About Burst Magazine

…and how it started

How it started

Burst Magazine was founded in late 2010 by Ali Salih, who was bored and wanting to come up with something creative. He started creating an online publication showcasing a collection of work from truly amazing talents from all over the world as he is so passionate about everyone’s work and wanted to help to show off their talents.

Originally Ali was planning to create an inspirational blog but it was eventually ditched as there are far too many blogs under a similar format so he decided to create something different, where he focuses on up and coming talents.

The publication break down into two main groups; exposure and interviews. Exposure consists of carefully selected works from each artist along with short paragraphs about themselves and their works. In each exposure, he set a theme such as Characters which was the most popular subject. Alongside themed exposure, he selected a few artists / designers and set out detailed interviews, giving insight and finer details about each artist’s works and what inspired them to create stunning pieces.

Designer’s Desk was later added to give readers a behind the scenes view of designers’ / artists’ work space, along with a short interview about their space and what inspired them to work.

Ali’s main aim is to help as many creatives as possible gain more exposure, which could lead to them getting new projects to work on or maybe even a job in a design studio.

Unfortunately Burst Magazine ceased publication in 2013.

Photo taken by Tim Easley


By Liam Hodgeon

As part of Liam’s dissertation, I was asked to do an interview about Burst Magazine… Enjoy.

LH: Can I start by asking, what made you start your own magazine and why did you initially choose to publish it digitally?
BM: To be brutally honest, I was bored and in need of doing something creative. During 2007-2009 I used to run my own design studio in my parent’s shop until I decided to close, due to personal reasons. During 2010, I did nothing and was unable to find job or anything to do, so I decided to start Burst Magazine as a hobby as I am passionate about everyone’s work and wanting to help to show off their talents. I decided to create a digital magazine based on a few reasons; there are too many inspiration blogs, I wanted to create something different, it’s free and costs nothing to produce. Burst Magazine launched on 21st December 2010 which is in fact on my birthday!

LH: How have you found publishing and promoting your own magazine online? Has the digital environment made it easier?
BM: Well as I was already on Twitter and Facebook before Burst Magazine started, with a reasonable amount of creative followers I already had, it picked up fairly quickly when I started talking about launching a first issue and opening submissions. Social networking is brilliant and easy to use as it reaches out as far as my arm can reach!! I live in Hertfordshire, just on the outskirts of North London, there are not many creative people around here for me to reach out so online is the best tool to use.

LH: I hope you don’t mind me asking, but what’s your average readership per month at the moment? And do you think this number would be lower if Burst was just a print edition?
BM: Well the figure varies depending on magazine contents / theme, during 2011 most issues fetch under about 600 downloads but The Characters Issue fetched over 1,500 which surprised me as it’s the most popular issue. It’s brilliant for me to see which succeed and which didn’t make it quite as well. It gives me a clear idea of what readers want to read.

In late of 2012, I tried to create a print edition however it failed embarrassingly! I think it was a sign that not everyone seems to want to support having it printed, also it’s quite expensive to have it printed as I was asking for £1,500. Besides it would be much more difficult for me to be able to have it distributed and to be able to reach everyone as much as possible. So to answer your question, it could be lower as it would take time to reach a good number of readers in a short time scale.

LH: Is the fact that you can easily publish a magazine or book online paving the way for more independent publications to be released? Do you think this is a good thing for readers?
BM: Yes, it’s fairly easy to create a magazine and have it published online without the worry of production and distribution costs. I’ve seen fairly good numbers of independent publications growing, both in print and digital as I believe that readers want more and more quality content in a unique style / format. rather than the glossy magazines you see on the magazine stand. Also I did get quite a lot of feedback from readers that they love the content I put in the magazine, because Burst Magazine is not all about pretty illustrations but it contain plenty of interviews / short paragraphs from each artist which gives readers something to read.

LH: Is the whole process of creating the magazine enjoyable?
BM: Yes and no! Receiving submissions is the fun part as it’s a bit like receiving presents and wondering what they have given to me? There are few that made me laugh out loud including one illustration by Ȧsa Wilkman, a smiling tiger face with human braced teeth! I do sometimes enjoy creating a magazine as it’s always a challenge to fit all the contents in and play around with the layout, however it can be a proper nightmare when it comes to layout and format, as sometimes the contents don’t actually fit in as expected, too much text or too little, wrong size images, you name it.

At the moment I am working on a relaunch, Burst Magazine is having a big makeover with a fresh new identity and new format. It’s really stressful as I have to do numerous layout designs until I am completely satisfied. The reasons behind this is that I want to bring a fresh new look and to be packed with much more content, remember that I mentioned above that readers want quality content, so that should tick all the boxes.

Finishing a magazine and publishing it is rather rewarding and I love to watch people enjoy reading. I find that creating and publishing a magazine gave me a massive learning curve and valuable experience, learning by trail and error and I keep on experimenting. As I am working on The Animals Issue 11 and the website revamp, I am loving the all new look and exciting content, I really can’t wait to show it off!

Interview correct at the time of writing – 8th March 2013