February 29th

I hadn’t given much thought to 29th February, I have to say. I’m certainly not going to be proposing to anyone, for one thing. Well…maybe to Cumberbatch, but very quietly, in my head. But that’s incidental. No – the 29th of February seems to be somewhat sidelined as a date in the calendar. Probably because, as a nation, we have a collectively short attention span, and celebrating something every four years doesn’t offer a great deal of income to card manufacturers, those arbiters of tradition.

I decided to consult the fount of all knowledge, Wikipedia. I wasn’t disappointed. After an awful lot of mathematical gymnastics used to explain how the day happened, I learnt that it was introduced as part of the Julian reform, that both Aileen Wuornos and Ja Rule were born on the day, and that it is also the feast day of ‘Oswald of Worcester’. Marv. From other websites which were not Wikipedia, I learnt that any ventures started on this day will apparently be successful, that – famously – women were allowed to propose on this day, and would get a free dress if they were turned down (win win!), and that Greek tradition dictates a couple will have bad luck if they marry in a Leap Year.

Phew. Well, that’s all marvellous, but what should it mean to me? I took enough of a beating over my love of Valentine’s Day – did I dare to speak up for a day that isn’t even remotely acknowledged as something special? Yeah, why not? As if I’ve ever needed any excuse for a party. So, what to do? How should I interpret the day? I heard an item on Radio Four about how people were planning on using the day to do completely different things to what they’d usually do. Apparently, the National Trust are also giving their staff the day off to volunteer for charities, which I think is extremely admirable.

I haven’t totally nailed down my plans yet, but I know I want to do something that’s different. So for a start, I am going to have an utterly technology free day. Nothing. I will be away from my laptop. No texts, no Facebooking, no Tweeting, no emails. This is a huge deal for me, and hopefully it might help me think about the obscene amount of time I spend looking at a screen. To go along with the National Trust idea, I’m going to sit down and start ploughing through some of the ideas I have for my charity work. I’m going to sketch. I’m going out for a walk.

Those are some loose plans at the moment, but I’d like to do something really different. If you have any ideas, or you’re planning on having an ‘opposite’ day to what you’d usually do, let me know!

“Just be yourself”

Oh, what a horrible and utterly useless piece of advice that is, isn’t it? How ghastly, when preparing for a job interview or a date, to hear those words, that hackneyed and mostly meaningless phrase: ‘just be yourself’.

I used to hate hearing that. Be myself?! Be MYSELF? That’s TERRIBLE advice. How do I do that, exactly? Surely only the most idiotic and un-socially skilled amongst us only have one self. I’ve met very few people who have one ‘self’, and persist in maintaining that self through every walk of life. That’s one step away from being that person who goes ‘I’m just ME. I’m ME, alright? And if you don’t like it or you can’t handle it, then I DON’T CARE, because I’M ME’.

Ultimately, none of it made sense to me. I didn’t feel I had an essential self to fall back on. I was too locked in to various layers of social norms to trust in myself. I had manufactured myself too careful, as I’m sure we all do. Starting young, when you learn to behave differently in front of your friends than you to in front of teachers or parents, you begin to develop an extremely complex system of behaviour. Changes may be subtle: a slight lowering of the voice to imply seriousness (my friends at school knew and could imitate very well my ‘about to get told off by a teacher’ voice), or they may be extreme, a whole different way of dressing, or a different set of language.

But what is the self? Is there one, essential self? And these various guises are just that – a charade? Or does our ‘self’ exist in all the different incarnations we choose to perpetrate? I struggled with my ‘self’ largely because I am terribly easily influenced, and a magnificent imitator. I adapt very quickly to surroundings. My voice will change, I will speak on a variety of different topics, and I will dress differently. Every single person I know has a slightly different version of me presented to them. I’m sure this is the case for many of you.

