Mindtravellers is a new online platform that links creative people with brands, agencies and other potential employers. Based in the Czech Republic, it officially launches at the Mouvo motion design festival in Prague on March 19.
The platform's creation owes a great deal to Adéla Kudrnová, co-founder and editor-in-chief of Soffa magazine. Educated in Sweden, Adéla originally wrote a design blog in Swedish, before returning to the Czech Republic to work on design magazines, notably Elle Decoration.
But Adéla felt that these magazines weren't celebrating Czech design with as much passion as it merited. So with a couple of like-minded friends (art director Lenka Hlaváčová and photographer Lina Németh) she launched Soffa in December 2013, initially as an online magazine.
"It had to be online at first because we were just three friends trying to start something new, and this way there were no costs," she says. "But even after the very first online issue, people started asking us when a print version would come out."
After 12 months and six online issues, a print version of Soffa was launched – in English. (The online version is in both Czech and English) "We wanted to distribute worldwide and spread Czech culture. Scandinavian design is really well known, but there are lot of great things happening here too. We're a magazine run by Czechs and Slovaks and we’re proud of our creative community."
Adéla's experience has shown her that "print is absolutely not dead", as she puts it. "If anything, it's experiencing a renaissance. People love having a magazine in their hands. It’s been positively received by our advertising partners, too. Once you have a print version, you really exist. It's far more prestigious."
Rather like the UK-based Monocle magazine, Soffa is unusual in that it creates custom advertising spreads for clients rather than running their existing print ads. "They're part of the content of the magazine. Everything is 100 per cent original." The editorial team also refuses to take PR hand-outs. "All the photography is either taken or commissioned by ourselves."
In fact Soffa sees itself as a hybrid of a magazine and a creative agency – hence Mindtravellers. Adéla explains: "When we started Soffa, right from the second issue we began receiving submissions from artists and photographers. I thought it was a shame the most of them were just sitting in my email or in a sort of private catalogue."
Brands, too, would approach her asking how they could give their ads the "Soffa touch". She shared her thoughts with Roman Číhalík, creative director of local agency Nydrle, which often works on projects with Soffa. "He told me they were always looking for fresh talents, so that’s how the idea for the platform was born, as a joint initiative. It took about a year to get off the ground, but during that time we got more and more submissions."
The idea is simple: creative talents upload their portfolios and agencies and brands can visit when they're looking for people to collaborate on a project. They can also study a map of where the creatives are located. Some of the artists on the platform have also designed promotional layouts for the magazine (above).
"This is not just a Czech project," says Adéla. "We want this to be an introduction platform for creative people across the entire world."
Mark Tungate is the editorial director of the Epica Awards, based in Paris. A journalist with more than 30 years of experience, he has written for magazines and newspapers in the UK, the US and France. He is the author of several books about advertising and branding.