Plazm Knows Best
Creative sidelines support the habits of young magazine publishers
who have an eye for the avant-garde.
A fluid name for an evolving magazine, Plazm launched in 1991 as a cultural forum for artists. Now, dozens of issues and a design company later, Plazm demonstrates that life is good for independent
"We are more of an anomaly," insists Plazm co-founder Joshua Berger. In a burgeoning industry of new independent titles that court intellectual consumers between the ages of 18 and 34 with such exclamatory titles as Bomb and Flaunt, Berger describes Plazm as being "closer to [the MTV world] than the Condé Nast world." He asserts, "We're not Details." In fact, the publication boasts a following that reaches subscribers in 15 other countries, including Israel, parts of Asia and most of Europe. What the souped-up design magazine pitches to consumers is music, art and media content. Along with Berger, Pete McCracken and New York City-based Niko Courtelis and Enrique Mosqueda are ambient parts of the Plazm creative collective, responsible for spinning off the magazine into a full-fledged creative production agency, Plazm Design.
As Berger surmises, "Essentially, we've created a design business to support our magazine habit."
Also instrumental in the evolution of the publication, is Mike Graham, owner of Great Impressions, a Portland, OR-based commercial printer.
"[What Plazm] offer[s] to an advertiser," assures Berger, "is a highly qualified reader—a trendsetter, someone creating style. They're designing the next Puff Daddy album cover. To speak to that audience is to influence the influencers."
Berger attributes the magazine's production experimentalism to the fact that, these days, people have less time to read. Therefore, to draw them in and hold them captive, publishers must use intriguing design to strengthen the message and pique readers' curiosity. For Plazm, the best way to do this is to treat the publication as a "printing laboratory," Berger says.