This behaviour was particularly heightened in me because of my early experience with drama. I tended to blur into characters. I’d read a book or a play and – consciously or otherwise – mimic expressions, voice, looks. I didn’t necessarily do it to blend in, more to experiment with my identity. I believe that your teenage years should be built around trying out different identities. How can you ever be sure about something until you’ve given it a chance? My teens and university years were fantastic for entering this dressing room of identities.

I don’t mean to say that I swung wildly from one personality to another – I’m not deranged; but I did play around. I played at doing different things, being different things. It’s known as the self-schema: the projection of a different personality dependent on the situation you’re in. I played at being shallow, and rather enjoyed it. I was terribly, terribly serious during a lot of my teenage years, and it was nice to feel different. To feel free. And yet I struggled at times, because I’d…and bear with me on this one, but…I’d let my ‘self’ go. If you see what I mean. In the endless churning of being with different people, dating different boys, having different friends, I suddenly realised I didn’t actually have a clue who I was anymore.

I distinctly remember waking up one day and realising I had no idea what music I liked. One of my ex-chaps was hugely into clubby, dancey stuff, and I’d just listen to that. He used to ask me, persistently and slightly bemusedly: ‘but what do YOU like? What do YOU listen to?’ And I couldn’t answer. I didn’t even know. I’d learnt an awful lot at university, but I also managed to unlearn things as well. I believe it was all essential, though. I needed to let go. I needed to unpick everything I knew and rebuild it.

What I did was this. I developed a self. I began (again, mostly subconsciously) to cherry-pick the parts of my various selves that made the most sense to me. I made sure I read a lot, listened to a lot of music, and thought a lot too. I kept the blonde hair and more fun-loving side from my ‘vacuous years’, and combined it with the knowledge and intelligence from my teenage years. University was absolutely indispensible in the development of my ‘self’. These days, I am unbelievably comfortable with who I am. As I touched on my article about fashion, I’ve realised that interests don’t have to mutually exclusive.

It’s been a turning point. For the first time in my life, I know who I am, and I know what I want to be. I feel happy. I feel calm. I trust in myself. I am no longer covering up parts of my identity and projecting others. I’m no longer afraid to show my intellect, or in fact to justify myself for, say, thinking Barbie is ace. If it makes me happy, I do it, or read it, or listen to it, and I don’t really worry too much about what anyone thinks. That said, I will still NEVER be the person who says ‘I’m me, and if you don’t like it, screw you’, because I think that’s wildly impolite and bordering on sociopathic. No need to be unpleasant to people.

So the advice I have is this. Don’t just be yourself. Develop a self. Cultivate yourself. Have interests, and be interesting. Experiment. Don’t just languish away, never knowing whether you might secretly LOVE death metal, or roller-blading, or….knitting. Try EVERYTHING. Take every opportunity. Talk to people – so much of my own identity has been cemented by some amazing friends. Have a diverse group of friends and you can’t go wrong. Keep an open mind, keep learning things, and never just ‘settle’. The world is an unbelievably exciting place, don’t you want to get the most out of it that you can?

The Valentine’s Day Conundrum

Where to start? Well, you all know my feelings on the day. Yes, I can see it’s a saccharine, over-commercialised pile of rubbish, a Card Company holiday that doesn’t mean anything. But I still adore it. Why? Because I’m a cheerful soul and I truly believe that we need to grab any opportunities we can to celebrate something upbeat . I suppose you could say that I love love. I do. I love taking care of people, I love doing nice but silly little things purely because they’ll cheer people up or just make them smile.

On a typical Valentine’s Day I’d be found baking some heart shaped cakes, putting the finishing touches to a handmade card, popping off to the florist to buy a bunch of charming flowers, and putting together a playlist that would almost definitely include both Nina Simone AND David Hassellhoff (diverse!) This year, though, I’m single. For the first time. So how do I align my love of – well, love – with the fact that I’m excluded from this particular day on a technicality?

