We here at Create! always love hearing about creative women entrepreneurs and especially enjoy connecting with those who work alongside us in indie publishing! After the lovely ladies from Thrive Art Studio in Canada suggested that we reach out to SAD Mag, I got in touch with one of their co-publishers, Pamela Rounis, to interview her about the Vancouver based art and design publication. Read on for her candid responses on topics including an early career pivot, establishing priorities when you have a multitude of work commitments, and what the future holds for SAD Magazine as well as the podcast she hosts, called the SADCAST.
What sparked your initial interest in art and design?
I was a creative kid, I always drew or made movies or plays, and that led me to the only logical conclusion I could think of, art school. There was no one really guiding me so I wasn’t sure what careers were available, i just figured I’d try to get into Emily Carr because that seemed like the “best” school. After graduating from Emily Carr I was faced with the stark reality of making a living in the art world. I ended up working as a gallery director for a small gallery and truly the best part of that job was creating the exhibition graphics. I didn’t have any formal design training and I did everything in photoshop! After 3 years, and no more ladder to climb in the gallery, I had to make the tough decision to go back to school for design. I went through the IDEA program at Capilano University and it changed my life. I finally felt like I was in the right place creatively. Design turned out to be a much better fit for me than fine art. I still appreciate fine art of course, and draw immense inspiration from it daily.
What was the vision behind creating a niche art and design publication like SAD Mag? How and when did you first become involved with the publication?
SAD Mag is an independent Vancouver publication featuring stories, art, and design. Founded in 2009, we publish local contemporary and emerging artists and writers with a focus on inclusivity of voices and views. We are a non-profit and volunteer run. Our main mission is to elevate the creative scene here in Vancouver and give emerging creatives a place to get published and noticed. I started doing design for SAD around 2012 and eventually became creative director and co-publisher. When Katie Stewart (co-publisher) asked me to join SAD it seemed like mostly everyone there was a writer or photographer and none of these folks’ primary interest was design so it was a real opportunity for me to be able to change everything from the logo to the size of the magazine itself. This July, after nearly ten years, Katie, Michelle Cyca, and I stepped down as co-publishers to give a new generation the reigns. We will all remain on the board of directors, however, and I will continue to host our podcast, SADCAST. Syd Danger has taken over for me as the new creative director and co-publisher along with Madeline Barber as editor and co-publisher.
What about your volunteer work with SAD Mag kept you engaged and excited for a decade? Can you speak to some of the challenges that you faced in the role of co-publisher?
The most exciting aspect is working with the artists, illustrators, and photographers on the creative for the magazine. It’s a lot of fun reading the pieces and matching them with the right person and briefing them on how to bring the piece to life. Each issue is themed which also brings a unique challenge, finding ways to stretch that theme across an entire issue in a way that keeps a reader’s interest. Our biggest challenge is the same as any magazine, gaining and retaining subscribers. It’s funny how many people will come to our parties and spend $30 on drinks, but don’t buy the magazine! We do have many loyal subscribers though it’s always a challenge to get the word out, especially since we’re volunteer run and sales are no one’s passion project.
In addition to your work with SAD Mag and hosting the SADCAST, you are also a full-time Associate Creative Director at an advertising agency. How do you maintain a sustainable work/life balance?
It’s been challenging to balance everything which is what led me to the ultimate decision to step down from most of my duties at SAD after 7 years. I think there was a lot of sacrifice that went into my being able to do everything. Certainly my husband thinks I’m a workaholic and I work most weekends. It’s not a lifestyle I would recommend and I think that’s the harsh truth about a lot of successful people. This past year I had my first panic attack and I said to myself that something needs to give, I can’t do it all even though I want to. Being promoted to ACD at Rethink came with a lot of new responsibilities also, so it just became overwhelming. I think for a lot of the time my motto was "better done than perfect". And that's really the only way things kept rolling.
Are there exciting things in store for the magazine or with your personal projects for the rest of the year that we should look forward to?
I am very excited to see what Syd and Maddy do with the magazine. The next issue, their first as co-pubs, is appropriately themed Future and it’s definitely one to watch out for. Meanwhile, I’m going to try to make the SADCAST better than ever, and take it a bit easier!
By Alicia Puig
Portrait by Lauren D Zbarsky.