Interview - Juliette and Lucy (Psyche Magazine)
1. Tell us a little bit about your backgrounds?
We both studied Communication Design at the Glasgow School of Art. Juliette is from Glasgow, now based in London working as an inhouse graphic designer for a film production company. Lucy, originally from Manchester, is based in Glasgow and splits her work between freelance design work, community art projects and part time swim teaching.
2. When did you start Psyche Magazine and where did the idea come from?
We were in a project critique at the start of the year and we were both talking about similar subject matter and wanting to create zines. Afterwards we decided to team up – it seemed obvious that if we collaborated we could make a publication that was more sophisticated than one we could make independently. The subject matters we were exploring individually included philosophy, the human condition, the mind and cognitive learning styles. This lead to Psyche’s focus being on mental health, socio politics and anything in between.
3. There seems to have been a growing awareness of mental health issues in the last 5 years. How much work is there still to do in this area do you think, and are there many major hurdles still to overcome in terms of how mental health is perceived?
I think there has been major progress over the last few years combatting the negative stigmas associated with mental health. So many mental health campaigns start with the intention of opening up a conversation, something that is a key way to champion representation. When people cease to be invisible that exposure removes the misconceptions that society, employers, friends and family may have previously had. Many platforms, publications, brands and organisations have chose to do this, widening the conversation bit by bit. Conditions like anxiety and depression are among the most common and the least stigmatised (of course, that is not to say a lack of understanding does not exist). There is always more to be done - and in terms of major hurdles I would suggest that stigma can still be potent around personality disorders, psychosis, addiction, and individuals who have spent time sectioned. These issues are not always easy to talk about, they can cause shame or discomfort, and it seems to me that the more we educate one another the more progress we can make.
4. How important are publications like Psyche encouraging openness and dialogue in relation to mental health issues? Are there other sources of reading that you would recommend for those affected?
I think Psyche is important as we offer a zero pressure, zero prior knowledge approach to these topics. We focus on personal experience and opinion and I believe that is what allows readers to connect with the message of each of our contributors. It offers a direct connection and not an objective academic study. However, we only cover one facet of the conversation and our platform is not purely mental health focused as we are interested in the intersectional factors that shape our social and political environments. As a result we tend to discuss a broad range of topics, for example the implications of climate change and how creatives should channel their talents into solving this crisis.
So in terms of recommending publications or sources that cover more of a medical approach/ health professional or even counselling type support, I would recommend publications like Dolls Hospital which specifically covers stories from people suffering from certain conditions and offers advice, or I would seek information from Mental Health Foundation Scotland and SAMH.
5. There must be challenges in creating a print magazine - compared with a blog or social media page? Why did you decide to go down the printing route, and why risograph printing specifically?
We both love printed matter and DIY zine culture, and find the community surrounding it has an extremely supportive attitude, from zine fairs to independent book shops. Within zine making and indie publishing, there is a no rule approach and with Psyche we have always felt, starting from scratch we can take it in any direction we like. The subject matter of Psyche is intrinsically very intimate which reflects the method of risograph printing method we use. Each copy of Psyche differs slightly from how the ink overlay, to small differences in registration. Lots of elements of the design would not transfer the same onto screen, and the very human element of the process of creating Psyche at every stage would be lost if viewed digitally. Plus, it’s therapeutic to get away from a screen and the information overload of the web to focus on something tactile and slow paced.
6. There’s a very distinctive style running through the illustrations and layout. How did you arrive at this? Were there any visual influences?
We work collaboratively on the illustrations throughout Psyche, which is very important and a cathartic part of the process for us. In this Confrontations issue we reacted to the theme by depicting some of the emotions we associated with this, namely through textures, patterns and mark making, using ink drawings in the early stages. For visual research we were referencing info graphics, brain scans and we went onto dissect fruit and smashed up a Nokia. It is very process driven and hands on, before we digitise the illustrations. We work very intuitively when creating the work and do not try and depict the content but instead show how we interpret the theme. Then at the end it is put thought the riso graph and we have no idea how it is exactly going to turn out, which is nerve wracking.
7. Are there any lessons that you took from Issue 1, that have been a factor in how you’ve gone about approaching the second instalment?
There have been so many lessons. Other than the plethora of logistical knowledge we have gained, issue one was a total experiment and such a rewarding one at that. It enabled us to work out our format for the kind of submissions and writing styles we thought worked well in Psyche. As well as this, the feedback, encouragement and connections we’ve had with people since the first issue has been immense and given an insight - which was pretty surprising to us - about how much people care about these kinds of discussions and how much it can mean to them. Ultimately, we have always been about building a community of support and education and it is so exciting for us to see the real impact our project has had on people.
8. There seems to be quite a diverse range of voices contributing to the magazine. Where do you find your contributors and how much involvement in the magazine do they have beyond their submissions?
At the start of each issue we put out an open call and try and share as widely as possible, then some people we approach because either we admire their work which reflects the themes within or we know they are exploring a particular theme within their practice. Outside the physical space of the magazine we have started doing features on instagram sharing snippets of the piece and sharing other events and initiatives which our contributors would like to share. At our launch events we bring the Psyche community and the contributors into a physical space. At the launch of issue 2 we we had a range of speakers and performers, including the poet Gray Crosbie, Annie of the Craft Cafe in Govan talking about loneliness in older people, Laura Glennie from SAMH and more. We would like to do more of these events bringing the Psyche community together.
9. Do you have a favourite piece from the latest issue?
We think it is so unfair to ask this question! (Laughs) We select everything that goes in the issue together and we wouldn’t put something in that we didn’t love. As not to be entirely diplomatic here, we will mention a couple of highlights. No Surrender? by Beulah McGeachie was such a broad piece written from her own experiences growing up in Northern Ireland but that touched upon the political landscape, from current British politics to sexism in her high school, to the male suicide rates as well as instances of open racism from DUP politicians.
Stan by Chris Wallace was another one. The format of an overheard dialogue is such an intimate thing and then for the content to have been so private and dark, we felt it was important to share this story of a man who had been failed by the health services who should flag and protect vulnerable people.
Lastly, we will add Fatphobia and how to dismantle it, by Emma McDougal which was featured on the Paulin Art in the Subway Advert. This is a very witty no bullshit step by step guide that demands respect and compassion from a society that perpetually villainises fatness.
10. Where can we pick up a copy?
Paulin (Glasgow and Edinburgh), Ripe Studio (Glasgow), Good Press (Glasgow), Printed Matter (New York), The Tate Modern (London), do you read me?! (Berlin) and Athenaeum Nieuwscentrum (Amsterdam).