See, as I’ve just realised, your options as a single person on V Day are very limited. You either have to opt out completely, or you have to feel utterly horrible about it all. You can sit there, refreshing the Facebook homepage and seeing photo after photo of adorable presents, and chipper statuses. Statii? Anyway. That isn’t really my style. So what to do? What about a third option? I decided yesterday what I’d do. Seeing as this is my favourite day of all the commercialised holidays, I chose to embrace it wholeheartedly.

Because you know what? There are heaps of us who are single today. It means absolutely bugger all, but it doesn’t change the fact that we’re still being subjected to a day that is purely for couples alone. I chose to adopt the approach that this was a day about love in general. I decided instead of swerving Twitter for the whole day – or worse, going on and posting depressed updates – I’d wade right in and be Aphrodite for the day.

I refuse to let anyone feel bad about today. And the thing is, you can brush if off all you like and say ‘it’s only a silly commercial bit of rubbish’, but as long as I can see people commenting on how thoroughly wonderful their relationship is, then there will be a need for someone to rally the troops and cheer people up. I rarely feel self-pitying; I haven’t even been single for a particularly long period of time, and I’m actually rather enjoying it. But today? When I see the photos of flowers, cake, and kittens (really) people have been given by the person who thinks they are really, truly ACE? I’m afraid to say it makes me feel a little lonely, a little sad, and a little bit excluded.

So I hope you’ll forgive me for interpreting the day in my own way. I’m sorry that it’s not in ‘keeping’ with the spirit of the holiday that I am choosing to show love to my friends, but hey. The actual St Valentine was imprisoned and beheaded, so, let’s not talk about the true meaning of the day too much, shall we? What is a relationship? Having someone who goes through the bad times with you and holds your hand. Someone who thinks you are wonderful the way you are. Someone who thinks about nice little things to do for you and does them. That description? That’s my friends. I really, truly love my friends, and I won’t make any apologies for the fact that I want to think about them and appreciate them on a day that celebrates love. My friends are AMAZING and I owe them a great deal.

If I’ve misunderstood the point of the day, then please, just indulge me. I personally don’t have the luxury of a boyfriend who will be looking after me all day and whipping me off to dinner, so let me be happy in my own way and have a bit of a Twitter love-in with chums. If I want to give people compliments, virtual bouquets of peonies, and a YouTube link to a soppy song, then that’s my prerogative. I should NOT have to be excluded from a day because I so happen to be single, and neither should anyone else I know. No one should EVER feel rubbish about themselves because a day dictates it.

Also, have you seen the news lately? There is so much to make us miserable out there, every single bloody day. I think Valentine’s Day is the perfect excuse to concentrate on what makes us happy, to celebrate our loved ones, and to eat an awful lot of heart-shaped sweets. If I want to salve everybody’s slightly aching hearts, then let me do it. I know I’m as soft and fluffy as a marshmallow, but it’s too late to change now. If working in a call centre didn’t beat the inner happiness out of me, then nothing will. Come on. Don’t crush my spirit. You can take my life, but you cannae take my soft-centre.

So in the meantime, come down to Twitter and follow me @ameliafsimmons for a day full of whimsy, compliments, larking about, and general cheeriness. I’m sorry (not really sorry, though) that I won’t be submitting to the cultural stereotype and weeping to Adele while stuffing my gob full of Ben & Jerry’s. I’m sorry (I’m still really not) that I will hold my head high and wish anyone who will listen a Happy Valentine’s Day. I’m sorry (still definitely not) that I will hold Valentine’s Day in my heart, and…oh, hang on. I’m getting mixed up with ‘A Christmas Carol’.

But “joking” aside. Go and tell someone you care about them. I know we shouldn’t need a day to do it on, but we do, really, don’t we? Because we don’t do it often enough. Don’t be shy, don’t be sad, and do just enjoy it. It’s only one day a year, after all.


