Guest Mix 002: Dexter Offer

Dexter Offer is all about the community. The recent college graduate founded PLNT Magazine last year as his “field guide to culture through nature,” spotlighting creatives in the local scene and around the world. His newly-launched PLNT Journal also provides fans with more nature-centric content to enjoy between issues of the magazine, including event recaps and more recommendations for new and avid plant fans alike.

In celebration of the 2018 World Cup, Dexter has also collaborated with Park Owls FC to create a special PLNT jersey and zine. The Nature of Football installation runs through July 15 at Coffee & Tea Collective in North Park, with limited quantities of both available for purchase.

I chopped it up with Dexter on the origins of PLNT Mag, growing up in the digital age, and his plans for the future. Check out the Dexter’s guest mix and interview below!

Please introduce yourself.

My name is Dexter Offer. I’m a London-born, San Diego-based creative. I run PLNT Magazine. It’s a publication about people framed around nature. It’s about giving my friends a platform to share their beautiful projects and crazy ideas.

How did we meet?

We met at Clean Slate. You were chilling with Esther [Wang] and she came by and then I went over there to check out her booth. You guys were super cool and we were printing shit on your jacket [laughs]. We were having a good time. That was a fun Sunday. I met a lot of good friends that day.

I get hella compliments about that jacket [laughs]. You talked a little bit about PLNT Magazine. Can you talk about how you got so attracted to plants and what drew you to them?

I find plants really interesting for inspiration. There’s a branch of engineering that focuses on using biology to engineer human solutions. I started looking into how nature and people are interconnected. That was kind of how using ideas and nature to explore humans came about, but I don’t know, I just feel like plants were kind of on-trend when I started it and it just felt appropriate and I fuck with plants. It was one of those things where people were really into plants and I felt like I had a lot that I could share through that world.

Do you have any favorite spots for people who want to visit more plants or any sort of greenery?

There’s this one spot I’ve been thinking a lot about recently. I’m gonna do a blog post on it because I think more people need to know about it. It’s the Self-Realization Fellowship Gardens in Encinitas. In the back, they have these mediations gardens, koi ponds, and all these tropical plants. Recently, if you keep walking down, they added a desert garden area. It’s literally a bunch of giant cacti right on the cliff face and the ocean is right there, it’s a crazy photo. That spot’s cool because it’s free. I’d recommend heading over there, especially if you’re in San Diego.

That sounds sick. I’ve been trying to find more spots honestly. It’s kinda hard.

There’s another good one called Old Cactus Garden in Balboa Park. It’s behind a building in Balboa Park—it’s been there for like 50 years—there’s like a giant cactus garden that they built and they just kind of leave them there to grow, there’s tons of them. There’s a little trail that you walk around and that one’s free as well.

Catch me peeping behind every building [laughs]. I’ll definitely check it out. How did the whole magazine come together? Who’s working on it with you and all that kind of stuff.

Me and my girlfriend have been together for a while and we both got into cacti together at the same time. Cacti are crazy because even when they die, they’re still living, they’re still thriving—a dead cactus is a thriving cactus and every time it dies, something new grows on top of it. They’re just a crazy plant and we always used to take photos of them. I had this joke with her like, “I could probably make you Instagram famous through all these cactus photos I have of you.” She didn’t believe me, so one day I made this account on the sly called The Cacti Girl and I started posting shit on it. Literally a week in it already had 1000 followers and 100 likes on every photo—at that point on I knew I was onto something. It’s super funny to hear her talk about it because I guess I fucked up and accidentally linked my Facebook to The Cacti Girl and all her friends are getting notifications like, “Dexter Offer is on Instagram as @thecactigirl” and she said she’s getting screenshots of it like, “Is Dex okay? Is he good?” [laughs].

