The first time I ever drove a dirt bike was in the summer of ’94. It was my uncle’s dirty red Honda XL 80 at our cabin on Nakamun Lake. I will never forget the first time I experienced that oily aroma of bike exhaust, the taste of dust packed between my teeth, the hammer of the wind pressing against my chest, and the fiery sun tattooing the helmet’s outline on my face.
During the winter after that first ride, all I could think about was making it to next spring and getting back out on that rickety bike. During those bitter, snowy months, I would long for that same rush like a heroin addict craves his next fix. I wanted to know everything there was about dirt biking and motocross. It was rare to see it on television, and I didn’t even know what the internet was (not that it could help at the time, anyway). This brought me to my new love in life. The magazine. For about three years, I spent nearly every dollar I made buying every motocross magazine I could get my hands on. I would read and re-read each issue cover-to-cover. They got me amped up when I couldn’t ride, made me smart about the sport, and ignited something I can only describe as a fire in my belly. I needed to dirt bike. It was this intoxicating concoction of photographs, words, typography, and colour that brought me back to those dusty trails. It set my imagination wild with daydreams of racing around performing death-defying stunts for adoring fans and girls I had crushes on.
Later on in high school, my love for motocross would subside. My focus shifted from bikes to boards and skateboarding, wakeboarding, and snowboarding became the subjects of my obsession. I would spend hours in Chapters poring over the latest publications and buy them when I could afford it. Eventually I began noticing the design and why they were so engaging. I analyzed the articles and appreciated how every story was designed to bring the reader in, making him forget about his surroundings. Sometime near the end of high school, I realized that I wanted to design magazines.
I took Electronic Publishing in college where I learned all about the magazine industry while taking a smattering of graphic design, web design, and a hint of entrepreneurship. It was at this point I realized that the printed periodical was dying. It’s tough for magazines to make money. There’s a reason most are half full of advertisements. The publishing process is incredibly expensive; production and distribution are so expensive that typically a subscriber needs to stick around for at least 3-4 years before the publication starts to make any money off of them. Most fail, and the ones that do succeed hardly make a profit. This was unbelievably disheartening for a naive young student. I ran far far away into the welcoming arms of the Internet.
I love the internet dearly. I am still grateful to be able to create in this medium and I’ve learned a lot about designing for it in the past few years. But as I’ve written before, it’s not a magazine replacement.
Apple just released something revolutionary. The hardware itself is largely unimpressive. We’ve all seen it before. It’s a big iPod touch. That’s not the point. A lot of people seem to be hung up on this, but a few smart folks are looking past the hardware and seem to be ecstatic as I am about the potential of this new platform. For the first time since switching my interest to the web, I feel like my passion for the magazine is being rekindled. I have no idea how I can get involved, or even if this iteration is the answer, but I feel like my true calling, my true passion in life is about to find me… and that passion lies within the evolution of the electronic magazine.
It’s starting to feel like spring again.