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Field Notes

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Meet our sub-editor and proofreader Kieran O‘Hare

Kieran O‘Hare my proofreader and sub-editor since issue No11 and has been hugely helpful in improving the overall quality of Offscreen’s writing. I asked him some questions about working on Offscreen and his many talents, one of which is publishing a magazine himself.

Kai: Who are you and what do you do when you’re not working on Offscreen?

Kieran: My name is Kieran O’Hare. I currently live in the northeastern U.S. in Portland, Maine. I have fallen (pleasantly!) into the role of copy-editor and sub-editor of Offscreen. When I’m not buried in an endless Google Doc with you, I lead a sort of double existence as a musician and an independent magazine publisher.

On the musical side, I work around the world in music performance, as well as musical design and artistic direction for the stage. I play Irish traditional music on an instrument called the uilleann pipes, which is the uniquely Irish form of bagpipes, and I serve on the Board of Directors of an organization in Dublin called Na Píobairí Uilleann, which works for the preservation and spread of the uilleann pipes. I’m typing this from an airport in Baltimore, as I’m making my way home from recording a second album in Chicago with my trio, Open the Door for Three.

While being a professional piper might be enough of a kamikaze mission in itself, I recently co-founded a brand new quarterly print magazine about Irish culture and people at home and around the world, called Éirways. I and my partner, designer Kevin O’Brien, just launched our first issue, and it’s going very well so far. It’s been an exciting and very fulfilling process. I’m already buried working on Issue #2, which we plan to launch around October 1.

What apps and tools could you not live without?

I’m fairly basic when it comes to technology, but I’ll try anything to see if it simplifies things for me. My basic arsenal on the road is my 11” MacBook Air, an iPad (with the White Noise app to make hotels bearable), and an iPhone. Pages, Skype, Facetime, and Gmail are constantly open and often in use. Squarespace – surprise, surprise – is the home for Éirways magazine. Thanks to you, Google Docs is always there too. Oh, and pens. I like pens. Lots of them. And paper: the good stuff.

Print is dead. Comment?

Print is alive, well, growing in new and surprising ways, and thriving. Print fills a void that the digital world can’t, and often, it can fill a void that the digital world causes.

I’ll excerpt my editor’s letter from Issue #1 of my magazine, Éirways:

Éirways is a print-only magazine about Ireland, its culture, and its people at home and around the world. As editor, my goal is to create a magazine that broadens perspectives about Ireland and forges new connections between those who live in Ireland, those who leave Ireland, and those who love Ireland.

We have chosen to do this through print, a medium which some have already declared to be moribund. But we have been inspired by a new wave of independent magazine publishers around the world who work hard to prove that the breath of print can do more than fog a mirror. Print can be the vehicle by which we retake for ourselves the quiet contemplation and pure enjoyment of learning about the world around us.

We are bombarded and overwhelmed with electronic ‘content’. It is fleeting, fast-moving, and ultimately transient. How calming and pleasant it is to handle a beautiful magazine: media that we choose to welcome into our lives. We can handle it, touch it, feel it, smell it. When the latest website has receded into the digital din, a magazine is always right there where you last put it down…”

What’s your favourite thing on the internet this week?

I honestly haven’t been that plugged in this week. I returned to the States from Dublin one week ago, was home for two days, went to Chicago, played a concert at The Art Institute of Chicago, hung out with my brother Sean and his wife, went into the studio and mixed an album for three days, and now I’m going home. I have a novel to read on the plane, and I have to say the relative lack of internet has been, dare I say, blissful?

If you could pick any person to have a long dinner conversation with, who would it be?

Any one of the amazing photographers, artists, writers, or profile subjects I’ve had the honour of working with for Éirways magazine. It’s been an absolute privilege to be able to forge new connections with people that I wouldn’t have met had it not been for my foray into the world of print magazine-making.

Please complete: Working with me is ___!?

Germanic. Hard. Easy. An honour: you are one of the hardest working people I’ve ever met, and are truly an inspirational figure in the world of independent magazine publishing. I was a fan of Offscreen long before I made contact with you, and it’s an absolute pleasure to work with you now!

Well said. ;) Thanks Kieran! You’ve done a wonderful job with issue 11! Can’t wait to dive into the next bottomless Google Doc with you.

Photo by Earl Richardson

Meet our editorial assistant Ivana McConnell

Meet Ivana McConnell, who’s written an essay for issue 10 and recently took on the role of editorial assistant for Offscreen (next to her main job) to help me with the upcoming issue.

Kai: Who are you and what do you do when you’re not working on Offscreen?

Ivana: My name is Ivana McConnell and right now I’m based out of Vancouver, after stints in Toronto, Glasgow, and Edinburgh. I’m an apologetic Canadian with a weakness for typography, and as of lately I’m Offscreen Magazine’s editorial assistant.

My day job is that of interaction designer; when I’m not doing that or working on Offscreen, I’m probably either rock climbing or doing some sort of exercise. It helps me stay even-keeled, and listening to a podcast or some music while cycling helps me turn my brain off for a little while; something I find incredibly hard to do. I’m also trying to make time to learn how to draw letters, properly. It’s my ambition to one day design a typeface. Other than that, I’m usually enjoying a good conversation over a pint or a coffee (depending on the time of day) with my wife, or being dragged around the neighbourhood by our hyperactive jack russell terrier.

What apps and tools could you not live without?

Aside from the usual (Gmail, Skype, etc.), I’m not much of a tools person; I try a lot of them but nothing seems to stick. What does, I adore: Overcast for podcast discovery and listening, Clear and Captio to get tasks done, Byword to write, and the Longform app for great reads. Also, my wife and I recently had to spend six months apart due to work and a big move, and Evernote and Avocado turned out to be lifesavers.

Print is dead. Comment?

Lies. I think reports of the medium’s death are exaggerated and, in fact, it’s managed to reincarnate and reinvent itself into something that both complements and contrasts the digital, always-on world we live in. It can, like Offscreen, become an excuse to unplug from that digital world or, in some cases, allow us to connect to it in a different way. They encourage us to engage with the world a little bit differently; to create or read them is an act of commitment much different to reading or writing a blog post. There’s an honesty about it all — we know that a printed book or magazine isn’t collecting data on us while we’re reading it — and reading is a focused act that, in today’s world, requires just a little bit more devotion than it used to. We can’t share it with a click, we have to talk about it.

Technology changes but the printed word doesn’t; it’s a snapshot of time in a tangible, human way that web content can’t be. It’s permanent, and I think people are looking more and more for that humanity and that authenticity these days. So print isn’t dead, in my opinion, it’s alive and kicking our digital doors down.

What’s your favourite thing on the internet this week?

This 38,000 word interactive article which aims to answer the lofty question, ‘What is code?’ Sit down with a coffee, an open mind, and get ready to take notes (and a few breaks). It’s a cracker.

If you could pick any person to have a long dinner conversation with, who would it be?

I think my answer to this question would probably change every time you asked it, but today it would be Tommy Caldwell. I’ve been a rock climber for many years, and followed his Dawn Wall project since he first started checking it out and seeing if it was possible. He’s such a tenacious, humble human being with some epic stories to share, not to mention some invaluable climbing advice, which I could always use more of!

Please complete with honesty: Working with Kai is ___!?

Reassuring, but not in that cliche, ‘everything-is-going-to-be-all-right’ way, but reassuring in the way that only genuine honesty can be. I’m never in the dark about a suggestion I’ve made or an idea I’ve had, and that forthright clarity is so valuable to me. It’s also unfortunately fleeting sometimes, given the time difference of Vancouver-to-Melbourne, but it’s been brilliant!

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