Students ply trades in the real world
by Catherine Szabo & Devin Ayotte
Geeking up the magazine business
A group of students in Mount Royal’s journalism and electronic publishing programs will be premiering the first edition of their new magazine this spring at the Calgary Comic and Entertainment Expo.
Wild Gunmen is Calgary’s newest “geek culture” magazine, covering topics ranging from gaming and “Internets” to fast cars and camouflage.
“We’re trying something new with this magazine,” said Patrick Gall, the magazine’s founder. Declining to engage in the obsessive coverage of downtown parking and blatant lack of distaste for Animal Collective that typifies Calgary’s independent press, Wild Gunmen targets a more specific audience.
The first edition covers all things geek: video games, movie reviews and an unnerving fascination with firearms. Gall said this focus on a particular audience will be key to Wild Gunmen’s success.
“There’s no magazine in Calgary like ours,” he said.
Gall has secured approval for himself and five other founding contributors to use Wild Gunmen to fulfill internship requirements for their degrees.
“Every member of the team is learning what it’s like to start up a magazine from the ground floor,” Gall said. “It’s a lot more work than simply joining a publication already in progress.”
Gall and the Wild Gunmen team have ambitious plans for the magazine, including print publication.
“This summer, we plan to be in full-swing and I’m sure more and more challenges will present themselves,” Gall said. Check out the magazine online at WildGunmen.com.
Money from nearly nothing
In the Innovation Tournament, students are given a household object with which to create as much value as possible. The tournament also taught Matt Zoeteman another lesson: keep your cell phone close.
Presented with business cards on March 9, Zoeteman and his team decided the next day to create art with multiple blank business cards.
Zoeteman and Erik Paul created 32 designs in 15 consecutive hours of work, and by the end of the week, Paul was taking orders for the artwork.
“Every time [Paul would] make a sale, he would call me or text me,” Zoeteman said with a laugh. “I was like, ‘You’ve got to be kidding me.’”
The team finished first in the tournament; their revenue totalled $3,090. They donated $300 to the Alzheimer’s Society, a foundation linked to the group partially because of the repetition of the number seven.
“Alzheimer’s comes in seven stages, and they gave us seven cards to begin with,” Paul said. “That’s also why we called our business Seven [— The business of art].”
The team also set aside $425 for group member Chelsey Patrick’s upcoming volunteer work in Haiti. After expenses, they were left with a profit of $1,694, which covered the cost of the course tuition for all the group members.
“If we can create a business out of it, and then afterwards donate the profits that we created from the business, then we’re essentially being a socially responsible company,” Zoeteman said.
Campus connections lead to gigs
When Brian Johnstone walked into the high-ceilinged atrium of city hall with the rest of his quartet in September, he realized that the sound had only one way to go: up.
“Not everybody likes jazz, and not everybody likes smooth jazz, and the sound is going nowhere but up,” Johnstone said. “So everyone is going to be hearing what’s going on — well, OK, Hail Mary, right?”
The quartet — comprised of drums, keyboards, bass and Johnstone on sax — landed a gig at city hall after Reid Spencer, an associate professor in the department of theatre, speech and music, received an email asking for a combo to play at the announcement of Mount Royal becoming a university.
Other offers have since come from that first performance at city hall, Johnstone said, but his focus this semester was on the recital that all second-year jazz students have to do.
Even though he plays in the community and outside the four walls of Mount Royal University on a regular basis, the experience of playing at city hall and in the Mount Royal recital have been valuable, he said.
“I try not to look at gigs as just ‘one more gig.’ There are those, but I try not to,” Johnstone said. “The ones through the school, it gets you on the map in different ways….there’s nothing wrong with that.”
Students in discontinued degree program get noticed
The electronic publishing students ensured that they were noted this year.
Note Us, the magazine produced by third-year electronic publishing students in their Document Production II class, was not intended to be “just a ‘Yay! Calgary,’” magazine, according to the rationale notes in the magazine.
Though the magazine has been a regular fixture for e-pub students in the past, Note Us is likely to be the final instalment because the degree has been replaced by a new bachelor of communication in information design.
“The experience is invaluable as you learn about all aspects of magazine design and production,” said student Farin Manji in an e-mail. “[Instructor Ben Kunz] teaches us best practices and ensures that we adhere to a strict schedule like we would if we were working in the industry.”
The magazine’s name came from two meanings: the students said that the contents of the magazine were “notes by us,” as well as “a play of ‘notice’ being a public address of Calgary’s creative people, places and things.”
The work was divided amongst everyone, Manji said, adding that her roles included the layout and design, photography, and print production.
“I am thrilled to be a part of Note Us,” Manji said. “The amount of knowledge and experience I have gained as a result far exceeds any other class I have taken at Mount Royal.” Though Note Us was produced as a print magazine, it is also available at NoteUs.ca.