'm definitely not a "clean" or minimal design lover, but I also don't enjoy when each page is covered completely. Not only were the page layouts formulaic, but they were jam packed with visual information, whether it was there for a purpose or not. Not just the ads, but the actual content was filled with visual tropes that were unnecessary and distracting. I've always thought of reading magazines as a break in my day, and especially now with so many screens, they should help clear my head even more. But the noise of these magazines, even ones who advertise themselves as "simple", don't ever fully take me out of my daily grind.
I wanted to read a magazine that wouldn't confuse me into a lifestyle I didn't want.
Every magazine definitely has a point of view, but mainstream magazines specifically advertise an "ideal" lifestyle that consists of being beautiful, young, wealthy, and constantly buying things. They put out conflicting information to keep you coming back, issue after issue; one month the weight loss cure could be Atkins, the next it could praise fasting. The information is never thoughtful of an overall lifestyle of its readers, it just follows trends which leads to a choppy, disjointed picture of what an ideal life might look like. I wanted something more like a book that comes out in installments, where it goes deeper into each topic and can be used as reference through my whole life, not just snippets. I don't want to try to be "fixed" by a magazine - I want something to complement the life I already have.
I was a little sick of the "meat porn" in traditional food magazines, and all the supplements advertised in less meaty magazines.
Even in the magazines I truly love and still buy to this day, the content is skewed to extremes - either centerfolds of big raw slab of meat, or every page advertising super processed foods and supplements. I want something that won't push a product, I just want a whole foods/lifestyle kind of thing that I could make myself if I wanted to.
I couldn't stand being sold to in something I already purchased.
This is the same reason I don't have cable and don't watch Hulu - when I buy something, especially something I pay a lot for, I don't want to continue to be sold to. This is obviously talking about advertising, which constitutes sometimes a significant portion of a magazine, but there's more to it than that. It was that I'd see a paid ad for a certain perfume, and then the same perfume would be in the gift guide put together a few pages later. Or that half the magazine was devoted to pushing products. I remember as a kid, I was astounded that there were new clothes in every issue of any magazine I read - do people really buy clothes that often? Or computers in tech magazines, or thousand dollar rugs in the home decor magazines? I wanted (and continue to want) something that reflects how I live my life, not some impossibly rich standard that businesses want me to be.
In short, I wanted a magazine that I would want to read.
I really just started Chickpea (in 2011) with the thought of "if I could make my ideal magazine, what would it look like?" and went from there. At the same time, our original blog was getting really popular, and we knew we could get help from our readers and fellow bloggers to turn this new magazine into something great. We just went for it, and continue to go for it so we can keep making something we'd all want to read.
If you'd like to work with us, head here to send us your ideas. <3