Fecha de publicación: mayo de 2010.
// I understand you don’t have any commercial aims for La Mas Bella and you are targeting a niche audience. Have you received more attention than you expected?
From the very beginning we knew (we supposed, I’d say) our creation will not be interesting for many people. I mean, we started the project with a kind of “amateur” spirit, publishing the artistic work of friends and colleagues, and trying to distribute our magazine between friends and people interested in this no-mainstream contents. I suppose that is why we pay so much attention in distribute and move our magazine in small circles of friends: no distribution companies involved, no advertising campaigns… just to organize a party to our friends and contributors, and take the magazine with ourselves all the time, distributing it in a few shops… One of the marvellous thing happened to us is thanks to La Más Bella we have met many people involved in the world of contemporary culture, art and design, and they have become new friends and finally they asked to collaborate in the magazine. So yes, we received much more attention than we expected, and our niche have been growing all the time, but we did’t change our original spirit, the process have been rather natural for us. So, more than fifteen years after our first edition we noticed the interest and the audience is still growing, maybe because we always thought in a small project for a few interested people.
// Can you share your circulation figures? (Perhaps production figures would be more suitable?)
La Mas Bella magazine has a print run of 1000 copies. Our magazine is every time more and more objetual, every edition is a complex kit with all the contributions inside: printed material together with objects, silk screen prints, hand made pieces, photocopy, ink jet prints… So the production process needs every time a big production line with lots of friends helping us to do all the handling. This is important to understand our project is very small, and it requires a strong personal effort, physical effort I mean.
We distribute every edition quite slowly (we make one edition per year), but continuously. We can say after 5-6 years every edition is finally sold out. There are some old editions (from 2000) that we still have copies, but in the other hand there are a couple of recent editions sold out in less than 3 years.
Obviously our editions have a long life, and people who buy them usually keep the magazine in their collections, so we thing this “slow rhythm” is a strong point of our publishing project. We can say the project is slow but it is alive and continuously moving.
// What kind of response have you had so far? Do you think the format of La Mas Bella has made you win, loose or perhaps had nothing to do with your readership?
Definitely we think the format is one of the strong points of our project. Every edition of La Más Bella has a concept, we make mono graphic editions built around one idea. We propose the idea and the contributors create their work thinking in this mono graphic idea. We like every little thing we publish in the magazine is connected with the concept, with the main idea of the edition. And of course the format of the edition is decided according with this subject. So, we also offer to the contributions that they can use or propose different supports and formats for their work. All together create a kit with a global idea, where every detail has a meaning, and of course the different formats has also a meaning. This is definitely very important for the project.
// How do you feel about so much content becoming available online?
As you know La Mas Bella is made by two people: Diego Ortiz –me- and Pepe Murciego. In some ways we are very different and sometimes we think differently about many matters. The matter of the new digital world is one of those topics. So this is the personal response of Diego Ortiz, not the “official” answer of La Mas Bella.
For me, as a person working in the media professionally from the last fifteen years, and personally interested in new technologies, I think we are living a rather exciting moment for the world of communication. But we must also say that in some ways the situation is not entirely new. For example, Internet has meant the possibility of obtaining a large amount of information and cultural contents. Right. But such enormous amount of information and contents was already there before: there were already millions of books, thousands of films, videos, music … before the digital world arrived to our lives. Fifty years ago no human being was able to embrace just a little fraction of this cultural content. So the situation is not new. Internet simply offers a new way to approach this contents, and of course this new way will provoke new ways to produce, new languages… This is absolutely exciting to me, I like to live this moment.
But personally I feel just as overwhelmed than 15 years ago. 15 years ago I had at home much more books than I could read in my entire life. Internet simply has changed my priority, I will never read some of the books I have in my house. But I will read others created thanks to Internet and the new digital world.
// How do you feel about the current market of publishing?
There is one important thing we have to say: we don’t belong to the professional market of publishing. Our activity is absolutely no-professional, we don’t have a professional structure and we never had professional routines to make La Mas Bella magazine. It is true that I personally have worked in professional publishing companies and I have been director of a couple of commercial magazines, but I can not say I have a wide knowledge of the professional publishing industry.
So, what do I feel about the professional publishing industry? My answer is I hope this companies can make wonderful books and magazine in the future because I like books and magazines, but I am not worried if this companies disappear and move to the Internet world, because the Internet world is also very attracting to me.
// You mentioned in the interview for ‘We Make Magazines’ that your secret to success has come by making ‘something personal, different and fun’ do you think this is something that could be used in the mass consumer market to save the printed publication?
But, why should we save the printed publication? We should save the good publications, doesn’t matter if printed or digital. I have no hopes that the industry use this concepts: “personal, different, fun”…, because this is a risk, and at least in Spain the risk doesn’t exist in the professional publishing industry. The companies in Spain simply copy ideas from foreign projects, they adapt succeeded projects, so I have no hopes that it changes in the future. Obviously this is not our choice, but we don’t belong to the industry!
// You also mentioned that a couple of advertising agencies have copied your concept in their work, who were they and what did they do? Success?
Yes, this is a very typical situation in the Spanish advertising. Only two or three advertising companies offer innovative work, the others simply copy formulas seen in international advertising festivals. So, in this case the person who copied our idea (a well-known creative director in an important company) had very good taste and ventured to copy an idea that came from outside the traditional areas where advertising seeks its inspiration. So I have nothing to say, he did the same that other colleagues, and also I think he had very good taste to copy our edition. La Más Bella published in 2003 an edition called La Mas Bella TU (La Mas Bella YOU!). Formally, the collaborations were tucked into a typical wallet: credit cards, money, ID cards and… One advertising agency copied this idea to create a press kit for a famous Hollywood movie. Yes, they had a great success, the won some important advertising awards.
// How would you feel if the magazine industry started creating publications that shared the same values and physical qualities as you?
I don’t know, I supose I’d feel great because I like what I do. But I insist our proposal is completely personal, so it is virtually impossible for anyone to copy our formula. If someone do, we can easily change and offer another way to publish. Anyway I am not worried for this possibility, but if someone do I think I’d laugh a lot.
// What would you like to see the publishing industry doing in 5 years time?
It is absolutely impossible (and silly) predict what the publishing industry is going to offer in 5 years, we are now in a strong moment of changes, so nobody can say what is happening in… five months. But I like this situation, now we can imagine new products are borning, there are many people all over the world thinking new ways to publish. So, in five year the publishing industry is going to be completely new, and I like to be a witness of this change. I am happy to be one the small (very very small) contributors of this change, thanks to my project La Mas Bella. I don’t mean I want to change anything, I just say every little personal contribution are going to create the new publishing industry. Of course in the future the industry will be a mix between digital contents and “traditional” formats and supports, I don’t know exactly how, but it is exciting for me.
Any comments you could share with regards to these questions would be an exceptional help!
I’d say the most important think is make personal projects and try to know what people are interested in this project. If you make 100 copies for 50 people you succeed. Y you make 10.000 copies for 50 people…