A Conversation with Steve Czajka of Gimp Magazine
November 23, 2012 | 1:11 pm
By Joanna Cabot
One of the marvels of this interactive age is the way it can bring together those who share a common interest. Do you collect exercise videos? There’s a forum for you. Do you own a Kindle? There’s a forum for you, too. Maybe you’re more of a general e-book fan? There’s a great forum for you as well—and of course, there are numerous blogs, such as the one you’re reading right now.
What if you have an interest, but can’t find a forum for it? Just create one! That’s what Steve Czajka and his co-workers did when they created Gimp Magazine. Steve is a graphic designer, and had been inspired by a magazine he found that was devoted to a 3D rendering program he often used. He wondered why there wasn’t a similar magazine for digital editors who used the open-source GIMP software. So he simple launched one of his own.
In this TeleRead exclusive interview, Steve gives me some insider intel on how Gimp Magazine came to be, and what his e-publishing plans are for the future.
TeleRead: Steve, thanks for chatting with us. Can you tell me a little bit about how Gimp Magazine got started?
Steve Czajka: In early 2012 I’d become a strong user of GIMP software, and I was looking to expand my personal knowledge with the product, as it adds to my graphic design work. I noticed there was a magazine called BlenderArt Magazine for the 3D open source rendering product called Blender.
This was a highly creative magazine, and I was wondering if GIMP had a similar product. I posed the question, “Does GIMP have its own magazine?”, on a GIMP forum, and the responses quickly came in. Some responses were “no;” some [responses were along the lines of] “tried and failed.”
[Eventually], Jorden Grau—a member of our team—commented, “Why don’t we create one?” People started to [add comments of their own]: “I can help with editing;” “I can help with writing;” “I can help with websites and internal forums;” “I can help with printing.”
TeleRead: What was your initial response to this idea?
Steve Czajka: At first I was very hesitant, since I’d never built a magazine before. But then I looked at my experiences with graphic design, layout, desktop publishing, team management, process management, legal contracts, website design and social media. I felt that my skills were not far off from doing this, and [that] if I had help in key areas, we could pull this off as a team.
TeleRead: How did you go about putting the first issue together?
Steve Czajka: I started by asking the fine folks at BlenderArt magazine about their experiences, and they were so helpful. So I wrote a proposal back to the people who commented on the forum, and asked if they wanted to be a part of the Gimp Magazine team. The proposal basically set out the goals of the magazine and asked for a commitment from people to do four issues of the magazine in one year, and then reassess at that point. They said yes.
I asked a few people I’d known through work—they also said yes—and we started to focus on process, roles, content and communications. We also started to focus on what each of us were best at. [It was] the makings of a good team.
TeleRead: How was the first issue received?
Steve Czajka: At the time of this interview, we’ve had over 100,000 downloads of issue number one in less than three months. [We've had] well over 120,000 website views, [we've been] featured on hundreds of blogs worldwide, and [we] just finished filming a TV spot that will run on network television on December 5. We’re ready to release issue two on December 5, and [we're] already working on issue number three. Gimp has really taken off well—beyond my wildest expectations. I’m amazed at the amount of support we’re gaining.
TeleRead: What formats are available for people to download?
Steve Czajka: The magazine is available in PDF format. We looked into the popular EPUB format, researched it and did a test, but in the end, we found that the format took away from meeting the goals of the magazine. One of our goals is to present the work of artists in a “cool looking” graphic design layout, and we decided that we could not achieve this using EPUB. According to our research, we also found that EPUB was designed for older devices with lesser capabilities, and that looking forward, many new tablet devices will support rich PDF document formats.
TeleRead: So, the advantage of PDF for you was its printability?
Steve Czajka: We have done a print-on-demand test, and we are absolutely blown away with the outstanding quality that MagCloud has produced. It [was printed in a] graphic novel-quality format—just beautiful, and way better quality than any [newsstand] magazine. Many say that the print format is dead, but I have to say, there’s nothing that can replace the feel of having a print version in your hands, or on your coffee table. There’s still something special about this format. The experience of setting up and purchasing from MagCloud was also exceptional.
TeleRead: What about people who do prefer to read online or onboard their devices? As our readership at TeleRead can attest, this is a growing population.
Steve Czajka: We’re looking forward to the new iPad format that will be released in issue number two from MagCloud. iPad users will be able to purchase this for a few bucks via credit card, PayPal and other popular payment methods. This is going to be a great addition to our product offerings. The iPad and other tablet devices have a big advantage over print, and that is with respect to link-through articles. Many of our articles provide links to external resources (like textures, authors websites, or even video tutorials), and this is a complete experience that print simply can not deliver.
We’re also working on getting Gimp Magazine onto Google Currents. We don’t have any announcements to make just yet, but we have set up the account, and are looking at the best way to publish our content into that format. We think that the Google Currents format (similarly Flipboard) is the way of the future, and we want Gimp Magazine to be in that future. We’ll announce this on our website once everything is good to go.
TeleRead: When and how will the second issue be available?
Steve Czajka: Issue number two will be available in the following formats on December 5:
• View or download PDF copy on Issuu (Free)
• Direct PDF download at GimpMagazine.org (Free)
• Torrent PDF download at GimpMagazine.org (Free)
• Printed copies for purchase at MagCloud
• iPad tablet digital copies for purchase at MagCloud
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