Issue No. 51
February 2019 —


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A Digital trend publication blending a mix of culture, insights and data.




There is a difference between a demographic and an audience. People forget that when they are building out marketing and sales plans. I was locked in a conversation a few weeks back about who is considered a "millennial". I know, I'm already sick of that conversation too - but it does illustrate the point that even within the same 19 year range a generations desires, likes, dislikes, and values can be vastly different. 

If that is the case, how do we define an audience now? Maybe it is just anyone who is willing to listen. Honestly I'm okay with that. We desire content and products that are customized to us, so really the only common denominator in a brand's audience is that they are both involved with the brand in some way. 

Leave demographics, targets, and archetypes at the door. What do you have to offer, and how do you find the people who need it? That's what audience means now. 

micah heykoop

Contributing Editor

“What do you have to offer, and how do you find the people who need it?”



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alex tan

Meet Matte Black’s very own, Alex Tan. At only 23 years old, Alex has figured a lot of important life stuff out, fast. Born and raised in Ohio, Alex was on track to become an Engineer and/or soccer star. With special to the timing of technological innovations, serendipity came into play and led Alex to taking photos on his iPhone as a hobby. Flash forward to today, and he’s here, working with us in LA as an Art Director. (Chelsea offered him a job after he was interviewed on our podcast last Spring). He's Co-Founder of MOUTHWASH, shoots on the regular, has been featured as a unique creative on VSCO and Twitter... it seems that there’s little he can’t do. When you meet Alex you can feel his energy. He's got a spark in his eye. He’s just getting started, so look out (and read more about how he got here in this interview).

— Gaelan Simpson, Managing Editor SSR




They’re inevitable, so we might as well chat about it.

Hello, got a question for you: have you gone full rage after seeing an advertisement? Not because it was lousy or poorly shot or just, you know, bad. No, not like that. Rather: because the message was a bit much? It brought up a polarizing topic you, the consumer, think corporations and brands should really just gloss over? Or maybe it brought up a negative aspect of society. A human shortcoming even. Those sorts of things. 

— James Royce, Writer



The Robert Mueller devotional candle

As marketers and strategists, we often talk about how our clients’ products and services are going to create meaning in their consumers lives. This exploration of how people relate to products in their world is a critical part of our process to develop compelling storytelling. But, let’s be straight; in a world overflowing with stuff can any one product truly inspire meaning in people’s lives anymore?

— Megan Amberson, Strategy Director

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Indulge me for a moment. 

All together now, let’s gently close our eyes and conjure in our collective imagination Leonardo da Vinci’s exalted Italian Renaissance painting, Mona Lisa. I suggest this particular art megastar for its wide recognition among readers, and for the purpose of discussion. 

— Peppa Martin, Founder of Truth + Beauty




The title: How Millennials Became The Burnout Generation. My coworker slacked this article to a group of us a few weeks back. I didn’t open it. There was no need to.

News of Nudes Nettles Amazon Nerd

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos made a post about how people are trying to leak his nudes this week. That’s a real sentence. This is a real story. This is another reminder that the reality simulator crashed back in 2012 and things have just been glitching since. Why’s this happening?


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Chelsea Matthews


Managing Editor
Gaelan Simpson


Contributing Editor
Micah Heykoop


Aria Davis


Creative Director

Nolan Goff


Graphic Design

Ariel Irby




Alex Tan








Alex is a midwest native living and working as an art director + photographer in Los Angeles, CA. Too many white sneakers. Still figuring it out. 

Your muse: Frank Ocean

What do you eat for breakfast? 2 cups of coffee and 10 email replies from the weekend. Whoops. 

Skincare Regimen: Moisturize at night if I don't fall asleep on the couch first, tea tree oil in the morning.

Saddest movie you've ever watched. It's almost as if Marley and Me was made to make us all cry.

Insecurity: Feeling like I'm never doing enough, even if there are physically no more hours left in the day. 

Go to BOOZE. Any mixed cocktail with gin or bourbon on the rocks. Please and thank you.



Megan Amberson is a Strategy Director based in Portland Oregon. She loves sneakers, rescue pups, dirt jumping and helping brands connect with their audience in a meaningful way.   

Favorite comedian? Dave Chappelle 

Your go-to cocktail: Iced cold Stella 

Celebrity crush: David Lynch 

Daily read? I always start the day with the New York Times 

If you could only wear one color of ROYGBIV forever, it would be: Violet of course!

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Peppa Martin is a professional photographer, lens-based artist, gallerist, curator, art consultant and independent writer on art and culture, based in Vancouver BC. Peppa owns and operates Truth and Beauty – a combined enterprise of full service commercial photography studio, a gallery of contemporary photography and a digital art portal. Peppa conducts portfolio reviews and critiques for individual photographers, groups and review festivals, and advises on career objectives and development. She is Chair of the Global Chapter of the Association of Women Art Dealers.

Choice dinner guest? My late mother. A rockstar if there ever was.

Prettiest place to photograph: A garden, any garden, anywhere.

Quote to live by: “Life is not a spectator sport.” - Jackie Robinson

Streaming on Netflix: The Kominsky Method

Guilty Pleasure. Caramel. Runny, chewy, burnt, salted, and sometimes covered in chocolate.


james royce


Love to tell everyone everyone my core skill is “writing words” even though any goof can do that. Pretty good at surfing. Nice hair, too. 

Celebrity crush: Gene Wilder (RIP)

Prized possession: Copy of Grapes of Wrath signed by John Steinbeck. 

Describe yourself in three words: Radiating nervous energy.

Vice? Overthinking everything. Oh, and dark chocolate.

Favorite swear word: There has never been a moment more exhilarating in my life than when I said “Fuck” for the first time ever when I was nine-years-old.