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Huang sees Fountain magazine becoming a collectible

Jeane Huang, editor-in-chief of the English-language arts and living magazine, Fountain, smiles to the camera.

Jeane Huang, editor-in-chief of the English-language arts and living magazine, Fountain, smiles to the camera.

Jeane Huang did a very courageous thing last year. She decided to head the editorial team of an English-language arts and living publication in Taiwan, Fountain.
"It was not easy. There have not been enough resources and enough good English writers in Taiwan to produce a high-quality English publication. There is a popular saying that goes, 'Publishing a magazine is the fastest way to go bankrupt' in Taiwan's publishing industry. This task is doubly difficult for us since we are publishing a foreign language magazine," says Huang.
"But we've managed to survive, and we have now two issues now under our belt. Credit should go to our publisher, National Cultural Association Secretary General Tchen Yu Chiou, who has the vision and the determination to share with our English readers in Taiwan and the world the beauty of this country through Fountain."
Huang also lauds Fountain's stable of prolific contributors.
"I am also fortunate since we have excellent art designers from FreeiMage Design and RandL Design who took on our first and second issues respectively," she adds.
Fountain's first issue featured Taiwan's next generation of filmmakers. For that edition, Huang chose a black, white and silver motif.
"I decided to go with that since we were working on the 'silver screen' concept, and it worked!" she says. "Our second issue, which focused on Taiwan design, is richer and more vibrant since we were working around the design theme. It was all about colors, lines, curves and textures."
To the two companies that Fountain commissioned to work on its first two issues, the magazine is still a work-in-progress, she notes.
"Fountain was a first for both of them," Huang says, "and we are learning together along the way. It was quite a challenge for all of us, and I am aware that there is still a lot of room for improvement."
Right from the start, Fountain has positioned itself as an arts and living publication. Each issue focuses on a theme, giving its readers the opportunity to really sink their teeth into it, she says.
"There is an existing magazine here in Chinese covering Taiwanese culture, literature, music, and the performing arts. Originally, our plan was to translate those articles for Fountain. We however felt that wasn't enough. Translations tend to lose some of the original article's texture and color. In many cases, the translation is nothing more than a pale version of the original," says Huang.
"We thought, 'Why don't we do first-hand interviews?' And instead of dumping everything - music, film, literature and cuisine - into one issue, why not focus on just one theme for each edition? By doing so, we will not only be producing a magazine that will be a more interesting read, it will also be timeless. It would be collectible."
The first issue, she says, has been perceived as an "art" rather than a "living" magazine.
"We've improved that slightly on our second issue, Taiwan Design. Our third issue will be putting the spotlight on Taiwan cuisine. So, I guess I will be able to place a greater emphasis on the 'living' side of this publication. However, both the first and second issues have been very well received," she beams, adding that Fountain is available at Eslite, Page One, and the National Cultural Association's office in Taipei (02-2396-4256 ext. 113)
"In fact, we have received orders from all over world. The cinema issue, in particular, was a big hit in the international film festival circuit since this was the first magazine that featured Taiwan's acclaimed film directors from Oscar winner Ang Lee to the leaders of Taiwan's 'New Wave' movement namely Edward Yang, Hou Hsiao-hsien and Tsai Ming-liang in one issue. I am quite certain that all our editions would become collectibles."
This early, Huang is already planning her fourth issue. It will focus on sports and leisure.
The National Cultural Association, a non-profit organization, produces the magazine with the support of the private sector. Established in March 1991, the association aims to promote Taiwan's unique cultural heritage, and help nurture its promising artists. President Chen Shui-bian is the association's current chairman.
Huang is the first to admit that Fountain is a labor of love.
"To me, Fountain is a discovery of sorts. It takes me on a journey," she says. "My husband is a diplomat and I have been away from Taiwan for more than six years. Fountain has given me the opportunity to get re-acquainted with my country. It's been an amazing experience since I get to appreciate the beauty of Taiwan through the eyes of those wonderful artists that we have interviewed."
Huang says Taiwan has become more globalized but at the same time, it has become more aware of the unique values of its arts and culture.
"I have been 'reconnected' with my own culture and land by doing Fountain," she says.
Despite the deadlines and the stress that are part and parcel of the publishing business, Huang never forgets to have fun at work. And it shows.
"Believe it or not, I've never done anything special to 'maintain' myself. I guess it's in my genes and I thank my parents for that. Perhaps it's also that 'Asian' thing. Many of my Western girlfriends have complained that Asian women don't look old until they reach the age of 70," says the youthful looking Huang.
"I often joke that it's because we only drink warm water instead of water with ice. Honestly though, if you feel the positive energy around me, it's probably because I smile a lot."
Never mind the wrinkles, she jests.
Her job also keeps her young at heart, says Huang.
"I'm happy with what I am doing because I love the people side of the business. To me, it is very important to have harmony in the workplace. All my co-workers and writers, in fact, have become my good friends. I've known some of them for several years," she says.
"We could share both the good and the bad, and we back each other up. I do believe you are at your most productive if you are working with friends. They keep my passion for my work alive."


Updated : 2021-02-25 19:24 GMT+08:00