This Print Magazine Explores Life's
Absurdities Through Breakfast
MIKE O'DONNELL / EDITOR
Hey, Early Birds. You're probably wondering what the Old English word for breakfast is. It's "Morgenmete"; go tell all your friends. And while you're at it, tell them about the new print journal with the same name that's dedicating all of its beautifully art-directed and humor-filled pages to the most important meal of the day. WNW Member Tim Lampe is the mind behind Morgenmete, which explores the absurdities of life through the breakfast setting. Below, Tim tells us what gave him the idea to dedicate himself fully to breakfast, and why you should too. "For me, breakfast, and the morning in general, sets the tone for the day. It’s that hour in the morning you have to yourself to set expectations, make a plan, and see all the possibilities of the day. If the outcome of your day revolves around breakfast, it feels like there should be a publication devoted to exploring that space."
Tim also shares details about the publication's collaborative spirit, the creative challenges that came with it, and what he had for breakfast this morning. May 31st is the final day to back this project and it's all or nothing.
Tell us a bit about your creative background. Who is Tim and how did he get here?
It’s been a long journey! I graduated from Savannah College of Art and Design with a degree in advertising design and found myself in ad agencies for a few years. Then I went in-house with CNN, where I worked on product design, but was also allowed to build up CNN’s Instagram voice in the early days. Through providing stories from the field, original content, and actively engaging with the audience, my experiment yielded over 230,000 new followers to CNN's Instagram account in 18 months. I worked on an editorial project with CNN and VSCO to present stories of Hurricane Sandy One Year Later over Instagram, and it was a first for CNN.
What I learned from those editorials encouraged me to dig deep on my voice and point of view in the work I was creating. This led me to creating the Summer of Ice Cream Sandwiches, a photo project showcasing a world in which Ice Cream Sandwiches never melt. Luckily, that got me hired at MailChimp. In 2015 I kicked off a non-profit photo program for public school kids in Atlanta called Future Photomakers, and launched a creative production studio called Very Clever. I was also named Time Magazine's Top 50 Instagram Photographers. After the first session of Future Photomakers, I went full freelance art direction while working on longer contracts inside Slack, Yik Yak and ShootProof, and contracted photo art direction for Samsung, Target, Netflix, Marvel, Pandora Music and others.
You recently launched a Kickstarter campaign for a bi-annual print magazine called “Morgenmete.” What’s this all about?
It originally began as a send-up of curated culture mags, like Kinfolk and Cereal Mag. It quickly became something of its own, as I started writing and putting work together. It’s not a highly curated food journal, with delicious recipes and insightful advice from chefs in the food industry. It’s simply a food journal that explores the the absurdity of life through the setting of breakfast. It features humorist stories and writing paired with vibrant illustrations and photography from some incredible artists. Each written piece is rooted in a hard truth, and the stories paired with the visuals create a really rewarding experience. It’s been fun to launch a pre-order with Kickstarter and build an audience around it.
What is it about the setting of breakfast that seems ripe for tackling life’s absurdities?
It’s a universal subject, and it was the starting point for this journey to finding the voice in my work. This idea started a few years back when I started asking people about their breakfast traditions. I’d ask how they make their french toast, and what traditions they have around breakfast. There were some wild answers like french toast prepared with sour cream on top. I was obsessed with how many traditions come out of the breakfast setting.
For me, breakfast, and the morning in general, sets the tone for the day. It’s that hour in the morning you have to yourself to set expectations, make a plan, and see all the possibilities of the day. If the outcome of your day revolves around breakfast, it feels like there should be a publication devoted to exploring that space.
The roster of contributors involved is pretty staggering. Oh look, a bunch of them are WNW members. Totally didn’t know that when I started asking this question. What were you looking for in their past projects that made them feel like the right fit?
I started by reaching out to a lot of friends I’ve made over the years in the creative industry, and some of my favorite writers and photographers. I was looking for people that would align well with breakfast, had a humorist sensibility to their work, and creatives I’ve been wanting to work with. Luckily, many of the artists I asked were jazzed to participate. Once I sent out briefs and references, it was amazing to see the work that came in.
