menu Home About Party Pix Archived Issues

MagaScene: a Chat with
Working Class Magazine

[caps]S[/caps]ince 2007 I have found myself eagerly awaiting each new issue of the Brooklyn-based quarterly web and print magazine Working Class. While each installment may revolve around a different theme, they’re all certain to include unique fashion spreads and art features — and with their gathering of store profiles and street interviews, Working Class has succeeded in creating an accurate portrayal of Brooklyn. In their own words, “Working Class represents a community of local artists in New York. With New York as our vibrant – and sometimes brutal – backdrop, Working Class taps the pulse of the art world and discusses why we all stick around.” Editor-in-Chief Marcel Dagenais let me pick his brain on what running his magazine entails.

When did you first decide to start a magazine?

My friend Megan Martin wanted to start a magazine profiling her friends who were involved in various cool projects here in Brooklyn. She booked me to do hair for the first shoot and from that day I knew I had to become part of Working Class any way I could. I offered to do creative direction on all the fashion stories. I remember her and I sitting outside on Orchard Street in the Lower East Side, talking about all the possibilities that we could create. It was an exciting and inspiring time.

About a year-and-a-half ago Megan told me she wanted to pursue other opportunities with her writing career, and handed over the “editor-in-chief” reins to me. It was a weird moment in my life: I was either going to keep going and take on the huge responsibility of running the magazine all on my own, or say ‘fuck it’ and continue doing editorial work for other magazines. I knew I couldn’t let it go, so I made the decision to go balls to the wall with the zine and really try to make something happen with it. I’m glad that’s what I decided to do.

Had you ever worked at any magazines prior to starting your own?

I’ve been working on shoots as a hairdresser for a number of publications since I moved to New York. I’ve known what to expect on that side of things, but I have no idea what it’s like to work in an office. I’ve never had a desk, a salary, or benefits in my entire life. I kind of like having my own ideas as to what I think the office environment should, or would, be like.

How difficult was it to get the project off the ground?

Working Class started as an online magazine back in 2007. We designed the first issue ourselves for the website and pretty much just kept pushing forward, learning everything along the way. It’s definitely been a journey of accomplishments and setbacks, but overall it’s been an awesome process so far.

How would you describe the content and what audience is it aimed at?

We all work for a living here in New York City. What I find with most artists I know is that they all have to work a day job to be able to do what inspires them in their spare time. That’s how I am as well. I think that’s what the magazine is all about: Working hard to pursue what you love.

How do you delineate between what makes it into the print edition and what stays online?

I wish I had 200 pages to fit everything into each issue but for now, with limited budget, there’s only so much space. I have to go with what I think best represents the theme of each issue. It also depends on timing as well. The magazine is quarterly and I always find something in between issues that I think fits with the theme, so I end up publishing it online.

How do you find contributors?

Over the past four-and-a-half years I’ve had the opportunity to work with a lot of talented people. With time, I’ve found those who are on the same page as me, creatively. It’s a vibe I have with these individuals. The trust has grown, and I know I don’t have to worry about them flaking or coming up with some wack idea. I feel really lucky to be able to collaborate with them.

Is there a secret to how you cobble together such an impressive roster of interviewees?

Ask, and the Universe provides.

What have you found to be the most effective method for getting the word out?

I’m not one to rush into anything, and I find it’s the same with Working Class. It’s been a slow and steady climb. I could go about getting a PR firm or investors, but I’d rather have it be an organic experience where people stumble on the magazine on someone’s coffee table and become a fan.

What are your favorite and least favorite parts of running a magazine?

I live and breathe the project. I love having the opportunity to curate this community of artists and sharing that with the world. The only downfall would probably be the late nights stuck in front of a computer and the never-ending list of tasks that need to be done on a day-to-day basis.

Are you involved with the website’s design, or is that something you outsource to a programmer?

My web designer is really into collaborating to make it better. It’s a conversation that I don’t think will ever end.

What magazines and blogs do you read most often?

I like La Mode En Pienture, Crush Fanzine and my buddy Amos Mac’s Original Plumbing Magazine. As far as blogs go, Them Thangs always has interesting photos to sift through and there’s some funny shit on Everything Is Terrible!.

Do you believe that print is dying?

Nope. Working Class was just a part of Printed Matter‘s NY Art Book Fair at MoMA PS1. I met some incredible talents from all over the world that are publishing some really unique, incredible stuff. People want to have something tangible to connect with that I don’t think you can get through an iPad or computer screen.

Is there any helpful advice you have for somebody considering starting his or her own magazine?

Be sure you want to fully invest in such a big venture. It isn’t easy, but it’s totally worth it!