Meanwhile Press

Zines and Independent Publishing have been a big part of my life for a while. Before Neue Goods I ran a publishing label called Deareasternprom. It was a fun little project I started when I was 18. I ended up publishing 8? zines, a run of tshirts – and even got to release one of my friend's bands music on a casette tape. After a few years of shipping orders out of my bedroom I decided to call it quits. Meanwhile Press is a publishing label who I stumbled upon towardsthe end of  my stint in publishing, and their continued dedication to producing high quality work and collaborating with independent artists and photographers has been a big inspiration for me over the past few years. So when I started interviewing creatives for Neue Goods, getting in touch with Mark from Meanwhile was must – and I'm siked to finally have this interview up on the site.

 

First up, for those who don’t already know – who are you, and what do you do?

My name’s Mark Buchanan, I live in Newcastle Upon Tyne in the UK and co-run a photography publishing outlet with my friend Matt Glassman who’s based in London. I shoot photos, play bass guitar and collect records. I enjoy coffee in the morning and cider at night. 


What was your biggest motivation in starting Meanwhile Press?

The biggest motivation back at the start was the need for a personal creative outlet to keep me busy after another day at the office. I had originally intended to start up small record label to release demo tapes and later seven inches records for my friends bands and people I had met through the UK punk scene. After some thought I realised I wouldn’t be bringing anything new to the table. I was close friends with people running similar ventures and decided to leave them to do their own thing while I came up with another idea. From an early age skateboarding helped me develop an interest in photography and being involved in the punk scene opened my eyes to DIY zine culture. I was always interested in working on a publication but was held back due to lack of confidence in my own art. The idea to run a label for photographers seemed pretty good and it slowly grew from there.

 

What pushes you to continue publishing?

Ask a successful publishing label? Haha. I guess just being able to keep on top of the workload, not biting off more than you can chew and not being scared to say no. I’ve seen a lot of publishers come and go over the years and I think a big factor in that is a lot of them take off too fast. They release a ton of zines or books in the first 6 months, constantly update their websites with photos and interview features and essentially just burn themselves out. I juggle Meanwhile with a full-time office job and often unintentionally run projects a little slower than first anticipated due to work and real life commitments. I used to view this in a negative light but over the 2 years Meanwhile has been active it’s given me time to reflect on many of the directions projects have taken and by not setting myself unrealistic deadlines projects are never rushed. I won’t release anything until I’m 100% happy and would never sell anything I wouldn’t purchase myself.


What skills do you think are vital to running a successful publishing label?
 

Ask a successful publishing label? Haha. I guess just being able to keep on top of the workload, not biting off more than you can chew and not being scared to say no. I’ve seen a lot of publishers come and go over the years and I think a big factor in that is a lot of them take off too fast. They release a ton of zines or books in the first 6 months, constantly update their websites with photos and interview features and essentially just burn themselves out. I juggle Meanwhile with a full-time office job and often unintentionally run projects a little slower than first anticipated due to work and real life commitments. I used to view this in a negative light but over the 2 years Meanwhile has been active it’s given me time to reflect on many of the directions projects have taken and by not setting myself unrealistic deadlines projects are never rushed. I won’t release anything until I’m 100% happy and would never sell anything I wouldn’t purchase myself.

We both know print definitely isn't dead – but the way in which we consume the medium has definitely changed over the last decade. How do you operate Meanwhile Press in a way that acknowledges this trend, and how do you think the rise of digital devices have affected independent publishers as a whole?

Don’t get me wrong, there are a million negatives which can’t be avoided as technology evolves but I’m part of the generation who grew up with the digital explosion and I firmly believe in focusing on the positives and using them to my advantage. If it wasn’t for the Meanwhile website, Instagram account and email we would probably be unheard of. Everything is so accessible these days and that’s a good thing, the con to that is because so much is readily available at the click of button people including myself lose interest quickly. I find myself opening a load of tabs online and looking over half of whatever it is and never really giving the piece my full attention. The flip side is how I can read a book for hours and not find my mind wandering or glancing down the page to a different paragraph. I think the way I operate Meanwhile ties into what I mentioned above about taking it slow and allowing yourself time to reflect on the work load. The blog is updated every now and again, I often queue up a few posts so there’s a steady flow over the course of a week and then see how I want it to go from there. I’ve been getting more into google analytics and as nerdy as it sounds trying to see trends in activity etc. All of the online digital stuff ties into the output of the physical publications, when to release them, how to promote them etc. I could talk about this for hours, none of it is particularly right or wrong, it’s just about finding what works for you and taking advantage of the available resources.


If you could go back to the day before you started Meanwhile, what would you do differently?

I would throw some inflatables in before jumping into the deep end. People would argue but personally I don’t feel the first few zines are that great. At the time I couldn’t of been happier but it’s just a case of ‘if I knew then what I know now…’. I don’t think I’d really change anything though and Meanwhile was and still is a huge learning curve. It would be boring if I was an expert and I knew everything I needed to about publishing and print. What’s the point? Make mistakes and learn from them. If it wasn’t for the mistakes and bad decisions Meanwhile wouldn’t be what it is today - whatever that is?

 

What is your favourite thing about operating Meanwhile?

My favourite thing is having people constantly send me work they’re excited about. In the first few months it definitely wasn’t the case because I received so many irrelevant emails from people involved in all aspects of the photography world and a lot of it I had no interest in. Don’t send your jazz records to a punk kid you know?* However, as the months passed and Meanwhile developed it’s own identity and aesthetic more and more people with similar ideas, ethics and outlook began to get in touch. I receive a number of emails on a daily basis but every now and again open something from a stranger on the other side of the world who shoots some photos I can get really excited about. I like spontaneously developing friendships with likeminded people by discussing ideas and possible projects. *I don’t hate Jazz.


What’s next? 

I’m typing this on the train to London for our Hard Lines group exhibition and zine launch which kicks off at Doomed Gallery in Dalston tomorrow night. We’re running it with my pal Ben Goulder’s Snöar Press and it features a ton of great, talented people from all over the world. This is the first art show I’ve been involved in outside of my hometown and after all the work and planning I’m really excited to get down and get set up. Online, Meanwhile has a fairly decent global following, that’s easy though - It’s the internet. Physically, I feel it’s been really confined to the North East of England and during the course of this year I’d really like to push myself outside and become involved in exhibitions and art book fairs around the country and abroad.

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