At the end of October, Art Mag changed hands — to a degree, that is. Creator Olivia Pool sold the local arts publication, which she's owned since 2006, to Fisheye Media, which is owned by Stacy Huggins, Elizabeth Bulwinkle, and Matt Mill.
But two of the three new owners have been on the magazine's small team since 2010; Huggins served as editor and Bulwinkle as graphic designer, though she's now the creative director.
Mill left his job in medical client relationship management to help strengthen Art Mag's mission and reach. It seems like an odd change in careers, but according to his partners, Mill is already making a huge impact on ad sales and growing interest in the publication. Mill thinks it's a good fit, too. "With [my previous] position, it was a lot of customer service and PR and sales, client relations, which I thought was a natural shift toward dealing with Art Mag's clients," he says.
All three of Fisheye Media's principals went to the College of Charleston, are in their 30s, and have strong ties to the creative community. Mill and Huggins have served on the board of Spoleto Scene for years, and Bulwinkle is co-owner of the graphic and web design firm Wink Creative Studio. Huggins has also been executive director of Redux Studios for the past two years, which she says has helped her as editor of Art Mag. "I've seen a lot more on a daily basis of what artists are lacking, where they need help. My hope is to begin delivering some of those tools through print and online — like, links to actual information about healthcare for artists."
Ex-publisher Olivia Pool could not be reached, but on her personal and on Art Mag's Facebook pages she posted this message: "When I created Art Mag eight years ago, it was my intention to simply promote the amazing local artists that were all over Charleston ... Since then, the art community here has grown exponentially."
Moving forward, Huggins, Bulwinkle, and Mill want to keep promoting local artists, while adding practical information to help artists advance their careers. The online component, which is already strong and hosts a calendar, weekly e-blasts, and a little-known directory of creative types in Charleston, will be strengthened with more content like daily tips and check-ins with artists who've progressed in their careers since their first Art Mag feature.
"One of our biggest goals is to make this publication more in-depth, and one of my personal goals is to begin providing tangible tools for artists particularly," Huggins says. "Action items, things they can actually do in their everyday lives to make their practice better, more sustainable, and successful."
Art Mag began as a publication mostly for Charleston's visitors, but today it's morphed into something for locals, too. "What I encounter from locals and tourists all the time, in different realms of my career, is that they have no clue about local arts and culture at the moment — what's going on and why it's important," Huggins says.
And Art Mag will continue to highlight why arts and culture in Charleston are so important.