“We wanted to build something that was a more accurate reflection of who a wide swath of cannabis consumers are: smart, engaged, and intellectually curious people for whom weed is just one small part of their life and interests,” Gossamer editors David Weiner and Verena Von Pfetten tell It’s Nice That, on the subject of their new print publication, dedicated to all things weed.
The duo, hailing from New York and Vancouver respectively, have been mates for over a decade and conveniently finding themselves freelance at the same time — David had just left Digg and Beme and Verena, Lucky magazine — they set about to build something new together. So, Gossamer magazine was born. Wanting to steer clear of all things “canna-this or green-that” they came up with the title Gossamer which literally means: light; thin; airy. It is also the name of the material of cobwebs. “It’s nice because we wanted there to be some connection to nature,” they tell It’s Nice That. “We also knew we were probably appealing to an audience for whom a “light” or “thin” high was a perfect amount: a Gossamer high, if you will.”
Despite their backgrounds in digital media and startups, David and Verena knew from the offset they wanted to start Gossamer as a print magazine. “There’s something so meaningful in creating a physical product and one that allows our readers to engage with Gossamer on their terms. We also knew a ton of great writers, photographers, and artists whose work we thought would resonate with this same audience.”
They worked on issue one with Colin Smight and Brian Okarski of New York Design Office under the understanding that in creating this print issue they would endeavour to “break as many rules as possible”. So, they “approached the first volume of Gossamer as more of an activity book (for someone who may or may not be high) than a regular magazine,” asking Rob Engvall, of Lucky Peach (RIP) to take seven pages of the magazine and turn it into an activities section, to give people the opportunity to relax and take a break from reading. Volume One of Gossamer also features photography from the likes of Chris Maggio and Doan Ly as well as accompanying long-form pieces penned by Alexandra Ilyashov and Foster Kamer.
The cover — a glass of orange juice, no cannabis in sight — they explain, “was one of those things that just came together at the end.” They knew what they didn’t want a Gossamer cover to be, but had a harder time pinning down exactly what it should be. “Then this image came up with the amazingly talented Pete Deevakul and it just struck us. We thought it was both aesthetically interesting and representative of the new, refreshing look we were trying to bring to the table [with the magazine]”.
Inside the publication, the flow of the content mirrors the experience in some ways of a weed ‘high’, with the duo wanting it to “go from sober and serious, to, well, less so,” which informed their decision to eschew traditional advertising pages. In their place, you can find a dedicated space to custom-created ads “for organisations and non-profits who do great work related to criminal justice reform and drug policy issues. It’s all well and good to smoke weed (and read Gossamer!), but it’s important to bear in mind that the ability to do so is a privilege that depends a lot on how you look and your socio-economic background. Everything that’s being built in this industry is built on the backs of millions of people whose lives have been disproportionately affected or destroyed by racist, classist and nonsensical laws.”
So what does the future hold for Gossamer we ask? “One thing we say a lot—at least to ourselves—is that there are a million different reasons why someone might consume cannabis, but they all have at least one thing in common, and that’s to have a better experience, whether that’s sleeping, eating, laughing, exercising, medicating, relaxing, or hanging out with friends and taking in a new exhibit.,” the Gossamer editors tell It’s Nice That. “In short though, we really hope to keep building a community of like-minded people who also smoke weed. It’s going to be fun to see where that takes us over the next few years.”