The Kiteboarder Magazine (published by The Ring Media)
I was initially approached by Ryan Riccitelli, the former editor of a competing kiteboard magazine, to see if I was interested in starting a brand new magazine with him. He knew a bit about me because I had contributed stories and photos for his former magazine. He appreciated my level of professionalism and knew that I was a graphic designer in my work life. I was a perfect fit since I was a fanatic about kiteboarding and had skills in graphic design, writing and photography. The thought of combining all the thing I love was enticing, and I said YES. Oh to be young and naive…
The challenge of starting a magazine was daunting but we dove in head first. We worked together to decide on the name of the magazine itself and create an outline of all the departments and content that would give structure and consistency to the publication.
The next step was getting content, which was difficult because we had no budget. So we called in some favors and created a lot of original content ourselves. That included writing travel stories and instructional pieces along with taking photos and editing back and forth. The task of copy editing fell in my lap since I had a better handle on spelling and grammar.
The next step was to work through the overall design and layout. The challenge with magazine design is to have some consistent design elements and layout, but it can look boring if you don’t switch it up. So each department like news, tips & interviews had their own unique header graphics that became familiar to readers, but the content below would change each month. Travel features, photo galleries, gear guides and other special long-form pieces had more flexibility to give them a real unique look and feel.
The spread above shows one of our rider profile pages on the left side. The right side is a good example showing an ad that I created for one of our advertisers that did not have an agency to handle ad creation for their U.S. distribution. I was glad to help provide a professional appearance for a brand that had struggled with their image for many years.
We had the pleasure of interviewing some interesting people like Santiago Aguerre – the founder of Reef.
Here is an example of a spread showing trick tips. The “Progression” title was consistent in each issue but the colors and layout always changed to keep things fresh.
Lake McConaughy is a popular kiteboarding spot for Colorado riders. I created this piece and even took the liberty of including a photo of myself in the lower righthand corner. What can I say…it was a cool shot.
The other major challenge was getting advertisers on board. That also included getting them to submit ads that were sized correctly – with proper resolution – on time. It was an uphill battle every month just to get to crunch time where I had to create the layout, edit and finalize in time to go to print.
We also had to find a good printer that we could trust to print consistently, with good quality and at a fair price. We went through quite a few different printers over the years to find the best fit.
We were the first magazine to put a lot of emphasis on our web presence through the website and social media. It was a worthwhile effort because it has helped us succeed in the long run.
There were three other kiteboard magazines in the U.S. when we started The Kiteboarder magazine in 2004. Ryan, myself, our publisher Marina Chang and all our contributors put our hearts and souls into it and it now known as the most “core” magazine. We also survived a ridiculous lawsuit intended to take us out of the competition that took years and lots of money to settle. In the end we got some satisfaction when the publishing company that filed the suit ended up closing the doors on their own kiteboard magazine. Many years later – our magazine is still thriving!
"I worked very closely with James for years designing and laying out many issues of the The Kiteboarder Magazine. James is a great guy to work with and his attention to detail and creative designs helped The Kiteboarder Magazine to become one of the most recognized kiteboarding publications in the world. We never missed a press deadline or sacrificed quality despite burning the midnight oil for weeks at a time. You won't find a better guy who is not afraid to get his hands dirty in the trenches."