Mira Costa High School

Rock Me Amadeus: An inside look at Amadeus magazine

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Photos by: McKenna Marchant and Katie Smythe

Mira Costa alumni, Alex Khatchadourian, takes us behind the scenes at Amadeus’ sixth issue release party in Venice Saturday night. As we explored the depths of the warehouse filled with everything from glowing crystals to baby doll heads we got the inside scoop on why and how Khatchadourian decided to create her magazine Amadeus and the story behind its unusual name.

HSI: What inspired you to start the magazine?

Alex Khatchadourian: With everything continuing with going digital – journalism, design, photography, the ways we communicate with each other – I feel like people are looking for something tangible, something lasting. Magazines and print media, in general, stand to fill that void. A lot of things online – particularly online journalism – can end up having little to no substance. Articles and words can be so easily posted to a website and edited that I feel like there is this loss of journalistic integrity. It’s like, ‘Hurry, throw up this article about Kanye West, with all these ‘trending’ words, so that our website can get a bunch of clicks and our ad dollars will go up. Forget the fact that there are several misspellings and grammatically incorrect sentences in the article, we can always click ‘edit post’ and fix it real quick.’ With print, once the ink is on the paper, there is no changing it. It calls for the writer and designer to be more observant, particular, and take pride in their words and page designs.

HSI: How did you come up with the idea?

Alex Khatchadourian: I have been a freelance writer for about six years now, and when I decided to go to graduate school two years ago, I knew that going strictly for writing would be a waste of time. I knew how to write, had done so for several publications, I had found my voice, and in order for graduate school to be beneficial, I knew I had to pursue a degree that would allow me to become an expert in something with a wider scope. I chose to attend Emerson College for their Publishing & Writing program, with an underlying emphasis on Electronic and Magazine Publishing; how the two forms of publishing – print and online – could coexist and in turn not only elevate each other, but also challenge the fluctuating nature of the current publishing industry. While at Emerson, I took an entry-level magazine design class where we were asked to create a 36-page booklet (it could be whatever we wanted it to be), and I created Amadeus. At that point it was just a prototype.

HSI: How do you decide what to put in the magazine?

Alex Khatchadourian: We aim to create a new kind of space for creators to present their work and express their creativity, and to design a network through which people working in different disciplines can easily access new information, ideas, inspiration and one other. We’re inspired by artists and creators who make for the sake of their craft rather than the industry, and think of Amadeus as a magazine that doesn’t make any compromises; a vehicle for ideas and concepts; and a tool to investigate what we’re most interested in. We look for individuals that are continually pushing the bounds of their respective crafts. I’m an overall proponent of anyone that does their own thing and, in turn, leaving a lasting imprint in the arts community. I’m constantly lurking Instagram for new artists, talking with artists that recommend other artists for me to check out, and try not to get bogged down by all the other crap [sic] that we’re inundated with online and in the media. Also I have a really close-knit team of contributors that is continually working to showcase new and existing tastemakers.

HSI: What made you decide to call it Amadeus?

Alex Khatchadourian: This musical gem.


HSI: Did you know you wanted to do this when you graduated from Mira Costa?

Alex Khatchadourian: While I was at Mira Costa I knew that I wanted to be a writer. I was on La Vista’s editorial team, as the Sports Editor and I absolutely loved magazines and everything that had to do with print journalism, however my aspirations at the time were a lot smaller than starting an actual magazine. Writing was the only thing I was really good at, so I knew I could be a journalist or a lawyer; like this world needs another lawyer.