Walk into any magazine store in Manhattan and stacks and stacks of publications fill each corner making it impossible to find just that one issue of Vogue. There are magazine names that no one has ever heard of: AnOther, Oyster, Zink, S, Fantastic Man, Garage. Then there’s the section that challenges the English tongue:  Schön!, Dansk, Dossier, DuJour. And then there are some that sound like the apocalypse is impending: The Last Magazine, Bullett, Bad Day, The Hunger, Vinyl Riot.

These luxurious glossies come with a hefty price tag. $7.99 is just the starting point. Most of them average at $14.99 going up to $40 for an issue; most of them are produced quarterly or bi-annually. It’s a wonder anyone ever purchases them, especially in comparison with the monthly “Classics” – Vogue, Elle, Harper’s Bazaar, at the bargain price of $4.99.

Competing among them is Beautiful Savage, a biannual publication based in NYC priced at $12.99. In its fourth issue, the magazine features artists, designers and photographers whose work tell a story. For example, in the third issue, Vanessa Black, a filmmaker and photographer who spent a month in Kiev shooting the ruins of the Ukraine political protests, was featured in the magazine with her black and white pictures. The same issue also features an extensive article on weed, from its history to its uses to why it is not legal in some states. Each issue has a specific theme, like “The Youth Issue” and “The Man Issue” and while the editorial spreads are fashion, the stories are not necessarily related to fashion.

Beautiful Savage "The Youth Issue"

In the few reviews that the magazine has, there were only positive ones. On the “The Man Issue,” a Huffington Post review said, “The agenda of this issue is to celebrate mankind and it’s the Beautiful Savage answer to titles like ‘Man of the World’, ‘Dapper Dan’, and ‘Fantastic Man.’ The issue explores the range of the alpha male all the way to gender non-conforming with the underlying young, dark, eclectic aesthetic Beautiful Savage is known for.”

Visually, the magazine’s editorials are breath-taking and surreal, yet edgy and dark, conflicting just like its name suggests. In “The Youth Issue,” one editorial spread features a blonde girl who has her eyes closed wearing a white dress, looking ethereal as though she is floating in air like a beautiful angel. In the following editorial, a red-headed model is wearing a metal harness-bralette with hazy neon colors. Each page is striking, compelling enough to tear the pages out and tape it to a wall like a poster.

The mastermind behind all of this is Chad Saville. But the humble editor-in-chief with a humble background refused to be called “a creative genius,” saying, “Oh, I wouldn’t put the word genius anywhere near me.”

The 38-year-old editor grew up in suburban upstate New York with five siblings where fashion magazines were far from being a part of the daily household. His relatives are loggers and hunters. His father makes his own bullets for his guns. “I’m just like this one off, weird kid,” Saville said.

As a child, Saville was illiterate, placed into classes that were sometimes reserved for the disabled. He grades consisted of F’s and the occasional C. But his epilepsy may be the reason for being behind in school and his sinking grades. Seizures in the middle of his classes sent him to the hospital almost every other day until he was 12.

However, it is because of this condition that made him develop other skills, one of them being observant. Because he wasn’t able to do his assignments, he says would often cheat by observing and learning from his classmates. Observation allowed him to read other people’s minds by seeing their reactions to things — “emotional intelligence,” he called it. Saville can walk into any room full of writers, stylists and directors and see the vision for what they want for a editorial concept to be well executed. When everyone brings different ideas to the table, it is Saville’s job to tie it together with one knot and draw the focus to a theme. “I’m not very good at anything. I’m not a good writer. I’m not a good photographer. I’m not necessarily a great producer — but I have this way of getting people to do things for me.”

He eventually dropped out of high school when he was 16, picking up odd jobs, from bartending to massage therapy and eventually photography. But he never stopped learning and his hunger for knowledge was always there. He studied by himself, learning to read and eventually learning about everything through books: anthropology, archaeology, psychology, creative writing. At age 20 he enrolled at  SUNY Purchase for journalism, redeeming himself with straight. At 27, he attended NYU graduate school for graphics communications management, having always been interested in visuals and design.

The idea of doing a print fashion magazine dawned on him when he had to write a thesis at NYU. Instead of an academic paper or a business plan, he wanted to do something that he could learn from. With his photography experience and his fascination with magazines, he created Beautiful Savage, which was perceived well by the  NYU school board.

