Apathetic Journal describes itself as ‘a thematic, biannual arts and design exhibition and publication, aimed at disproving the fallacy that youth is characterised by apathy.’ It was cofounded in Australia by Anador Walsh and Morgan Brennan, in 2015, and it’s first two issues focussed solely on Australian creatives, though its third issue, to be themed Log Off, will branch out internationally. I chatted, over email, to Anador about the Australian scene and the future of print media.
Jago: Why did you start Apathetic?
Anador: Morgan Brennan (co-founder and art director) and I started Apathetic for two reasons. We were hearing a lot of negative talk that pigeonholed our generation as lazy and indifferent, but finding this to be completely untrue.
Apathetic was born out of an incredibly culturally vibrant and creatively driven time and place – Sydney, 2015 – where emerging artists and designers were continuously creating and collaborating with one another in amazing and innovative ways. It was created to be a platform to highlight the wealth of talent in this community.
J: You’re not limited to the magazine, though: you have a wonderful website and hold bi-annual exhibitions, why did you decide to diversify like this?
A: Yeah (and thank you)! To my and Morgan’s thinking Apathetic isn’t simply a publication. We’re ultimately shooting for it to be a multi-platform, fluid exhibition space. Something we can pick up, move, and evolve whenever we wish.
The exhibitions for us have a dual function. They allow us to have a night where we can connect with our community and give the work we feature the proper showcasing it deserves, and lets us put the work of the emerging creatives we feature in a professional context which ideally sees it acknowledged as being as important as we feel it is. The website, first and foremost, allows us to stay relevant, but also allows us the potential of continuously exhibiting work in a digital sphere and between issues. And the publication allows us to exist beyond the temporal. It’s our way of immortalising the work of these people, who ultimately, our goal is to support.
J: What was starting an independent journal in Australia like?
A: This question has two sides to it. Creating Apathetic was relatively easy in one way. We were phenomenally blessed with an incredible community that has amassed around and behind us, without which Apathetic wouldn’t exist. As we are all about supporting those creative and emerging, this community is crucial to us.
We were also extremely lucky because Australian creatives (in Sydney and Melbourne especially) have an appreciation and love for print as a medium, so we have always been really well received as an independent publication.
However starting a publication from scratch is never easy. We (me especially) had no real conception of the work that goes in to creating something like Apathetic. The hard yards were real. Especially the first time around: we worked long hours to fund our first print run, did the graphic design ourselves and so on.
It was a big learning curve, but I wouldn’t change it for the world. We’ve come leaps and bounds since.
J: I know you’ve also got your finger on the pulse of culture outside of the Antipodes – we met in London, after all – so I wonder if you feel there’s anything particular to the Australian scene?
A: I think there’s a lot that’s particular or rather unique to the Australian creative scene. We’re pretty isolated down here really, and while this can be frustrating or problematic, it has some incredible benefits.
I’d be doing you a disservice if I didn’t acknowledge our distance from the rest of the world means we can be, at times, slightly behind London or Berlin creatively, or feel as if collaboration with people abroad is a huge challenge. But at the same time, I don’t think this has discouraged or inhibited creatives in Australia from reaching out to like-minded people abroad, or from drawing inspiration from what’s going on in other parts of the world. Look at you and I for example – we met at Vogue Fabrics completely by accident – and have such a great, mutually inspiring friendship via the World Wide Web.
I don’t know whether or not it’s because of this isolation, but Australian creative culture has certain leanings (I hesitate to say trends) – in photography, painting and design – that really reflect who we are, and our sense of identity. Not as Australians per se, but specifically as creatives. In Australian fashion, for example, there are really clear trends/ styles that’re distinctly ‘us,’ which I love: you can look at someone’s dress or pants and identify an Aussie designer.
We’re also incredibly collaborative and supportive here. I don’t know if that’s so much a unique thing, but Australian creatives band together like nothing else and really get behind people and projects they believe in. There’s this incredible sense of community.
