Let’s Explore Mag + Project Bly

February 10, 2015

We’re so excited to present a new series brought to you by Let’s Explore Magazine focused on travel and street life in South East Asia. Today, we’re especially thrilled to introduce you to Kilian Idsinga, the talented photographer, art director, designer and adventurer behind Let’s Explore Magazine.

Kilian, a self proclaimed “magazine addict” who lives and works in Utrecht, Netherlands started Let’s Explore Magazine as a creative and fun outlet from his day job. As Kilian puts it, he “hunts down inspiring stories about people, ideas, culture, food and high quality brands”, and his snippets and essays cover a diverse range of topics from a photo essay on the Flower Market in Utrecht to an interview with founder of The Disposable Project that gives out disposable cameras to children in Tanzania.

In the coming weeks, we’ll feature stories and images from Kilian’s travels through South East Asia in a series titled “Kilian’s Journal”. Also make sure to follow us on instagram for live updates on his adventures.

Today we sit down with Kilian to learn more about his travels and his passion project, Let’s Explore Magazine.


Project Bly: Tell us more about Let's Explore Magazine! How did you get started?

Kilian: After working as a graphic and editorial designer for about seven years, at two different companies, I noticed I missed something in my work. The best way to explain it is: I missed the fun I had in designing magazines. I wasn't challenged creatively and it felt almost like working in a design factory. I had so many ideas I wanted to explore, but not the means or opportunity to actually create them. I talked to a lot of people about my views on the rapidly changing industry, what I actually wanted to make and showed them what I was designing for my regular job at the time. The reality of my work didn't match my aspiration. It was not even close. What happened next was that the people I was talking to pretty much kicked me in the butt and told me to get my ideas out of my head and into the world.

Project Bly: What's your day job? How did you get started in design?

Kilian: I still work at a publishing company. I art-direct and design several magazines for a living. It's a 40+ hour a week job at a publisher of magazines and books, but also an organizer of events and city trips. So a publisher in the broadest sense of the word. We're in a niche market, shining our light on urban development in social, economic and physical topics of the city as a whole.

Project Bly: Tell us a little about your creative path to where you are now?

Kilian: I've always been creative. Whether it be drawing, playing music or building spaceships out of cardboard boxes so I could explore the universe. Most of the artistic influence probably comes from the fact that my mother is an artist. So pencils, paint and an incredible amount of paper were always at hand. Both my parents encouraged me to explore music. So from an early age I started playing piano and guitar. My father played a big role in my musical upbringing, introducing me to the music of the sixties and seventies. Later, when playing guitar, I learned to appreciate jazz more, played in a big band and it eventually would lead me to apply for a music education after high school. I didn't make it, but it became clear to me that I didn't want to go a "regular" university like all my friends.

My art teacher in high school introduced me to a one- year program which took place on Saturday, organized by an art school in Utrecht, The Netherlands. This time I did make the cut when applying and this is the point where everything changed and fell into place. I received an education where I could create all the time and I learned to tell stories in a visual manner. This is what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. After graduating high school I returned to this art school for a 4 year Graphic Design program and after that, I topped it off with a one year masters in Editorial Design.

Project Bly: Do you travel solo or with companions?

Kilian: I did a couple of trips by myself, but most of them with friends or partner. 

I'm the luckiest guy in the world, for having a girlfriend who loves traveling and exploring new countries just as much as I do. We've collected quite some amazing passport stamps together! And let's be honest. Sharing your adventures right then and there with the person you love is amazing and in my opinion adds to the experience in a positive way. Especially if the going gets tough, you need somebody that can help blow of some steam.


Project Bly: Describe a travel moment that will stay with you forever? 

Kilian: This probably has to be our trip to South Africa in 2013. We were there when Nelson Mandela passed away, and there was a string of events that will stay with me for as long as I live including attending a memorial concert in remembrance of Mandela in the stadium of Cape Town amongst people from all walks of lif. We felt welcomed within 5 minutes after arriving in the stadium. We danced with them, we sang with them...we celebrated life! Not long after that we went to a braai (BBQ) in one of the townships with some locals. Again we celebrated and were part of their life, only for a few hours unfortunately, because we couldn't stay because of safety issues. Soon after we got to experience the opposite life of living in the townships and spent an evening in luxury. That contrast was incredibly hard to comprehend.  Being confronted with different aspects of life in Cape Town in such a direct manner made us think about who we are and what we believe is important in life. I cherish these moments!


