The Great Discontent

Clouds by Ryan Essmaker
Photo by Ryan Essmaker

“The only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn, like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars and in the middle you see the blue centerlight pop and everybody goes ‘Awww!’”

— Jack Kerouac, On the Road 

About TGD

The Great Discontent is an online (and now print) magazine featuring interviews on beginnings, creativity, and risk.

First designed and published by Ryan and Tina Essmaker in the great state of Michigan, the journey now continues in New York City. New interviews are published every Tuesday.

Our first interview was published Tuesday, August 29, 2011.

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Team TGD

Ryan Essmaker
Cofounder, Creative Director
Tina Essmaker
Cofounder, Editor-in-Chief
Josh Long
Sponsorship Coordinator
Tammi Heneveld
Editorial Intern


The Great Discontent
PO Box 20210
New York, NY 10014

Frequently Asked Questions

For those inquiring minds, we’ve put together some answers to the most frequently asked questions we get about TGD:

Why did you create TGD?

Mostly because we’re curious. We have a lot of questions: Why do people create? Where does that desire to create come from? How do internal and external forces influence creativity? Is it possible to be satisfied creatively? What drives someone to continue to create, even when it involves taking a big risk?

The Great Discontent is our attempt to explore answers to those questions by asking people about their own experiences and hearing their stories. We chose to make TGD less about the work and more about the individual because we’ve always been more intrigued by people than by the tools they use or the process by which they create. That said, TGD is about connecting with the human side of creativity and trying to understand the common themes among creatives from various backgrounds and disciplines.

The other reason we created TGD was for inspiration—for ourselves and others. We hope that TGD will become a valuable resource for others who are making things, regardless of their age or discipline.

How do you choose people to interview?

It depends. There’s no particular process or standard criteria. We often choose people who have inspired us in some way, people whose work we have admired and followed over the years, or people who are doing something that resonates with us. We do our best to interview people from a variety of disciplines because we want to offer our readers the richest experience possible.

We also want to hear from our readers (.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)). Who would you like to see interviewed on TGD? But please, share the love—as a rule of thumb, we rarely choose to interview people who suggest themselves.

What is your publishing schedule?

We typically publish a new interview every Tuesday morning. Want a reminder? Sign up for our email newsletter, follow us on Twitter, or subscribe to our RSS feed.

How much work goes into a single interview?

A lot. We really want to honor the people we interview by making it as little work and as much fun as possible for them. That means a lot of work on our end, but it’s totally worth it.

First, we contact people we’re interested in interviewing. If they say yes—fingers crossed!—we schedule the interview. The actual interviews are done via video chat and we record the audio. We ask questions; sometimes they ask us questions; we talk about art direction for the header image and additional assets for the interview. Interviews last an hour on average and that’s where the magic happens, so that’s all you’re getting for now!

After that, the entire interview is transcribed by Tina—without using software! The draft is edited for content and flow, links and notes are added in when applicable, and the draft is then sent to the interviewee for review. If there are any suggested edits returned, those are added in, the intro is written, and the content is finalized. Ryan then thoughtfully lays out the content and supporting images in a beautifully responsive format.

Then, we both read over the interview a few more times to check content, spelling, and grammar either until we’re either satisfied or we can’t stare at our screens anymore.

And there you have it, folks.

Why do you have a coyote as your logo?

After we settled on the name of our site, we knew we wanted some kind of logo to represent TGD. We were both born and raised in Michigan and it was there that we spent the summer of 2011 working late into the evenings on what would become TGD. We worked with the windows open, music playing in the background, and from time to time, we would hear the howling of a pack of coyotes traveling through. We began to be comforted by their howling; it became a reminder that we’re also just traveling through—just as restless and just as hungry. We adopted the coyote as our logo because it is a reminder of where we came from, but also a reminder that no matter where we go, we’ll never be satisfied.