iSUBSCRiBE talks to The Lifted Brow co-editor, Ellena Savage, on what you can expect inside the magazine and how its unique approach for the design and savvy minded came to be.
1. Ellena, The Lifted Brow is one of Australia’s most creative cutting-edge literary and culture magazines, but it’s fresh to iSUBSCRiBE. Can you describe The Brow for new readers?
Yes, we’ve been calling The Lifted Brow a ‘lit journal’, but that doesn’t quite explain it. It really is more expansive than that. So, The Brow is a beautiful 120 page magazine filled with drawings, essays, stories, comics, poems, and cultural criticism, made by artists and writers from Australia and the world. And then it’s a digital magazine that comes out monthly, and then it’s an online publishing platform putting out stories, interviews, criticism, and mixtapes almost every day. The Brow is in some ways a curated survey of what’s happening at the more innovative and entertaining fringes of arts.
2. The magazine launched in 2007. Can you tell us a bit about the trajectory to date?
When The Brow launched in 2007 it was basically just the founding editor Ronnie Scott, a bunch of stories written by his friends and heroes, and a photocopier. Legend has it that the first edition was paid for by a bake sale. Since then, the magazine has taken so many different forms, hosted so many different kinds of events, and published an eclectic host of authors and artists. Ronnie handed the beast to Sam Cooney in 2012, and starting late 2014 Steph Van Schilt, Gillian Terzis, and I took over. Which sounds like a coup, but it wasn't quite that.
The direction The Lifted Brow takes emerges from our own reading habits and interests, with a view to what is happening out in the real world. So, we like to publish the kinds of work we want to be reading and nurturing locally, and pieces that other journals might not have space for because they are irreverent, or genre-slipping, or a bit too weird.
3. Where does The Brow fit in the contemporary landscape of Australian culture?
I'm so happy that the Australian literary ecology is so diverse. Sometimes it's hard to see how many devoted writers, editors, designers, artists, programmers, teachers, and students are pouring in their best years to make a small space that makes it possible to think about making literary art. But there are just so many it breaks my heart. The Lifted Brow's place in all that is somewhere like: participating.
4. In issue #26 Gillian Terzis wrote an editorial on the future of print in the digital age – how does The Brow navigate the creative space between print and online?
The Brow publishes online and print, but the print magazine is our flagship enterprise. There's so much interesting work being done online, and we'll always be thinking of ways we can, from the peripheries, contribute. But there is a restorative quality to reading a material object, and being able to sit with your own thoughts for a long time before bringing them back into the world. I'm pretty sure there are medical benefits to reading text off paper. Colour looks better off the screen, too, and we print a lot of very good looking artwork. The Brow publishes emerging writers as well as big names – how do you source material?
We generally hunt down the authors we've encountered and loved, in whatever form we encounter them - sometimes that's people we follow and interact with on social media, authors and thinkers we encounter at readings and events, in other magazines, anthologies, and regular old books, in the lobby at festivals, at friends' houses, on prize shortlists, on uni reading lists, on the tram. This non-strategy is our strategy. We also read general submissions when we have the time, and have unearthed some great new material that way.
5. With original design, artwork, graphic narratives alongside printed material, The Brow is a visually compelling magazine – how important is the look?
Very important! The visual geniuses we work with (Rosetta Mills, our Art Director and Designer, and Katie Parrish, our Art Editor) do a thoughtful job of balancing how the magazine looks with the words and ideas that are inside, and so design is always, always a priority.
6. Issue #27 is fresh in store with a fantastic cover – what other good things are in this issue?
Yes, the incredible cover is by Lale Westvind, who also has a feature comic inside. We also have nonfiction by Jenn Shapland, Rachel Perks, Stephanie Convery, Shawn Wen, Sophie Shanahan, Zora Sanders, Sam Kriss, Caroline Crew, Caitlin McGregor, and Omar Musa; columns from Dion Kagan, Briohny Doyle, Annabel-Brady Brown, and Jana Perkovic; artwork by Carla McRae, Lee Lai, Diego Ramirez, Sam Wallman, Merv Heers, Mona Moradveisi, Mickey Zacchilli, and Bligh Twyford-Moore; fiction from Jensen Beach and Jennifer Down; poetry from Mud Howard, t'ai freedom ford, and Phillip B. Williams, and more.
7. What’s coming up for The Lifted Brow?
We have some surprises coming up! Also Edition #28, out in November, is themed 'Art’ - we have some really great pieces and an event lined up.
8. What are the benefits of being a subscriber? Why subscribe?
I encourage everyone to encounter The Brow however they can; however, subscribers get huge benefits, such as a 35% discount off the cover price of the magazine, free entry to all our events Australia-wide, and your copy of the magazine is guaranteed to arrive on your doorstep before it even hits the shops.
Subscribing is one of the most meaningful ways you can support independent magazines like The Brow, and it costs less than what many of us would drop at the pub on a Friday night. What a bargain!