Last post was an introduction to the fabulous Big Kids’s Magazine. This link connects you to the homepage of the BIG blog.
You might say that BIG KIDS Magazine discovered my blog for young artists called Portrait of a Girl and Her Art. Lily (one of the creators), left a wonderful comment and requested that I take a “peek” at the Big Kids blog. I was instantly entranced by the vision and esthetic beauty of the project and left several comments on her blog. A lovely cyber connection grew, and I enthusiastically agreed to make a collaborative illustration with a young artist friend of mine for the upcoming “Treasure Map” issue.
It made sense to me that if my excitement was any indication of the success of the up and coming magazine, you all will be excited and interested as well, so I requested an interview with creators, Lily and Jo and senior editor Luca, to share with all of you:
Elena: How do you (Lilly and Jo) know each other?
Lilly: We met when we were both living in Hobart, Tasmania, about 12 years ago but lost touch once I moved to New York and Jo moved to Perth. I had finished studying at art school and Jo had just left Tasdance and was the co-director of the Hobart Fringe Festival on which I was working. We met through a very brave, imaginative and generous mutual friend and while sharing care of her apartment wrote notes to each other on a large piece of brown paper that revealed an unseen poetic and charged connection between us even then. We last saw each other in 1999 but will finally meet and layout the next edition in the same city in January!
Elena: Did you grow up with unplanned time and an aptitude for daydreaming?
Lilly: I spent much of my childhood climbing trees, and one in particular, a liquidambar in our backyard that was the launching pad to witchland – an imaginary place above the clouds I frequented for much of my childhood. I have memories of collecting sticks and flowers and making elaborate installations on tree branches and in hidden parts of our massive garden. I have three siblings and the television was rarely on. We made up shows almost every day and worked on projects and performances that spanned days and weeks. Jo’s mother was a folk singer and they lived across the road from a travelling circus. I know she spent much of her childhood under the next-door neighbours house in a ‘kids’ world, and was surrounded by song.
Elena:Do you think that the experiences of childhood have changed since your were children?
Lilly: Yes I think when we were kids there was much more time to just be in the world without structure or guidance or expectations of a particular outcome. It feels like even unstructured play has become a commodity or something to be evaluated and assessed. Though I think there are elements of childhood today that are enormously valuable and can be celebrated as well – the access to information and how that inspires inquisitiveness is wonderful: At least 10 times a day Twyla will ask a question I can’t answer and then say “Let’s look it up mum!”. I think there is a danger in romanticizing the past that can diminish the beautiful opportunities for connection and play with our children today.
Elena: Are you both moms, and if so how does being a parent influence the content of the magazine?
Lilly: We are both mum’s and cannot imagine that we would have made BIG without this grounding, limiting, uplifting and propelling element in our lives to balance and stretch us beyond what seems possible. I think in giving birth and mothering it becomes clear that seemingly impossible things are actually possible. That you can meet a sun rise having not slept at all and still make it through the day.
Elena:You come from different artistic expressions. How has that enriched your collaboration?
Lilly: BIG is a multidisciplinary arts publication and our immersion in different arts practices broadens our base and provides us with a much wider platform to draw from. We are both connected to extraordinary artists working in varied fields and feel that exposing children to many different art languages provides them with a much wider range of investigative and expressive tools.
Elena: I know of so many children and organizations who would adore enjoying a subscription to BIG magazine in the USA, and I hope many will subscribe today! Do you hope/plan to bring the magazine online so that one may subscribe without the shipping expense in the US and other parts of the world?
Lilly: We are in the process of considering a digital version of BIG Kids Magazine so that it is more accessible to International readers. We have received enormous interest in an online option and while we don’t want to dilute the tangible experience of hand held BIG pages, we also want them to be as accessible as possible to distant readers. We are currently looking at international stockists but in the mean time it is encouraging to have received so many overseas subscriptions.
Elena: How about an ipad version?
Lilly: We are very interested in new technology and developing meaningful, interactive, illustrated apps for ipad in the future, though obviously we believe there is enormous value in having an object that can be held, ripped, scribbled on and altered in a very physical and direct way. We are working on some allegorical stories and our Books that Grow series that will most likely be adapted for ipad and other devices.
Do you accept submissions of work from children outside of Australia?
Lilly: Yes we invite and receive contributions from children all over the world. Work that is scanned at 600dpi or high quality photographs can be emailed from anywhere and we are passionate about facilitating both intergenerational and International conversations.
Are there any new projects in the works, together or individually?
Lilly: We have just launched the Mother Artist Network (our new MAN) on our blog to invite discussion and creative response to the challenges of working as a mother-artist. I have just held an exhibition of new work and Jo is working on a new dance duet. Together we are expanding our collaboration on Books that Grow and we are currently in the middle of making of the next edition of BIG!
Your Facebook page www.facebook.com/Bigkidsmagazine is flourishing! How did you get the word out?
Lilly: We honestly just opened the page to our friends and it went from there. We have never pushed or asked for ‘likers’. The magazine has received many wonderful reviews on various blogs and book sites so I think they bring people to us as well.
Economies are suffering worldwide. Why did you decide to launch a new magazine now?
Lilly: Now, more than ever, kids need a place to be able to hone their interest, imagination and the ability to respond to the world in creative and curious ways. We need the next generation to be expansive and out of the box thinkers and see BIG as a way to encourage that leadership and wider view on politics that will feedback back in personal, social and dynamic ways. Yes, it definitely is a risk and nerve-wracking with it, but both Jo and I are seriously committed to engaging kids in best practice and in opening communication lines between artists and kids to foster future thinkers and movers! We are hopeful BIG will attract some best practice creative organizations in the near future and that we will find financial support for our work though contributions from larger voices and structures. We trust the work and each other, somewhat bravely, and believe in generosity as a key stakeholder in future economies.
With each subscription you give away a copy of the magazine. How do you decide where to send it?
Lilly: We are developing partnerships and donating magazines to all kinds of people and organizations that work with children. Sometimes people contact us asking if they can participate in the program, often we will reach out to an organization that we feel might benefit. We love the idea that BIG can be accessible to kids that may not otherwise be able to get hold of it but we are also interested in facilitating relationships and finding mentors who can support children to interact and contribute to the BIG world.
Elena: And now, a word from eight year old senior editor, Luca.
Elena: What do you like to do when youʼve got nothing else you have to do?
Luca: Play with my little sister, play video games, read The Phantom Tollbooth, invent lego and duplo characters and games and stories.
Elena: What is your favorite subject in school?
Luca: Free drawing
Elena: Do other kids know that you are an editor of a magazine?
Luca: Yes, they respect me a lot
Elena: What do you do as an editor?
Luca: Well, make decisions about what goes in the magazine
Elena: Whatʼs your favorite part?
Luca: Being in charge of making decisions
Elena: If you had a magic power, (maybe you already have one) what would you do with it?
Luca: Shift shaping – means you can take the shape of any object, like I could take the shape of a million dollars, I could change into a flower, or massive bumble bee, I would re build the Guilford hotel and save people and stuff like that.
Part 3 tomorrow