Monday, October 27, 2014

Ideas Take Flight...

I've never been a fan of flying and being in New York City on 9/11 has made it even less desirable. But for business, I must travel - and this trip I planned in early May held a great deal of promise. As publishing has been shrinking, so have the opportunities and budgets. What once was a team of photo shoot professionals has been replaced by single bloggers whose perspectives seem fresh to advertisers and whose work comes without a price tag. Coupled with the lack of ad revenue, the need for producers, stylists, photographers and writers has gone the way of the dinosaur. Budgets for what work is left is just a 1/3 of what it was 25 years ago. I provide the whole package at this point, with lots of experience and accommodation for my clients' needs. Yet I still have many folks who laugh at my rate sheet, and this new potential partner turned out to be no exception.

I departed from the plane into the warm southern sun, found a cab, and got myself to my hotel for a brief respite. Jenny and I had worked days and days on a new proposal. Lots of visuals, a solid new concept and a real desire for me to return to my Country Home roots (I was style editor-at-large there for 12 years).  Everywhere I go, fans still lament the loss of CH and it didn't go away because it wasn't popular. Most magazines of that time were based on ad revenue from items related to the housing market. When the economy died, so did advertisers - leaving the magazines with zero revenue for production and distribution.  No longer could a title support a staff, and magazines had to close. Never was there a lack of readership or hearty interest in a title like CH.  But with the loss of these great magazines grew the voice of the humble bloggers. Ideas and images free for the taking have attracted advertisers who put money directly in the hands of bloggers who then put product endorsements front and center on their blogs. The result has been detrimental to the printed page on so many levels and has trickled down to me with zero opportunities in a once flourishing industry.

The publishers that have survived have done so on a shoe-string. My trip is to one such publisher that has gained momentum from the lack of competition out there.Their titles and production qualities have grown and they have taken a sizeable bite out of the publishing market by doing it all for less. I walked into a meeting with them with their arms open wide. They had followed my career, even hired me for some small projects, and had seen sales increase based on a few projects I had done for their covers. They wanted my new idea immediately, and beyond my proposal asked me to really dream big and let them know what I wanted. It's dangerous to ask me to dream big: because I can and I did, and my desires basically...

 1. A seasonal magazine about country... a return to my roots.

2. Simple design that lets real country ideals lead the way and show off all the seasons.

3. Fun and seasonal ideas are the hallmark of my style.

4. Simple and familiar... tried and true and updated. I think this magazine would have its hand on the pulse of what readers really want. 

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

It`s In The Message...!

I want to thank everyone for the outpouring of support. As I write these blog posts, I want you all to know that I am chronichling experiences from the last year and so far we are still in late February and early March.  While things are on the upswing there are more pitfalls to come... Stay tuned.

Last week I did a book signing at the CITY FARMHOUSE SHOW in Franklin, Tennessee.  I shared more of my feelings about life and the community surrounding the vintage lifestyle.  It was a joy to be in the company of such delightful, like minded people. Here is a little of what I shared:

My name is Matthew Mead. You may know me from my work with Country Home magazine or Better Homes and Gardens. Or the work I've done with major American brands like Pottery Barn and Longaberger Basket.  If you follow my blog you may know that, like everything in our world, print publishing has taken a real hit, and the common past time of browsing the pages of your favorite magazine is a bit more rare.  The last few years have been a real struggle and have really given me pause and reflection. I believe that the rise of occasional sales and pop-up shows  like this has been a real effort to join this community together, and while the printed page doesn't unite us as much as it once did, it has been replaced by these gatherings and events and real smiling faces. Here we share positive  encouragement and real feelings that we express to each other in person as " I am here for you, friend."
I look for mirrors at these events. Not the framed, chippy, white ones or the mercury glass-like distressed ones.  But the reflections that I see in the dealers, the decorators, the collectors who make up the fabric of these gatherings.   It's all as much about the people as it is the pieces. We are a very special group. The innovators, the creators, the keepers of time and tradition. As I walk the spaces I marvel at the relationships, the families, best friends, spouses and business partners that come together around objects and art. We continue and ground the cycle of memories, ideas, the love of HARDWORK and the simple but important utility of items that bridge generation to generation. We share so much more than cool stuff and nicely staged displays. In a world filled with economic crisis, unspeakable acts of real terror and the fear of plagues, these shows bring like-minded, kindred spirits together to share in beauty, creativity and tradition - which is truly and whole-heartedly  the secret to the BEST PART OF LIFE.  

We all have a bit of nuttiness about us...and a sense of adventure. Decorating, staging, dealing in ginormous pieces of old furniture is hard work.  Moving cupboards in oversized vehicles with muddy fields, torrential rains and scary highways and by-ways isn't always memorable bliss. Yet these challenges lead to this type of community - one that is clearly magnetic, attractive, powerful and irrepressible.

As I move toward my future and transition to a new publisher (and only God knows what else), it is this community and sharing my part of it which gives me strength and hope. It affirms my belief that what I and what WE share together is so much more than leafing through the pages of a magazine.

In closing, as I think about our common qualities there is so much more than items that unite us.  We don't sit on ordinary couches or turn on an everyday lamp. We are connected to each and everything we collect and bring into our lives. We appreciate the storied lineage of our belongings and live to FEATHER OUR NESTS. We are in touch, grounded by our lifestyles and each other which connect and comfort us.  

Three things you might not know about me:

In fourth grade I was selected to work with a graduated student who was a film major. He helped me and a handful of other students make our own short films. I often wonder whatever happened to my directorial debut...

One time when Jenny and I first met, we purchased a rose oil-painting at the flea market for ten dollars, and sold it to a Nantucket shop for $500 dollars.  I cashed the check for $1 and $5 dollar bills and strewed the apartment with the cash. We felt like a million dollars!

In my twenties I would frequently run out of gas. The wrecker would arrive and try to charge me three dollars for fuel. I would exclaim, "If I had money, then I would have gas in the car!"