By Kayla Hedman ’14 / Champlain College News
Ian Frisch ’09 views writing as a tangible medium, not just a liberal art. During his time in the professional writing program at Champlain, he always had the desire to get his work published. Three years later, he would start Relapse Magazine, a premier fashion magazine exclusive to the New York City market.
Tuesday evening Frisch will tell his story, much like he shared with me today, with a greater focus on how and why entrepreneurship has proven a benefit to him, and could prove a benefit to others. Evaluating your career not only in how others can give you opportunities, but how you can give that opportunity to yourself. In this day and age, the traditional career route doesn’t always play out. His presentation will be in the Perry Presentation Room on Tuesday, Nov. 12 at 7:00 p.m., but here’s a little teaser:
“I’m not very patient,” Frisch shared right off the bat. Although his lack of patience was not evident during our meet-up at Muddy Waters café or lunch at the Red Onion, Frisch said that he even graduated from Champlain in three years after having been enrolled in a dual enrollment program to earn college credits during high school. “I never even lived on campus because I technically came into my first year at Champlain as a transfer student,” he admitted.
Although Frisch never had the residential life experience, it didn’t inhibit his involvement on campus. As the editor of the since phased-out Champlain Current newspaper and assistant to Tim Brookes, director of Champlain’s professional writing program, Frisch was heavily involved in writing and copy editing on-campus, always with the dream of starting his own magazine. “Most people don’t find themselves a viable entity of their profession until they’re graduated,” he said. “I think it’s complete B.S.”
Frisch was always ambitious and used his college experience as a springboard into his career rather than just a subsidiary or prerequisite to real life. “If you’re more focused on the logistics of class and the tedious process of going through semesters and years without really understanding and trying to apply yourself in a way that is relevant in your chosen profession, it’s like you’re kind of going through college to get through college, passively, and this is really something that I wanted to get away from.
“I feel like I made some of my biggest and most self-rewarding strides when I was a student here,” he continued. Frisch shared anecdotes of pitching ideas to local papers and various magazines and eased into stories about “niche-passions,” things you love and possibly never even thought could become your life’s work because it seems so ordinary. For example, when you write, and write well, about what you know and what you’re passionate about, people will take you more seriously, and given your initiative, will provide you with opportunities.
After graduation and a sizable portfolio of publications under his belt, Frisch landed an internship at Rolling Stone magazine. The magazine was impressed with the work ethic of fellow Champlain professional writing graduate Alex Tirpack ’08, and were glad to have Frisch join the team. This sparked an interest in writing about music, which Frisch continued doing for Frequency music blog for six months following his internship.
After landing press passes at Bonnaroo and significantly increasing traffic on the blog site, Frisch decided it was time to move on. With friends who had the desire to get into fashion photography, he pieced together what worked and didn’t work at the bigger publication companies to create a quality magazine exclusively for the New York City high-fashion demographic. Founded in 2012, Relapse Magazine is the quintessential NYC fashion and culture publication. They showcase edgy, progressive fashion photography and provocative culture journalism. Although worried about the decline of print media, Frisch knew, “If I do this right, and I put together a super compelling print product, and make it very rare and exclusive, and present strong culture and entertainment journalism, mixed with high quality fashion, I probably should be pretty well off.” Since its establishment, Frisch’s team has grown to almost 20 full-time staff members and a network of 50-75 freelancers from fashion capitals around the globe.
To further describe his own outlook on life, Frisch recalled an interview with actor Ashton Kutcher about his well-respected speech at the Teen Choice Awards in August, “Kutcher said that today’s youth is developing an unhealthy mentality of entitlement, but no one is entitled to anything without hard work,” Frisch noted. “You have to have three things in order to gain respect and bring something to the table in any field, 1) an idea, 2) the will to do it, and 3) talent.”
I couldn’t agree with Frisch more when he advised that current students, whether at Champlain or elsewhere, should apply their energy to the same goal inside and outside of the classroom; it will keep material fresh, even as they start to catch senioritis. Just remember: while you’re in college you are a legitimate entity of the real world and have the capacity to do great things.
