Interview: Elisabeth Dunne

bethdunne

Beth Dunne

As a young woman trying to be creative, and get my work out there, I’m drawn to those who are just like me; young, female artists who are not only interested in sharing their work, but the work of others. Elisabeth Dunne, editor of Cherry Mag is one of these people. We had been mutual follows on Tumblr for a while, and when I found out about Cherry, I was very excited to see what she would do with it. Since it’s beginning, Cherry has been beautiful. Not perfect, but just right. It’s given its writers and photographers a place where they can explore their voices, and show how they’ve grown. I talked to Beth about Cherry and it’s creation, as well as making art when you’re still trying to figure yourself out.

Elisabeth Dunne

I feel like an old person learning to use the internet

Akosua Adasi

I feel that. Yesterday my friend and I were trying to work on our WordPress and Tumblr and we were so confused

This is why I don’t have an iPhone. I just get too confused

What made you decide to have your zine on an online platform?

Well it’s easy to create, easy to share and also free to read and create (apart from the cost of the Publisher software). I didn’t want to make it so only a certain set of people could see it, I wanted it to be something everyone could see. Plus I had no idea how it was going to turn out, and I didn’t want to print all these zines and be like ‘oh this is really shit and now i’ve lost money and people who’ve bought it have wasted money and this is the worst thing ever’

That makes a lot of sense. I think [that] whenever you’re creating something, it’s often difficult to monitor the response. How has the response to Cherry been so far?

I’ve been really surprised with the response!!!! At first I didn’t think anyone would want to be a part of it, so it would just be like a sad, lonely project I did on my own – but I got people from all over asking to be part of it and I’ve become internet-friends with some really amazing people. Then I didn’t know if anyone was actually going to read it or like it, but again it reached so many more people than I expected and the general feedback has been great. There have been quite a few issues around the first issue being too ‘Rookie-esque’, which I totally agree with and was a fault on my part as I kind of took too much from something that was only supposed to be a starting inspiration point, but I think the second issue has got a bit more of its own feel – these things take a while to get a voice of their own, you can’t force that.

In relation to people saying that the first issue was “Rookie-esque”, were you ever intimidated by publications such as Rookie itself? Did you feel like you were up against all these female run, online zines?

Oh, completely. I always thought ‘I could never make anything as good as that, it would be a disaster so there’s no point’ Then I realised that it’s not a competition, and if I want to make something it doesn’t have to be the best or the most popular or make the most money, it just has to be something I enjoy doing. I think there’s so much more of this competitive edge forced on girls to kind of make them feel like they have to constantly prove themselves by doing something unique and new. But it’s not like that, I shouldn’t have to prove myself to anybody, I should just be happy in what I’m doing.

Exactly. What made you want to start Cherry in the first place?

It was something I’d wanted to do for a while, I’d always got as far as thinking about the title then just abandoned the idea. Then I got fed up of just sitting around waiting to do something, so I decided to just get really into it and actually follow through with my plans this time. I desperately needed a creative outlet, so I thought a zine would fill that need pretty well!!


cherry

Cherry

How does your own creative persepective affect how you work as an editor?

I think my creative perspective is constantly changing, so I try to see creative opportunity in every piece I put in the zine so I can kind of add my own touch to the pages just with like little doodles or stuff like that. I think that’s quite important because a lot of the stuff I get sent is very reflective of the person who sent it, so I try and translate that as best as I can by making it feel more personal

That feel of it being personal really comes through. What is your process for putting together an issue? How do you decide on a theme? Where does the inspiration come from?

I’m so glad!!! So far the process has just been me gathering all these pieces of work then occasionally editing them into a spread then realising that I’m going way too slowly and that I haven’t replied to any emails (sorrysorrysorry) and I suppose I should organise it better. I like the themes being relatable to teenage-dom, so that there’s something in each issue people can identify with. My ideal vibe for the zine to give off is like a mix between a scrapbook and a journal, so again it feels more personal and like a more accurate depiction of the teenage years than you see on TV or in magazines

I definitely see that. Yesterday a friend and I were discussing how sometimes teenage-dom feels like a dream, like even if what’s happening is realistic there’s something dreamlike about it

Yeah I get that, like nothing’s certain but at the same time when things go bad it feels like the end of the world

Also being young and having expectations of growing up and then actually growing up and those expectations were far out, but some were spot on

Exactly!! My expectations of being Britney were way out and that was definitely a disappointment

(laughs) We’ve talked a lot about Cherry, but what about you? Who is Beth Dunne?

Oh my god I’m having an existential crisis. Photography is something I’ve loved for a while and art is something I’ve always loved. Art was my favourite thing at school, but then things turned bad when I went to sixth form college and that definitely put me off for a while because I was scared of failing. But now it’s something I do to fill my time and I’m trying not to be scared of the blank canvas anymore, I’m trying to do more art for me rather than for grades or my future.

beth

I took a high school art class this year, and I’ve spent a big part of it like hating art and hating myself because I wasn’t as good as other people in my class.

When art class gets stressful it takes all the fun out of actually doing the art and that’s pretty sad

I feel very passionately about art, and I can get lost in it, but then I get angry when I feel like I can’t explore and make mistakes in it

Yeah I get that, like if you don’t like what you’re doing in your art class then you’re screwed because you’re still going to have to do something you hate but I suppose it’s all worth it in the end if you get to do your own thing in the end. I said in the end too many times

That makes sense though, because in a way your “rejection of the standards”, pushes you to do something that makes you feel better

Exactly! And you might even find out that you actually like doing what you thought you hated doing

Right. I was talking to some people the other day about what is art, and one of them told me that something is art when it’s meaningful, and then I was thinking about what makes art meaningful. What do you think makes art meaningful?

Well I think art is meaningful when there’s emotion behind it, but obviously everybody sees things in different ways – so art that you might think means something, might mean nothing to someone else, if that makes sense. I think it’s a very personal thing and can’t be universally determined. I suppose if a piece of art makes you feel something then it’s succeeded in it’s purpose, if it even has a purpose. Some art is just for fun, you know? I have like a million things I’m trying to articulate right now so sorry if that makes no sense!

Art just has to be your thing. it’s meaningful because it’s meaningful to you. Even if people see it, and they don’t feel the emotion behind it, if you know why you’ve created it, then that’s enough

Completely! You create art for yourself, and I guess that’s why it’s frustrating in school when you’ve got to do it for someone else and make it look however they want it to look

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