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Format Magazine Doesn't Forget Where it Came From


Format Magazine launched in mid-october and is already making a name for itself. The online venture, founded by U of T student Daniel Eckler, has already been linked to by some very prominent blogs in the urban art and fashion worlds. Format tries to "maintain a broad scope" and takes notice of "elements from every corner of the art world, including, but not limited to: fashion, street art, traditional fine art, graffiti, sneaker culture, designer toys, film, photography, design, music, books, and magazines," says Eckler.

Publishing issues at a feverish bi-weekly pace (with lots of new content showing up in between), Format Magazine is becoming a leading online destination for those interested with urban art and fashion. With about a quarter of the staff from Toronto there is naturally a Hogtown vibe happening but doesn't limit itself to only local events and news. "Each issue has had at least one piece with a Toronto focus. We'll continue to represent the city, but Format is an international publication, with an international staff, and so our scope will continue to be international."

Talking to Eckler you first notice his enthusiasm about the project. It started with $1500 of his own money and he really believes in the concept. So do others apparently. His staff is now up to 30 people and the ads have started showing up. Daniel is a self motivated culture journalist, and would probably fit in pretty well at blogTO, if he didn't try to take it over that is. Read on for the full interview.

Who is format magazine? What brought you together?

Format Magazine is a group of people who are passionate about urban culture. Not everyone who is a part of the team is into every element of what makes up the magazine, but by having people focused in different areas, with varying interests, it helps us develop content in a more constructive way. Our team is made-up of editors, writers, designers, photographers, marketers, and generally cool people who have no specific craft except to supply us with information, and buzz the magazine by acting fly.

What is compelling you to do this?

I'm sure everyone on the team has some unique personal motivation, but I think the common thread is probably that we all want to see urban art and fashion further developed and exposed among both the inner community, and the world as a whole. There is no real definitive urban art/fashion magazine, and we want to change that.

Where does format fit into the scene, and what scene is that exactly?

That's a good question, and there is no real answer to it. You can call the scene mash culture, urban culture, youth culture, and any number of other things. It's so fluid, and encompasses so much, and so many different people, that it's almost impossible to define. Hip-hop, punk rock, indie, skateboarding, graffiti, drug culture -- these are just a few of the major influences. As I mentioned earlier, what we're trying to do with Format is develop the urban/art fashion scene as it relates to all of these subcultures, but specifically hip-hop.

Who is your audience? Hiphoppers? Hipsters? Fashionista? Design Junkies? Nerds? Jocks?

...Sneakerheads, Artists, Graf Writers, Streetwear Enthusiasts. All of the above and more, I'm sure. The time hasn't come to do polling quite yet, but the diversity of the content, the widespread promotion, and the power of search engines, really lets us reach a wide audience. I'll never define our audience, unless it's to a potential advertiser, because it's unfair and potentially insulting to anyone who is a reader that doesn't fit the definition.

How is traffic? Has it gone up since you got linked from Josh Spear and others?

Traffic is good. The magazine is only one month old, we spent $200 total on promotion, and we got over 2000 visits yesterday alone. We've been doing guerrilla promotions since the jump, and they've all boosted traffic. Josh Spear specifically hasn't sent us that much traffic, but every hit counts, and I definitely want to big him up for covering Format. A lot of blogs have featured the magazine and some have sent more traffic than others. We're doing a lot of different promotion though, and will continue, so I expect to see traffic continue to rise.

What's coming up from format that we haven't seen yet?

Both [podcasts and video] are possibilities. The focus right now is getting the magazine into a dominant position, and until that happens, we aren't likely to run anything that doesn't fall under the 'Format Magazine' scope. Media is all connected though, so readers can expect to see other forms popping up on the mag from time to time.

Do you see a print edition down the road, or is this going to be online only?

A print edition is a possibility, but it's not something that we're necessarily planning for. Our goal is to become the definitive resource for urban art/fashion on the Internet. Once that happens, we'll explore other possibilities like going to print.

Format seems very hip-hop focused. Is this on purpose or by accident?

Definitely on purpose. From the onset, I've always felt it's important to have a tight focus. From a publishing perspective, you've already got high fashion and fine art magazines saturating newsstands and the Internet; when it comes to art and fashion, there are very few publications that speak to the hip-hop audience, and even then, it's not their main focus. On the editorial side, I grew up with this. Sure, I'm into fine arts, and high fashion, but for the most part, they don't represent me personally. I think the same holds true for lots of youth today who have grown up with hip-hop, and I'd even take it a step further to say that lots of youth today have zero interest in fine arts or high fashion, whereas if they see a graffiti mural, or the new Bape hoodie, that gets them excited. We're not purposely excluding any other music, or culture, but it's just natural that if you focus on one thing, others will not be included to the same degree.

Where would you like to see format in a year from now? In 5 years?

One year from now, I want Format to be the destination for urban/art fashion. We're new right now, and a lot of people are getting vibed to the magazine, but it's not in the back of their head that Format equals urban art/fashion, in the same way that XXL equals hip-hop, or Kleenex equals tissue. Things are moving pretty quickly, and realistically, I see that as a possibility within a year or two.

There are plans for five years from now but none of them are going to be made public until the time is right.

Give me some highlights from format's first three issues.

There have been so many great pieces that it's really hard to say. The nature of the magazine, and the amount of content we produce, allow the reader to decide what the best features are, so the best thing would be to check the archives, or the 'Media' section to see the Table of Contents from previous issues. I was really happy that we pulled off the Halloween issue, #2, and the Sneakers issue, #3. As for personal favorites, some hilarious responses from Nicholas Di Genova, the Sneakerpimps Street Shots, the Aesop Rock x Tomer Hanuka piece for Deep Cover, the Raekwon piece. It's really endless, I love everything in the magazine, and that's why it's published.

Does format have any secrets?

We all time travelled here from ten years in the future, so we know exactly where urban art and fashion are going, and we're going to gradually leak that information to the public. In about three years, expect to see 50 Cent make a transition from super-thug rapper, to world renowned potter. You heard it hear first, urban art is taking over the world, and it's going to be lead by 50 Cent and slipcasting. No, we don't have any secrets.

Format has a new issue online this Sunday at formatmag.com


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