Amelia xx

Do Something That Scares You

I made every excuse in the book to get out of doing the thing that scared me. The Thing was scheduled for yesterday evening, and I’d known it was coming for about four or five months. That meant that I couldn’t even pull the ‘but I’m woefully under-prepared!!!!’ card. Thing was, I really, REALLY didn’t feel like it. I mean, really. The past couple of weeks have been utterly manic. While it may look like, as a freelancer/self-employed chappy, I just swan off to the cinema on a Wednesday afternoon, that isn’t my whole life.

Yes, I do take off on occasional mid-week jaunts, but to make up for it I work through the weekend. I stay up working til late. I wake up in the morning and hit my inbox. I think about work all the time. This last week it all got a little bit TOO much. When you’re a freelancer, you obviously have a variety of different people who give you work. You don’t leave your office at the weekend, or at 6pm, and leave your work behind. You need to be easily contactable at all hours, and when you need to take a day off to get some head space, it can get a bit sticky. I desperately needed that bit of room, but everywhere I turned there was a loose end. The emails, phonecalls, texts and tweets suddenly all started to build up and I started to drown a bit.

I’d manage to get a very sexy bit of flu at some point during the week, which meant that by Thursday morning, I felt like I’d been run over by a truck. In fact, navigating the tubes on Wednesday, I kept feeling like I was going to pass out. My voice had started to go. Then there was all the snowy weather and cancelled plans…all in all, I was getting a bit stressed out and a bit crap at dealing with stuff. I was trying to run away from my To Do list instead of calmly approaching it, and that was the worst thing I could have done.

Yesterday, I took action. I decided I wasn’t going to do The Scary Thing. Because of this decision, I then felt so guilty and awful that I channelled my energies into everything else on my list and actually manage to clear a lot of my work load. I was due to leave for The Scary Thing at 6pm. Around 5.30, I decided to do it. The Scary Thing was singing and playing my ukulele in front of an audience at a burlesque night at the Forum, in Tunbridge Wells. I’d never even been to the Forum, and it had been ages since I’d performed in front of people. I’ve sung in front of crowds before, but never sung AND played my uke. I was losing my voice, I was dizzy, I was exhausted, frazzled, and had never done the song in front of anyone before. Oh, and I hadn’t washed my hair.

What changed my mind? The fact that, deep down, under the talk about flu and potential snowfall, I knew I was planning on cancelling because I was just plain scared. I wanted to let myself off the hook. Thing is, if it’s only fear that’s holding me back, then I will always do it. If I’m scared, I know I’ll go through with whatever it is I’ve said. Whether it’s singing in the middle of the RVP shopping centre in T Wells on a busy day, modelling in a catwalk show, or agreeing to pull together a magazine pitch in a week, I’ll always do it, to smash in the head of my Fear. Why? Because I never want to look back and know that I stood in my own way.

I thought about this blog, and how it’s based around positivity, ‘just doing it’, and encouraging people to go for their goals. How could I possibly keep writing like this and telling others not to be scared, if I knew I’d completely caved in myself? My whole philosophy in life is based on stepping outside of my comfort zone, because then and ONLY THEN will good things happen. You can’t sit around in your room or in your office, expecting your life to miraculously change and get exciting. You need to do it yourself.

I am generally great at not letting nerves interfere with anything. I decreed this year would be ‘my year’ (I hope you’ve done something similar yourself), and since the year started I’ve been taking chances, making connections, smiling at strangers, going to new things…And things have already changed hugely. This year has already been unbelievably brilliant. Good thing after good thing has been happening. But to return to last night…I stomped all over my nerves, quickly ironed my dress, grabbed my ukulele and a make up bag and headed off.

I wasn’t remotely nervous when I got there and met the rest of the girls who were performing. Everyone was so lovely and really kind. I got dressed, Victory rolled my hair, ran through my song and chilled out, trying to ignore the flu-induced dizziness and slightly croaky voice. I was still calm as the audience filtered in. The photographer at the event very kindly came up to tell me I looked good on camera in the photos he’d shot before we started, so that made me feel a lot better. And predictably, ten minutes before I went on, I completely freaked. My voice suddenly started to go, I felt a bit shaky, and I just really, really, REALLY didn’t want to do it.