That blew up and now it’s almost at 20,000 followers. Through that account, I’ve always wanted to launch some kind of a product and I just thought that it would be cool to create something that was telling other people’s stories, not just my story. I didn’t want to be selling t-shirts. I wanted to be doing something that was more than just selling clothing, so that’s how the magazine came about. In terms of who’s working on it, I do all the design, interviews, and writing unless it says so—unless it’s like a photo essay or a piece by someone else—and my girlfriend does all the copy editing. She basically makes sure she catches any of my mistakes because I fuck up a lot. It’s just the two of us. I get it printed here in San Diego and keep it all small runs, everything’s pretty limited.

You’ve had two volumes so far, is that right? Can you talk about what your process is behind creating each volume and what kind of growth you’ve seen between volumes?

Volume One was 40 pages, 6 by 9, it was small, almost like a pamphlet style. Volume Two was 80 pages, 11 by 8 1/2, it was like a real magazine size. In that sense, it was a real step up in terms of what we were delivering. When I released the first volume, no really knew about it. We probably had like 10 people show up to the release party. Of those 10 people, they were 10 cool ass motherfuckers—I’ll give them that—but it was super lowkey. I don’t know, I guess it’s just Instagram is a crazy tool. If you can keep consistently sharing good content on Instagram, you’re gonna have people’s ears. By the time Volume Two rolled around, we got a pretty healthy following. Our release party, we probably had like 50 to 60 people come through, we sold a lot of the gear—we had some shirts and stuff for sale.

I guess my process is kind of—there’s like a pattern that I established indirectly: I get all the content together, I start designing the layout of the magazine, and if I let myself, I’ll go through 40 different designs and just never release anything, so what I started doing is I’ll put the magazine up for pre-sale and set a hard deadline. People start buying it before I finish it, so that’s my commitment to getting it done. It puts that fire under me to actually finish the project. My customers hold me accountable, I guess.

With Volume 1 I had sold like 20 before I had even finished it. Volume 2 was meant to come out six months after Volume 1 but I kept redesigning it and I wasn’t happy with the content that I had—I felt like it was very shallow. I eventually put it up for sale and I sold maybe like 50 and that was kind of the inspiration for me to finish the project. I know it’s unconventional, but that’s kind of how I work [haha].

I feel it. You need that little push, some pressure, y’know? [laughs].

Yeah I feel like school makes me need that pressure to get anything done. It’s fucked me up, dude [laughs].

That’s hella cool man. How’d you get into graphic design and all that kind of stuff?

I’ll just say YouTube’s a crazy thing [laughs].

I think we’re in a spot were you can pretty much learn how to do anything.

Yup. You’re probably in the same spot as me where you were a child who learned how to learn from the Internet. Once you develop that tool, then you can learn anything else in the future. I feel like when we were talking about coding before this, I feel like my friends who had struggled with coding are the people who never learned to learn from the Internet. They never were out there on YouTube or out there on the Internet trying to figure out a new computer program when they were younger. That was almost like a tool that some of us developed in our generation as kids, so that makes it easier for us to learn new things now as we get older. YouTube’s awesome.

Shoutout to YouTube.

YouTube taught me Ableton, InDesign, Illustrator, how to use a camera, Lightroom, some Photoshop shit—I feel like I’m missing stuff—I used to fuck around with Serato a little bit. YouTube’s got it all. It’s just got everything.

That shit’s crazy and it’s free.

Yeah and you can make money off of it. That’s the future right there.

You mentioned Ableton and photography. You make music, too? Or not so much anymore?

I used to, yeah. For this mix, I’ll probably slip like one or two beats with something over it or something, who knows. For at least one story in the magazine, I like to put in my own photos. For both editions, I used my own photos for the covers, but that’s just because it was easiest to design with my own photos. I was mainly doing photography and freelancing, and then I stopped freelancing and I was mainly focused on school. When the PLNT Mag opportunity arose, I reworked my personal website to be the PLNT Mag website. I was already spending that money on a personal website, so it was a pretty easy tact to turn it into a business, essentially.

How long has PLNT been around for?

Since February 2017. A year and some change.

You just graduated from USD, yeah? Do you have any advice for people trying to balance projects on the side while also going to school and maybe having a job? How do you balance everything?

