When I started Scratching the Surface in October 2016 as part of my MFA thesis at Maryland Institute College of Art, I never imagined this podcast would be downloaded nearly 100,000 times, be listened to in more than 65 countries, or be integrated into design curriculums around the world. In the last year, the listener count has grown over 40%. I started this project because I was interested in the relationship between design and writing, between practice and criticism. I wanted to know how I could build a career that incorporated not just traditional graphic design but also tangential activities like writing, teaching, and curating and wanted to talk to people I thought were doing interesting work. In the last year and a half, I finished my MFA and moved to New York where I started building my own design practice, teaching at a few schools, and continued the podcast. Last week, I released the seventieth episode.
Today, I’m excited to announce the next phase of Scratching the Surface. Along with a brand new redesign of the website, I’m also launching Memberships — a way for you to support the podcast and help set it up for the next seventy interviews!
I’m currently offering two plans at $5 a month or $50 a year. At roughly a dollar an episode, you will help begin to financially support the podcast and the work I’m doing in and around design criticism as well as allow me to start building out the infrastructure for the podcast’s future including much-requested full-text transcripts of every interview and additional non-podcast content.
The podcast itself has always been — and will always be — free but I want to offer some extras as an appreciation for your support. Members of the podcast will get an exclusive monthly newsletter, written by me, that recaps the previous month’s interviews and attempts to find the common threads between them, a preview of the coming month’s episodes, as well as additional commentary, reflections, and news on design criticism from the month. I’m thinking a mix of Jason Kottke’s fun Noticing newsletter and Nick Quah’s always-excellent Hot Pod. It will be a place to reflect on the conversations I’m having and continue the conversation with you outside of the episodes. Additional benefits will be added over the course of the next year. I have some ideas around exclusive content and a Slack channel to discuss episodes and design news.
Memberships is powered on Memberful, a great platform that makes it easy to set up subscription services and recurring payments, and all payments are handled through Stripe to ensure your payments are secure and I never see your credit card information.
This podcast has been a passion project, a way for me to talk to people who have inspired and influenced me and a chance to ask them the questions I’ve always wanted to talk about. When I finished my MFA a year ago, the podcast transitioned from a thesis project to a side project along side my other work. I’ve tried to find time between teaching classes or working on client work so I can continue to release new episodes every Wednesday. So far, it’s been a one-man operation and entirely self-funded — from web and hosting costs to purchasing audio and recording equipment. The time I spend on the podcast — from recording and editing, to writing show notes, social media posts, to scheduling interviews and reaching out to potential guests — is time away from paying work. The economics of self publishing and design criticism has come up on the podcast many times, and I’ve thought a lot about how I could better support the show. I think this is one way to do it.
I love doing this podcast. It’s turned into something I never imagined and I’ve loved every bit of it — including getting to meet so many of you who come back week after week. I hope this is a way to not only give me the time and space to continue doing it, but also a way to help build this community and set the podcast up for the future. There are so many more people I want to talk to. In some ways, I feel like I’m just getting started.
Thank you, as always, for listening.
Are you a brand, company, organization, or publications interested in supporting the podcast and design criticism? In addition to memberships, I’m also beginning to offer month-long sponsorships or per-episode advertisements to help support the podcast. If you are interested in supporting Scratching the Surface this way, please get in touch for current rates and to talk about other ways we can partner.
Scratching the Surface is a design podcast about the intersection of criticism and practice hosted by Jarrett Fuller. Each week, Jarrett interviews designers, writers, critics, educators and those that operate between these fields about how writing, criticism, and theory informs individual practice and the graphic design profession at large.