September 17, 2009

Contrast Magazine. Part 2.

In this second part of sharing my aloha for Contrast Magazine {read part 1 here}, I have a little interview put together for you guys. Thanks, Race, for taking some time out to do this…


Founded in: 2008

Give us a little bit of background behind Contrast Magazine. What is it about?
It’s a Hawaii-based international lifestyle online and print publication dedicated to art, music, fashion, travel, surfing, skateboarding, photography, design and other key interests of the 18-35 demographic.



What prompted the start of Contrast?
We’re a group of friends who share many similar interests and felt that Hawaii lacked a quality publication that expressed those interests and/or targeted our demographic. We all have some sort of publishing background; from Zen Yoshifuku writing for Japanese surfing magazines to Daniel Ikaika Ito editing for Surfing Magazine to Mark Kushimi doing layouts for various magazines.
Besides that, we’re all well traveled, some of us living away from Hawaii for extended periods, we’d see all the other quality publications outside of Hawaii and we wanted to start one in Hawaii.



How often is the magazine published and is this something that will continue or is this simply during startup?
The magazine is published quarterly, every three months. We originally planned to change to every other month our second year and monthly by our third year. But we’re still very much learning how to operate the magazine as a business and it looks like we’ll be quarterly for the second year and increase that the third year to every other month. This also gives us more time to focus on each issue and try to improve on the last.


I love checking out your website and blog. Was Contrast always meant to be a print mag?
Thank you. I thought only my mom and sister read our blog (laughs). Yeah, Contrast was always meant to be a printed magazine. But we set out to cover three aspects of being a media brand: print, web & video. We wanted to make our site a valuable resource along side the printed issue. Many of our favorite magazines didn’t have seamless websites and many of our favorite sites don’t have a printed version, so we thought we would combine that. Throwing in the tv channel adds a fun dimension to our publication. It’s been a lot of work, but we can see the direct impact of our website, print and tv combo in our events and the demand for our printed version.



Who started the company and how big your staff now?
The company is founded by Daniel Ikaika Ito, Jason Shibata, Lance Arinaga, Mark Kushimi, Scott Saito, Zen Yoshifuku and myself. We enlisted our friends to contribute and that list has swelled over the past three issues. I’d like to list them all, as we couldn’t do this without our extended Contrast Ohana (family), but they know who they are. We love the extended Ohana. We are so honored that they are willing to help us out.



Is this a full-time gig for all on the staff? I know that, for example, one of your is a pro surfer.
This is a full-time gig for NOBODY on the staff (laughs). We do not make any money on this…of course, the plan is to make money eventually, but right now we are very much a start up, relying on our own money, a (nearly) maxed bank loan and advertisers dollars to print each issue. Everybody on staff has either full or part-time jobs and we work on Contrast with our free time. But we’re dedicated and passionate about this and through some advertisers commitments, we’re seeing some light at the end of the tunnel…some very dim light (laughs). Our staff’s day jobs range from CPA to Pro Surfer to Web Designer to Chauffeur to freelance journalist. Whatever it takes.


I really enjoy the variety offered up in each issue of Contrast. Where do you find your inspiration for the articles and features? Do people contact you with ideas?
Thank you, again. Our staff is diverse when it comes to interests, but we all have a surfing and skating background, so we brainstorm each issue and start developing ideas. Often times we have some great concepts, but because of lack of photos or editorial flow, the concept can’t be executed. We try and find things that are a unique story and that are relatable to a wide range of people. We aim to build a collective consciousness with our readers. We often get contacted about ideas through our network of friends and contributors and we do use those ideas a lot. It’s amazing to have a friend come to you with an idea and then execute it with them.


Where do you see the magazine going/expanding? How would you like to see it grow?
The magazine has been gaining a lot of momentum since we started, it’s awesome to see it first hand. When we started we weren’t sure if people would be feeling it, but the response has been tremendous and humbling. As far as growth, we’d like to increase our circulation of 20,000 copies to 25,000 – 30,000 copies and make a bigger push along the west coast. Currently we distribute 5,000 copies from Seattle to San Diego in select retailers, but you can imagine how quickly that goes. We’d like to make a bigger impact there and keep Hawaii in the mix. I’d also like to see our writing get to the level of consistency of our design and photography. I don’t think it’s bad now, but if we could continue to improve on our writing, it’ll give us more longevity per issue. It’s hard as a start up, cause you can’t hire professional writers, so we used our own staff and friends and tried our best.


I noticed you guys are involved in a lot of local events. Can you tell us more about that?
We love to support people who are doing creative events locally. Again, it’s about appealing to an audience that we felt was not being catered to. If somebody is doing something interesting and it makes sense for us, we want to be a part of it and help the event. It’s also a way for us to market our magazine as a brand in itself. We’ve done a few events with advertisers, like a Surf Film Festival with The Honolulu Academy of Arts and recently we brought down artist Dalek for a showing of original work with In4mation and The Contemporary Museum of Art. We also try to throw a party for each issue we come out with, we don’t want to get too caught up in the party stuff, we just want to make a quality publication, but the parties help us promote the new issue and allow us to get to know our audience. Plus, they’re FUN!



Do you currently offer ad spots and if someone wants to advertise in Contrast Magazine, how would they go about doing so?
Advertising is our main source of income as the publication is FREE. If someone/company is interested in advertising in either print or web, give me a call at (808) 294-9791 or email me:


Mahalo to Race and his crew for the interview and for putting out a kick ass magazine from Hawaii. Keep your eyes open because the new issue is coming out shortly. I’ll update you all here when it’s official.

7 Comments on this post

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Race Skelton and Kawika Kanae. Kawika Kanae said: RT @mixedplateblog: Want more Contrast Mag? Yup, you do.Thanks @Racedup & @CONTRASTMAG crew! […]

  2. […] shed some light on the intentions and direction of Contrast Magazine. Mahalo Liana! Read the piece HERE. It’s a […]

  3. What fabulous photos! I especially love the one with the giant wave… very refreshing!

  4. marcus
    Sep 17, 2009 @ 2:29 pm

    I love what they did in the North Shore issue and can’t wait for the next one to drop. I was wondering if there were going to be any available to pick up in SF.

  5. Liana
    Sep 17, 2009 @ 4:21 pm

    Hey RobbieLee – The photos really are fabulous, aren’t they? The magazine is beautiful and it’s like their website and blog. I mean, the articles are great but the images alone could keep you interested. You should get your hands on a copy! :o

  6. Liana
    Sep 17, 2009 @ 4:23 pm

    Hey Marcus – So far, both of the issues of Contrast have been great. And I know they’ll just keep getting better! :o If I hear that they’ll be dropping some in SF, I’ll let you know or I can see about how you could get a copy. I know for sure their last issue {The North Shore one} was available at a couple places in the city, such as Huf.

  7. karin
    Sep 21, 2009 @ 9:26 pm

    Very inspiring!

    Also, I love that “It won’t always grow back” poster in the office shot.