Common Mag started as a passion project to create and design an online magazine run by women and non-binary people for everyone to enjoy. In celebration of our launch, we sat down to talk about our experiences bringing Common Mag to life.
Common Mag first became an idea three years ago. I don’t remember how, I don’t remember why, but I was sitting at my desk designing the logo for a fictional magazine when I should have been doing readings for class. I probably don’t even have the notebook I drew them in, and had no knowledge of Adobe yet (or even logo design), so the “good copy” of the logo was legitimately done on Microsoft Word.
Growing up with more of a focus on fine arts, I really discovered magazines and graphic design in high school, which ultimately transitioned me away from fine art and more into focusing on art as a fun form of expression. From there, my collection of magazines (and collaged pages) grew exponentially and I always fantasised about working alongside a creative team. It wasn’t until university (and the unfortunate decrease of print mags) that I discovered online platforms for such things.
After finally teaching myself Adobe, I started designing digitally and writing for online magazines around Ryerson. I realized I could start one myself after I made my own website/blog and collaborated on a print collection of personal essays with Danielle. It was something we had the talent/drive to tackle, so what could stop us?
We planned all summer to start our own platform, to have our own team of creative individuals come together and make content. We first put out a call for people looking to help, and the response was so much more than we had ever hoped. We had people emailing and DM-ing us their interest from all over Canada—even a few from the U.S. and New Zealand (AH!). We ended up with a strong team of amazing women and I will be forever grateful to them for being patient with us (and extremely enthusiastic) as we figured this process out together.
Danielle and I were very set on creating Common Mag ourselves. However, pulling this team together generated the support I don’t think we realized we needed and thrived behind. Speaking on behalf of our designers; my design team excites me with every single progress-email they send, and we haven’t even launched yet (and I know Dani feels the same with Editorial). These women don’t see how talented they truly are, and I honestly can’t wait for you all to see the hard work and dedication of this team, having stuck by Common Mag in its earliest of stages.
An accumulation of events and personal experiences led to Common Mag’s founding. On my side of the story, I have always known I wanted to get into publishing, but I never considered blogging. When I started writing for Ryerson as a student blogger, I knew that it was something I loved to do. Mix that with my experience in student leadership and in an editor role at a student publication, and I finally knew what I wanted—to start my own online magazine.
This knowledge came with an uncertainty about how to develop a platform that people would want to write for. I’ve had writing experiences that limited my ability to be creative and to speak freely, or in my own voice. I didn’t want that for us. That’s just not how it should be. I wanted to make something that was fun and not limiting to those who wanted to be a part of it. Our writers don’t write on behalf of Common Mag, Common Mag is a platform for them to share their own stories, in their own voice. We are a mixture of everything: beauty; wellness; social issues; personal essays; opinion pieces; reviews; and recommendations. We are a hub for women (and quite honestly, anyone else) to come to and enjoy what they’re reading.
When we initially put the call out to find people to join our team, I was honestly overwhelmed by the responses. Within two days, I think we had at least twelve people who wanted to work with us as photographers, graphic designers, and writers. There are so many creative people I know and it is so humbling and so very exciting that they all wanted to be a part of something like this. As of our launch, we’re a team of 20.
Sometimes I do feel the weight of the team on my shoulders. What if I’m not organized enough to run a team? What if I don’t communicate my ideas effectively or answer every question well enough? What if people don’t like working with me? I think these are fears that anyone who is trying to start a project has. But there came a point when I was more determined than afraid and I just wanted to begin this journey.
I have so many ideas for Common Mag and what I want it to become. With such an amazing team and a creative partner beside me, I know that we’ll be able to get there.
This is only the beginning, and we can’t wait to see the way we will grow into better designers, writers, and collaborators as Common Mag continues to thrive. So happy Launch Week! We really hope you enjoy the mag we’ve all worked our asses off to create!
Love, Claire & Danielle
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