I definitely sympathize with you guys on the quarter system—I think it’s a lot harder on the quarter system to balance everything. For us semester folk, we have these lulls where there’s nothing really going on and I feel like I can do my personal stuff. In general, I would just say the biggest thing is we all have ideas and when you produce a final product and you give someone something they can look up or something they can physically hold, it changes the whole dynamic of what you’re doing. Just focus on production—just focus on putting something out there—and the rest will kind of follow. Don’t over commit yourself, don’t spend a bunch of money thinking your first idea is gonna be the hit. If you’re making t-shirts, only make 25. Keep it all small and experiment in a controlled space so you’re not losing all your money and you don’t get super stressed out about it. That’s kind of how I work.

Sounds good man. This business shit is hard.

Yeah. I’d say just spend as little money as possible at first.

What do you want people to take away from PLNT Mag? What is your goal?

I just want people to become hungry to learn about local artists—not even just local artists, but smaller name artists who are doing big things. We all have those household names that we all know and fuck with, but there’s people in your community who are crazy talented individuals. In the global world it becomes really easy to forget about those people, so I’d like to give them a platform and hope that our readers can support those individuals that we feature in the magazine.

Speaking of local artists, I was checking out your Instagram and I noticed you guys do collab with a lot of local people. One thing I saw was Aloha Beach Club—can you talk about them a little bit?

Those are the homies. Billy [Wickens] and Kahana [Kalama], who run Aloha, they were at Volume 1 Release, they were chilling there. It’s a big thing to me because I really look up to those guys—they don’t really know that—we’re very cordial, but we don’t really know each other amazingly, y’know? I really admire what they’re doing. They’re big support for a lot of local people around here. They’re awesome. That’s goals, y’know? They have a studio in the back of their shop and they let a lot of artists come in there. I know some artists that have a studio back there so I’m always working late nights in Aloha. They’re all about it and supporting these individuals.

You got to do the Coachella pop-up with them?

Yeah so essentially I threw them a bunch of magazines to take out to Coachella last year. I guess it’s one of those things where I could be really good homies with them, but because of school it became really hard for me to go do the bonding events that would happen. Last year’s Coachella, they invited me to work it, but I had finals right at that same time. This year, they had this vacation thing they do, but I had finals at the same time. It’s like, “Eventually I’ll get out there, but I can’t right now.” I think Kahana literally just posted, “San Diego artists, do any of you guys want us to take your products to Coachella?” I just hit him on his personal Instagram and just dropped off some PLNT mags at his shop.

There’s also another side of it to push to anyone trying to start their own thing: once you get it out there, you want the content of it. I had my friend who’s a photographer that works really closely with Aloha Beach Club—he shoots film, so I paid him for all the film that he shot and he shot a whole bunch of Coachella and wrote a little story and I put it up there on the blog. That also means we have content for Instagram and stuff, too. You gotta feed another artist to get your shit somewhere else.

How’d you link up with the guys at Coffee & Tea?

I’m really good friends with the people at Field Guide, which is a creative firm in North Park, San Diego. They curate the vibe of the North Park Coffee & Tea, they handle who’s coming in and all that stuff. It had been empty in there for a while and Stephen [Freese], the owner, had been talking about getting a bunch of plants. Through Field Guide, they gave me the connection to Stephen and we just started talking about what a potential release would look like. He was stoked about getting art up on the walls and some plants in there. It all just kinda came together. Stephen at C&T is super cool. Me and him became really good friends because we had some late nights setting up and going crazy in there. I think the night before the release, me and him were in C&T until 4 in the morning setting shit up. When you’re doing any kind of installation or anything, anything that can go wrong will go wrong. Always start a day ahead of time and know that you’re not gonna have everything together.

What’s next in store for PLNT Mag?

Volume 3 will be coming towards the end of the summer and then just consistently gonna be putting out stories on the blog, just tryna keep content that’s in-between each issue, keep giving people more stories and sharing more plant locations.

Is there anything else you want to add?

Follow your dreams. Keep working hard and put stuff out there. Creation is key, production is key.