Kickstarting: The Design of Intern Magazine Pays

A new bi-annual publication dedicated to the unpaid workforce looks anything but entry-level.

Intern magazine marks a new meta-high in the publishing industry: Unpaid interns who work in media are paying plenty of attention to a media launch dedicated to unpaid interns.


If you had to think about this while you were out fetching a cup of coffee as free labor for your be-salaried boss, then it’s time to join the debate (some say revolution) on which Intern founding editor Alec Dudson is building a publication and a Kickstarter campaign.

“The danger across all industries is that a culture is fostered whereby young talent thinks nothing of working unpaid and puts up with arrangements that are far from beneficial,” Dudson said in an interview. His antidote, Intern, addresses this by showcasing and elevating work created by interns.

Clearly the design of the magazine, as well as the contributions, writing to fashion photography, is of inarguably professional quality–and that’s the point. These young fashion photographers, writers, designers, illustrators and other talented, young creative industry types deserve to be paid.

To curate Issue Zero (the Kickstarter-ready prototype) and Issue One, Dudson, who hails from Manchester, England, scoured the Internet for inspired work made by interns. To best frame their contributions and the larger cause, the overall design of the magazine had to explode the scrappy, handmade cut-and-paste aesthetic people might associate with interns–and exploit accordingly.

The new dossier delivers on this important distinction, elevating the title of both worker and magazine with the kind of impeccably professional, clean, graphic look of other charming independent magazines like Kinfolk or The Gentlewoman, one that the world tends to associate with people with benefits (medical, that is).

Dudson, of course, has first-hand experience in paying his unpaid part. He emphasizes the great opportunity built into internships as the flip side to the practical fact of worker exploitation: “This project came about as a result of my time as an intern, and right now, I wouldn’t change that for the world,” he says of his apprentice days in photography. “But if I could have gathered some momentum by then being featured in a magazine like Intern, who knows what I would be up to now.”


And in case anyone is wondering: No talent went unpaid in the making of this magazine.

See more over at Intern magazine’s Kickstarter page.


About the author

Margaret Rhodes is a former associate editor for Fast Company magazine.