Marcia Young interview: Fiber Art Now
Fiber Art Now is a quarterly print magazine, aiming to inspire and connect the contemporary fiber arts and textiles community. At the moment, Fiber Art Now have an incredible discount available on subscriptions, but it’s only available until the 15th of September 2013 – check it out!
We’re delighted to gain some insight into the inspiration behind the publication and how it has developed into one of the leading magazines in the textile arena from the founder and editor Marcia Young.
Inspiring and connecting the fiber art community
How did Fiber Art Now come about?
It started about 5 years ago. I began writing a blog about fiber arts. It still exists, and now is a resource for the magazine. However, we no longer add new content to that site, and we started adding blog posts to our site (www.fiberartnow.net). As that initial blog grew and many people asked me what I was planning to do with it, I didn’t have clarity surrounding it. I just kept updating, sending out e-newsletters, interviewing artists, adding resources, etc. and our readership continued to increase.
Meanwhile, in my career, I’ve worked in publishing for almost 20 years. In the last few years I started managing social media and marketing for small to medium-sized businesses (www.myoungandassoc.com). This background dovetailed with the need for a fresh magazine in this space. The market has become very segmented and is awash with ‘how-to’ publications. We appeal to all fibers, and seek to inspire and connect our community, in all of our efforts. This doesn’t include how-to or pattern-based articles. We appeal to fiber artists, learners, educators, arts professionals, museums, galleries, and others in the fiber arts world. As you know, it’s an amazing community of people who are eager to learn more from each other, across the fibers and in the greater art world.
Shedding the stereotypes
How has it progressed and developed since the first publication?
The first issue was very grassroots. I was the only staff member, and did all of the production work. We used a boutique printer, which was a good way to start, but was not a long-term solution for our readers. In the Summer of 2010, we started a simple website and Facebook page. We had 500 subscribers before our first printing. This let me know that we were on track! We’ve been growing steadily since then, and now are in over 400 Barnes & Noble stores and 200 Books A Million stores in the US, and will be appearing in select UK newsstands by fall.
We now have a group of six staff members, each of whom plays an important role, such as design, ad sales, circulation management, managing editorial, accounting, and social media management. I mention social media management last, but it is by no means least. FAN is an example of a print publication that was driven by the power of social media. Even today, we take our content and direction queues from our online community.
It’s very exciting to see the fiber arts receive equal recognition to any other art form, and part of that is because emerging artists are very open minded, and don’t require protracted conversations about what makes them relevent. I’ve learned a lot from them. Shed the stereotypes. We’re the last ones holding on to them, anyway!
One example of this is that I’ll be serving on a panel at Harvard University this Fall, talking with graduate and undergraduate students about arts and entrepreneurship. Clearly, they are not concerned about the validity of fiber arts and textiles. (www.myoungandassoc.com/events)
Developing a voice
Tell us a bit about the members of your team and their backgrounds in textiles
We have a professional knitter, a fiber artist, a magazine design expert who came to us from an art magazine, and others. I feel so grateful for each one of the team, because we are a team that has come together virtually, and we are all passionate about what we do. We really must plan a company retreat!
It’s a very varied publication but also maintains a clear focus – how do you achieve that?
Our voice has developed over time, and we continue refining it with each issue. That being said, much of our direction is due to the generosity of our online community. We take their likes, comments, and ideas very seriously and turn them around in the form of content shifts in the magazine. We also look at the proposed content for each issue as a set. I think of it as content curation. It’s really like curating a gallery exhibition that you want to engage visitors, include something for all (or most) fibers, and (of course) integrate plenty of stunning images and helpful resources. We also aim for a mix of established fiber/textile artists and emerging artists.
Which fiber or textile artists do your team members most admire?
That’s so difficult because we each have a different angle that we bring to this. We also have writers who contribute consistently (and have their own interests), and a rolling advisory board. Some of my favorite articles so far can be downloaded from the site. www.fiberartnow.net
What are your top five online textile resources?
Of course, I have haunts that I use all the time as idea generators, and many of those are already our partners, such as California Fibers, The National Basketry Organization, SAQA, Surface Design Association, the American Craft Council, and others. I hesitate to plug a specific list, because there are so many amazing resources, including www.textileartist.org! Honestly, a good starting point to see what’s really happening in the fiber arts arena is watching the postings on our own Facebook pages, www.facebook.com/fiberartnow and www.facebook.com/fibermixedmedia. TAFA-Textile and Fiber Arts List is an excellent resource for anyone working with textiles and fibers. Pinterest also offers a unique way of viewing art, because it is not placed in a particular setting, so you can really see it without judgment (“pre-critiqued”) or being clouded by a particular website design. Check out www.pinterest.com/fiberartnowmag
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