Musician Amanda Palmer coined the phrase “the art of asking” to describe the crowdfunding movement – a movement she was instrumental (no ukelele-related pun intended) in pioneering as a legitimate form of raising funds to support creative endeavours. Producing creative projects entirely independently – whether you’re talking feature films, music videos or art exhibitions – can’t be achieved without cash to cover the overheads, production costs – not to mention the personal time that goes into the work, so platforms like Kickstarter and Pozible are being turned to with increasing regularity as a means of financing. Andrew Johnstone is the curator, editor and publisher of Take Magazine, a tome dedicated to extraordinary documentary photography from around the globe, and with the noble aim of keeping the mag advertisement-free, Johnstone has turned to crowdfunding to finance this labour of love. Pedestrian caught up with Andrew to talk about the hopeful future of Take, his recent brush with crowdfunding success and the challenges of publishing an independent magazine.
PEDESTRIAN Why did you decide to launch the Pozible campaign for Take? ANDREW JOHNSTONE To put it simply, we have no money to print another issue and we want the magazine to continue. Publishing is a very tough game these days and given that we choose not to have advertisers it’s very hard to make back the funds that you have to spend to actually print the magazine and have it sent over. We knew all this before we started the mag of course but we hoped that sales might be higher than they have been. I really think Take is needed and worthwhile and so don’t want to just stop the mag without at least looking at all options. Crowd Funding is one way to keep it going.
You did a similar campaign to keep Empty going. What were the results of that? The Empty campaign went really well. We ended up being about 120% funded and I’m currently working on the Annual issue as we speak. It was really great to see the support Empty has. It really helps with the motivation to keep it going.
Were you at all surprised by the response? I was a little surprised. It can be easy to get a little cynical when your in your little bubble and the sales aren’t coming through as much as you like. You start to feel that no one is really out there enjoying the mag, even though feedback tells you people are. So I was a little surprised at how much support the Pozible project got for Empty. Surprised and also incredibly humbled.
What’s your goal for the Take campaign and, if you reach it, what will those donations allow you to do? The goal is just to produce Issue 04 and all funds will go towards that goal. Obviously I would hope that sales from Issue 04 will then allow us to produce more issues, but at this stage i’m just taking it one issue at a time and am hoping that we can get this one through.
As an editor/publisher who is ‘independent’ in every sense of the term, what are the biggest challenges in actually getting an issue completed? One word – Money. Without money you can’t pay for printing. Getting the rest of the magazine together is relatively simple. photographers are generally happy to get the exposure and be in a magazine that is doing something worthwhile so finding work is not difficult. Finding the funds is the hard part.
For people who might not be familiar with Take, can you describe what it is and the kind of audience it will appeal to. I wrote this for the Pozible page and think it’s a good description: “Take is a magazine about photography, in particular documentary photography. We started Take to support, celebrate and showcase photography and photographers. We wanted to provide an outlet for work that might never have been published otherwise, work by talented photographers with a passion for telling stores wit their pictures.”