I’ve always been rather private on the Internet, but I feel like it’s time to open up a little. My wife, Tina, and I just set out on a new journey, and it’s one that should be shared so that others can learn from its successes and failures. But, first, a little backstory.
On August 29, 2011, Tina and I published our first interview on The Great Discontent. We started working on the project in December 2010, shortly after I quit an in-house day job as a designer and director—a story I’ll tell one day—and while Tina was working a stressful job as a social worker in a town that was beat down, economically and otherwise. We were living in Michigan, trying to keep it all together, and although we didn’t have much money, we decided to use our “free time” to focus on a passion project. Several months, many late nights, and multiple iterations later, we launched something we were very proud of—something that was the truest expression of us. We were curious and had an insatiable desire to meet other artists like us and to hear their stories. And to our surprise, it took off even faster than we had hoped.
Shortly after publishing the first interview, I was contacted by Nathan Heleine at Crush & Lovely. I primarily knew about Crush because of their work on a passion project of their own, Fifty People One Question. Fifty People was one of my favorite things on the Internet, so I couldn’t have been happier to hear from Nate. We had a lovely phone conversation that ended with an invite to come to New York, meet the crew at Crush, and see the city. Accepting the invitation was a no-brainer. Having lived in Michigan our entire lives, Tina and I had already been exploring other places to live: Portland, Seattle, Austin, Atlanta, SF, and LA. New York was on the list, but not very high up—being kids in the Midwest during the 80s and 90s meant that we had heard some pretty crazy stories about NYC. Even so, we welcomed the opportunity and flew out for three brief days in Brooklyn and Manhattan. We met the team at Crush, ate the best food, walked everywhere, and fell in love with the city—our hearts ached on the cab ride back to LGA.
There’s more to the story, but to keep it brief, Crush offered me a job a few months later; we moved from Michigan to Manhattan; and we began the next two wild years of juggling day jobs and The Great Discontent. I first did client projects at Crush, then worked on some product ideas of my own, and finally navigated Manhattan real estate and set up a new office for the team—the latter being more taxing than I ever could have imagined.
I wrestled with burnout the entire time. Because we were juggling a publication and full-time jobs, there was little room for reflection or time off, or at least I didn’t prioritize that, and I grew weary.
Throughout 2013 I couldn’t shake the feeling that we needed to give TGD a chance. The magazine had grown steadily over the past few years and we had a pretty dedicated band of followers. We often asked ourselves, “Could this project support us? Would the advertisers and community back it?” More importantly, if there was anything we could focus on at this time in our lives, it would be this project. TGD has been the most challenging and rewarding thing we’ve worked on, and we wanted to spend more time growing and nurturing it.
“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the things you did.” — Mark Twain
Last year, we attended Brooklyn Beta in October, followed by Patterns’ Tiny Summit shortly thereafter, and that provided the reflection time we needed. In November, we decided to figure out a way to take the leap and we began putting together a master plan for 2014. We spent December and January transitioning our responsibilities at our day jobs, refining our vision for TGD, casting that vision to potential partners, and attempting to secure the financial backing needed to make this crazy idea a reality. Oh, and we also worked with Frank Chimero to prep our secret Kickstarter project. Throughout all of this, Crush was super supportive in helping us ease into the transition to TGD. ♥
On January 24, 2014, with only two of four Official Partners on board for the year, we set sail. On February 4, 2014, we announced our plans to focus on TGD full-time and launched our Kickstarter campaign to take TGD to print.
The first week was nothing short of a whirlwind—running a Kickstarter campaign of this magnitude is certainly close to a full-time job, and keeping up has been quite challenging. Also, it’s tough putting yourself out there. It’s been some time since either of us have put ourselves out there in such a public way. There’s been a ton of support, but along with that, there is also scrutiny. It’s easy to criticize others, but it changes things when it’s your ass and livelihood on the line.
This week I’ve had some time to sit back and reflect on the journey thus far. It’s been a wild fucking ride to say the least, and this “leap” is the craziest thing I’ve ever done. Tina and I are focusing on TGD and trying to publish a real magazine—while living in Manhattan! Our plan to support ourselves is only halfway there, but I’ve got a good feeling about it. I believe in our community of readers, and I also believe that what goes around comes around. Through TGD, we’ve inspired and challenged people week after week over the past couple years, and we’ve never asked for anything in return. Now, we’re going to give this a go and see what happens. With people’s attention spans dwindling and advertising changing, will people and brands back a publication that inspires others to pursue their creative dreams? We’re going to find out.
“Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth that ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favor all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamed would have come his way. Whatever you can do, or dream you can do, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it. Begin it now.” ― William Hutchison Murray (or Goethe)