A Libre Graphics Magazine is long overdue. In a market dominated by magazines devoted to design discourse built around proprietary tools and the latest computer graphics tricks and techniques, users of Libre Graphics software are underserved and unrecognized. We know that these users exist, both professionally and as hobbyists. We know this because we are they. We are graphic designers, media artists, photographers and web designers. We use Libre Graphics software, quietly and without regard. Our peers, used to proprietary alternatives, question our choice of tools. Our work, when executed well, is indistinguishable from work produced by more traditional means. Thus, our choices are invisible, unless we make an issue of them.
This is one purpose of a Libre Graphics Magazine: to serve as a catalyst for discussion, to build a home for the users of Libre Graphics software, standards and methods. In such a magazine, we may unite all our previously disparate successes, all the successes which have, until now, stood alone as small examples, disjointed from the larger community. We have the opportunity to elevate the discourse around Libre Graphics as a professionally viable option, to raise previously unmentioned issues and to push forward the conception of just what Libre Graphics can produce.
Libre Graphics, as far as the eyes of the world are concerned, is already a niche within a niche. While we in the community may take our identity for granted, many potential users are hampered by a lack of understanding of what Open means, what the difference is between Free and free, and why the word Libre should have any significance outside of French. To those who don’t yet grasp these concepts, Libre Graphics is a further abstraction. With no basis for understanding, how can we communicate the richness and diversity that we represent?
We are a community made up of niches within niches within niches. An understanding of those fractal niches can, however, be gained through concrete examples of achievement and discourse. By building up a forum for understandable discussion and display, we make ourselves visible and real.
We aim to facilitate this nascent discussion in two formats: a print magazine and an affiliated web edition. A print edition is necessary for both its immediacy and its lasting power. A magazine, acquired at an event, may be read immediately, without the intermediary step of punching a URL into a browser.
It may be read on the way home, left on the subway, kept in pride of place on a coffee table or pored over with a friend.
A magazine may be archived for future reference, itself a discrete unit in a continuity of growing knowledge.
It may become dog eared from use and choice articles or illustrations may be clipped out. A web edition is necessary for sustaining a sense of community from issue to issue.
It may house active discussion, items not immediately conducive to print, or any number of other medium specific features.
The two editions should, however, work together to form a cohesive whole, each half accessible on its own, but better together.
We’re reflecting a nascent, new community: the Libre Graphics user community, which hasn’t been anything until now.
Equilibrium must be found between what exists — the vibrant developer community — and what doesn’t yet, but so easily could — an equally vibrant and articulate user community.
We do not intend to reinvent the wheel, simply to attach a bicycle.
With such a usable, accessible bicycle, attached to the power of the existing Libre Graphics community and infrastructure, we may just give users, existing and new, the opportunity to get on and take a spin.