Give it to me straight: youâ€™re going to throw this away, arenâ€™t you?
Once youâ€™ve consumed this issue, it will fall straight to the bottom of your bag, its text and image fields soon a repository of doodles, scribbled essay deadlines and hardened gum wads.
You wouldnâ€™t be to blame: as participants in an advertisement-heavy culture, weâ€™re conditioned to equate â€˜freeâ€™ with â€˜disposable,â€™ setting an immediate expiry date on the often excellent free periodicals, papers, and blogs we read.
Thatâ€™s precisely the situation that Hannah Byrne and Shayl Prisk, founders of Montreal-based SNAP! magazine, are trying to counteract.
Each issue of their award-winning quarterly, now releasing its second national issue, is curated with care. SNAP!â€™s polished aesthetics, quality content, and luxurious format are characteristic of pricey publications, but come absolutely gratis.
â€œThereâ€™s no point, at least for us, in making something that readers are just going to throw away,â€ said Prisk in an interview at the magazineâ€™s office on St-Laurent Boulevard. â€œWeâ€™ve put a lot of care into making this publication something timeless that people can keep, and we really enjoy doing that. Otherwise, it wouldnâ€™t be rewarding.â€
Combining photography, illustration, fashion shoots, and written works that pertain to a specific theme, SNAP! presents content that is innovative and varied, yet reads as a cohesive artistic collaboration.
â€œIn this stage of the magazine, as opposed to the early issues, weâ€™re very selective with what we take,â€ said Prisk. Theyâ€™ve received an overwhelming amount of contributions from artists across Canada. â€œWe really want to make a high-quality product.â€
Themes that are playful and tongue-in-cheek encourage contributions that span from the serious to the silly. Take the August-October 2011 issue, entitled â€œDouble-D.â€
On the cover, an eye-catching preview of Caroline Mauxionâ€™s photo shoot of models in embroidered, cheeky bras that read â€œDrip-Dry,â€ â€œDaddy Dearest,â€ and â€œDouble Dare.â€ In the same issue, readers find a collection of â€œDirty Dishesâ€ by artist Christine Hale and photographer Andreas Sundgren: dainty porcelain plates with illustrations of whimsical breakfasts and foodstuffs. â€œSunny-Side up Titsâ€ or â€œVanilla Asscream,â€ anyone?
The printed word is just as important as the visual arts in SNAP!, a rarity in any publication. From writer Julie Rhodaâ€™s crazed and comedic fan letter to David Duchovny, to Daniel Chandlerâ€™s intriguing interview of Darrell Duffie, the Dean Witter Distinguished Professor of Finance at the Stanford Graduate School of Business, SNAP! offers quality writing in league with the best publications.
Perhaps thatâ€™s because Prisk and Byrne, both Australians by birth, have a sincere appreciation for Montrealâ€™s large artistic community, and work with individual artists to create a publication that benefits the publishers, contributors, and readers.
â€œThe artists who work with us get a lot of freedom to be creative,â€ said Prisk. â€œMuch more than they do when they contribute to other publications with a very narrow sense of what they want. The themes give them a way to explore ideas that theyâ€™ve been thinking about, but havenâ€™t been able to work on in other ways.â€
In collaborating with artists whose talent often outweighs their exposure, Prisk has seen the difference that publication in a magazine like SNAP! often makes.
â€œSo many of our artists have gotten really big contracts because of the exposure they get in SNAP!â€ she explained, â€œand they can pass the magazine around and show their friends what theyâ€™ve worked on. Itâ€™s a really positive experience for everyone, which is important for us, because we couldnâ€™t make the magazine without these artists.â€
SNAP!â€™s positive attitude toward its audience and contributors has been a mainstay of its production since Prisk and Byrne first started the magazine.
â€œWe toughed it out, and we still are to this day,â€ said Byrne of the financial strain of running a self-funded project. â€œBut people respect you if you work hard, and they can see that youâ€™re not just two flash-in-the-pan kids trying to make a magazine.â€
â€œWeâ€™d stand at the door of our events and give our copies and thank people for coming,â€ Byrne continued, â€œand we sponsored Art Matters and POP Montreal. We launched our magazine without a network, and then the network came to us.â€
They started funding the magazine out of their own pocket, drawing on pay from other jobs. But now that they publish nationally, extra advertising revenue and free contributions from artists have made the enterprise more viable.
SNAP! runs on authenticity: its sincere desire to offer excellent content, to create positive publicity and opportunities for contributors, and to offer through its beautiful format something truly different and appealing to readers sets the magazine apart.
â€œWe found a niche that wasnâ€™t being filled by any magazine in Montreal, let alone for free,â€ said Prisk, â€œand now weâ€™ve gone from 2,000 copies an issue to 10,000 copies all across Canada.â€
â€œYou canâ€™t make a magazine that pleases everyone, because that magazine doesnâ€™t exist,â€ concluded Prisk. â€œWe try to make something authentic and beautiful that will be worth reading again in two years. And when we put an issue out, all our copies disappear.â€
SNAP! is launching its second national issue on Nov. 11 and can be found at retailers like WESC, Drawn & Quarterly, Off The Hook, and Magazine General. For more information, visit www.snapme.ca.