Behind the Magazine with Paris Kim | Blurb Blog

Behind the Magazine with Paris Kim
08 Feb 2018

Behind the Magazine with Paris Kim

What do you get when you combine a love for your city, a love for vintage, social media community, and a background in writing? A handful of really passionate publications. We met Paris Kim, author, blogger, and magazine editor, at our panel event last Fall with Weebly.  We got to talk with her about her most recent publications, a 2-issue magazine called Marjorie, and a book, A Year by the Bay. Here’s what she had to say on blogging, being passionate, and the role of print.

You’ve been blogging for years. What’s your inspiration?

I wanted to have a unique place to let my thoughts flow. More importantly, I wanted to create the right outlet for me to share stories in my life in a way that made sense to me, in a creative way. I always feel that there will be an audience for your work, even if not mainstream. People will find you, and will find themselves drawn to you and find truth or humor or something relevant in your words. Don’t always look in the New Yorker or Atlantic Monthly, because people with their own blogs feel free to be themselves, without the eye of an outside editor.

What was it like to make your book?

The whole book-making process is empowering! Just calling your own shots, envisioning the layouts, and thinking about how, in the end, it will all feel in print and in your hands, that’s the best feeling (besides getting the book). It was a bit confusing for me to decide on a layout in the templates provided, but after some playing around, I ultimately just decided to make my own for both of my works. The book was a bit easier. It was just collecting my writings in a document and copy/pasting them as needed into the page layouts in BookWright. For how little graphic design experience I have, the tools provided by Blurb are straightforward and give you the push in the right direction. The margin guidelines on the pages—THAT is definitely the most helpful.

How does making a print page layout compare to making a blog post?

I’ve always felt like print is more intimate and interactive. With a blog post it should be easier to take in information. Especially for a blog like mine—a quick go-to log on a weekly basis. So accessibility (and aesthetics) should all be made easy, clean, and right there on the page. With a book, the layout is more relaxed, literally layers of beautiful pages or words that a reader can enjoy pacing themselves through—but each page counts, beautiful and unique, giving a reader a reason to go pick up the book a second or third time.

How did you decide on the content for your magazine? What was your inspiration? What was motivating your editorial decisions?

I’ve always loved magazines, and the consistency of fun, inspiring lifestyle reads or features about decor or style and travel. And I’m an old soul. I’ve always been in love with the past having grown up on stories like Anne of Green Gables or Pride & Prejudice. My dad also had a CD collection of 1950s music that I listened to for hours, and imagined how things must have been in that era if the music alone made me feel wonderful and happy. In the spirit of mainstream magazines, I hope to showcase these beautiful old things in ways that allow readers to appreciate them today. For example, old cocktail recipes to serve at your next picnic or our picks for the best letter-writing stationery during the holidays. Something old becomes something beloved, no matter the decade or generation.

Magazines. Sell through Blurb, Book making

What are the best parts of your job? What are some of your challenges?

Some days it’s hard getting traffic, no matter how well you try to time your post release or push the articles on social media. Especially when you spend so much effort and time creating these beautiful books, you want the rest of the world to enjoy them! But just having the book and magazine, and having whatever response we do from the little community that supports us, that is always enough support, no matter how small—and especially when people want to reach out and help the magazine/contribute/donate!

Do you have any plans for your book and magazine?

I do want to keep writing on my personal blog, and I do have my eyes set on continuing creating these books that sum up each year or milestone. A Year by the Bay covered 2015, and oh boy, so much happened—so much writing development—in 2016 that I really am eager to release a follow-up book! As for Marjorie, there’s big plans on the horizon there. We already sell, besides the Blurb Bookstore, printed copies on our Etsy store Marjorie Mercantile, which also specializes in unique vintage items and clothing. Marjorie is a lifestyle magazine, so we would love to just keep building it out into an ultimate lifestyle brand—one with a vintage twist!

When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?

I actually wanted to be an artist or an actress!! But as a kid, people told me that artists always go crazy or actresses die young (I think they were referring to Marilyn Monroe). I can’t act to save my life, but I am still an artist in the more literary medium. Self-expression, storytelling, showcasing beautiful things—I think I am safely still on that path!

How did you find the collaborators for your magazine?

Most of them I found through social media. They were already on my radar, and I was following a few on Instagram. I just fell in love with their style and the aesthetics of their photos. By just reaching out to them to feature their content to help build Marjorie, it was the perfect formula. Marjorie gets noticed, and in turn, they get noticed. Especially since bloggers in this community all follow each other, it felt like a domino effect. There’s also Craigslist, which is how I found my photographers in New York and Ohio, and then there’s the Facebook communities I joined in search of more enthusiasts, like Vintage Styling for Modern Girls or Old Hollywood Glamour (20s-60s). I am a part of a group that celebrates the actress Joan Crawford, and it was there I found a freelancer who wrote an excellent review about the FX series Feud. You don’t have to be a writer, you just have to be passionate.

What have you learned about photography through your blog or magazine?

When it comes to photography, the lighting is critical. Basic app filters help me capture the depth and drama of the photo, but it doesn’t all fall into place without the perfect lighting. I would say study your favorite bloggers or brands and look at their photos, their compositions and focus. Can your own photos capture that same feeling of awe that their photos do?

What was your reaction when you first saw your publications?

Oh my goodness, the feeling of having your own book in your hands is surreal. It’s like looking at and actually holding an accomplishment, physical proof that you stuck through with your words and achieved something only few really can. You know that feeling of excitement when clutching your favorite book? When I first held my book, I just imagine that somewhere, someone will have that excitement over this too, and same with my magazine. There’s just that special connection though to your own work when holding it. It’s your imagination and dream actualized. It’s come to life.

How did you decide on the formats for your projects?

I didn’t have many photos, only stories, and same with magazines. They simply made sense in how I wanted my work to be distributed to readers, and mostly, how I thought they would best enjoy what I had to say. If you’re reading an essay or two or seven, you want to enjoy them like a book, not sprawled out over a 12×12-inch page with awkward spacing. With a magazine, it’s slightly different because there’s a variety of aesthetics involved, like recipe layouts or just a series of featured photos. Then it makes sense to have a bigger book!

What’s one project you’re dying to do?

I would love to create a travel book down the road for Marjorie, one catered to the retro vibes of San Francisco where we’re based. It would be called, Marjorie’s City: A Vintage Guide to San Francisco—that’s the ideal title!

We’re so thankful Paris took the time to talk with us, and we can’t wait to see what she does next!

Have a passion that would look great in print? Share your ideas in the comments below and inspire our community!


Jessica Ruscello

Jessica is writer, teacher, and photographer who makes her mark with empty coffee cups, ink spills, and red lipstick. She’s passionate about creativity, people, and the written word. She believes anything worth doing is worth doing beautifully. When not chasing the perfect sentence, she’s stalking Bay Area beauty camera in-hand, amazed and grateful that she gets to call San Francisco her home.