L: And what about within Australia: I hear quite a lot made of the difference between Sydney and Melbourne, for instance.
A: The distinction between Sydney and Melbourne is really hard for me to put my finger on. I think a lot of people like to use the creative verses commercial argument: that Sydney is more open to the idea of the commercial funding the creative. And while that may or may not be true, I think it probably comes down to the standard of living.
In Melbourne it’s easier to be solely a creative – it’s the world’s most ‘liveable’ city. Sydney’s like London: incredibly expensive. I think the difference starts there, and produce a difference in aesthetic and approach to where the creative and commercial should and shouldn’t collide.
But this doesn’t mean that people from Sydney and Melbourne don’t collaborate with or support one another. Rather the opposite. Everyone knows everyone here – Australia’s a small country – and they back each other, it’s great.
L: Your first edition had ‘awake’ as its theme and your second was ‘floored’. There’s a certain (intentional) vagueness there: what did you want to achievefrom this?
A: The vagueness is an ideological thing. Morgan and I have never wanted to influence or restrict the work that is created for or submitted to Apathetic in any way: we like to keep it vague so there’s room for our contributors to go in any direction.
The theme of our upcoming third issue ‘Log Off,’ is, I guess, a maturing of my and Morgan’s ideas. I wouldn’t say it’s any less vague than the first or second theme, but rather we’ve been able to articulate the loose theme better. Which is exciting! We’re really keen to drop this issue, the work we’ve received thus far has been amazing!
L: How do you fund Apathetic?
This is something that’s evolved as we have. Our first issue was entirely self funded. I worked almost 50 hours a week in a cafe (PCP) to print the first run and to finance the space we launched in. For issue 2 we were lucky enough to receive some support from some incredible local businesses, most notably PCP (Sydney and LA) and the creative hub Paramount House, whose ethos we felt really suited our own and who we really believe in and felt comfortable advertising. However we also contributed a fair bit of personal income to this issue. For our upcoming third issue it looks like we’re going to be entirely advertorially funded, which is exciting!
J: You have another job alongside Apathetic that supports you financially – and so, in some respects, the journal is a labour of love. Do you think this is a direction print media is going in generally, and if it is, do you think this is necessarily bad thing?
A: Oh definitely! And I definitely think it’s a positive rather than a negative thing – this idea of a labour of love. I work a relatively commercial job, that whilst having creative elements and being something I enjoy, I do to support myself so that Apathetic can be possible. I’m acutely aware of the necessity of the commercial in supporting the creative and I find a great deal of value in the commercial because of this. I do see this being the future of print media.
Running something like Apathetic, as you would know Jago, you become aware of the overheads and when you crunch the numbers, you start to learn to make choices based upon creating something you can sustain. Print isn’t easy to make sustainable, but for those of us who love print media, we work our arses off to keep it going and to produce in this way. If I had to make a prediction, I’d say in 5-10 years this will be the only way that print is produced, by people like you and I, who love it enough to sacrifice for it, or by people with the big bucks who don’t want to see it die.
J: Does Apathetic address any overtly political issues?
A: So far no, we’ve not really touched on anything overtly political. But that’s not been a choice based thing. We work on a submission basis and have simply not been submitted anything in the past that carries a strong political message. However the work we’re working with for our upcoming third issue ‘Log Off,’ is political by nature – the Internet and identity are inextricably linked to socio-political ideals – and largely by default, so in this issue we will see this change. Which we whole-heartedly welcome. We’re really intrigued by the political landscape of the Internet, especially in the way it relates to identity and its expression. I can’t wait to see this realised in issue #3.
Apathetic can be purchased on their website, their third issue Log Off, and its accompanying exhibition, will launch in July.
LYRA‘s first issue is out on the 19th of May, subscribe, buy tickets to our launch and support our Kickstarter here.
– Interview by Jago Rackham; edited by Hannah Hood