Skip to content
Tina Essmaker, The Great Discontent
At work with

Tina Essmaker, The Great Discontent

This morning we’re back at work after the UK’s public holiday with editor and writer Tina Essmaker of The Great Discontent. The print and online magazine is a favourite for many, perhaps because of its candid, long-form approach to interviews with contemporary artists, makers, and designers. We catch up with Tina the week after the release of the much anticipated ‘Ambition’ themed issue four.

Where are you today?
I’m at home in my apartment in the West Village because I’m doing the live/work thing right now.

1-From Window

What can you see from the window?
An assortment of shops, restaurants, and One World Trade Center.

Are you a morning or evening person?
Evening all the way—always have been and probably always will be.

3-Bop Cover

Which magazine do you first remember?
As a little girl, I loved picking up magazines at the register when I went grocery shopping with my mum. My first subscription was Cat Fancy and then teen mags, Bop and Tiger Beat, which had tear-out posters of my crushes, like Devon Sawa and Leo.

4-The Gentlewoman Cover

What’s your favourite magazine this morning?
My tastes are a little more grown-up now. I enjoy The Gentlewoman and Interview, and I have friends in publishing, so I always make a point to pick up their latest issues: Hello Mr., Gather, and the newcomer, Posture.

That name? Where did it come from?
The great discontent is something we all have inside of us or have experienced from time to time. It’s the force that compels us to create, that drives us forward.

The name came from a conversation with a mentor, who told my husband and TGD cofounder, Ryan, and I that we had to learn to be content in our discontent. Accepting that I’ll always be discontent on some level and channeling that into my work has been life-changing. Of course I celebrate successes and I do experience fleeting moments of contentedness, usually when I finish a project. But then I’m ready to create whatever’s next because there’s always more.

TGD always inspires a warm response among people. What do you think it is that makes them like the magazine so much?
Honestly, I’m not sure what the magic is. Our team makes content that we want to read and we dive deep into the stories of our subjects in ways that other publications might not. I think readers appreciate the candidness of our conversations with our subjects because it makes them more relatable.

The Great Discontent 04 small

Having launched TGD online and added the print edition later, what have you learned about the two channels? Do the same people read both?
There is definitely overlap between digital and print readership. They are both challenging in their own ways, and the whole industry of publishing is ever-evolving, so I’ve learned that I’m always learning. What works today won’t work tomorrow, and you have to be open to changing it up and trying new things.


Tell us about the new issue and it’s theme ‘Ambition.’
The new issue is packed with 16 interviews and features some of our favorite creators: musician Leon Bridges, letterer Gemma O’Brien, actor David Dastmalchian, creative director Roanne Adams, tattoo artist Jenna Bouma, illustrator Malika Favre—and many more.

This issue is about ambition, but not in the way you might think. It explores what ambition means to each of our interviewees and urges readers to do the same. In American culture especially, we’re made to feel guilty or less-than if our ambitions aren’t what others expect. This issue aims to reject a one-size-fits-all definition of ambition and asks readers to define their ambitions, whatever they are, and to own them.


What are you most looking forward to this week?
I can’t wait to see people’s photos of issue four roll in on Instagram since the magazine started shipping last Friday!

Also, today is our next TGD Live event at Wythe Hotel in Williamsburg with guests, Anil Dash and Ashley C. Ford. We launched the monthly event series this year and this will be our fifth event, which brings guests together for a live interview experience in front of a studio audience. TGD Live has had an overwhelmingly positive response and it’s been wonderful to gather in the same space with people who’ve read TGD online for years.

What are you least looking forward to this week?
Tackling my inbox.


What will you be doing after this chat?
I’ll probably make more tea and dive into my emails.

Previous post mono.kultur #40
Next post Printout: Editors’ Special, 24 May 2016