Tank magazine was started as a response to what we saw at the time to be the demise of traditional magazines due to losses in quality and increasing homogeneity due to falling readership and shrinking advertising revenues. It was facilitated by a revolution in desktop publishing technologies. I was part of a group of people who worked in and for what was then called "style" publications who noticed the possibilities opened up by the new technology. This meant we could achieve with 4 people what took conventional publishers 70 people to achieve, what’s more we could do that very cheaply and independently.
Editorially we felt free from pressures of populism, in fact in avoiding the most typical and magazine- like content, we hit upon a new formula based entirely on our range of interests, the notion was simply to collect and collate inspiring material and lay them out in the most insanely meticulous way and print them in the most expensive and best quality paper and bind them like a book so that they would have allure and longevity. Well written often hard hitting features and serious art were mixed with glamour and fun of fashion. Instead of the homogeneity of middlebrow popular culture we chose either depth or glorious surface. We chose our cover price (in 1998 a ridiculously high £8) not because of a clever business acumen but because 8 looked better next to the £ sign. We were engaged in making something that was a cross between an art book and a magazine that was pretty unique then. Content and Form had to have equal importance and the whole enterprise was guided by an aesthetic vision and not a business one.
A business model- based on content generation design and branding consultancy alongside our publishing activity- has developed subsequently through which we are growing continually and constantly. This is the trend which was to be named Boutique Publishing which is now a substantial portion of magazines published all over the world. We take on commercial work mostly for luxury fashion companies and consult on product development and branding. This funds experiments in print and increasingly online including large mass circulation products like O-magazine (the Observer fashion supplement) and pioneering websites like becauselondon.com that try to re-imagine the magazine experience on a digital platform.
In this new world of micro publishing there are no managers and staff, no business and editorial divide; every editor and contributor multi tasks with some business responsibilities. Art directors do their own artwork, and press staff and subs do the distribution. As a result the skill sets are deep and there is an inherent independent entrepreneurial spirit. Since we launched Tank 14 years ago the publishing and fashion scene in London is crowded with people who earned their stripes at Tank.
*Masoud Golsorkhi is the editor and co-founder of Tank, a fashion, arts and ideas magazine published in London.
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