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Magazine Spotlight: Freckled


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Last semester, AmLit turned your heads toward the treasure trove of Issuu.com. We loved one of the magazines so much, we reached out to the lovely duo behind the Vancouver-based magazine Freckled, Ting Shuen and Shanene Lau. Their dreamy magazine features up-and-coming photographers, artists, and writers – a lot like a magazine we know and love…

What drove you to create Freckled Magazine?
Summer 2011 was a big year for independent online art zines starting up within the Flickr and Tumblr community that we used to be a part of. The two of us admired everyone’s projects from afar, but they were mostly all fashion based and we started talking about how we’d do things if we started up our own project. We turned out having very similar curatorial goals and decided to start one up for fun, so we could have a way to bookmark our favorite artists and share them with our friends, family and our followers on social media networks, but in a more cohesive way. We definitely didn’t expect to reach out to so many people from all over the world. I remember messaging Ting on Facebook months ago, telling her that we had a reader from Macedonia! Who would have thought?

Have you ever had any experience in publications before?
Freckled is the first and only publication thus far that either of us has worked on. We’re constantly learning new things on the job.
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How did the two of you meet?
We’ve been best friends for ten years and counting. We attended the same elementary school and quickly became friends in our community band, where we both played clarinet.

Where did the publication name come from?
There’s a particular photo by Lauren Treece that both of us adore and that really resonated with us when we were thinking about the specific types of images we wanted to feature in Freckled. This one stuck with us the most, I think. It was a really warm, starry summer and seemed to fit with that specific moment in time when we were really struggling to find the right name. Our other intention with calling our magazine ‘Freckled,’ was to express diversity in image and lifestyle. Freckled – spread out like stars in the sky. We get a lot of people who immediately think of freckled faces and redheaded girls, though (also Ting has freckles).
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Where do you find your photographers, writers, artists, and “sartorialists”?
Through various social media platforms and everywhere else…Flickr, Tumblr, Instagram, word of mouth etc. We even look for illustrators’ names on the backs of cards in cool stationary stores.

Why did you choose to stick with online publication? Will you ever move to print?
It was the most convenient and viable platform to host online. We’ve been talking about going to print for quite awhile now, so you’ll just have to wait and see what happens!

Describe your work method – what steps do you take to create each issue?
Up until this point (issue #9), we’ve released issues seasonally, so four issues per year. We curate the content based on the seasons and the colors and feelings that seem to accompany them. Usually both of us will have a few artists in mind and then we spend hours upon end searching for artists who we think will fit the aesthetic of said upcoming issue. Ting does most of the emailing, runs the style and writing sections, and I work on the layout.
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Because you’re based in Vancouver, how do you interview and photograph your subjects?
We interview through email since most of our contributors are international and we have a very small Vancouver-based team. We’ve all been friends for 5 years and we’ve definitely dreamt about having an international team, so hopefully that will happen sometime in the future. The style bloggers have friends take their photos or either takes the photos themselves (it’s convenient since that’s their usual method, so we can count on the quality and style from existing photos). However, most of the musicians and bands that we’ve featured so far are local, which is great. Ting got to meet up with all the bands/musicians and has had so much fun photographing them and getting to know them.

What are your future plans for Freckled Magazine?
After the next two issues are released, we’re planning on taking an indefinite hiatus. During our break from publication, we’ll be working on an official website, and some exciting new counterparts. Freckled is going to expand into a blog and become much more of a multi-media concept. Going to print will still be in our sights, although that goal might be a little further away.

What advice would you give for creators of start-up publications?
Plan and keep organized.  Stay true to yourself and have a clear vision at all times. Also, make sure you’re doing something different to make yourself stand out from other publications. Oh, and names are important too. You’ve got to pick something that people will remember and fits with the style of your publication.
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