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Interview with Herd Magazine founder Steph Vicente

By Ryan Saxby Hill on October 12, 2012

A new entry to Ottawa’s indie media-scape is launching this weekend – combining discussion of Arts and Culture with compelling design to create something that should be pretty unique. The big reveal for Herd Magazine – billing itself as “freely distributed literature covering local arts&culture on a quarterly basis” will be this Friday night at Fall Down Gallery on Bank Street. They’ve invited Amos the Transparent and will have food from LUNCH, Auntie Loo’s Treats, and the Gouda Life on hand. All the details are on the Herd website here.

We sent a few questions over to Steph Vincent, the founder of Herd to find out what we can expect from her new mag.

Apartment613: What can we expect from Herd? What is your editorial vision for the magazine?

Steph: Ottawa can expect quality: in the words, in the design, in the featured art, in the paper it’s produced on, quality in (and on) every page. Our mission is this: to prohibit the exodus of Ottawa’s talent so that the cultural and creative community can thrive. We want to give credit where credit is due. Meaning, we want to bring to the surface the people pushing the local creative community forward, the people who are responsible for the events we attend, the galleries we enjoy, the food we eat, the art we see, the music we love, the poetry we read, the graffiti we grovel before. We describe these people as CULTURAL LIVESTOCK. This is a term I’ve coined for the magazine, and we intend on herding as many members as possible to make it known that Ottawa is artistic, interesting, and a friggen amazing place to live in.

Apartment613: Can you describe the Magazine’s aesthetic? What is your approach to graphic design and photography?

Steph: The magazine is a perfect square (8×8) and manufactured with 50% recycled materials. It’s something you want to get your hands on and keep. We’re really hoping people don’t pick it up at their local cafe and simply toss it in the trash. As far as graphic design goes, I wanted something sleek and clean yet still complex in the sense that it requires great skill to produce. Our creative director (and designer of the magazine), Joey Arseneau, did a phenomenal job. Especially since he had to deal with my constant suggestions and requests for changes. The logo is the spawn of Steve St. Pierre. My exact words were: I want an “h” with antlers of some sort. Make it happen. A few days later, we had a logo and an identity to be proud of.

My founding partner, Pat Bolduc, is the photo editor. His vision for photography revolves around edge, artistic integrity, and organic composition. Both of us aren’t into overly edited or processed photos. All of the photos in our magazine reflect this. Actually, he has something like 14 of his own photos in there, and they’re damn good. His shot of Adam Saikaley is the cover. Pat is self-taught so he’s got unconventional shooting methods, which is the main reason he has such a distinct photography style. All of our other contributing photographers meet his (high) standards. He was very picky as to what made the cut for the first issue.

Apartment613: You’ll be distributing the magazine in print and online. How will these two versions relate?

Steph: The full magazine will be downloadable online on our website in PDF format. Our web presence, however, will offer additional and complementary content. For example, in the first issue we have a feature on Adam Saikaley (written by yours truly), accompanied by photography. But on the website, we have a video of his performance on the day the interview took place, and the very performance I write about in the article.

We don’t want to step on anyone else’s toes (Apt613, Bywardofmouth, etc), so we won’t be posting any kind of events calendar and don’t want to be the place people go to to find out “what’s going on tonight.” We will post notices of our own events, we’ll attend events, and offer in depth coverage for our web exclusives, but we will not be an up-to-the-minute newsworthy source for locals. Web exclusives will be published online somewhat frequently, but again, since we are trying to dig deep, we will take our time. Because each issue is printed quarterly, we don’t want people forgetting about us, so there’ll be some emphasis on our web presence for sure. But that too, will be quality. Steve St. Pierre is designing our new page along with a developer, Brandon Brule. They’re working hard to make sure we have a very unique site, also clean and sleek and user friendly, but completely representative of our print magazine.

Apartment613: How are you running the magazine? Who’s working on this project?

Steph: Honestly, we’re tiny. It started with Pat and myself, then we needed to find ourselves some designers. That’s when Steve St. Pierre and Joey Arseneau stepped in. After that, I told everyone I knew that I was seeking contributors. Pat did the same. We herded all sorts of amazing local talent and next thing we know, we filled our inaugural issue. We rely almost entirely on advertising to maintain our printing budget. We’re hoping our events can help us pay our contributors in the future. After our third issue we’re applying for a grant, and if we receive anything from 15 000 – 75 000 $ we will increase distribution and pay all of our contributors as well as ourselves. We believe we have the longevity to be eligible for all sorts of grants, but most notably from the Canadian Periodical Fund.

Now that I’ve rambled on, I’ll leave you with this: This is a labour of love. As long as we are passionate about this publication we’ll find a way to keep it alive.

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