Connecting the digital with the print: A Q&A with Garage magazine

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Garage magazine created an augmented reality app to bring a huge number of its 260 pages into the 3D world. When holding the app over a scan-able pag, editorials – such as one starring Suki Waterhouse and Molly Bair – become animated.

Garage’s digital manager Ahmad Swaid and editorial director Michael Polsinelli told us how the issue came about and what it means for the future of print…

This isn’t the first time Garage has worked with augmented reality. Is this a recurring project or something that’s baked into each issue?
Michael: The app began with Jeff Koons’ first virtual sculpture for issue seven. We consider the magazine to be a platform in a very open sense. Initially I liked the idea of the magazine becoming a physical plinth – could the cover artwork ever be considered a cover sculpture? The app was initially built to serve that purpose, not because we just liked the idea of having an app. However, over time the app has allowed us to understand content and its reception in new ways, which we’ll always explore.

Ahmad: GARAGE has always been an interactive magazine of sorts, long before the app became a part of it. From GARAGE’s very first issue with the peel away butterfly cover by Damien Hirst, to issue 5’s award-winning scratch-and-sniff project. Since launching the GARAGE Mag App with Jeff Koon’s sculpture we’ve always wanted to explore all available media with each issue.

Do you think this could be considered a new era in publishing? Are there plans to do similar digital projects more frequently in the future?
Michael: The goal of an entirely interactive, digital magazine isn’t how we look at it. Technological developments are so fast and fascinating that such an ambition could quickly seem bland. What we are doing is opening up the media that we employ for the sake of content – that will always mean we are looking at new developments in media. In the end the content makes certain demands. We allow ourselves to service our content in the most appropriate ways. Some content may demand the ink on paper to be that perfect pitch of red – in which case we’ll work very closely with our print team. Some content needs a team of developers and CGI experts, in which case we’ll do that too.

Should more magazines task their digital manager with connecting the print product to the online one?
Ahmad: I think it is important to. I don’t see why it should work any other way. What’s great about GARAGE is no one considers what we do digitally (from app to social media) a side project at all. Even though my role is digital, I myself very much love print and buying magazines. As much as I am fascinated and love exploring the digital realm, I have the same fascination and respect for print too.

Are there any ideas or digital platforms that you would both like to see either Garage or the rest of the magazine industry explore further?
Michael: Digital technology is constantly devouring and surpassing itself – it accelerates itself in many more ways than we could imagine, but we must always explore it. There are many players in that world besides our sector that keep its progress urgent. We can always collaborate with new partners. However, while little is often made of technological advances in printing – it’s much less spectacular! – more development needs to be made in that area. The solution can’t be to squeeze old techniques into cheaper means – ultimately, content suffers in badly produced magazines.

Ahmad: I think each magazine should explore digital platforms that feel relevant to the identity of the magazine itself. There are some digital platforms which I feel are very relevant to another publication, but may not be a right fit for GARAGE. Even, our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram have their own identity different from each other.

This post first appeared on The Huffington Pot and then on wgsn.com/blogs

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Sam Aldenton is a New York based, Australian expat writer. As associate editor for digital media and marketing she reports on ad campaign analysis, social media platforms, brand analysis and developing strategic trends. Prior to this Sam reported on street style and trends for WGSN at events such as Coachella, SXSW, NXNE and New York, Mexico and Miami Fashion Weeks. She has also covered trade shows including Coterie, Capsule, Agenda, Miami Swim week and MAGIC market week. Sam is part of the team that overseas WGSN’s social media platforms working closely on instagram & tumblr. Her work can also be seen at Fashionista and The Style Tip.

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