Sunday, 5 August 2012

Sketchbook Magazine Goes Online: Interview with the Editor

Sketchbook Magazine Online
When I read recently that the iconic Sketchbook Magazine (staunch supporter of illustrators, fashion bloggers and creative types) was being re-launched, I was intrigued to see what the new look publication would be like. As a self-confessed magazine junkie who'd readily spend my weekly food shopping money on creative glossies, it's fair to say that anticipating the re-launch was a bit like counting down to Christmas. And the best bit? It's moved totally online, giving you unrivalled access to the best up-and-coming design talents from the creative industries - artists, fashion designers, photographers and graphic visionaries. I caught up with Editor-in-Chief Wafa AlObaidat to find out what Sketchbook 2.0 is all about, learn what the Sketchbook Design Society will do, and to seek advice for any budding illustrators out there who want to submit their portfolio. Say hello to your new favourite bookmarked website...

"We want to tap into a bigger audience, but also we have too much to share and our previous blog layout didn't do the site justice at all," explains Wafa. Fully aware of the importance of digital platforms in magazine publishing, she continues, "We also wanted to compete with other online magazines of an international standard and, in order to do so, our online presence has to be strong." 

I completely agree; working with online content on a daily basis in my full-time job, I can see how easy it is for blogs and websites to reach people and create a permanent resource for them that is indexed by Google, whereas print versions don't have the same longevity. But will there ever be a printed edition again? "Ideally we want to get Sketchbook in print and online and we are ready for that transition but it was time to upgrade the site and allow for more of a regular platform for contribution."

One of the magazine's strengths is its collaborative style: the idea that you could add your own work to the living, breathing showcase that is the website seems incredibly tempting: "We want to get them to collaborate with other creatives within our network," she says. They receive over 50 portfolios a day and "pagefuls of invites to events" which are then distributed to correspondents around the world. Obviously the beauty of taking things online means that these events will now be reported as they happen, with daily updates and a fast turnover of editorial content. Alongside all of this is the brand new initiative that Wafa is championing, known as the Sketchbook Design Society, found as a tab on the website:

"It's a member-based organization of design professionals, educators, administrators, students and associates in communications, marketing, media and design-related fields. Our goal is to raise the general standard of design in Bahrain [where she's based] and the Middle East, and we hope to inspire local designers and engage the public."

It all sounds promising, but I can't help wondering if there's any time left for pop-up projects - something the publication became famous for with its 3 week series of live events in London's Carnaby Street back in 2010, which included Issue 1 cover star Susie Bubble as a speaker. "Once we establish a society of creatives, we may then continue to pop up and do spontaneous events,"Wafa reassures me. 

Sketchbook Magazine Tablet

So what do you need to know if you're looking to submit something to the site, either as a feature or a creative contribution? If you're fresh out of uni then don't panic - "A big slice of our audience are emerging and young creative designers and illustrators and recent graduates of art school." Here are Wafa's top tips for getting involved with the site and on launching your career:

  • Get your CV done in a creative way and check out the fan mail section on our site for inspiration. Creatives who email us with interactive portfolios are the ones that get a call back. 
  • Get as much PR coverage as possible, and also continue to contribute to get your name out there, and build your name in the industry. This will allow clients to email you for services.
  • Define who you target audience is and start emailing them requesting to work with them. 
  • Be active online, social media wise, and do as much work as you can!  
Basically, if you're sitting at home wondering whether to submit something, then the world's your oyster as far as I can see. The new look website is a springboard for you to carve out a name for yourself and it's a great way to see what your peers are producing as well. Even if you're an observer rather than a creator, it's just as fascinating to see what graduates are coming up with and find out about industry news.

When asked for three words to describe the all-new Sketchbook, Wafa has a think and then picks five: "Clean, modern, minimal, user friendly, smooth." Just another example of how the publication goes beyond expectations. 

To join the Sketchbook Design Society, head to the dedicated tab (next to the Magazine tab) on the homepage.

[All images courtesy of Sketchbook]. 

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