Image Boulevard is a successful production company based in Antwerp, Belgium. They specialise in art direction, photography and graphic design for fashion and lifestyle content. With 20 years of experience founders Iris Rombouts and Tom Van Noten know what they are doing and are slowly taking over the Flemish media with their designs for important magazines such as Feeling, Knack Weekend and Nina Magazine and up coming a new Belgian Vogue edition. But working for these big magazines was not enough for the ambitous duo, recently they started their own online magazine called Les Petits Belges. And of course we want to know everything about it. That is why we spoke with Iris Rombouts about this new and exciting project.
Production Paradise: We know you from Image Boulevard, a very successful production company, but now you launched an online fashion magazine called, Les Petits Belges. Can you tell us more about this new project?
Iris: I used to work as an art director for the fashion magazine Glam*it. There we had a section specialized in Belgium people and the fashion world. When publisher house Sanoma Magazines decided to quit the magazine because of the recession, it was me who took the initiative to give some of those sections an independent new existence. The idea to make from Les Petits Belges a new online magazine brought us all different fresh ideas. A Fashion Maker Magazine is our baseline, a focus on what is going on in Belgium and abroad by the Belgians. Les Petits Belges spots talents who work in the fashion industry like designers, photographers, stylists and graphic designers.
Production Paradise: How and when did you come up with the idea to start Les Petits Belges?
Iris: Image Boulevard is a production house that puts the focus on the client. We work very hard to approach the concept of the branding as good as possible and even make new original additions. Because of our experience from the last years we have built our own artistic and creative visions. I think it was a beautiful idea to work with that and enjoy from the complete freedom. “We wanna be free to do what we wanna do!” Crimal scream just sums it all up so well together in their song. It is very important that creatives can spread their wings to challenge themselves. In that way you push your limits and reveal beautiful things without interference from a customer.
Production Paradise: You run a well-established production company and have a solid amount of years of experience. Did you face many new challenges with Les Petits Belges? How managing a production company is different from managing a magazine?
Iris: You have to develop a good team spirit to produce beautiful things with both work floors. Giving feedback to everybody is a very important factor. Does not matter if it is good or bad. It is a must to put a mirror in front of you and your colleagues just to check if you are on the right track. The difference with making your own magazine is that you launch your own image with a personal vision. You need courage for that. Image Boulevard has got his own face, but in a softer way, because the client shares his own vision for each project.
Production Paradise: Who are the readers of Les Petits Belges? Who is it aimed to?
Iris: The magazine focuses on national and international readers who are interested in Belgian fashion, art and lifestyle. We put Belgium as a label in the spotlight. You discover what happens in our country and where the Belgian people are staying abroad. There is a hatch ‘expo’ where new talents get the chance to show their personal work. Our fashion editorials give a strong look on the trends for men and women. Of course the most famous talents are getting more attention in our news rubric BuzzBuzz. You will find Art books, Behind the scenes and accessories below Lifestyle. It is a selection with character.
Production Paradise: We understand that this magazine is aimed at the Belgium Fashion industry, is there a plan to copy the concept to other countries?
Iris: The idea to introduce this concept in other countries is a plan for the future. The thought tickles, but first we want to focus on Belgium. An online magazine is never finished, every day we check what we can improve within the budgets.
Production Paradise: Image Boulevard is a big success, why did you feel the need to start an online fashion magazine?
Iris: Making magazines..it gets under your skin. Once you have got the bug, you cannot get away from it. My quote is “Art Direction is an addiction!” I learned it all from large publishers who have given me the opportunity to develop as a magazine maker. Image Boulevard can only enjoy this experience.
Production Paradise: Nowadays it is not easy to stay above the ground as an online magazine, how does Les Petits Belges stand out? What is the power behind it?
Iris: Our strength consists of a small creative collective that is highly motivated to create a good result together. To succeed you have to cultivate discipline and sometimes sacrifice free time. Next to Image Boulevard we all work for other clients, so that requires focus and a good organization. But where there’s a will, there’s a way. Purpose driven to proceed is the message. Also it is very important to have the patience to grow online. And especially work, I play!
Production Paradise: Are you planning to keep Les Petits Belges in a digital format only? Do you think there is a future for print magazines?
Iris: Print magazines have a lot to endure in recent years. The budgets are shrinking and the associated websites do not make a lot of money. I believe in print magazines with a strong stubborn concept that is different from a commercial format. I come from a paper generation and the love for printed magazines will always stay. My dream is to publish an annual targeted deluxe edition in print. There is a plan to do cross-fertilization with a new theme magazine in the fall of 2017. It will be very exciting!
Production Paradise: How has Production Paradise been helpful for you so far?
Iris: Because of the dedication and effort that ‘Production Paradise’ has put into ‘Image Boulevard’, we got an amazing collaboration with an important customer of ours! Image Boulevard could take immediate action towards the customer because it all went through Productionparadise.com.
We would like to thank Iris Rombouts for taking the time to speak with us. You can see more of Image Boulevard on their website and on Production Paradise. And make sure you keep an eye on Les Petits Belges!
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