07
January 2018
2018-01-08T08:13:27+00:00

Passion, know-how, ambition – important aspects of founding a successful skateboard mag, reaching out to people, and supporting the scene. At least important to the Pocket Mag founders who we talked to recently!

Pocket Skate Mag Logo

The Pocket Skateboard Mag may be new, but the people behind it are deeply rooted in the scene. We invited Florian “Burny” Hopfensperger and Johannes Schön for a talk about the work of a skateboard mag nowadays, what it takes to create such a new project and how it’s going so far. Enjoy!



Hi guys! To start things off, just introduce yourselves and tell us who exactly is behind Pocket Mag.

Burny
Pocket Mag is made by Johannes Schön and Florian Hopfensperger. Most people know me as Burny. I’ve been a professional skateboard photographer for 15 years and have worked with almost every mag worldwide. As a result, I travel almost 60% of the year and work with many international pros.

Johannes
I’ve been with Mosaic for a couple of years, where I’m responsible for HUF, Lakai and DVS as the German Team Manager.


Where did you meet first?

Johannes
First time we met was in 2010 during one of our first trips to Croatia. Maxi Schaible, Norbert Szombati, Nico Manz and Florian Geyer were part of it too.

Burny
Markus Biersack was there as well.


For whom were you there?

Burny
That was on a private basis only. Back then, we organized a homie trip once a year. In 2011, we went to Holland and in 2012 to the south of France.

Johannes
Exactly, we were in Nice. Since there wasn’t too much action there, we went to Italy (laughs). That’s how we met; simply through skateboarding on tours. We travelled a lot together and I visited Burny a lot in Thailand, where he lives with his wife for almost half the year.



“Pocket is all about the skaters, the people behind the scene and the chance to support them. We try to give them something back.“

Burny - Lifestyle Florian ‘Burny’ Hopfensperger – Off Camera

 


There are quite a few skate mags today, especially online. How did you come up with the idea to start a new mag in 2017?

Johannes
There are various reasons for this, such as wanting to be creative yourself and designing things according to your own wishes. Of course, the other mags are doing a good job, but we simply have our own ideas that we like working with. I also think that we have a different approach and it’s just a cool feeling to create things. Maybe we’re also at an age where you want to create something of your own (laughs).

Burny
For me personally, it’s all about working on projects together with skaters and to create things people care about. Since I am a photographer myself, I know how other photographers, filmmakers and skaters think and how they want to have these things done. For us, Pocket is all about the skaters, the people behind the scene and the chance to support them. We try to give them something back. Just 100% skateboarding style.

Johannes
That’s an important point. Whether through Burny’s photos or my work as a team manager; it’s simply a good feeling and so much fun to make things possible for people. Pocket Mag is a good way to do that.


Do you think it’s important to have a certain reputation in the scene to start a successful mag?

Burny
Through my work as a photographer, I’ve been able to do a lot to push certain careers and thus, I’m also a part of it. Most people who create magazines have done a lot for skateboarding in their pasts. As a result, they have a certain standing within the scene and are typically known nationally and internationally. It works best, in my opinion, when those kinds of people make magazines.

Johannes
Basically, that special something is necessary to make such a project come to life.

Burny
Exactly! Just look at mags like SOLO and the people behind it, like Oliver Tielsch and Oliver Klobes; they have already done a lot for the scene and skaters in general. Those are people who are capable of doing such magazines. And that’s where we see ourselves too. That’s why we launched Pocket Mag; to create our own ideas, bring new content, and to provide a platform for skaters.


Would it be possible to make a mag without any credibility in the scene?

Burny
Not really. As I said, a mag can only be done by someone who has been active on the scene long enough to develop a personality. You have to know people who respect you and your background.

Johannes
It’s much harder without a network. The skate scene is extremely well connected and close-knit. It is a great advantage to know many people, especially on a friendly basis. So far, everyone has been down with our project and supports us.

But there are also cases that are different. Ian Michna from Jenkem had very little to do with the skate industry, considering he had never worked in it. So it took him a few years to get noticed. But the fact that he has developed many innovative and funny ideas helped him to get noticed.


Why the name Pocket Mag?

