Friend of the People: An Interview with Eddie Berrang
Whalebone is more than just a magazine. Somewhere between playing a round of golf with Bill Murray and Kelly Slater, and hosting a worldwide photo contest, they've also managed to find the time to make their own hot sauce, launch a print shop, and throw some of the best parties Montauk has ever seen.
Tell us a little bit about your background. Where'd you grow up? Had you worked in the editorial or creative world at all prior to starting Whalebone?
My name is Eddie Berrang and I live in Montauk. I lived in the city for a good while working with some publishing companies and after that helped my wife open her ad agency. That was all before we had the idea of the magazine.
Where did you first get the idea for Whalebone? What was the first time you realized it could grow into something more than just a summer project?
It seems someone should have sat us down and explained that starting a magazine wasn’t the greatest business idea but we’ve been fortunate that the team of Whalebone tends to have a good amount of fun. They’re awesome people. I guess we still think of ourselves as pretty small but seeing the publication in an airport for the first time was a trip. The team works really hard.
You guys have had some incredible guests over the years. Tell us about the Bill Murray issue. How did you get Bill Murray and Kelly Slater on a golf course together? What was it like working with them? Were there any particularly surreal moments?
We got lucky. The idea for The Bill Murray Issue was in the works for about a year but we never dreamed he’d jump in. What a class act. His entire crew, super nice and fun group. Kelly mentioned to a friend he was a fan and it’ll kinda came together. Maybe the greatest thing was having the legendary Walter Iooss join that day and capture everything.
Tell us about this new collaboration with Arvin Goods. What makes Whalebone and Arvin such a perfect fit?
Arvin does it right. We believe that quality, process, and delight are such important ingredients in any decision or partner we’re fortunate enough to work with and Arvin really drives home all three of those. Their dedication to helping reimagine the way manufacturing goes down is inspiring. Hopefully we can find ways to do more together beyond the socks. Big fans.
Whalebone advertisements are really unique. Tell us about why you decided to break the traditional print mold of just running whatever the brand sends you. What's that creative process for making those ads look like, and how do you try to stand out from the crowd?
Yeah, it’s a bit of a dance with brands to explain that we’re not necessarily interested in their ads not because it’s not smart and well designed but because we have a responsibility to our community to not eject them from a positive flow and experience. At first it was almost a death wish but thankfully some great partners put their faith into the idea and the results have been flattering to see. It’s weird but when you’re not trying to out shout the next advertisement next to you and simply being part of the story that you see results. The Whalebone design team are so talented. Constantly blown away by what they can do.
What do you think makes Montauk such a special place? Why do you think it was so receptive and supportive of something like Whalebone?
Montauk is a blue collar hard working community surrounded by nature. Whalebone just likes to try and honor and support that mindset as best we can. There’s a lot of folks who want to do flashy or fast but we feel just lucky to be here and able to help the community whenever we can.
How did the partnership with Accidentally Wes Anderson come about? What's it been like teaming up together?
That crew is amazing! Incredibly hard working and really have been an inspiration to me. Their take on the world and finding joy in the little things is contagious. We met a few years back and very much look forward to more in the future.
Over the years, the brand has grown beyond just the magazine to include prints, events, and even hot sauce. What's next for Whalebone?
We still do the hot sauce if we can send you a bottle? We love it. These fun parts of it all are just that, fun. There’s a bunch the team is working on these days but hopefully down the road we have a movie theatre, comedy club, and music festival we can share about. Who knows. We also might get sidetracked and try and open that Taco Stand again.
Any advice for someone who wants to start their own magazine or is thinking about pursuing a creative project like Whalebone?
Don’t do it! Joking. I think surround yourself with people you admire and just don’t give up. Don’t ever give up.