I did though. I stepped out there, looked into the audience, had a little chat with them, and started to sing. I think it went well – I had a couple of strained moments due to the good ol’ sore throat, but ultimately, it went much better than I could have hoped. Because, like Cinderella, I had to get home before the Lemsip wore off, I exited through the audience. I was still slightly scared that I would get pelted with a spare bucket of tomatoes that someone had on hand, but ultimately I was relieved I’d done it, and completely buzzing. No tomatoes – I had some lovely, sweet people saying they’d really enjoyed it, one girl asked for my card because she was getting married and mentioned something about me singing at her wedding, and another lovely lady was very enthusiastic and asked about where she could buy my CD, and took my card to talk through potential future opportunities with her!

So, not bad for the first time I’d ever performed like that in public. If I hadn’t gone, I would have stayed at home, watching TV, eating spaghetti, and feeling very silly. I still truly believe that if it scares you, you should do it. Even if you do it for the huge burst of adrenaline that you’ll get afterwards, then make it happen. It worked to clear my head – I’m suddenly able to focus again, I’ve ticked things off the list and just generally dealt with everything that’s come my way today.

Still not convinced? There’s a line in a Chilli Peppers song that always sticks with me, and it’s this: “This life is more than just a read through”

Snow Day

I hate being bored, don’t you? In the back of my head, I can hear the echoes of the phrase ‘only boring people get bored!’ Well. Sometimes interesting people need a break from all of their exhausting and creative pursuits, and would rather like a bit of time off. Sometimes, the most fascinating creatures among us get stuck in the house, due to…oh, I don’t know. Snow?

And so it was yesterday. Trapped in the house! I elected to start a roaring log fire, put the original St Trinian’s on, and try and loll about a bit. I haven’t been used to taking weekends off lately, so I find that my brain is still running and my hands are fidgeting, and I generally want to do something. A lot of the time, I find it easier to relax by doing something that isn’t related to my work, or is utterly pointless but thoroughly enjoyable. For a start, I decided I’d wake myself up by going out into the snow with bare feet. I’ve never done that before in my life, and I’m not sure why I did yesterday. A combination of supreme boredom caused by the endless similar ‘snowy scene’ photos that appeared all over the net, and the fact that it was going to take me ages to get socks and shoes on. Anyway, I highly recommend it, and here’s the proof I did it:

I saw the comedian Josie Long do a brilliant stand-up show a few years ago, where she talked about all the things people put a huge amount of effort in to, but which don’t actually make any difference to life whatsoever. The show was called ‘Trying is Good’, and Josie pulled together a bunch of examples of the aforementioned ‘tiny things’ that people devote their time to. She handed out little hand-drawn booklets to all of the audience, and later in the show she passed around sweets and oranges for people who were particularly lovely. I was charmed by the show – she also mentioned how at the Edinburgh Festival, she would make badges for all the audience members on a daily basis, as well as sticking packs of sweets to the bottom of chairs as a nice little surprise. One of my tutors at uni, who’d been working at Edinburgh that year, told us that Josie held a month long Boggle championship over the course of the festival, challenging everyone to games between shows.

I unashamedly love that sort of thing. We get so caught up in only doing things that are important and that will drive us forwards in life, that we rarely ever spend time on something silly and purely for enjoyment purposes. Well, I’m a big fan of doing little thing just for the sake of it. That’s why I bought myself a 24 pack of Sharpie pens, despite having no practical use for them whatsoever. One of my February challenges was to make a stop motion animation, and I decided yesterday would be perfect to give it a shot. I’ve never done anything like that in my life before, and it was a big process of trial and error. For my ‘final’ piece, I shot about 200 frames, editing it together using the amazing free JellyCam software, and the result is below. It’s so far from perfect, or even being any good, but it was my first time! And I’m going to try some more (better) stuff in future. Hope you enjoy!