From the start, he knew that print magazines were shrinking in circulation and advertising revenues. Nine out of 10 new magazines fail, says Cheryl Woodward, publishing business consultant and author of Starting and Running a Successful Newsletter or Magazine. And in June 2014, AAM’s Media Intelligence Center reported that the total paid and verified circulation had decreased from the previous year by 1.9 percent, paid subscriptions had decreased by 1.8 percent and single-copy sales had decreased by 11.9 percent.

Although a digital magazine could generate more profit without having the hassle of the printing costs, Saville insists on Beautiful Savage being print as well. The digital world is infinite. However, its fast-paced culture makes it difficult for people to really digest and engage with any material. With one click, a reader can close a window. With another click, a reader can go to a different page. No one is forced to read a story. Archives and the search bar gives more options than we can handle.

But what is it about paper that makes print so valuable?

“Something about words on a piece of paper felt timeless,” Saville said. Ever since he was little, he imagined that “people who committed words on paper were just special.” He also said that print gives him access and legitimacy to people and events, such as fashion week or exclusive meetings, showrooms and parties.

The value of print is not just for him and the readers, but also for the magazine contributors.

Nikhita Mahtani, editorial assistant of Elle Decor, said that although online gives a journalist unlimited exposure by being on the web forever, print is limited in space — so it’s more curated, more edited and more selective.

“It’s more about content than speed. It’s about perfectionism. So print holds more weight,” Mahtani said, “So to have your work chosen to be in a print publication means that out of all the space in a magazine they felt you more worthy than someone else.”

For designers, photographers, retouchers and other artists, print is a chance to see their work soaked in by a reader, from detail to detail.

Chaunielle Brown, a stylist in NYC, said “The printed book is a deliverer of dreams. I see the art and beauty invested in every detail.” Because it gives an opportunity for her work to be blown up onto paper, it gives the readers a chance to absorb her work thoroughly. And for that reason, “the value of the print publication tear sheet is still more recognized by clients and ad agencies than online publication,” said Kevin Reed, a NYC fashion photographer.

If there’s one thing industry professionals agree on, it’s that print will never go extinct. Gary Foodim, the vice president for consumer marketing at Conde Nast, said “Print will never be out — it will never be and I don’t think that’s wishful thinking.” And Rome Paolucci, the vice president of Vanguard Printing said consumers still demand it because it is an intimate experience, one that web cannot give: magazines can be folded, tossed inside bags, traveled with, written on and even thrown across whereas a digital space lacks tangible interaction.

But even if print is valuable, can it be profitable?

Through the help of industry friends and connections, Saville was able to produce everything without spending a dime — except for one thing: printing. In the first issue, he did everything by himself but the layout. Now, he has a team of 12 that helps him with writing, photography, layout and everything else. “Think of me like either a field general or the captain of the ship,” he said of his role.

Advertisements are what makes magazines profitable, but they can also compromise the independence of a magazine brand by becoming too commercial. An advertiser or an investor might want a certain product be featured in the magazine, or they might want to negotiate having a competitor written about in the magazine. Instead of letting the audience focus on the magazine, advertisements distract the readers. Saville didn’t want that, because he takes Beautiful Savage as a piece of artwork, not a commercial product that pleases the general public. So he decided to preserve his art by forgoing any advertisements. Instead, he invests his own money into printing for each issue, and while he gets some profit from selling his publication around the nation in about 150 locations, it barely covers the cost of producing a magazine.

“No magazine makes any money off the sales of their magazines. Usually, they lose money,” Saville said. And contributors certainly don’t make any money. Models, photographers, makeup artists, stylists all work in return for “tear sheets” — work bartered for the possibility of exposure. He also expects writers to work for free for the same reasoning. This means Saville’s employees don’t get paid. “I don’t have employees,” he said adamantly, “I have partners.” His few interns, however, do get stipends.

If profit isn’t the main focus, then what is the point of creating a print magazine?

“Then what’s the point of creating any magazine?” he fired back. Saville explained that earning profit is certainly the ultimate goal–but he’s doing it slowly his own way by building his brand first. “Someday we will make profit. I believe that someday the brand will be worth a lot,” he said.