Project Bly: Tell us about the most interesting person you've met on the road?

Kilian: Steve! We actually met this guy during a local bus trip to Luang Prabang. It was a 6 hour drive on wooden benches and that tends to bring people together. This was a guy with a good job in the USA but he wasn't happy. (Sounds familiar!). He gave most of his belongings to charity except for one backpack he takes with him on the road and a car back home with only a few personal items. Other then that, he just left!

He met the most inspiring people when traveling and told incredible stories about those people. And he told them with enthusiasm and with flair! About a girl who started a guesthouse out of nothing, living in there herself for 4 years, in an area that isn't particularly made for guesthouses. And eventually creating a booming business, by the time she was I believe 25. Or a story about a couple cycling in Japan and camping in the wild. Hearing weird noises in the early morning and preparing for an attack on whoever is going through their stuff. Turns out it was an old man who saw they had a flat tire and he was repairing it!

In the end we almost spend 3 days together and it was amazing. The energy that came off of him and the love for beautiful people and places was intoxicating. We were brainstorming, day- dreaming and coming up with new ways of telling stories. It was amazing!!

I'm not sharing his best story, because he is creating something for himself and I don't want to ruin his journey. But if he arrives where he's going, you'll find his story on LEM

Project Bly: Do you have any favorite street markets?

Kilian: I love any market, especially when there’s food involved! Some of my favorites are the Mercado in Madrid, night market in Luang Prabang, Djmma El Fnna in Marrakesh, Chelsea Market in NYC, the Great Market in Budapest, pretty much any farmers market... the list is endless haha!


Project Bly: What kind of travel advice would you give someone who wants to take three months off to travel?

Kilian: Do it!!

Other than that: travel light, know the climate so you can pack accordingly, keep a journal, talk to as many people as you can while traveling, ask questions, choose local transportation over easy tourist options, have a flexible itinerary, plan only if it calms your mind and take recover days when necessary.

Project Bly: Any favorite words you've learnt in other languages?

Kilian: Actually it's non-verbal and pretty much universal: a genuine smile and a nod. Opening up like that to strangers, most of the time will be answered with the exact same response and makes you feel at home immediately. In that same category, I try to learn to say 'thank you' as soon as I get somewhere. I never forget that I'm a guest in somebody's country and try to stay humble.

Project Bly: Has photography always been a part of travel for you? What kind of camera do you travel with?

Kilian: Thank you so much! Photography has been part of my life starting with some basic training in art school. In the last couple of years I've invested quite a bit in photography and basically always carry a camera with me, even when I'm not traveling. I don't always use my camera, but I like it to be ready to go. Otherwise I'll shoot with my iPhone and, if necessary, come back with my DSLR. I use a Canon 60D for some more elaborate shoots and my iPhone for snapshots and hard to reach places. Needless to say I carry both while traveling. As for lenses, I use a Canon 24-105mm as my standard walk around lens, and my Canon 50mm 'plastic fantastic' when I'm shooting at night or when I'm focussing on streetscenes and street photography. Unfortunately I had to leave my Canon 17-40mm at home for this trip of three months, because I couldn't carry more.

Project Bly: When can we expect Let's Explore in print?

Kilian: I want to say in the second half of 2015. I'm careful about putting an exact date to it. The issue being that I'm a true perfectionist and it's hard to satisfy my own expectations. I do get really excited hearing all the feedback on what I'm doing so far, with people also reaching out to me to share their stories. I want it to be a beautiful piece of work that people cherish and keep. And that takes time.

Thanks so much for taking the time to chat with us Kilian! We can’t wait to see Let’s Explore Magazine in print!

Follow Project Bly on instagram this month for live updates from Kilian as he explores South East Asia!

You can follow Kilian's adventures here:

All images © Kilian Idsinga/Let’s Explore Magazine

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