Dead Wood: The Future of Magazines

On Tuesday night, I whipped myself off back to the metropolis for a talk at the V&A, named, rather ominously, ‘Dead wood: The Future of Magazines’. There were four speakers: Lucy Scott and Tina Smith of ‘Lost in London‘ magazine, Steve Watson of Stack Magazines, and Alan Rutter, journalist, writer and web entrepreneur.

Due to the name of the event, I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect. I care passionately about the fate of magazines, not just because I’m hoping my future career will involve a healthy dose of magazine writing, but also because I adore reading them. I don’t think reading on my iPhone, laptop, or on a tablet could ever replace that feeling of a physical object, an object with a distinct texture and smell…I love to engage fully with my magazines. I fold pages over, draw on them, often rip things out to plaster on my walls, or for inspiration when I’m designing.

Reading a digital publication inspires no joy whatsoever in me. I struggle to read, I get distracted, I click off and back onto Facebook…It just simply doesn’t work for me. Those are my opinions, the opinions of a long term magazine reader, but not someone who has had a great deal of direct contact with the industry. I was intrigued to hear what the various speakers would have to say on the subject, so without further ado, I’ll tell you a little bit about what I learnt:

Lucy Scott and Tina Smith

These two lovely ladies have founded their own quarterly magazine called ‘Lost in London’. The ethos is delightful: a beautifully curated magazine created for those who are looking for a little bit of pastoral charm in our teeming metropolis. I grew up both in Sussex and Surrey (well, Ascot in Berkshire, but…you know) and have always been surrounded by nature, parks, and general loveliness. When I look back on my childhood, I genuinely see fields of long grass at dusk, doing maths homework and playing football on the huge lawns outside my old house, ‘nature expeditions’ during school days, Natural Trust properties, cream teas…Even while I was at uni, I rediscovered a love of exploring nature and climbing trees.

I’d always wondered how to align my love of the countryside with my adoration of London. ‘Lost in London’ features photos and text centred on ‘portraying the city’s hidden charms and rustic character, as London based artists provide a visual response to the city.’ A wonderful idea, and well-executed. So that was the publication, but what did the co-producers have to say about the future of magazines, and their experience in the industry?

Obviously, we’re talking about independent magazines here. The general consensus is that, say, ‘Vogue’ will be around millions of years in the future. But what about the creative, artistic, advertising-free smaller magazines? Tina and Lucy started off working at Property Week, and found that their ideas on what made a good magazine meshed. To cut a medium-sized story short, they launched ‘Lost in London’. They told us that when they launched, they didn’t view it as a business, or anything that would make them money. They decided to stay true to their creative ideals, eschew any advertising, and keep it purely their magazine.

Tina and Lucy were realistic about the implications of this. The magazine industry is more or less run on advertising (yesterday I almost put my back out trying to lift up the March edition of Vogue…embarrassing), so I love the fact that many of these small publications are avoiding the mighty hammer of advertising and carving out their own way. Of course, financially, this makes the difference between a profitable magazine and a piece of art. Tina and Lucy commented that they ‘just about broke even’ on their project.

Not ideal if you’re looking to make your new publication your primary career – Tina and Lucy both work other jobs, ploughing all of their spare time into ‘Lost in London’, but they’ve created something they can truly be proud of. They have not compromised on any part of their project. Everything contained inside is real, true, and beautiful, and I believe they have achieved what they set out to do.

You can buy ‘Lost in London’ from http://lostinlondon.bigcartel.com/, as well as a variety of stockists around the city, including Selfridges. You can also ‘Like’ them on Facebook, and follow them on Twitter

Steve Watson

Steve is something of a magazine maverick. He has founded ‘Stack’, a magazine subscription service which implements a ‘lucky dip’ mentality, meaning you get an absolutely corking independent magazine sent to your door every month. In the first few minutes of his talk, I’d scribbled down some fantastic sounding titles, which on further Googling, have very much, erm, tickled my fancy. Steve was strongly of the belief that print is NOT dead.

