Who are you and what is your background?
FatBoy Zine is made up of myself (Chris O’leary) I’m a graphic designer based in London currently working in the Music Industry, and Emily Leonard, (also London based) photographer who works in publishing and art book distribution.
In what city?
Can you tell about us, about your magazine
FBZ started as a personal project, it was meant to be a private family cookbook I wanted to start in order to document the dishes I ate growing up, I think in a lot of family’s there’s a habit of never writing things down, and everything you learn has to be done by eye. But unfortunately due to the passing of a family member, I started to use it as a way to evaluate my connection with food and culture, and in a way to heal.
The whole process was pretty revealing and led to an honest, natural outcome and I think that’s helped with its success. It wasn’t forced, and we weren’t trying to please anyone but ourselves.
I think we’re in a unique position with a Zine instead of a magazine. Everything can be raw, new and experimental. Much like the process of learning to cook.
We don’t focus on a mission or setting everything to guidelines. We’re not trying to sell the identity of a magazine we’re sharing a piece of ours. And that allows us to interact with people in a different way I feel. Much freer.
Print: Why choose print? What kind of paper you use and why? Typography?
I have a soft spot for print really, it was such a natural medium to choose because I love cool books. But I’ve always tended to find a lot of them cumbersome to use and focussed on everything being perfect, so I wanted to avoid that. Of course, there’s exceptions and some amazing food zines and magazines who want to try to break that mold.
We use G.F smith stock, we went for something thin similar to packaging paper. It felt throwaway and nonprecious. Because although the recipes are important to use the physical book shouldn’t feel like a statement and overtake that.
Our type and design took a lot of inspiration from Asian packaging, loud, beautiful, acidic.
How’s the public response?
It’s been pretty amazing really. We’ve had people reach out from all over the world to show support, talk about their own cultural or food projects and they seem to appreciate we took a few risks when creating this.
Business: Good print mags get a lot of love, but is not always translated to sales or advertising. How’re the sales?
Sales have been great, we’ve far surpassed my initial expectations and were lucky enough that people keep recommending it. And grateful that retailers keep re-ordering. I think that’s largely down to antennebooks.com who handle the distribution. They have so much knowledge of the market I’ve been quite lucky to work with them.
Advertising-wise, is it a normal approach of selling an ad page or more a brand ad approach?
It’s still early days for us, we don’t have brand sponsorship or advertorial plans yet. But we want to keep the integrity of why we started this. If we eventually start having those conversations it would make sense that whoever’s involved shares our passion and interest in culture.
What is your online strategy?
We don’t have one. On top of the design, video editing, and FBZ I also dabble in development work. So I’ve built everything online for FatBoy Zine. And personally, I’m more interested in the experimental side of web design. When you have no budget but all the freedom it makes more sense to treat the internet as just another material to play with, and that plus the design seems to excite people.
About design, what does your brand represent/reflect?
Well, a large part of this is reflecting on and challenging an identity through food. I think it’s impossible to represent Asia entirely because it’s so huge and intricate so there’s no point. I’d even go as far as to say be wary of those who say they can.
We’re not here to provide any kind of answer on Asian culture and identity but rather express a personal point of view.
What inspires you and motivates you to go to work every day?
Currently, FBZ is something I work on evenings and weekends, but it’s a natural love for food and sharing it with people around you. That’s why I cook and why I design. It doesn’t quite feel like work.
What were your biggest challenges as an entrepreneur?
definitely time management. It’s difficult juggling so much and wanting to create constantly. That balance between admin and artist is something I’ve struggled with.
What advice would you give someone who wants to start a magazine?
Challenge your content and question why it’s important to you. If you don’t have an understanding of why you want to focus on this and what it means for you emotionally then you’ll struggle to grow it as a subject matter.
Upcoming projects (explain
Currently, we’re working on issue 2 which was really excited about. It’s already taking shape and becoming just as bold