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October 21, 2004

{     Interview : the Drama     }    

In the span of only a few issues, the Drama magazine has infiltrated the art and design communities and has become a quick staple of creative coffee-tables, trendy backpacks, and quality-controlled magazine racks the nation over. The magazine is sold mostly from the online store of the same name, which features not only said magazine, but also limited edition posters, other magazines of the same calibre, and tons of other miscellaneous artworks, drawings, knick-knacks and paddy-wacks from both within and without the Drama's very own collective of artists and creatives.

All this D-d-d-d-drama is roped and wrangled by the headmaster of Drama estates, a mister Joel Speasmaker, one of the nicest guys on this or that side of the Pacific. Pulling it all together in a crisp website and a stylish mag hasn't been easy for my man Joel, but he's certainly made it appear so. As I've said before, the Drama is honest, made with love for nothing but love, and I just got done talking with Joel about that. Here's how it reads....

Shane: So what void did you see that needed to be filled by your creating the Drama magazine? What was missing?

Joel: There definitely wasn't a void I saw that needed to be filled in the world of magazines...there are plenty of them doing what they do and doing it well. I just wanted to make a publication that has a lot of thought and energy behind it. I think my biggest advantage is the fact that this is not how I am making a living. Everything is done in my free time and a lot of the finances come from my own pocket so inevitably I want the final product to be the best it can be. Also, revolving each issue around a theme almost forces the magazine to be like a story: each interview, article, feature, etc. is equally as important as the other. Everything is well-thought out and structured in order to achieve that.

So I've seen your magazine grow over your first three issues, and I must say that while it seems to take most magazines volumes before they make the leaps and bounds that the Drama has made in quality and professionalism, you've managed it in only a few issues. How is that? Who and what have made this progression possible in such a short time?

Being a quarterly publication has both advantages and disadvantages. It is helpful because it allows us the time to take a look at the response to the last issue and learn from it. We aren't rushed to put something together just for the sake of getting it out there the next month, and we can really work hard to make the next issue even better. The biggest disadvantage is not being able to put out something you love as frequently as possible! I am very happy with the growth of our publication but know we should always be improving and adjusting...that's just the nature of things. As far as specific people who have helped with the progression, Ron ( ) and I are really the only people who have been responsible for putting everything together, but all of the contributors have been an invaluable help in not only being involved with the magazine but introducing us to new and amazing people that we wouldn't have had a chance to meet otherwise. It's wonderful to work with someone for a specific issue but it is even better to continue a relationship with them afterwards.

Such a huge endevour had to have been incredible to tackle, so how exactly did the Drama go from idea to publication?

It was just a natural progression. We started off as basically a loose collective of artists and with such a great amount of talent in one place it was easy to feature it in a printed form. But I quickly realized how restrictive it was to limit a publication to one specific group of people and set out to create something that could interest and include as many people as possible.

Are the others involved in the magazine your friends, or have you sought professional help?

Like I said we really started off with just a group of friends and that's how it continues today, but we are making lots of new friends in the process who have been nice enough to help out in anyway they can.

Do you consider the Drama successful thus far? If so, what is it that you believe has set it apart from the rest?

I have no right to judge the quality of the magazine, but for me personally simply getting the magazine out there is a big success. I handle all of the distribution of the magazine myself so I know exactly where the magazine is located...and each new location means there are that many more people taking a look at what we are doing and the work of those we are featuring. I do know that this is truly a labor of love. There are only two of us involved in every aspect of the magazine, I put in as much money as I can without any expectations of making it back, and we are never entirely sure if we are going to break even or not. But none of those things really matter when you get to put a publication you really believe in.

What's next on the Drama assembly line? Any plans for clothing, toys, consumer electronics, automobiles?

We've got the next few issues completely planned and I can't wait to see them in printed form. Issue Four will be out on January 15th and we've got a great exhibit coinciding with this called The Drama Presents: Row Boats Home. It will run from January 15 - February 20 and you can find out more information, as well as who is involved, at Besides that, we've been doing the Drama Poster Series for the past 8 months and it continues to be a really fun project with a group of amazing artists. Once we get to a full year we are going to start a new monthly project so keep an eye out for that. No plans for Drama automobiles yet but maybe Scion will get in touch with us, they seem to be all over the art/design world these days.

With all the projects you have going on these days, do you get away from the computer screen that often? What do you do?

I don't get away from the computer that often, but when I do I make sure I go duckpin bowling.

What kind of 9-5 are you currently holding down, or are you full-time 'the Drama'?

I freelance full-time out of my apartment, mostly doing web design and occasional print projects ( link ). The Drama does take up a lot of my time and I am fortunate to have a job that allows me the freedom to work on our various projects. Along with the magazine I run an online store ( link ), which carries artwork, books, and other things by many of the people involved with the magazine. It would be amazing if in the future I am able to get by from what the Drama is doing but for now I am completely happy doing what I do.

Do you collect anything? If so, what and why?

I collect magazines, and I am dumb enough to never get subscriptions but buy them every-time they come out. But at least I can say I am doing research for my own publication but really I am just obsessed.

Okay, here's some of the nitty-gritty quickie questions. What music, movies, reading, etc are you into these days?

I haven't really been into any new music lately, but I definitely love seeing movies. I just rented Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter...and Spring and it was amazing. The last few movies I saw in theaters, Hero and Garden State, were both really good. I was all excited to see Ghost in the Shell 2 this past weekend but left sleepy and disappointed. Reading-wise, I picked up the new Beautiful Losers book and wish I could head out to San Francisco to check out the show. I finally got my hands on the old Kramers Ergot 4, and the new one is coming out soon! I am also into anything by Ayn Rand.

So, what artists are you really into right now?

My friends are always my favorite artists: Travis and Max at Salt Tooth Press ( link ), Suzy at GirlyHandwriting ( link ), Drew at Oak & Elm ( link ), Florencio & Stephanie at Big Skills ( link )...too many more to list.

For this last bit why don't you make us a Top Twelve list of any damn thing you want... 1, 2, 3, Go!

1. Pamplemoussi by Genevi've Castr'e
2. Contact at Stay Gold Gallery on October 15th
3. Soda
4. Anything by Marc Bell
5. Duckpin Bowling
6. New Pants
7. Q and Not U - 'Power'
8. "We Want a Wife"
9. Hot & Cold
10. Row Boats Home at ODU Gallery on January 15th
11. Matt Leines
12. The Drama Issue Four

    » Begin your Drama cruise at, where else, but


when did this take place?

Posted by: toni Benevento at July 26, 2006 8:58 PM
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