For example, Danielle Evans (WNW Member) is an incredible dimensional-type artist whom I collaborated with on a piece called “The Art of Syrup: Living a Viral Lifestyle” in which we explore an alter-ego version of Danielle as a syrup letterer with a big ego. I asked Josh LaFayette (WNW Member) to illustrate a piece, and he ended up writing a piece to go along with it, and it’s one of the funniest things in here. Tommy Perez created these insane breakfast VR goggles for the big feature piece “Game of Scones: A Virtual Brunch Experience.” I was overwhelmed with everyone’s original work for this, and there were very little changes or edits for what everyone submitted. It was lucky that all the work fit so well with the writing inside.
Other amazing artists with work in Issue 01 are WNW Members Jason Travis, Grace Danico, Amber Vittoria, Cristina Vanko, and Felicia Rein, as well as Andrea Sparacio, Pablo Alfieri, Paloma Rincón, Kaitlin Boyle, Laura Lynn Johnston, Jason and Natalie Hales.
What are other creative considerations that came with the project? What were some of the creative challenges with building a cohesive publication?
A big challenge was branding the magazine and the layout. Early on I thought too much about making the design of the layout lean on trends, and push forward food journal design. It was the usual bullshit about changing the industry with a single print layout. Somewhere along the way when the writing started feeling more confident, I didn’t feel as though I needed the layout to be trendy or game-changing. If you’re confident with the work you’re creating, it can be less showy. Instead of the layout being minimalist and white, it’s bright and warm and invites you in to read the pieces. I’m not so sure my layouts will show up on some #DesignInspo sites, but I’m pretty happy with how they turned out.
The other big challenge was creating a consistent editorial vision, with my voice being the guiding vision. Early on my idea had started something like “McSweeney’s Meets Breakfast” and I wrote a lot for this. I have over 10,000 words in this first issue, and I’ve written maybe another 100 smaller things that aren’t fully formed or don’t fit in here. As I wrote more, the pieces that were rooted in a hard truth were put in a collection together. Those pieces really set a unique editorial voice that became easier to convey to the collaborators for visuals. The biggest lesson here was the more you write, the closer you can get to something of a unique editorial voice.
Any other lessons learned from putting together the first issue that has prepared you for the next issues?
Probably the biggest lessons have come from the collaborative process of communication and being strict on deadlines. I believed that early on I had crafted a bunch of faux-article titles that it would make it a lot easier for people to write if they had a headline already written. It didn’t make it easier, and I keep stretching my deadlines to accommodate some artists, or to delay having to put out this extremely personal thing. Just set up hard deadlines for yourself and work backwards to make dates that are realistic and stick to them. If you’re like me, any chance to push something off that’s hard to see through, you’ll likely keep pushing off.
There’s a lot of content that was hard to leave on the table for this issue, and some content that is ready to go for Issue 02. I think I’ve got a much better handle on print production, fundraising and a better plan for editorial.
What advice from this experience thus far can you share with fellow creatives?
You can make pretty much anything. As I got closer to launch, I skyped with various indie publishers and the biggest thing they imparted to me is that people want to hear more about the process of making something like this. There are tons of people out there looking to make a print piece like this, so it forced me to write about the process a lot more.
The good news is that nobody in indie publishing has any idea of what they’re doing, so you can start anywhere. The bad news is there are no shortcuts, you still have to build a community around what you’re making, and it’s made even better by working your personal experience into it. At the start of this process, I thought I could skirt by without getting really deep on my point of view, but this journal wouldn’t have been any good.
Lastly, make sure you have a good support system, and some advisers or mentors. Throughout this process, I had a core group of people who I could consistently get feedback from and show work as I went, and they’d provide helpful feedback or at least validate that the product I was producing was worth doing. You need people to hold you accountable for seeing through the work you believe you should be doing.
What’d you have for breakfast this morning?
I’m a sucker for a good biscuit sandwich and being that I’m based in Atlanta, there’s a lot to choose form. On this particular weekday I treated myself to a egg and cheese biscuit sandwich with a coffee. Lunch was also breakfast because I’ve been doing these breakfast artist chats on Instagram Live, so I made an omelet and ate it while talking to Tommy Perez.