exclusive: get your first look at 'recens paper' issue five here
The magazine exclusively made to celebrate collaboration is back for its fifth edition. We spoke to its 16-year-old editor-in-chief to find out what to expect.
"Youth invents future." This is the mantra of Elise By Olsen, the world's youngest editor-in-chief and founder of Recens Paper, a biannual title dedicated to showcasing youth talent and accurately representing the diversity of beauty. Its fifth issue, entitled Share, is set to launch tomorrow in Norway and later worldwide; buyers will be faced with a choice of two alternate covers, both differing images of the same 6-year-old model — a left-field casting decision which Olsen explains is intended to challenge the advertising industry and its idolization of youth.
At 220 pages, it's the biggest issue yet; it's crammed full of interviews with the likes of all-female DJ collective Sister, punk band The Garden, Norwegian electronic duo SMERZ, and the founders of online fashion trading group Wavey Garms, to name just a few. As Olsen explains in her impassioned editor's letter, the intention is to celebrate creative collaboration, share collective passions, and promote youth talent; it's a passion she's had ever since she began reaching out to like-minded youngsters over Instagram when she was just 12-years-old. Ahead of the issue launch, i-D reached out to talk social media, the role of art in activism, and the underestimated power of modern youth.
What sparked the decision to theme each issue?
The themes represent a cycle. It's a cycle of adolescence, but it's a general cycle that young people and adults are part of as well — it's what I experienced at high school and it's what I think everyone experiences in life when they're growing up and going through these identity crises. When I started Recens Paper I was 13 years old so everyone around me was having a major identity crisis! The same goes if you're 14, 15, even 25… We all go through this and renew ourselves from time to time.
The cycle starts with Identify, which is finding out the basics of who you are, then that's followed by Explore which comes after you have your personal foundation and can go ahead and explore yourself. Next was Observe, which was about taking inspiration from the context you live in and the things happening around you, and then the last issue was Invent — that's when you've gone through these basic steps and can then create and invent things yourself. This coming issue is called Share, because what's the point of creating things that you can't share with others? From museum curators to DJs playing the music they love, sharing these personal things is a big part of the cycle.
How do you go about deciding contributors to Recens Paper?
We have a submission form online where young talent can share their works in order to possibly be featured. We also commission contributors through social media. The only stipulations are that they need to be up-and-coming and under the age of 25.
In keeping with the Share theme, let's talk about social media. Do you think it's a positive tool?
Yes — both personally and in terms of my work at Recens Paper as a talent scout. That's what I am more than an editor actually, I'm spending most of my time scouting these talented musicians and designers for inclusion in this platform. I want to showcase them and build their talent, and that all happens through social media. In fact, we communicate with our contributors through Facebook Messenger and hold Skype meetings because we are 300 people from all over the world.
How about personally?
Personally, I joined Instagram when I had just turned 12. At that point I realized there were plenty of people with the same aesthetic and visual profile on their feeds as me, so I got in touch with like-minded people and we started chatting on Facebook. We figured there was no space for young people in this industry, so we should make our own space and platform to showcase these talents and make them more involved in the industry, because that's important. We actually started a blog network called Archetype which consisted of maybe 15 very young Scandinavian bloggers — it doesn't really exist now but it was very popular back then.
I left around half a year in to found Recens Paper, but I still had that same vision of showcasing and evolving young talent but in a different format. I believe that print is not dead; I believe that paper is important, and I think it's important to create values for the people that we're trying to reach. So yes, Instagram was very important to me — I would Skype online friends from all over the world in my lunch break because I didn't really have many friends in high school. These people built me as a person, but they also built me and my career in a way.
What are your views on social media censorship?
I think censorship is damaging because it declines the observation of the user — that's the most concise way I can put this. It's funny, we actually have one spread in this issue that was banned in Asia for featuring pubic hair, but I believe there shouldn't be any content restrictions in any way.
Why do you feel collaboration is so important?
As mentioned in the editor's letter, we are herd animals. We act collectively. Everything we create on our own happens through communication with others; mutual opinion-forming. Sharing is a basic component of human interaction. Sharing is love, intimacy, trust and a way of growing — seeking responses and actions.
You talked about the power of print. Do you believe that art, print, and creativity can act as activism, or that magazines can still spark social change?
I think Recens Paper does. We're trying to create a movement for young people to rally against the beauty standards, gender stereotypes, and commercialism that we're being exposed to in other magazines and online. I think young people are fed up with retouching and a lack of diversity in model selection; we're constantly exposed to these distracting advertisements which are designed to manipulate. It's no surprise that we need advertisement to survive as a print magazine, but we don't have many advertisements and, when we do have them, we create a 3cm border around them which says 'Advertisement Warning.' We want to make it stand out rather than hide it into the content; we want to focus on diversity in its broadest sense in terms of beauty, body shape, and gender.
You've said in the past that youth can learn from adults and vice versa. Do you think the power of youth is often underestimated?
Yes, and I think it's always been that way. Family dinners are separated between the 'kids' table' and the 'adult table'; that whole concept of dividing young and old is so stupid. I always wanted to be one of the adults and to talk them. But yes, youth has so much power. Recens Paper is built on my vision of the strength of youth both in terms of appearance and participation in creative industries. It's not even just the creative industries — young people can learn so much from older generations, but I do think older generations underestimate today's youth.
Someone older than me that carries the same title as me gets a lot more pay than I do; that's something that young writers, photographers, and creatives in general experience. Interns don't get paid because they don't have the same experience, I think that's so wrong. We have experience that prior generations don't have in terms of social media, sharing, and creating. My graphic designer said something great about this, and he's double my age; he was saying that he was educated with a vision of being hired. I am educating myself in terms of freelancing as opposed to being hired. I am educating myself in terms of being a boss, and that's very different.
Text Jake Hall
Images courtesy of Recens Paper