I worked and wrote for The Spark magazine for twelve years, until it closed in July 2014.
What was The Spark?
In its time The Spark was a bit of a Bristol institution.
The magazine was an A3-sized, free, independent quarterly publication, set up by John Dawson in 1993. Content was green, eco-, holistic and alternative with an emphasis on positive change – on a personal, community and global level.
Based in Bristol, The Spark had a circulation of roughly a 50-mile radius of the city, including towns such as Bath, Frome, Stroud and Glastonbury, printed 30,000+ copies every quarter, and had a readership of 120,000+ per issue.
In the beginning The Spark’s coverage of organics, renewables, personal development and holistic health gave it a reputation as being full of ‘yoghurt-weaving, sandal-wearing, beardy-wierdies’ but over its 21 years of publishing many of the issues it covered became respected, accepted and mainstream. Readers enjoyed its irreverent, non-preachy, learning-together style.
The Spark went into liquidation in July 2014.
I had been Production Manager there for nearly 12 years. The team was all made redundant. I was very sad (I wrote this piece for Bristol Live Magazine).
The Spark was rekindled for a while as part of Bristol 24/7, then in 2019 it finally went out for good.
My role at The Spark
In 2003 I started a part-time admin job at The Spark.
Within a few months I was writer and editor of the family page, which I continued to do for eight years, and then took over the body and soul page for a further four years. I also wrote news, reviews and other articles.
In that time I also became production manager, overseeing the whole quarterly publishing cycle, including ad bookings, layout, sub editing and distribution. I also developed and implemented a brand new website with online bookings, The Sparkler newsletter, a readers panel, the annual Spark Awards and many other innovations.
The Spark was a heart-job for me and a little part of me is always there in our office on Colston Street, singing and dancing through deadlines, writing awful pun headlines as a team, committed to treating each other and all we worked with as humans, and eating together at the table for our generous, hearty and hilarious team lunches.
Some of my Spark articles
From issue 60 (Spring 2010) issues of The Spark were uploaded to issuu.com. You can see examples of my writing from issues 60 – 77 below.
Gallery of Spark covers
Amongst other things, The Spark was known for its unusual covers. I appeared on the cover of The Spark twice.