Interview with Bristol 24/7
We really enjoyed speaking to Martin Booth from Bristol 24/7 about how the magazine started and how it has evolved over time.
Martin Booth: How and why did you start the magazine?
James Gamlin: The idea for magazine first came about when I was thinking of what to do for father’s day a few years ago. My Dad and I share a passion for football amongst many other things such as music and photography, whilst he also enjoys reading and browsing through nice coffee table books.
Around the time that I was looking for a gift for him I had also started to notice a number of high quality magazines starting to emerge, and so with all of this in mind, I decided to try and make him his own magazine, featuring a number of our photos and looking at aspects and stories of football that we were both interested in.
It took me forever! But it was all worth it as he absolutely loved it, and I also gave a copy to my Uncle and my Grandad who both really enjoyed it too. The printing went a little wrong so I ended up with more copies than planned, and I gave these out to family and friends, and after many of them encouraged me to do another one and maybe take it further, I started to think about how I could possibly do this.
My Mum bought me a lovely book called Startup London, which is full of brilliant stories of how people have started businesses in the capital, and this helped me to think about some of the wider elements that would be involved in turning the magazine into a small business. I also saw a number of pitching and enterprise competitions at uni, so I entered them and this allowed me to condense and consolidate my idea, and also gave me some really valuable feedback.
I am incredibly grateful to have been successful in some of the competitions, where I won some funding, which allowed me to then build a website and launch the magazine for real, and the first issue went on sale in the Summer of 2019. It was a great summer, and one that really forced me to move out of my comfort zone, pitching to shops across the country, running a market stall in the city centre and promoting the brand across social media.
I’ve learnt so much from the experience and I feel that by creating a product once, you are able to consider all of the things that you can change and do differently to improve it. My final year dissertation was based on the magazine and as part of this I spoke to some of my readers, stockists and potential buyers when conducting some of my research, which was hugely beneficial to my project as well as to creating the second issue.
It was amazing to see some of my friends also pursue the ideas that they developed through their dissertations and we are so lucky to have had access to such a wide range of support and opportunities at UWE. Through Escapismo I’ve also been able to connect with other new start ups in Bristol – there are so many great networks sharing their experiences and advice, and it’s been lovely to see the independent businesses around the city looking to support each other during this difficult time.
MB: What sort of magazine were you hoping to make? How has the reaction to the magazines been so far?
JG: I’d noticed on Twitter and Instagram a range of high quality magazines starting to emerge, with amazing photos and designs spread across lovely paper, and had also discovered some shops specialising in these types of magazines in London as well as Magalleria in Bath. I wanted to make Escapismo something that would fit nicely alongside these beautiful magazines on the shelf, and I suppose one of my main aims has always been to create something that people want to keep and display, and something that would make a nice gift, rather than something that is read once and then recycled.
There has been so much that I’ve learned along the way, from the types of paper to use to give it a quality feel, the range of content to include, different types of layouts and how to look to give the design a consistent feel throughout. I’ve spent so many hours watching YouTube tutorials and talks from some of the best graphic designers and magazine editors around, and I look to learn new things every day that will help to improve the magazine.
I hope that with each issue, it will always improve slightly, and every time I hear that someone has enjoyed reading it, it really does mean the world. People really seem to like the fact that the magazine celebrates the positives and the beauty of football – I think we are all very much aware of the problems within the game, but the sense of belonging and togetherness that it provides, as well as the way it allows it to escape and take our minds away from anything that may be going on in our lives will always remain, and so I look to capture the emotions and excitement of it through the magazine.
MB: What is the theme of issue three? How have the magazines developed over time? What have been the biggest lessons you have learned?
JG: The theme of issue three is “ending the wait”, where I’ve looked at the way certain sides have endured long periods between winning a title, a promotion, or even a victory over a key rival. There are articles on Argentina’s ongoing wait for another World Cup win, Francesco Totti leading Roma to a first title in 18 years, the fascinating league that is the Championship, as well as a piece on the recent success of Portishead Town Ladies, together with a range of other features, contributions and interviews with brands, artists and photographers.
It’s amazing to now be in a position where a wide range of contributors are featured in each issue, and it’s an absolute pleasure to include some incredible illustrations and photos in the magazine, as well as to be able to speak to clothing brands and artists about the beautiful game and what it means to them. It’s great to know that you are helping people to reach new audiences through the magazine, and their content also brings amazing quality to it, so I really enjoy working with a range of different collaborators knowing that we both benefit.
I still have so much to learn, and there are so many things I’d love to do in the future, in terms of features, interviews and themes, and I hope that every issue will have a slightly different feel, exploring different areas of the game and telling the lesser known stories, whilst also covering more well known ones but from a new and alternative perspectives.
MB: Have Bristol City featured yet? Are you looking to tell any stories from Bristol football?
JG: Maybe a special edition could be on the cards – I’d love to work with the club to produce that! A few photos of Ashton Gate manage to find their way into each issue, and City do get a mention in the article on the Championship, I’ll have to do a nice feature on football in Bristol at some point – without being too biased!
A few of my friends play for Portishead Town Ladies so it was great to follow and document their story over the last few seasons, they are a brilliant team and have had some great runs in the FA Cup, so it was great to be able to share this with a wider audience through the magazine. There are so many brilliant stories to be told at all levels of the game, and I’ll definitely look to include some more from Bristol and beyond in future issues.
MB: What does it feel like to have now made three magazines? What next for the magazine do you think?
JG: It really is such a great feeling, and I’m so grateful for all of the support that the magazine has received so far – it really wouldn’t be anything without its readers so I’d like to say a huge thank you to everyone who has bought a copy. Work on issue four has started in the very early stages, and looking further ahead there are a few special editions I’d like to make, I’m also thinking of doing a few podcasts soon and maybe some short documentary-style videos in the future.
It’s been a fantastic experience so far and running the magazine in my spare time is something I really love. Bristol is such a great city for starting a small business and I really encourage anyone looking to pursue an idea to go for it and if you are passionate about your idea and believe in it, other people will too!