Burny
Pocket is simply a great word that also sounds cool. Everyone has something in their pocket. Everyone has their cell phone in their pocket and looks at skateboarding on it. But Pocket can be much more.

Johannes
This is one explanation for the name, to bring the content in your pocket, on your phone, which is why we concentrate mostly on mobile. But the term doesn’t just have to be interpreted that way.

Pocket Mag


We had wondered if Pocket mag came out in a printed version, if it’d actually be pocket-sized.

Johannes
A lot of people thought so, indeed. But we want to leave ourselves some options when it comes to different formats. For example, we have planned to release two hardcover books in 2018. Simply because we’re huge fans of print.

Burny
Totally, as a photographer, I grew up with the knowledge that photos have to be printed.

Johannes
I’ve subscribed to nearly all mags. Print is awesome; that’s why we’re doing the hardcover books. But nevertheless, we don’t want to carve in stone who we are and what we’re up to. If we want to make a paperback magazine, we’ll simply go for it.


Printed photos have a distinct aesthetic and a higher intensity compared to the ones in digital media.

Johannes
Yeah, that’s why we’re doing the two books because they have a more timeless character. But short-term stories and news are not going to be printed. That’s what we send out via our online platforms. So everything else you’d find in a classic mag can be found online at Pocket Mag and via our social media channels.


What do you think about the appreciation of today’s photography within our scene? Do you think it has lost a bit of value due to modern digital photography?

Burny
Photos still have the same value and appreciation of the scene. It’s only the longevity that’s changed. Today’s kids want to take a photo and post it on Instagram immediately. But to wait for a photo is something special; it’s something to get excited about when you finally receive it. However, it can be really frustrating too to wait six, seven or even eight months for a photo to be released. But photos and photography itself are an extremely important medium in skateboarding. A well-done picture conveys the skater, the company, the sponsors, the spot – it captures the whole image and the atmosphere of the moment.

Nowadays nearly everyone can take photos; modern mobile phones give you an easy entrance into photography. In the best case, that’s followed by a DSLR cam and then people start to create their own style and try to be innovative. Thus, I think that photography has a good standing and is still developing.

Johannes Schön - No Comply Johannes Schön – No Comply – Mannheim

The guidelines on how a picture should be have changed. There are photographers like me, who like to take fisheye shots, but also know the value of a creative zoom lens shot. For me, it’s always important that a photo is taken with flash. I learned how to really illuminate a scene and what a good flash shot needs to look like. But there are also a lot of photographers that take nice monochrome shots or saturated photos without flash with alternative angles and what not – that’s a good sign of the endless possibilities that will sustain the value of photography.

Besides that, you also need photographers during video productions, because of parts, features, and clips that need a good preview shot too. That’s an important job for photographers as well.


Is it hard to pick out the right material for a magazine with the current flood of footage and to stand out as a photographer?

Johannes
It can sometimes be hard to decide whether to feature something or not. With the enormous output of clips every day it’s difficult to know what you should post. But especially with photos, we try not to work with reposts and place a great deal of value on high quality.

Burny
Pocket Mag sees itself as a platform for photographers to support them. Meanwhile, we have a large portfolio of well-known photographers we work with. But we also give young artists the chance to show their work; we are always open for new input and have already got some submissions. We really like to answer questions on this topic and give people feedback on their work.

Burny Florian ‘Burny’ Hopfensperger



Why did you decide to do Pocket Mag in English?

Burny
Interviews and longer stories will also be available in German language. News posts and shorter tour articles only in English. It’s the language of the internet today and every kid is on Instagram where people talk almost exclusively in English. Thus, it only makes sense to concentrate on this language and make it as easy as possible to consume for the whole skateboarding community.

Johannes
Our main focus is online, so it wasn’t a too tough decision.


How do you get stories and features for your mag?

Johannes
We’re always in contact with companies and crews that do tours. So those things develop automatically. But even during the short period in which we’ve been doing this, people have come to us and asked us directly. In general, you have to do both: there are people coming to you but you have to be creative and proactive to get your own content. You gotta have your own ideas and contact brands and skaters with some suggestions.


