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When Localist was first published in 2003, coverage of the local arts and music scene was nearly nonexistent. The magazine was founded and published by TJ Deeter, who thought local indie, punk and hip-hop culture deserved more attention from central Arkansas media. By the time the publication went on indefinite hiatus back in 2008, Deeter thought his original goal had been achieved. Localist had filled a niche in the market and other publications, blogs and websites were stepping up to fill the void — our own Lindsey Millar's Rock Candy blog chief among them.
As Deeter learned, publishing ain't easy. The magazine was run by a small, dedicated and unpaid staff, a tradition that continues today. Passion for local culture provided all the motivation but little in the form of income. By the end of its run, Deeter was ready to move on to other projects.
“I just got tired,” he says. “There was no money in it and lots of debt. Plus I was looking forward to getting into teaching and spending more time doing my own art projects.”
Davis Clement, the magazine's new editor and publisher, got involved with Localist in its on-line form a couple of years ago. He says the decision to revive the publication was an easy one.
“People were telling me they'd like to see the Localist back in print,” he says. “I talked with some of the staff members to see if they were up for it and they were. So we just got together and tried to find a printing style that would be economical but would also represent photographs and art really well and just did it.”
So what's different this time around? Surely a small, independent magazine with ever-present budget constraints and an unpaid staff will still be beset by the same challenges Deeter faced. That's true to some extent, Clement says, but he's found ways to cut costs.
“Now our printing format is a lot cheaper,” Clement says. “Before, it was thick, glossy, full-color paper. Now we're using a heavy-based newsprint. It's not glossy. Our printing costs are a fraction of what they were before, which means our ads don't cost as much as they did before, which means we're planning on selling a lot more ads this time around.”
But why not just go on-line? Setting up a blog is a lot easier than worrying about printing costs, distribution, etc. Given the publication's history, it seems an on-line presence might be more cost-effective, but Clement doesn't see it that way.
“Everybody on our staff likes to read magazines, and I just like print media in general. I also love history and it's easier to study the record that's provided by a print copy. It's just more reliable than a digital record. We think that there should be a reliable record of the independent art community here,” he says.
The first new issue of Localist officially debuted last Friday night at a release party held at Revolution. Magic Hassle headlined the show and front-man David Slade (also of the American Princes) graces the front cover. Deeter says the new edition exceeded his expectations.
“I think it looks great,” he says. “I'm really proud of it. I think it looks a lot better than anything I ever did.”
The new issue runs the gamut from political commentary to poetry, music reviews to visual arts features. Even though there will be some uniformity to the content, Clement hopes readers will dictate most of what appears in the pub's pages.
“We don't want the content to be decided just by us,” Clement says. “We're totally open to content being sent to us, whether it's just an idea or a completed piece. We want to be submission-centric. Not only does it make it easier on us, but it gives the readers more ownership of it.”
Clement plans to publish a new issue once every two months. Copies will run $2 and will be distributed at local outlets like Boulevard Bread Co., The Station Grocery and Wordsworth Books. Plans are also in the works to sell copies at local music venues like Vino's and White Water Tavern.
Clement says Localist will be around for awhile.
“It's kind of a labor of love thing. We're all doing it because we like it and we like the scene. That's our chief motivation always,” he says.