His advice? The real world is not some ambiguous thing you can’t see or touch prior to graduation – don’t be scared of it now, or ever. Find a niche passion that you want to work in – the more narrow you go the better off you are. To future graduates he advises to move somewhere you’ve never lived – move away from college but don’t go home either – take a couple of months post-graduation to enjoy and celebrate with friends, and then go build your life. To keep growing, make deadlines for yourself and set short-term goals. Don’t be scared of change, enjoy failure, learn from those mistakes; bigger risk, bigger reward – all clichés work here. Allow time for self-reflection and be able to tell yourself what is working and what is not. Meet people, seize opportunities, and do everything you can to achieve your goals.
For more, check out his Speaking From Experience talk at Champlain College on Tuesday, Nov. 12 at 7:00 p.m. in the Perry Presentation Room. It is free and open to the public.
Some fun Q&A with Frisch: What’s on your…
…nightstand? The Hours by Michael Cunningham, which won the 1999 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. I just finished it last week.
…must-do list when visiting Burlington? Red Onion sandwich (check – we got lunch there after our interview at Muddy Waters), VPB (Vermont Pub and Brewery), RJ’s wing night, Nectar’s to play pool, professor Tim Brookes’ and Warren Baker’s offices, and I like to visit the waterfront.
…fantasy travel itinerary? I have been to India, but I would love to go back. I have also been intrigued by Scandinavian countries; I’d love to check out Copenhagen, Denmark and Iceland.
…bucket list? Skydiving. Write a novel…someday. I might just go into work one day and say, “See ya in a year!”
…camera memory? Let’s see (pulls out iPhone). There are a few pictures from when we went to Montauk for a story on winter surf culture. I took a picture of a girl with a cat to send to my managing editor, Meghan, who loves cats. I have a photo by Cole Barash of some Hurricane Sandy aftermath in New Jersey, which we shared for the one-year anniversary. I took a picture of Relapse on the newsstands at Barnes & Noble in NYC next to Vogue and all the other bigwig fashion magazines. I also have funny things like a kitten painted as Pikachu.
…weekly grocery list? I go through phases. I usually buy the staples: spinach, kale, quinoa – which is very versatile, and I like to make any kind of salad as long as it has almonds and grapes. I’ve been cooking since I was 14, I used to work in restaurants, so I like to experiment with the basics within the confines of the flavors and combinations I know I like.
…go-to take out menu in Brooklyn? Pio Pio Riko. They have really good Peruvian food with awesome carved whole roasted chicken for like, 5 bucks, but there are good restaurants everywhere. That’s just in the neighborhood.
…feet? Modern Vice Suede Chukkas because they’re handmade in New York City; I know the designers. I’m almost always either wearing the seasonal pair of shoes I get from those guys, or a basic pair of blue or red Vans – they’re my go-to shoes.
…iPhone apps? I probably use Instagram the most, and Snapchat can be fun. I also use Sleep Cycle, which uses movement to analyze sleep patterns and wakes me up gradually rather than jolting me awake. I can even take notes in it to say I slept like crap and realize trends of why I am not feeling rested.
…current iTunes playlist? Jacuzzi Boys from Miami
…ideal dinner party quest list? (dead or alive) Author Truman Capote, artist Jean-Michel Basquiat, and I guess I’d have Andy Warhol there, too. Authors Ernest Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald, comedian Aziz Ansari to lighten the mood – I see him around Brooklyn once in a while. For the ladies, model Karlie Kloss, actresses Jennifer Lawrence and Elizabeth Olsen – I really liked her in Martha Marcy May Marlene, and Miley Cyrus for some interesting entertainment.
…must-see-TV list? I don’t watch TV, but sometimes I run into my roommate’s room when he puts on Eastbound & Down because Danny McBride is hilarious.
…quotes to live by list? “Don’t let schooling interfere with your education.” – Mark Twain