He lamented the fact that it’s extremely difficult to locate independent magazines – especially since Borders closed down. Incidentally, I actually read this week that Paperchase are due to start stocking indie titles, which is VERY exciting news. Steve also stated that he believed money can be made from magazines. Like the ‘Lost in London’ creators, he also commented on the fact that the idea is the key thing. Settle on a good concept, because ultimately this will keep you going. The idea is what people will latch on to, and will make them subscribe.

Steve explained how print media should be about providing what digital media simply can’t do. He exemplified this through talking about ‘Delayed Gratification’ magazine, where the last three months of news are reviewed, using a combination of interviews with those involved, and the oh so ubiquitous infographics. He also mentioned ‘Address’, which looks set to be my new favourite magazine, featuring a more ‘academic’ look at fashion. Steve liked the idea of someone thinking ‘I can’t possibly be in a world where this thing doesn’t exist’.

Steve recently worked on a project called ‘The Good Times’ for The Church of London, which involved pulling together an utterly optimistic newspaper and distributing it on the day that “experts” (not actual experts) had decreed as “the most depressing day of the year”. Coincidentally, that was my birthday, so I’m glad someone was doing something positive. I strongly recommend you get yourself a subscription to Stack: http://www.stackmagazines.com/, and also watch the video below:

Alan Rutter

Last up was Alan Rutter, journalist, start-up founder and digital consultant. He has recently worked at Condé Nast as iPad projects manager, so was obviously coming at the topic from a different angle. (That being said, all speakers did value the power of digital!) He discussed the important things to consider in terms of making a magazine tablet friendly: a certain degree of interactivity, combinations of image and text, and making it readable offline – after all, many readers will have their tablets fired up on the tube.

Alan described a magazine as ‘a curated collection of stories’, as opposed to being a tangible object. For this reason, he believed that a digital incarnation of a magazine was of equal artistic merit, as long as it was carefully designed. He commented that books and magazines are finite, but the web is not. Interestingly, he also discussed how a magazine is an ‘object’, and yet, when you read a magazine on a tablet, the tablet becomes the object.

Alan also talked about financial matters, and how producing a digital publication might not necessarily mean costs were lower. For example, you might need to pay for good content, and Apple will take 30% if you run it through them. Equally, there are the issues of huge competition, and discoverability. Alan recommended learning HTML5, if you’re a developer, as this will ensure your digital publication can work across any screen.

Ultimately, he commented ‘People do want something finite, that’s been curated for them’, and he believes print and digital should be able to sit side by side. Visit Alan’s site here: http://www.alanrutter.com/

My thoughts

Days on from the talk, and I’m still turning it over in my head. I hadn’t been expecting more of a discussion on integrity and the nature of art – I just thought we were going to be told that magazines were dying – dead, even, and that we should all forget about the dream of working on one. Instead, it was a celebration of the independent magazine ideal. From that one evening, I now have a long list of new magazines to read, and renewed hope for the future.

I learnt so much in those two hours than I’m still processing it. It isn’t just the wonderful revelation that there are still print-junkies out there, but also the idea of a world where adverts don’t form 60-70% of publications (it’s probably more, actually). A world where a group of people created a positive news only newspaper and circulated it on “the most depressing day of the year”. A world where Londoners go around seeking the rustic parts of the city, and taking beautifully judged photos…to say I’m inspired is an understatement. My poor little exhausted and increasingly cynical heart had become very heavy, and that weight is lifting, thanks to the wonderful speakers, and the V&A.

So, in the meantime, let’s all go and read an independent magazine, shall we? How about subscribing to Stack? Put down that mainstream magazine you’re clutching, just for a month, and try something new. Go and sniff a magazine. Get a paper cut. And above all, don’t give up hope.