In late 2008, I accepted a job in which I didn't think I would get to use many of the graphic design skills I'd built over the years. I didn't want those skills to go down the toilet completely, and so I wondered how I could force myself to keep using them on my own.
Since I've been into photography most of my life, I knew photography had to be the fuel to drive whatever projects would keep me going. My initial thought was to simply assign myself deadlines to shoot new photo essays and post them to my personal website. This wouldn't really have helped me to grow my page layout skills, though, and so that went right out the window. For that reason, I thought that I would put a pdf file together using my photo essays and throw some text in there and put those on my site.
One night while chowing down on some wings with Todd, I was thinking out loud about my ideas. He suggested bringing other people into the project. If I was going to be doing this anyway, why not include some other people who might want to flex their creative muscles?
At first, I was a little reluctant. We'd both been part of a group that organized local photography shows on a monthly basis, and we learned the hard way that when too many hands rummage around in a cookie jar, it becomes more work than fun. I didn't want this to be another job, much less one that costs me money rather than brings it to me.
After I thought about it some more, I agreed that he was onto something. If there were other people involved, not only would I feel more pressure to meet my deadlines and keep working, but other people would be actually looking at it, and therefore I would be pushing myself to grow my skillset.
More importantly, I wouldn't be the only one benefiting from this undertaking. People that were looking for an outlet for their work would have a place to turn. This wouldn't be some closed-door joint only open to established "artists." If you had something to say, you would be able to say it here.
So, over many more beers and wings, it was decided that we'd start a photography-based, online magazine that would be open to anyone with the desire to be more creative. Now we needed a name. Several were thrown around, but none stuck. We briefly settled on Confluence, in part because it would be a place where ideas converge, but mostly because we live in and are in love with Pittsburgh, famous for the confluence of the Monongahela, Allegheny and Ohio Rivers. I did an early mockup of a website and front cover, but stopped short of registering any domain names because it just didn't feel right.
But we're jazzed and trying to tap our inner muse, not wanting to jeopardize creativity with judgment. Yet we don't want to just create another cleaning supplies catalog, where all the mops and brooms just have fancy names. At the same time, I do identify with the custodial nature of work. And a clean work space means a less messy brain, even if the paper towels soak up all the creative gravy. And while traveling from Maine to Vermont, I decided that maybe a cleaning supplies catalog might not be a bad idea - the karma seems right, but I know it won't last. Too mundane and easy to mock!
Then, one morning on my way to work, a line from Goodfellas jumped into my head for no reason at all. The scene where the 'Fellas are hijacking a truck and Tommy shoves his gun in the driver's face and asks "Where's the strongbox, ya fuckin' varmint?"
It sounded cool. It had weight when I mocked up the first cover. And where do you put things that are valuable or important to you? In a strongbox. Yes. It worked. I registered the domain.
We've got quite a few issues under our belts now, and I've never been happier to be working on this project. Creativity doesn't always come easily for me. At times, it's damned hard work. Having so many talented people take part in this project over the years is an honor and a constant inspiration. I look forward to seeing many more for years to come.
Specifically, I look forward to seeing yours.
STRONGBOX Magazine is a quartlery magazine released as a downloadable Portable Data File (PDF) free of charge at www.strongboxmagazine.com. Its sole mission is to help the spread of creativity and improve with each issue. While firmly rooted in photography, we welcome any creative expression. Painting, illustration, writing (both fiction and non-fiction), graffiti / street art...anything you can think of.
Everyone is encouraged to sumbit work, whether you’re a seasoned professional or just getting started.
While we can’t promise we’ll use each and every submisison, we will certainly work with you if we can. Again, this is a labor of love and all we want to do is keep our creative muscles flexing while supplying an outlet for everyone else to do the same.
Submitting your work:
STRONGBOX is a mashup of all the magazines we love to read, so there isn't really a specific type of piece we're looking for. We've published short fiction, interviews with people we find interesting, photo essays, travel and recreation pieces and so on. We don't have advertisers or bosses to please here. If it's compelling, let's see it.
Begin by shooting us an email with an overall description of your project. It doesn’t have to be lengthy or in-depth, just the something to whet our appetite. If you have your works displayed in a blog or on a web page, be sure to include a link so we can check it out.
If we feel that your project is a good fit, we’ll assign you a deadline and ask that you send your files via dropbox, which is a free data transfer service. This way, our inboxes won’t get flooded with large files. We may edit photos or text as we see fit, but if any changes are made, no matter how small, we will be sure and send you a proof for approval before it goes into the magazine.
It’s important that you supply us with files that are suitable for print. Why is this? Someday we may want to make print-quality versions of the magazine available for those who want them, and it’s best to have them set up that way from the get-go.
Vector Illustrations may be supplied as Adobe Illustrator (.ai) files, or as an EPS (version cs2 or earlier. Yea...my software is out-of-date, I know...).
Photographs or scans of artwork can be sent as JPG, DNG, TIFF or RAW files. Images should be 300 dpi for a minimum final print size of approx. 8 x 10 inches.
Articles can be simply emailed, or supplied as text documents (.txt, .rtf or .doc)
If you have any further questions or comments about the magazine, please feel free to holler.