We always love hearing about women who are creative entrepreneurs and especially enjoy those who also work in indie publishing! I was excited to have the opportunity recently to interview Pamela Rounis of SAD Mag, an independent Vancouver based publication that focuses on art and design. Read on for real talk on changing career paths early on, prioritizing work commitments, and the future of SAD Magazine as well as the podcast she hosts, called the SADCAST!
How did you get involved with SAD Mag? What is your role within the magazine? Can you give our readers a brief overview of SAD Mag’s mission?
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 has been the most exciting aspect of working with SAD Mag? What are some of the challenges?
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.
How do you balance your various commitments considering that in addition to working with SAD Mag and hosting SADCAST, you also have a full-time role as an Associate Creative Director at an agency?
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 any exciting things coming up with the magazine or with personal projects for the rest of the year that you'd like to share?
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, haha!
By Alicia Puig
Portrait by Lauren D Zbarsky.