About four years ago (gosh) my London friend pointed out a magazine I just had to buy, because it was Amelia’s Magazine and that’s me! Thus began an enduring love affair with the bi-annual doorstop packed full of interesting things to make and do; ethical fashion, unknown bands, beautiful illustration and always with a twist – a scratch and sniff cover, a cardboard merry-go-round to pull out and create, adventures in India! Some of my most favourite bands came out of those pages.
Sadly, the print version is no more. Happily, you can still read informative, inspirational and environmental articles over at Amelia’s Magazine.com, where they now have a dedicated Earth section which mostly seems to focus on Amelia’s adventures in eco-activism…EVEN MORE HAPPILY, Amelia recently released Amelia’s Anthology of Illustration.
Amy Rhian for Amelia’s Anthology of Illustration.
When I first read about it, I assumed it would be a general round up of up and coming illustrators and, obviously, be gorgeous and covetable but ultimately an expense I couldn’t justify. How wrong I was. Amelia’s Anthology of Illustration features ‘renewable technologies to prevent catastrophic climate change’. That’s right, Amelia rounded up a herd of creative, fluffly types and made them do science. Each illustrator chose from one of many, many ideas to glean power from the world around us, with as little damage to the environment as possible and what has been produced is gorgeous, covetable, inspirational and endlessly informative.
My absolute favourite page, because I am a child.
Click through for larger + an explication of Poo Power!
Amelia was kind enough to answer a few questions for me about her growing interest in environmental issues, how art can change the world and plans for future publications as delicious as this…
Amelia Wells: The print version of Amelia’s Magazine focused on sustainability, particularly in fashion, but didn’t have a dedicated Earth section whereas the website is a lot more environmentally-inclined. Does this reflect your increasing interest in climate change and the surrounding issue?
Amelia Gregory: Yes! Although I have always been interested in environmental issues I didn’t really feel it was appropriate to the print version of Amelia’s Magazine to include more in depth articles – while as I can be a lot more flexible with content on the website because the writing is so much more important. I decided to create a whole dedicated Earth section (I have a pet hatred for the word eco and I wanted the name to evoke a lot more than simple ideas about recycling) because I spend lots of time dealing with climate change issues through my work with Climate Camp (and formerly with Climate Rush) and wanted a portal through which to talk about climate change and what it means for humanity and the way we live. However, I try to imbue the articles with the same spirit as the magazine, so they focus on the creative side of environmental activism, both personal and on a wider political scale. The Earth section also gives me an excellent opportunity to commission up and coming illustrators to produce work to accompany articles.
AW:In the introduction to the Anthology you say that you ‘detested science at school’; what inspired you to focus on the technological side of resolving climate change?
AG:I don’t detest science anymore! I think when you’re at school you get force fed facts in science classes and as an artistic type I hated that. I want to be free to think about what I am interested in, and I now find elements of science fascinating (and I don’t mean formulas…) I read a lot of popular science books and regularly catch up with New Scientist, so I know my climate change facts as well as needs be to have a good argument with someone (though I would probably still fall down on the figures side of things). I find science fascinating, and I wanted to imbue that sense of fascination into the book. The best scientists are incredibly imaginative – my parents were both scientists (and are both very artistic, as have been a couple of scientist boyfriends) and I’ve realised that art and science are incredibly closely linked.
AW:What part do you believe illustration, and perhaps the creative arts in general, has to play in politics?
AG:Well, politicians rely heavily on imagery to sell their ideas. We’re a visual culture, you can’t avoid it. Just look at the furore surrounding David Cameron’s recent billboard campaign! So of course the arts play a huge part in influencing people, especially if the subject of that art engages with an idea well. I think that where illustration can be particularly important is in appealing to a wider audience than perhaps conceptual or abstract art can, because illustration tends to be far more understandable – good illustration should tell a story in an engaging way. For this reason it should never be underestimated as a discipline. Illustration is all about visualising our dreams.
AW: How did you hope to inspire people through reading the Anthology?
AG:I suppose on a couple of levels. I’d like illustrators to come away from the book thinking – wow, I could get involved with work like this! In a best case scenario they’d go and seek out people who need illustration to visualise their ideas and dreams for the wider good and then offer their talents! I don’t know if this will happen but I’d love to know if it does. I also hope that readers of the book, whomever they are, feel inspired to get involved with combatting climate change, in whatever way they feel is most accessible and useful for them. And I’d like everyone to come away feeling more positive and excited about what could be, if only we’d try and make it so. Humans can be idiots at times, but we’re also amazing creatures!
AW:Do you have any more plans for gorgeous books like this? (Please say yes…) If it’s not too secret, could you let us in on what they might be?
AG:I’d love to produce more books but the sad fact is that it always comes down to finances. I have no idea whether I’ll be able to sell all 3000 copies that I’ve printed of Amelia’s Anthology of Illustration, but I need to in order to cover my printing costs! Because I insist on doing things incredibly ethically (using high quality FSC approved paper and printing in the UK) the Anthology is a really expensive production compared with the way in which most commercial publishers manufacture books. And I’m footing all the costs myself. I also want to concentrate on making the website work really smoothly this year, and I need to find other lecturing and consultancy work to pay the bills for a bit. But having said that I would love to write another book – and I’ve got loads of ideas already. Ideas are never my problem! Time and money are my problems: there are never enough hours in the day, it drives me mad! Because I run the business on my own I am often bogged down in boring admin stuff like packing up books and chasing invoices when all I want to be doing is writing and designing.
Some of my ideas include: a book looking at the way that illustrators work with me as an art director, tracing the way an image comes to life; a book looking at how successful sustainable communities work; further anthologies of photography and ethical fashion designers, and possibly a collection of the best bits featured so far on the Amelia’s Magazine website. I’d also like to do an illustrated cookery book, a children’s book (a long term dream of mine), a notebook range and another Anthology of Illustration on a different theme… I could go on and on really.
My fingers are firmly crossed…Amelia’s Anthology of Illustration is available from all good art book shops (I found mine at the Arnolfini, in Bristol) and from the shop, alongside back issues of the Magazine, artwork and threads, featuring some of the coolest trees in the world.
Amelia is also looking for interns at the moment, a position I would love to apply for!, but it’s pretty much only for Londoners. Apply, make me jealous.