Shin Li, a Beijing-based creative who was originally born in Singapore, is the founder of Original Studio and the creator of Encounters magazine. Graduating with a degree in communications, Shin first established Original Studio with her husband to serve as a kind of platform on which like-minded individuals could connect and collaborate with each other on various creative projects. In 2012, Shin released the first ever issue of Encounters, an independently published magazine that explored creativity, culture, and lifestyle by delving into the untold stories of modern cities and its inhabitants. Encounters is currently published biannually, and it has recently just released its fifth issue.
Shin Lin居住在北京，是来自新家坡的创意人。在大学里研修大众传媒的她，如今与先生共同拥有原味创意工作室（Original Studio），并以此为平台和志同道合的人连接，激荡出创意火花。她的独立杂志《Encounters》也是这种创意连接和分享的方式之一。这本中文名为《邂逅》，创立于2012年的杂志，是一本以“城市、人物、故事”三个焦点来关注创意生活文化的独立双语季刊杂志，平均一年两本，目前出版至第五期。
The design and overall look of Encounters changes to reflect the different central theme of each issue. To emphasize the subject of “everyday life” in the most recent issue, the magazine is designed like a calendar – the pages are bound with a strip of metal and each page has a dotted line that allows it to be easily torn out. Shin admitted that the evolving look and design of the magazine was initially because they lacked a clear direction and concept for Encounters at the time. “Recently, it is beginning to feel like Encounters has found its direction – which is to challenge itself continuously by exploring creative approaches to printing magazines and trying out different ways to present the medium.” Shin believes that modern print magazines shouldn’t only be a medium for transferring information – instead it should be a unique reading experience where the physical movement of flipping the pages and the tactile feeling of paper should be a part of the experience. Her goal is to turn the perception of the magazine as being something disposable into a valued item that’s worth collecting.
The first time Shin ever dabbled in print publication was right before graduating from college. Shin and three of her friends created alter:sg, an independent and alternative travel guide to Singapore. This publication was created not only for travelers visiting Singapore, but for locals as well. This travel guide pulls back the curtains on Singapore, revealing different spots that aren’t generally mentioned by tourist guides, and showcases what they consider to represent the Singapore that they know and love. Working alongside local Singaporean creatives, they reimagined the format that people expected travel guides to be in and included short editorial pieces that detailed some of the quirkier aspects of daily life in Singapore. The book was a huge hit, and its success inspired a continued interest in creating printed publications for Shin and her classmate Cai Weiwei. In May of 2012, their work was accepted into the Tokyo Art Book Fair exhibition. This gave them a major confidence boost and the two compiled a selection of their work previously only available online and turned it into a printed magazine exhibition. And in doing so, they inadvertently gave birth to Encounters. “The original idea to make Encounters a printed magazine was actually quite spontaneous. It was a fortunate accident.”
Encounters has captivated an audience of youthful readers with its uniquely simple and clean design aesthetics. But like other independently published publications, Encounters also faces its share of hardships. The size of the teams for independent publications are generally quite small – and they don’t often work directly with distributors. Instead they have to handle the time-consuming tasks of contacting bookstores one by one and then also shipping it out themselves. This led to the decision to make Encounters available in places like creative markets and book fairs as an alternative method of distribution. “Some customers quite willingly buy mass-produced products with no hesitation, but at the same time they may feel magazines in this price range are too expensive,” Shin says. She has been figuring out ways of showing consumers the value in her magazine, and this has been one of the most challenging endeavors. But being an independent publication also has its perks – there’s no need to answer to advertising companies and you are able to have complete creative control.
With Encounters, Shin Li encourages “regular folks”, as in non-professionals, to submit some of their personal work. But with the rapid development of different social media platforms, her original intent for the magazine has admittedly been dramatically affected. Now, she instead hopes Encounters can raise the question of “what makes a magazine a magazine?”, while surprising readers with her own creative interpretations. The sixth issue of Encounters is currently in the works and will be exploring the theme of “Slow”. Shin is encouraging anyone and everyone to submit their work!