As I dig deeper into the relationships between the online space and creatives, I get more and more fascinated by those who were doing it before it was cool or viable. Today, we’ll be chatting with the founder of Studio 83, George Gladwin Matsheke . He is also the former Creative Director at Y Mag and Africa Investor. The young achiever tells us how to be influential in the space we love. In this case, it is magazines, graphic design and photography.
When did you start Studio 83 and why did you launch it online?
I started Studio83 4 years ago  – i was really frustrated with what i saw on the shelves and i wanted to create something that I would want to buy in terms of magazines. At that time, there were no online magazines in South Africa and taking the magazine to print would’ve cost me an arm, a leg and an eye. Online was a cheaper way of doing what I really wanted to do.
Would you go print? Explain your reasoning…
I would if the funding was there, yes. We are still looking for funding so that the magazine can grow bigger than what it with the little budget we have. Print will never die so it would be cool to take S83 to print.
When you started your online publication, social media was not yet cool – Twitter was for 40-year-old tech geeks who lived with their mothers; bookmarking networks were like pink cars, irrelevant; and Facebook was mainly for communicating, finding girls and sometimes promoting brands. How did you get the word out there? How did you get loyal followership?
Word-of-mouth is how we got the word out about s83 – we guess that people liked what they saw and started telling other people. People liked what we had to offer and they keep on coming back …
Word on the grapevine is that you might be working on a new publication. Care to share?
Yes, the Seven Deadly Sins – we explore the idea of wrath, greed, gluttony, lust, sloth, pride and envy. We each commit at least three of these sins on a daily basis – these sins has become part of our lives.
What are the difficulties you’ve come across while creating your online brand/s and how have you overcome these hurdles?
Funding is the big issue, since we are funding these magazines from our own pockets. We are looking for funding at the moment – with more funds, we can take this brand to the next level. I must say its love that keeps me inspired to carry on.
What is your opinion with regards to online advertising? Are we as South Africans ready to spend large amounts to advertise with online brands like Studio 83? In your personal experience, are we ready and what does the future foresee?
Online reaches more people than other mediums – the only websites that are making a killing are news-based. I think advertisers in South Africa are still behind in terms of taking risks with online advertising. We have been ready for the future – now we are waiting for everyone to catch up.
My goal in just one short sentence is: “to create influencers and strong personal brands out of creatives through online”. What is yours?
“To do what you want and not what you can” – that’s what I live by … I live the creative lifestyle.
I believe you are also a staunch photography fan. How does one promote themselves as a visual artist in the online space without breaking the very fragile bank?
Here is the funny thing about my love for photography – I have never owned a camera before. I’ve always used my mobile phone to take images so that I load them on www.75.co.za [photography site] … Sony Ericsson has the best mobile cameras out there, along with Nokia.
Which is your social media tool of choice (for marketing) and why? Do you use more than one to market? What works for you?
They all represent different things, I believe – Facebook, Twitter, Buzz, LinkedIn – you use Facebook to load the images and videos of the current issue and Twitter to get the word out there that a new issue is out, you link with potential investors on LinkedIn and so on …
Do you have a social media strategy team? If so, how is that working out? If not, why not? Do you not believe in hiring social media strategists?
Well 2LMNsorts out the strategic part – it works, online is a different medium altogether and people react differently online compared to other mediums – so just like Tv and radio strategy is required for any brand to move forward.