I’m twenty two years old and I’ve done everything by the book so far. I didn’t have a gap year, I went to University. I got good grades. When I came out of University I was lucky enough to start working at Now magazine. Nobody around me was that bothered by what I thought was an enormous leap in the right direction, and eventually the hard work I did there went unnoticed because once it was over I was back to square one. Arranging interviews, updating CV’s and rewriting cover letters. When my inbox is full of thousands of agency emails that ask for at least three years experience, or rejection letters that contradict the laughs my jokes got during the interview, it’s easy to be disheartened. I got awfully tired of trying to justify myself to people, yes I am trying to look for a job, yes I’ve applied for any job, yes any job that pays money will do. There’s a nasty stigma attached to you when you’re not in employment, I was fresh out of University and yet there was some sort of assumption that I have no reason to get out of bed, to do chores, to go places and see people. Essentially, people assumed that since I had nothing to do, I’d be doing nothing.
So, I created a magazine.
I didn’t plan it out, I didn’t think about it. I just launched into it head first. I had no themes, no contributors, no experience. I didn’t know how to use inDesign, and sometimes I think I still don’t use it to its full potential, but I used the internet to teach me how to do the simple bits and I just worked from there. I paid for the rights to the first cover image and used twitter to plead and beg for volunteers.
It paid off, the first issue became a reality. I worked solidly for a week on the design, my eyes were bloodshot and my fingers numb from bashing away at the keyboard. I got sick of signing off emails ‘Kind Regards’ or ‘Hope to hear from you soon’ but once it was over, it was an accomplishment not just for me but for every single writer, photographer and artist who put their heart and soul into it on the word of some stranger on the internet.
Spirit stands for Bohemia, wanderlust and ‘little moments’, it’s an amalgamation of all the things I used to cut and stick in my scrapbook, and all the words I wish I’d written myself. I’m so very happy with it and the direction that it’s taking. It’s becoming more popular than I could have imagined, the magazine has been added to hundreds of ‘stacks’ (digital magazine racks), promoted kindly by playbleu02, has over 1,000 photographs in the flickr group and the average number of impressions is over 50,000 per issue. Creating a magazine has been an incredible process, I’ve talked to people all over the world and had some really insightful conversations with young creatives and designers, I’ve created something beautiful with the help of others, I’ve received ‘fan mail’ that made my day. But I have one problem, my own self deprecation. It’s unbelievably hard for me to accept a compliment about any of the hard work I put into the magazine, I’ll happily accept gushing compliments directed towards any of the contributors, but in my mind, I’m just the designer, I’m just the editor, my job is that of a stoic guardian, keeping all the ephemera together and guiding it into a magazine. It’s a problem I have to address, and one that I’ve been made aware of only through this project. In that respect, the magazine has brought to light many aspects of my own personality (some more frustrating than others) and given me a clearer view of myself. Maybe I’ll even start cutting myself some slack, and try harder to take compliments.
A lot of people don’t understand how I can keep doing something that isn’t generating any money. Yes, there are nights when I wake up in a cold sweat worrying about how I’m going to survive in the big nasty world, but truthfully I’m enjoying this stress. I’m enjoying pinching my pockets and downloading press packs, I’m enjoying hearing people’s stories, and throwing my days, weeks and months into something that will never make a financial return. It’s a scary reality, deciding to throw yourself into a project like this, but I highly recommend it. It’s helped me develop as a person, I’ve realised that passion and determination are all I need in the world. Spirit is everything I envisioned and much, much more. I have my favourite parts, and some parts I wish I’d worked harder on, and just like any project it’s constantly growing and evolving. The thing is, as much as Spirit Magazine is my baby, it’s now a selfless project I work on (even when I really don’t want to – which happens sometimes) for the amazing people that have so much to say, so much to give and so much to create, and for the readers who absorb these little snapshots of life and send messages that explain how they reacted to the photographs, the stories, the interviews or artwork. This means more to me right now than a bank statement, and this is the reason I keep going. So, for any of you who are thinking about jumping into the deep end and indulging in a project that’s been on the backburner, I say close your eyes and dive right in! It may not bring food to the table, but it’ll definitely be food for your soul.