Sindroms Magazine launched in 2017 with their first issue, “Red Sindrom.” The magazine won immediate acclaim for its high quality photo spreads, creative styling and unique editorials (Editor’s disclosure: I wrote an article for the first issue). But what goes on behind the scenes of an independent magazine is just as interesting as what ends up in the pages.
We spoke with founder and Creative Director Miruna Sorescu, founder and Business Development Manager Teodorel, Editor-in-Chief Monique Schröder and Communications Manger Kotryna Abaraviciute to find out about the whole process.
Here’s what the Sindroms team has to say about publishing an independent magazine and what it’s like to work on a passion project:
When did you launch Sindroms? Tell us about the inspiration and to lead-up to that.
Miruna: We launched our first issue in the summer of 2017. It was a long process leading up to our launch. Not necessarily in terms of actually making the magazine, but putting together the team and finding all the contributors, as well as figuring out all the technicalities of starting a business.
The idea came up in 2016, when Kotryna and I were just graduating, and decided to make the dream of having our own magazine come true. It was something that just seemed very exciting to us because we could combine our backgrounds and work in more than one field. We didn’t know much about what it would take, but since there is so much competition, we knew we needed a unique idea.
We were working a lot with color in our recent projects, plus we are color enthusiasts still adjusting to the Scandi colour palette (uhm, black and white much?). The idea just struck me: what if we made a magazine that obsesses over a single color in each issue? We loved the idea, we pitched it around to friends and acquaintances and got a great reaction. Plus the occasional: “So you’re making a magazine about color in Scandinavia?”
Monique and I met during my internship at Kinfolk. Ana and I were already close friends as well as working together. When we joined up, things started getting a bit more real; we defined our vision, found contributors, and the magazine started to take shape.
We were also joined by Ausra Babiedaite, who was one of the first contributors to submit an editorial. She was a perfect match for Sindroms in terms of aesthetics. She became our Art Director for the first issue. It was very much our own vision, with us doing the editorials in-house as well as Monique writing a lot of the content herself.
Why color? What is it about color that inspires you? What do you think it is about color that inspires others?
Miruna: Color plays a huge role in our lives because everyone is affected by it. That’s why we decided to structure Sindroms on feelings and moods evoked by each color. It’s so inspiring to see how a certain color can influence your mood. You can then use that knowledge to spark different reactions in your audience.
Monique: Exactly! We really wanted to create a place where we touch upon the not-so-pretty sides of a color as well as what’s beautiful. With the red issue, we could have easily just talked about love and passion but we also wanted to showcase that anger is also part of the red journey. The same goes for yellow: anxiety or cowardice are equally important as happiness or optimism.
How do you want a reader to feel when they have an unread copy of Sindroms in front of him/her? How do you want him/her to feel after reading it?
Monique: I secretly wish I could be there every time someone opens a new issue of Sindroms. Colors are so personal, there are always aspects that I re-discover or hadn’t thought of before when I talk to someone new about colors. I hope the reader is surprised by how one color has so much to offer, whether positive or negative. Hopefully that will make the reader pick up the magazine over and over again.
Miruna: I’d like people to feel what I feel when discovering a beautiful new publication or just finding a brand new issue from my favourite ones: excited to touch it and to discover what’s inside. Maybe even smell it (or is that just me?). After reading it, I hope that they can’t “unsee” that color, and it follows them everywhere for a while.
Does Sindroms fit within the Scandinavian aesthetic? Why or why not?
Miruna: It does and it doesn’t. You could say it doesn’t because it’s so obsessively colorful, and that’s not something Scandinavia is particularly famous for. The Scandi color palette is definitely more focused on grey, black and white. You instantly notice this when moving here from a country where color is more easily found and more abundantly used; I personally did, and while I adapted to it so much and changed my style because of it, I did feel this need to bring color in my life here. This played a big part in the inspiration of creating Sindroms, I think.
And it goes beyond the print publication. We try to bring color and this element of monochrome states of mind also through our events in Copenhagen. On the other hand, it does fit within the Scandi aesthetic in terms of visual style. While we are very colorful, we also try to cultivate a quite conceptual and minimalist aesthetic, which has definitely been very influenced by Scandinavia’s design scene.
Monique: Funny that you’re asking! We actually receive this question a lot and it’s so difficult to answer. Before we started, I only noticed all the muted colors; whereas now I’ve started noticing so much color around us. I don’t know if that’s because there has been an increasing color splash recently or if my mind is wired for colors now.
Given that print is known to be having a tough time on the market right now, what was the initial reaction from people when you told them you were printing a magazine?
Miruna: It’s true, we had to brush off a few “but everyone knows print is dying” reactions, but we weren’t discouraged by those because we realized they came from people that were not that familiar with the independent publishing market. We believe the statement is partially true: some print may be dying, but other print is thriving. Of course some print publications are suffering – newspapers, mainstream magazines that simply aggregate news or trends – we already have all this content conveniently available online, for free. But indie publishing tells a different story. This market is filled with creative people that are reinventing print, producing beautifully-designed, exciting publications.
