Immeasurable value: a new issue or a new car?

This is a nice time in the cycle of the magazine… subscribers around the world are experiencing the joy of receiving the new issue in their mailbox. Thank you for sharing your excited tweets and beautiful Instagrams—not only do I enjoy seeing how the magazine fits into your daily life, but this 'social proof’ is vital in sharing the magazine to potential new readers in an authentic way. A magazine is only as good as its community of readers and you are the most valuable part of the entire UPPERCASE equation. I am grateful to have such an appreciative audience.

My hope is that the quality of content, level of inspiration, professional advancement and personal creative development offered by a year of UPPERCASE far exceeds the monetary cost of the subscription. When I hear stories about subscribers taking time out of a hectic day to spend quality time with a new issue (and your appreciation of the inky aroma), of connections and collaborations between readers, of the joy at being featured, or artists getting commissions and professional opportunities by being its pages, this is the kind of value that can’t be measured. This is the best kind, because it's from the heart.

In creating a physical product, there are always cost considerations for its production. When designing the current issue, I knew it would be fairly monochromatic—including the cover. Seb Lester’s calligraphic grocery list was conceptually the perfect fit, but it is a departure from UPPERCASE’s usually colourful covers. I wanted to add a little special something to give the cover some more pizazz… and with calligraphy nibs, silver spoons and heraldic shields as themes within the issue, a silver foil was meant to be. In fact, having a metallic spine is something I’ve wanted to do for a long time—UPPERCASE’s patterned spines are inspired by classic Little Golden Book’s signature gold-foiled spines.

Using a foil is an added expense; it requires making a die and running the cover through another press after the colour run. At a total cost of $2,215, I weighed the pros and cons and decided it was worth it. Not only is the metallic spine accomplishing one of my dreams on my design bucket list, it definitely adds to the cover appeal. For readers discovering the magazine in a stockist’s display its silver flash is eye-catching. And for subscribers receiving the magazine at home, it’s a special treat to see something different.

Producing a simple issue of UPPERCASE is expensive—the equivalent of buying a luxury vehicle every quarter! Issue 23 cost $37,561.82 in print production and freight, plus another $6000 in mail prep and postage to send the magazine to subscribers worldwide. That’s a huge investment and one that I make four times a year. I’m proud of the fact that in six years of the magazine, I’ve been able to pay my print bills consistently. To be sure, it is stressful to be faced with such expenses—and certainly it has been a challenge and a matter of juggling to make it work—but I love making this magazine.

Long live print!

This post was originally published as part of my weekly newsletter. See the full graphic-rich newsletter here and sign up for informative, inspiring and free weekly content right here.