The third speaker for Making A living Week was Alec Dudson, founder of Intern Magazine, an annual publication devoted to the area of internship, funnily enough. He told the story of having worked in a dead-end job and thinking, ‘Sod this. Let’s do something interesting.’ He went around the world working with some of his design heroes, learning all of the skills needed to run a magazine, and while it was a great thing to be offered the opportunity to work along side these people, getting paid wasn’t usually part of the equation.
After a successful Kickstarter campaign (where he still needed more money, as he did his sums wrong-cautionary tale), Alec managed to get his first issue published. He admitted ‘I’m not a businessman’ while reflecting on the difficulties he encountered trying to arrange funding.
The position of the magazine is to give a balanced representation of internship as an employment model, using only contributions from unpaid creatives. By that, I mean people who haven’t had a design job yet, but are clearly talented enough to do them. Alec pays all the contributors to the magazine. Don’t want there to be any confusion on that point.
It seemed to me that Alec was trying to be completely honest about what he’d gone through, even if that meant coming across as jaded. I know some people weren’t exactly thrilled with this, but I found his demeanour to be refreshing. No 45 minute talk can ever express the months and years of hard work that go into any successful endeavour, and students get enough presentations where big shots reel off the list of elite clients they’ve worked for before swanning off back to work (more on Grand Visual later).
Alec Dudson feels like he’s not so far down the road to success that he’s forgotten what beans-on-toast for dinner feels like.
Jon Cockley talked about this briefly when he mentioned that he was 100% against illustrators working for free, but some people do love to try their luck when it comes to paying commissions. At the heart of Intern Magazine is the notion that creative people offer services and those services are valuable. Underpricing and underpaying are unacceptable. (The free market disagrees vehemently, but that’s another story.)
Dudson’s talk brought the first day’s proceedings to a close. There was a lot to take in. My only complaint is that we didn’t have this thing happen when we were in the first year. In a lot of ways, it’s too late for me to take the good advice and habits these people offered and use them to make me a better practitioner before graduation, so I’ll have to settle for muddling along until I can set my own itinerary.
I should mention I bought a copy of Intern Magazine for a tenner and I must say, as someone who cares very little for embellishment and superfluous details, that I was very impressed with both the print quality and the content of said magazine. In fact, with a few more publications like that to inspire me, I might start taking a shine to magazine layout… No promises, mind you…