I went out to grab the mail yesterday like I always do; and for the first time in a long time, I found something in the mailbox that I actually wanted. Since I manage my bills online, we mostly get junkmail. But not today.
Today, there was a heavy chipboard envelope containing something I’d forgotten about ordering. I opened it and was delighted to find a beautifully designed and printed Offscreen Magazine. I felt the laminated cover stock and smelt the freshly printed ink, and I couldn’t wait to sit down and start reading. I did little else that night. It was 10:30 before I stopped nearly two-thirds the way through the issue. It was like a mini-vacation. No electronics (okay, I did tweet about it) and no television. Ah. A breath of fresh air.
Offscreen Magazine is a new creation from Kai Brach. Kai is an Australian designer, self-transplanted to Germany. He recently made the decision to stop accepting new client work to follow his passion and create a print magazine. I must admit, when I found the magazine’s website, I was a little miffed that I couldn’t immediately purchase and download the issue. I didn’t understand.
However, as I read the premiere issue starting with the intro (as I rarely do), I got it. The magazine's intent is to connect with the stories of people’s real lives “off screen” in a tangible, printed piece. Kai nails it. He made me take the time off screen, and I thank him for that.
I enjoyed the magazine for several reasons. It tells the stories of real people with real passions all striving for balance in their lives. Things we can all relate to.
Reading Offscreen was a refreshing getaway. It completely broke down my evening ritual. Instead of catching up on unread blogs, news, or scrolling through Twitter, I was reading in-depth stories about the real people behind the tweets. I found it inspiring to hear the whole story – the ups and downs, the struggles and insecurities. For example, Dan Cederholm admits in his article, “I never set out to be an author or a speaker. In fact, I’m terrified of both those things.” This is the stuff we do not get when we read social media. Instead, we tend to develop a skewed alternate reality of a person only seeing the highlights and noteworthy aspects of their life.
The stories encourage and inspire readers to pursue bootstrapping ideas that could turn into companies. Here at Sparkbox, we followed one idea, A Modern Eden, that lead us into a world which we knew little about. With what we've learned, we can now assess our ideas under a new set of criteria. So for us, being right near the start of pursuing our ideas, it hit home to read about others having done the same thing.
Andrew Wilkinson calls out whiners who complain about not being able to start a new venture. He says, “If you have the skills to build a web app in the first place, you can easily sell a bit of your time to clients and use that money to bootstrap your app. We spent $30,000 building Ballpark. For the amount it costs to buy a half-decent car, we built a business that will pay out for years to come.”
The Pursuit of Balance
The desire for balance is universal. It seems each interviewee has their methods to balance lives off screen. Most have creative outlets, others lean on family and friends, and some just stay true to their roots – not following unrealistic ideas of success. I enjoyed what each interviewee shared from their heart about their lives. Benjamin De Cock confessed, “I told my wife while she was pregnant that I probably wouldn’t be a good father because I wasn’t really interested in ‘the whole parenting thing.’ Today, I think he’s the best thing that ever happened to me... In the end, my wife and my son are really what matter the most, and I'd be a fool to forget that.”
You will not only enjoy Offscreen Magazine, you will be looking forward to reading the next one – like meeting with an old friend to catch up. I believe this idea, now realized in crisp, printed paper, is a much needed idea whose time has come.