A new magazine pushing Tulsa artists to the forefront

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by Dylan Axsom 

West Campus Associate Editor

Normal Publication is a Tulsa magazine for local creatives striving to re-define the word normal.

A two-man team of Bryan Roberts, 27, and Michael Cunningham, 28, are at the head of this effort. With Cunningham behind the camera and Roberts conducting interviews and creating concepts, the two men are pushing to rebrand Tulsa on a national scale as an artistic outlet.

“We started Normal for a few reasons,” said Roberts. “One being that we were sick of hearing people talk about all the things they wanted to do in the creative world, but making the excuse that they couldn’t do it because they lived in Tulsa. We would hear fellow young people describe Tulsa as this city where nothing is happening and everything and everyone is boring.”

Despite how others may feel, Roberts sees things differently.

“I live in a Tulsa that is bursting at the seams with talented artists, musicians, entrepreneurs and, most of all, potential. So we decided to show everyone the Tulsa we live in and do so by showcasing all the people around who are accomplishing what they wish they were accomplishing in hopes that we could end the excuse-making and provoke them to follow their dreams right here as well.”

He noted that this is only part of their inspiration.

“Another reason we started the magazine is because Tulsa kind of has a hard time branding itself,” he states. “It’s a city that still hangs its hat on oil and a movie from the 1980s,” referring to the movie “The Outsiders.”

“‘The Outsiders’ is no doubt an amazing film and oil certainly put Tulsa on the map, but this publication isn’t interested in history at all, we are interested in the future. We want to follow the people who will put Tulsa on the map for entirely new reasons and possibly redefine the city moving forward.”

Roberts said the inspiration and idea for the magazine mainly came from him and Cunningham wanting to exit their old world of creating wedding videos.

“We wanted something new and something where we could exercise more creative freedom. The name Normal came from us wanting to redefine what normal meant. Not only in Tulsa, but in general. We want to change the perception people have about what a normal job is, or what a normal way of life is.”

Although the process has been a huge experiment for the two, Roberts says they both have been very serious about their mission from the get-go.

“We knew we had an idea that had not been done locally and we had basically zero competition in this area. We were excited to have something that was uniquely us. However, we had no idea what we were doing and it has been a huge learning process with every single issue.”

Along experimenting with the idea, the pair also had to deal with solidifying the logistics of running a magazine.

“Printing was actually pretty easy for us, but the not so easy part was figuring out how to assemble the magazine, how we wanted to design the magazine, and how two guys were going to accomplish every part of it with set deadlines.”

He says that part was the most difficult, with the magazines occasionally being ordered only a few days before the release date. Roberts says that Cunningham and him are in the process of changing the magazine structure as to avoid such issues with deadlines.

Roberts says, “This goes back to the fact that when we started this magazine we didn’t know what we were doing and didn’t consider a lot of things. In just three issues, the amount we have learned has been insane.”

“The changes we are making include a [page] size change. The first three issues were 6 inches x 9 inches and Issue 00 [the first of Normal’s new design] and all issues after will be 8 inches x 10 inches. This allows us much more room per page for better graphic design and layout options.

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Normal Publication’s new design will more than double the number of pages in previous issues.

Another change is a total redesign from top to bottom. Our first three issues felt very retro and that’s cool for a niche of people who are also nostalgic like us, but moving forward we wanted something totally fresh that wasn’t really based off of anything else and was uniquely us.”

Roberts says that the duo wanted “something cleaner, but at the same time more edgy.”

Furthermore, Normal also plans on changing the frequency of their releases, along with the size of them. Previously, they printed quarterly, or every three months. However, that model did create some problems.

“We found ourselves always rushing to complete an issue in time, and we found that once an issue was released, we didn’t have time to promote it or do events with it because we were so busy with the next,” says Roberts.

Due to that, he says, “we are cutting our issues down to two per year. A single issue for both Fall and Winter and a single issue for both Spring and Summer. This might seem to some people like there won’t be as much going on with Normal, but they could not be more wrong.”

“The issues will be packed. Our first issues were around 60 pages, but Issue 00 will be about 140 pages filled with photoshoots and interviews with tons of Tulsa locals. Plus we will be doing a lot more in the realm of social media and events so this will actually allow us to be way more active [with the community].”

With regards to the next release, Roberts says that all the details are still on the way, but that “this transition also includes a very big announcement that we will be making in the next month or so that will take the way we showcase Tulsa creatives to a whole new level.”

To purchase a copy of the magazine or get more information, you can search for Normal Publication on Facebook, Instagram, or visit the website at normalpublication.com.

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