For now, Saville’s day job is media and digital production at major brands. The magazine is created out of the talents and passions of many as a side project. “This magazine is a labor of love; it’s special and it has its own life,” he said. When he sees readers inspired by his work, it motivates him to continue producing content. One time, he had a fashion student post an Instagram photo of Beautiful Savage and several other magazines with the caption, “My favorite magazines.” It’s moments like these that, he says, makes all the hard work worth it.

But just putting ink on paper doesn’t make a good magazine. At the end of the day, a magazine is a business.

Even with such numbers and the domineering digital presence, more and more people are starting magazines. Samir Husni, a magazine consultant and chair of the journalism department at the University of Mississippi, said that about 1,000 magazines are launched every year.

There is no one formula to create a successful magazine, but there are two key points that every magazine must have: enough money to fund the first few issues and creating good content for a target audience.

According to Husni, to build a successful magazine, an entrepreneur must have money to self-fund the first few issues, because for high circulation, advertising is necessary and for companies to advertise, high circulation is needed to negotiate as well. Husni says the way to get around this catch-22 is to save money in advance so that investors or advertisers are not necessary. After having produced a few issues, it is easier for advertisers to place their ads.

Another option is to create a prototype magazine that shows how the content and potential layout would look like. Once that’s done, searching for potential advertisers can be done through the listing called, “Advertising Red Books,” in any library by calling them.

But of course, before any of this is done, deciding content and target audience comes first. Mike Steele, the editor-in-chief at Us Weekly, said, “A successful magazine’s revenue is generally some combination of subscription, newsstand and advertising income. Do advertisers value your reader demographic? Is your content a good fit for their brands? If not, is your content so in demand by readers that they will pay full price to receive it? Success depends on striking the right balance among these different income streams.”

Beautiful Savage has more than 2,400 Instagram followers, more than 4,400 Facebook followers and more than 8,000 followers on Twitter.

However, those numbers are incomparable to other magazines. On instagram alone, CR Fashion Book has 309k followers. Hunger Magazine has 40.7k followers and S Magazine has 10.5k followers. These digits determine popularity, which famous face will agree to be on the cover of the magazine, and ultimately which advertisers will invest in the pages.

Beautiful Savage is, nevertheless, well on its way, said Saville. With quality content, the magazine has 66% of the readers between 18 and 34 and 52% of readers who are female. What Saville does different is create different themes for each issue and makes sure that the models and people he features are up and coming, on the verge of fame. For example, in one feature, he used Rain Dove,  an androgynous model, last October in “The Youth Issue.” Dove is now becoming more well-known and successful. Part of his team’s job is to find talent who have potential success.

The target audience of most independent print fashion magazines today , however, all seems to aim at one group: industry professionals. Shaiful Islam, the manager of Iconic Magazine store on Bowery, said, “Most of the people are for the research — industry people who research about clothes and what’s coming in fashion — and they make new fashion.”

However, Saville doesn’t think that his magazine has a target audience geared towards those who work in fashion. And he disagrees. He said that what he does know is that his stories and editorials are unique and inspiring, which tends to resonate well with industry professionals who are like-minded with Saville with visual and concepts. And since most people who understand edgy concepts are in fashion, his readers happen to be in fashion and also in NYC. While a classic magazine like Vogue may have more readership in the midwest because the fashion and stories fit the audience there, avant-garde ideas relate more with people in the west and east coast where the fashion capitals are.

Although Beautiful Savage has an online platform, Saville’s focuses are on two things: video publication and mobile, which he said are “the only growing vertical for media.” Cool video teasers and features are what attracts young readers into clicking each page, which generates a higher number of readership for Saville. Foodim said that magazines use strategic marketing tactics to bring readership. Print and digital have distinct strategies. While print is able to include inserts, such as perfumes or makeup samples, web has the ability to attract viewers with visuals such as moving screens and videos.

An independent magazine that does exceptionally well with videos is Vice Magazine, said Saville. They cover everything, from fashion to mental health to LGBT to politics. It’s almost like a punk news site with better photos. While they have many aspects to their brand, the single reason why they are financially successful is because of their videos.

Saville is also focusing on the mobile aspect, creating an app for the magazine.

Besides all these tactics, however, if there’s one more key aspect to making a successful magazine, it would be patience. Saville takes his time building his magazine, which comes out only twice a year, ensuring quality over quantity.

For now, he is concentrated on renovating a loft into an office space in Williamsburg. It’s not finished, but he’s taking his time creating a space that will reflect the beauty in the savage.