So far you have different formats like Pocket Talk, Pocket Minute and Pocket Frames – is there more in the pipeline?

Johannes
Sure, at the moment we don’t even know where it will stop (laughs)!

Burny
There are definitely a lot of things planned. The idea behind Pocket Mag is also to give skaters and our audience in general an insight on what is possible with us. For example: Pocket Talk, our interview section, and Pocket Minute, which is a minute of raw footage.

Johannes
We created these formats so skaters have different projects that they can work toward and that can be realised rather quickly. With that, we also give a bit of credit to the fast-paced times today.


Is it difficult to decide whether a story should get a large feature or rather a short clip only?

Burny
A clip is more or less always part of an article. Whether it’s interviews, tour coverage or some other features, our posts are always created with a lot of love, because we set the bar high regarding layout and presentation. We don’t simply want to pack our homepage full of photos and write a short blurb about it. We really think about how to layout the project and what kind of illustrations could work, to show a tour or a story in the best possible way.


How much work is it to put out a mag like this with all the other obligations you have?

Johannes
I think that’s hard to put into words and numbers. The good thing is, that this one comes from the heart, so I don’t mind sitting down at 10 pm to work on it.



“You can’t count skateboarding in conventional working hours.“

Burny - Footage Check Florian ‘Burny’ Hopfensperger – Crew

Burny
You can’t measure skateboarding in conventional working hours. Some spots can only be skated on weekends or have to be shot at 2 am in the morning. If you have to shoot a trick there and it’s only possible on a Sunday, there’s nothing to discuss. On the other hand, you have free time when others are regularly working. You definitely have to be flexible and be able to act quickly.

Johannes
You can describe it as 24/7 but in a positive way. But in general, I can say that it’s more work than I thought it would be. What do you think, Burny?

Burny
It’s definitely a new feeling of work. But it’s wonderful because I really know that the things I am doing come out the way I want them to.


So you have more freedom as a photographer because you don’t have to care about anyone else’s guidelines?

Burny
Of course! I can give a skater the certainty, that his stuff will be released. I can tell him what kind of trick we should do and what kind of format it will become. Even if it’s only an Instagram shot for the next day. I can assure him, that we will post it. And that’s a kind of freedom, that is very important for me.


Is there a team behind Pocket Mag or is it only the two of you?

Burny
We have an intern, Pierre Masek, who is a great skateboarder.

Johannes
He’s part of Lakai’s flow team and studies Media Management. He is responsible for the clips for Pocket Mag which fits quite well. Besides that, we also have Stefan Pöhlmann. He creates all video animations for our exclusive features and is a very good skater as well who rides for HUF Germany and Morphium Skateboards. Aladin Cabart made our logo animation and Philipp Schäfer was responsible for the logo itself.

Burny
In our photo and video portfolio, we have Bryan Callaghan, an internationally known filmer, Jon Wolf and our main filmer Dennis Ludwig (@ludidennis), who is one of the most important filmers in Germany nowadays. Besides that, we have Dennis Scholz as photographer plus a few more. It’s without any doubt a renowned portfolio of contributors.

Johannes Schön - Fs Boardslide Johannes Schön – Fs Boardslide – Hopfensperger



“Print will always be there because it’s the trophy of skateboarding.“

 


At last, we have the most important question left: Where do you see the future of skateboarding media?

Burny
Print will always be there because it’s the trophy of skateboarding. If someone has a cover or an interview in a print magazine, it’s has a big value. But those formats will keep developing online as well.

Johannes
Print will always remain relevant because you can’t compare the aesthetics of a printed picture with those of a digital one. We try to reach these aesthetics with the help of a good layout in our features. In general, skateboarding will happen more and more online and in social media like it does already today. The big question is if future generations will still be able to relate to print.

For example, if you ask them if they would rather have a double page in a print magazine or be featured on a famous Instagram account? I’d guess that most would rather choose the Instagram account. With Pocket Mag, we try to manage the balancing act between print and the online world and strive to be relevant in each, because we love both worlds.


Thanks a lot for the interview! Last words are yours:

Burny
Have fun with Pocket Mag. There are some surprises waiting for you!


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