Hello Mr., An Indie Magazine About
Men Who Date Men
Interview by Emily Gosling
It certainly feels like a golden age for indie magazines. A few weeks back we celebrated just a few of our current favorite titles, which each in their own way do something a little bit special, weird, thoughtful, beautiful, or all of the above. There’s so much inspiring work out there, that it can seem tempting to join the paginated bandwagon and give indie publishing a go. Sure, it can be rewarding, but the process is sadly a little harder than setting up a Kickstarter and commissioning your mates. It’s bloody hard starting a mag, and what makes one feel vital and one seem irrelevant is the difference between a magazine with a clearly defined purpose–one that reaches out to folks outside of the creator’s immediate bubble–and one that’s a self-serving, rushed, or dry vanity project.
Of course, Hello Mr. is very much in the former category. We love it, and so we had a chat with founder Ryan Fitzgibbon about the challenges, high points and design considerations of running his very own magazine.
Why did you decide to start Hello Mr.?
I created Hello Mr. as a reaction to what I was seeing in 2010-2011 in mainstream gay media. As a designer and brand strategist, I made it my mission to rebrand LGBTQ media – a chance to move away from the stereotypes. A number of our readers (men and women, gay and straight) told us that they had never purchased a gay magazine before Hello Mr., describing us as “a breath of fresh air.” It’s a community built around a shared set of values and designed to live on coffee tables and nightstands around the world.
What did you want to say that you felt no one else was saying?
A lot of what has already been said revolves around the political, the celebrity, the nightlife. These leave little room to be vulnerable and celebrate the mundaneness in everyday life – the falls and the triumphs.
Who does the mag speak to?
Hello Mr. speaks to readers who pride themselves on emotional intuition and individuality. He is a free-thinking, innovative, man-about-the-globe looking for more. The community that has formed around this mission of Hello Mr. is a loyal and diverse group of men who date men who have largely felt disenfranchised by the media that is meant to represent them.
What are the design considerations?
The visual language of Hello Mr. is minimal, clean, and elevated. It was important to me that we weren’t “glossy” in all senses of the word, which many existing LGBT titles on the newsstand lean toward. Published twice a year, each issue reflects the everyday experiences of our misters and their companions, in a neatly-curated museum carefully built to exhibit a universal story of gay men today.
What are the hardest things about running an independent magazine?
Finding and staying within that perfect balance of “small but global.” People resonate with indie titles because they make them feel understood. The larger you get, the harder it is to keep that relationship and trust.
And the best things?
Seeing your work in the hands of readers is the most rewarding experience. There’s nothing like the feeling of seeing your impact in physical form, spread around the world.
What advice would you give to people who want to start their own magazine?
Your mission statement is everything. Indie magazines are a dime a dozen – almost every niche has been explored. Anyone can create a beautiful object, but if you can build community first around the values and beliefs that make up their identity, then you’ll be set up for success.