Marinell Montales of EIGHTY Magazine Refines NJ’s Independent Media Market

This article was originally posted here.

Since the birth of New York’s media market, neighboring state, New Jersey, has often been overlooked by non-natives. From recording artists to fashion designers, Garden State creatives have flocked to the streets of the Big Apple to solidify their names in the industry that was up until recently. Now singers, producers, journalists and creative directors are opting out of the rush towards the concrete jungle and planting their roots firmly in New Jersey’s thriving arts scenes statewide.  Marinell Montales, founder and creative director of EIGHTY Magazine is one of these new waves curators. Celebrating the release of the fifth issue, the Jersey City based publication proves that New Jersey’s independent media market making an impact.


I had the chance to sit down with Marinell Montales to talk about her growing into the Jersey Girl she is today, migrating from the Philippines, the mission of EIGHTY Magazine and what readers can expect from the publication in the future. Check out the full interview below!

You are a true Jersey girl! Graduating from New Jersey City University with roots throughout Jersey City. With so many entertainment news platforms within close proximity, with New York City across the river, what lead you to venture out on your own and found your own publication, EIGHTY Magazine?

“Jersey girl I am! I moved to Jersey City 11 years ago from the Philippines, and despite the initial post-high school transition and culture shock, I’ve grown to love living here, and I enjoy being so close to New York City. My story with starting EIGHTY is likely something you’ve heard before. Like many creatives, I was also at a crossroads with my freelance career as a graphic designer. I wasn’t sure where to take it or whether I wanted to take another job after leaving a full-time gig at a New York City startup. EIGHTY emerged as one of several Jersey City-related ideas that came to me while working as a barista at my friends’ coffee shop, The Warehouse Cafe, over in the Powerhouse Arts District. A good part of my mid-20s was spent at that shop, and through it, I made a lot of friends and met lots of very creative people that really got me thinking: dude, there are a ton of really cool and talented folks living and working in Jersey City, and they’re all young and stylish. I knew I wanted to somehow bring all these people together.

So that was the core idea: to create some sort of an outlet to gather all these people together and show them off to the world. It eventually took the form of a print magazine after John T. Trigonis, my boyfriend back then, fiance now, brought back a San Diego-based print magazine called Content. It was beautiful and well-designed. So I thought, hey why don’t I do a print magazine? I’d been doing graphic design for a few years, and I’d never done anything print and layout design-related before, but I figured it couldn’t be too hard to learn. So I went to YouTube and searched for tutorials on InDesign (watching videos was how I learned how to do graphic design; my BA is actually in marketing), created a few mockups, and decided this was very possible.”

You have a wide array of talents, skills, and interests including your graphic designer roots. Was it difficult to transition from the tech world to a career in entertainment?

I think as a designer in general, the level of effort and skill I put into creating, and my process in general, are the same regardless of whether that work goes to print, web, or UI design, so the transition was seamless. And I still do both: my 10-6 job is doing web and mobile design for a startup, and my weeknights and weekends are reserved for EIGHTY. If anything, going from designing with parameters and rules, not to mention taking directions from someone else, to working on something that’s my own with no one else telling me how or why or what is really hard, intimidating, and full of its own pressures. It’s even harder to follow a schedule when the project is your own. But the great thing is that my fiancé, who heads up the distribution and marketing for EIGHTY, keeps me in check and on schedule.

EIGHTY Magazine covers a wide range of topic across various markets. How do you select what becomes a feature piece? How do you stay true to the publication’s mission?

There hasn’t been a formula to how we select our feature story, really. For instance, for one of our issues, we picked a specific story to feature based on the subject without even having the story written yet, while for another issue, we chose because of the visuals we shot. But the process of planning every issue and eliminating story ideas to narrow it down and keep within our 16-page limit is always based on what is interesting to us. Yes, we of course think about our readers and research things that are trending, but for the most part, if it’s something we’re inspired by and can get behind, it goes in the magazine. Printing is not cheap, and once that ink is on paper, you can’t go back to edit it or make any iterations, so I make sure that everyone at EIGHTY is happy with what we put out before we try to worry about making everyone else happy.

EIGHTY Magazine is always looking for contributors. How can people interested in writing for the publication get in contact with you?

Yes, I’m always looking for photographers, illustrators, art directors, and writers. I like to also keep it fresh so I try to work with different talent in every issue. EIGHTY is a free magazine, so unfortunately, we are not in the place where we can afford to pay our contributors just yet, but we’ve been fortunate to have a lot of really incredible people reach out and work with us, who consistently work with many renowned publications worldwide. For those interested in contributing to EIGHTY, they can email me at

What’s next for Eighty Mag? Next print? Special event?

We have a live talk event called EIGHTY Live that happens every month at Andcowork in downtown Jersey City. Each month, we bring in a guest or a panel and talk about topics that orbit around the theme of an upcoming issue keep relevant between issues (EIGHTY comes out quarterly) and build hype for the next. EIGHTY Live’s on a summer break right now, but we’ll be back in October for Season 2. The talks are also recorded and archived, then podcasted on our website and iTunes as EIGHTY Profiles. You can listen to all eight episodes we recorded for our first season and subscribe to it at We also run quarterly charity events and have done two fundraisers for refugees living in Jersey City with Gramforacause. The best way to keep in the know about our upcoming events is through our newsletter. Folks can subscribe to it by going to our website. And, of course, follow @eightymag on Instagram!

We are working on our 6th issue right now, which is scheduled to drop in late September/early October. Our goal for each issue we put out is for it to be better than the last. The current “Style & Design” issue should prove a tough challenge, but I think we’re up to the task!

Header image credit belongs to Jose Melgarejo

Stay connected with EIGHTY Mag on their official website here and across all social media platforms including Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram as well as the magazine’s founder and creative director Marinell Montales on Linkedin.

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