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3 Apr 2023

2 Years of j3tzine

Ben Timi Nuga

This month marks two years since the publication of J3TZINE's first print issue, 'Going Viral in a Pandemic'. What better way to celebrate than with a reflective blog post!

When I launched J3TZINE, I had absolutely no clue what I was doing, or where to even start. The idea was born from a combination of my growing interest in various creative media and my simultaneous frustration that the only way to shout out my friends’ creative efforts was to use Instagram stories or Twitter retweets – neither of which I felt carried enough weight. I still can’t quite recall exactly when I decided that founding a magazine would be the best way to channel these sentiments, but I do remember that upon creating and naming the ‘J3TZINE Issue One’ folder on my PC, I knew there’d be no backing out.

That moment falls a few weeks before December 19th 2020 (my 22nd birthday), a date beautifully marked by the government’s decision to plunge my town into to a tier 3 lockdown. The holiday period felt markedly less festive than those of Christmases past, but I didn’t mind too much – a covidious Christmas meant peace and quiet, no guests and less washing up. A touch pragmatic perhaps, but these last two years have taught me that doing the dishes can be a rather therapeutic affair with the right backing track, so to that end I am proud to declare myself a changed man, and very much intend to Ho-Ho-Ho this coming Christmas and all those to follow, to atone for my bah-humbuggery. As the ‘festive’ period drew to a close, it was time to prepare for a return to university. Virtually, of course. For those still unfamiliar with the concept of virtual university, I’d summarise by stating that it was much like normal university, but via Zoom calls instead of lecture halls, generally way more naff and probably much worse for one’s mental health. For the same price 😊. Though one might argue that the ability to tune in to a live lecture from bed in your pjs was quite possibly worth north of £5,000. Perspective, right?

Balancing online seminars, assignments and all-night Netflix binge-watching sessions was fine at first - given the circumstances all distractions were more than welcome - but the novelty soon wore off. Sleep was getting boring, university was meh, and I was running out of shows to watch. Given that those who dared step out of their homes were being addressed with terms formerly reserved for armed robbers and other such rogues, I needed to find ways to stay busy for the 21-odd hours I was spending in my room, lest I resorted to creating yet another personality to entertain myself.

Enter j3tzine.

Building a magazine from scratch would present the perfect project that would help keep me occupied whilst giving me a tangible, more permanent means of platforming my friends. Sprinkle in the fact that I’d never designed anything more advanced than a PowerPoint slide since finishing school – a meaty challenge. To summarise the five months that followed, I’ll coin the phrase ‘iterative autodidacticism’. In other words, teaching yourself via repetition. In this case, arduous, painstaking repetition. Outreach, editing, graphic design, branding, web design, editing, quality control, social media management, editing, distribution, funding, interviewing, journalistic writing, research, more editing - all the while amassing an ungodly amount of screen time.

Back pain and eyestrain notwithstanding, the process was rewarding in ways that I couldn’t have even imagined. 100 magazines arrived at my doorstep, orders trickled through and feedback followed suit. What had started as an idea and passion project in my bedroom was now a real product, subject to external views and judgement – one of the most daunting parts of the journey to date. Fortunately, people liked it! Yet as the orders started to slow down, a sense of deflation came upon me. I’d had set my sights on climbing this seemingly insurmountable mountain, and upon reaching its precipice I didn’t quite know what to do with myself. A big benefit of working solo had been knowing that as long as I stayed focused and motivated to see the publication process through to the end, I would make it happen. The magazine was made, it had been well received and I had a physical proof of concept. But what next? Whilst I’d learned enough to know I could do it all again while avoiding the mistakes I’d made the first time around, there was a lot still I didn’t know, and despite my willingness to commit to picking up the necessary skills, lockdown was coming to an end - and with it, my capacity to continue doing it all by myself. As exam season drew nearer and life post-university grew to become an ever-present source of stress, it became apparent that the best way to take j3tzine forward was to take a step back – with plans for further growth and magazine issues put on hold while I took the time to figure things out.

And two years on, I’ve kinda figured things out!

There’s been a lot of work taking place behind the scenes - a stunning new website, talks about collaborations with more established brands and creatives, and a slowly growing team bringing fresh perspectives and voices to the table. j3tzine's contributors have been hard at work too, with amazing growth and stories to share. We’ve seen musicians rising up the UK charts, fashion designers being recognised on the international stage, and artists making their exhibition debuts – with further successes surely on the way!

Reintroducing j3tzine, a multimedia journal showcasing cool, talented people, who (sometimes) love what they do - as seen by me, J3TSY.

It’s a pleasure to have you along for the ride, see you soon!

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