Billed as a “bi-annual publication exploring personal narratives and mental health through an artful and creative lens”, the inaugural edition of Anxy is a fantastic collection of essays and considerations on what lies beneath our personal fabric. Its founder and creative director Indhira Rojas explains the genesis of it.
Where did the idea for Anxy come about?
“Anxy started as a personal passion project. It rooted in my desire to find other people with similar life experiences who were tired of pretending everything was ok. I started to wonder if a publication existed that allowed people to share their inner worlds and talk about what is really going on in their lives. I wanted to read stories from people who were open to sharing how they navigate life and cope with the difficult moments we all have to phase at some point.
For more context, we have a collection of our founding stories, which we share in our blog, starting with my own: I’m Anxy, but I’m not the only one”.
You raised $58,184 on Kickstarter for the project. What learnings did you take from this?
“Kickstarter was a great experience. It allowed us to learn about our audience organically and validate our idea. It’s hard to take a risk with a project, without knowing if it’s going to connect with people. Through Kickstarter, we learned that the need for a publication like Anxy exists, that there’s a place in the market for it and that the need is not just local, but global.”
There is a fresh and timely feel to many of the voices in Anxy whether that is exploring gender, racial or political issues. You have collected quite a diverse and distinctive range of voices. What was the commissioning process like?
“Our commissioning process was a combination of submitted pitches and assignments. We wanted to include as many voices as possible, and yet be also directive in shaping the content of the issue. For this reason, we reviewed pitches sent to our submissions page, and also reached out to writers we know and love for their ideas. Throughout the process, we stayed vigilant, making sure the magazine felt as diverse as we know the world to be.”
Anxy speaks of using the “sharing of stories” to aid the “stigma” of sadness and a better understanding of our emotional well being. What insights did you garner whilst making the issue.
“One of the insights we gathered is how we as a society tend to tell stories to portray some kind of outcome. Whether we want to share how to solve the problem, or what helped in the process, or whether we want to give the ‘and now it’s all better’ conclusion. We realized it was important to resist that. We could set Anxy apart by being a space where stories get told that are focused the journey and the inner process.”
What is the importance of creating this in print as opposed to say a podcast?
“We wanted Anxy to be an object in the world. Something you could feel and touch and bump into in your home. A magazine you could carry around and share your admiration for with people around you. Besides, we just love print, and everyone in the team has broad experience in the editorial world. It felt like the right format for us.”
What considerations went into the design of Anxy?
“The most important consideration in designing Anxy was that it felt more like an art and design publication than a psychology and/or science journal. For us, the artistic aspect of Anxy had the opportunity of making the content more approachable, soothing and just artful. We know art is a powerful tool to help us express the most complicated of emotions and be a vehicle for processing our experiences. We wanted the magazine to represent these art values.”
What’s the reaction to date been like? Any surprises?
“Reaction to date has been very positive. One of my favorite tweets is by Christopher Phin @chrisphin: ‘What I like most about the stories in @anxymag is that there’s no resolution. There is no outcome, no détente. It’s just: hear me say this.’ When we read feedback like this, it makes us proud to know our intentions have translated well.
One of the most surprising things that happened was an interaction with a Kickstarter backer, who is a Trump supporter. At some point before receiving the issue, he felt the publication was becoming politicized in a way he wasn’t comfortable with, and he let us know publically. We sent him the issue anyways and shortly after received an apology. When you create a publication that can build bridges, for us, that’s a good feeling.
Have you decided on a topic for the next edition?
“Yes, we are exploring a theme we’ve labeled: ‘From Work to Workaholism’. We want to dive into how work defines and affects our lives, our sense of identity, and how we cope with the stresses and demands it brings.”
We are currently open to submissions: https://anxymagazine.submittable.com/submit
Words: Michael McDermott
Image Credit Indhira Rojas: Michelle Le