Monique: It’s clear that people still love print but they also laugh it off very quickly when I tell them that I have one foot in the printing biz now. I think this two-faced reaction is very interesting and it could go either way. I’m excited to see how the generation that has always been immersed in the digital sphere feels about print. Like Miruna mentioned, print objects have so much more to offer and can even become design objects.
Kotryna: I would say people that were fans of indie publications or were familiar with this industry were really supportive and encouraged us to follow our dream of having a print magazine. But as mentioned, we had a couple of those “print is dying” moments. I think that diving deeper, seeing all the amazing indie mags that are making it and of course having our strong vision made us stick to our goal and finally helped us make it happen.
Ana: In order to approach the print mag industry you strongly need to believe in what it offers compared to digital. All four of us see a higher value in having a print issue rather than creating a digital version. When you also consider the concept of colors and sensuality, print was natural.
Explain the production process for Sindroms – where is the paper sourced, where is it printed, bound, etc? Were these vendors hard to find?
Miruna: We work with a printer based in Romania. That’s where Ana and I are from, so it is quite easy for us to visit them when needed and be closely involved in the process. They have a wide variety of paper and materials, and have the patience to do a lot of testing with us prior to printing. This is very important for us – especially since Sindroms is about color – so we are over-the-top picky about the way the colors come out on paper.
How did it feel to launch your first issue?
Monique: This sounds so cliché but we felt ALL the feelings.The entire rainbow back and forth and back again. It’s really difficult to describe but there was definitely anxiety, overwhelming joy and pride in the mix. I remember seeing Sindroms for the first time so clearly. It’s a moment I’ll never forget.
Miruna: It felt chaotic and overwhelming, but exciting at the same time. Kind of like a positive panic attack, if that makes any sense. It was definitely weird to finally have this magazine in our hands and share it with other people as well, putting it out there in the world and seeing that people liked it and were actually buying it, and not just our friends.
Kotryna: I agree. I felt all the feelings we talk about in our publication. Passion while creating it, love at first sight when I first opened Red Sindrom, anger when something didn’t work out.
Ana: We worked in house on the first issue because we were really picky but also because we wanted to make sure our breakthrough issue was transmitting the exact message we planned for. Looking at the intense working rhythm from the few weeks before the event, the launch itself came as a tornado of happiness.
Tell us about your upcoming issue! What was the most difficult, and what was the most fun about producing it?
Ana: The most fun was every photoshoot we had for this issue! We worked with so many talented artists for this issue that seeing their creativity into action and working together not only inspired us further, but brought a lot of fun on set as well.
Monique: Because Sindroms is our creative venture after business hours, finding the right balance of a productive but also fun process will always be challenging.
Kotryna: I agree with Monique, finding the balance and making that hard work enjoyable can be tricky sometimes. We are still in the process of learning it, but it is getting better and better. When I think about the most fun times, I firstly remember our “pre-printing” meetings, where we overview all the content, do the final touches and make it ready for print. Of course, the minute when I have it in my hands, that “we did it” moment is something wonderful. As for challenges, it was so hard for me to come up with emotions associated with yellow. I had no idea how yellow feels. After the research and our brainstorm sessions, I was surprised at how many angles on yellow we came up with.
Miruna: This issue is special to me because we managed to go a level up from the red issue. I personally can’t wait to see if our readers will recognize the progress in the same way we do. The yellow issue is thicker, has a reinterpreted cover, and has many more contributors making it more complex.
Why did you choose to do a Kickstarter? Tell us what that process has been like so far
Ana: Kickstarter for us was a way to start including our community while also expanding it. We saw it as a new challenge in order to be able to take Sindroms to the next level in terms of quantity, as well as in terms of finding new creatives to work with.
Miruna: Exactly, and it was also a great way to get support from our readers and get pre-orders for the yellow issue so that we can make it happen. Printing the magazine is a big financial effort, one that we took upon ourselves for the first issue. While the magazine is out there in stores around the world, the process of getting paid for sales can be very lengthy, and usually doesn’t happen until a new issue is out. So it was really wonderful to be able to gather the support we needed in order to cover our printing costs upfront.
What advice would you give others wanting to start out in the publishing industry?
Ana: Come from an authentic place, translate your passion into your project, find your own space, build a concept around it, and communicate the initial steps meant to guide your audience.
Monique: Don’t expect to be rich [laughs]! No, but it’s true. If you go into this industry, be passionate about it and have a clear purpose in mind.
Kotryna: Always remember your primary vision and mission. It is very easy to lose it while you are trying to figure out the ways to stay on the market and make some money.
Miruna: Make sure you have an idea that they are passionate about, and be ready to dedicate your life to it. The competition is high, there are dozens of new magazines coming out every month. Ask for advice from others that are doing similar things.
Want to get the next issue of Sindroms for yourself? Pre-order by donating to their Kickstarter.There are great rewards, such as their Monochrome Dinner (an entirely yellow dining experience!), a curated weekend of color, and the chance to help them decide on next issue’s color!