When the creators of Potted Purple, Ariana (she/her) and Nina (she/her), reached out to us about a partnership -- I was eager to accept. In high school I was an avid magazine reader, obsessed with the format and the content on culture, fashion, music, and art. I dreamed of starting my own magazine and even went so far as to plan the layout, look, and feel, but never brought it to fruition. Over the years, my magazine tastes have changed with increased exposure to new media. These days most magazines are digital, they cover a wide variety of topics, and the exciting ones creating change and fostering creativity are often the independent ones. Potted Purple speaks to my inner high school self. I love what the magazine stands for and admire the ambition of the high school students who started it. Through Potted Purple, Ariana and Nina are fostering a community of art and writing and encouraging their community members to advocate for what matters and to vocalize what is on their minds.
We were lucky enough to be interviewed for their 10th full-length issue featuring the theme of secrets and confessions. The issue is called “What Are You Hiding?”, and you can read it, here.
I also wanted to introduce you all to these young creative change makers, so we did an interview! Check out the interview with Ariana and Nina below to feel inspired.
What’s your mission? Or what do you hope to achieve with Potted Purple?
We desire to collaborate with other creatives in an effort to foster a community of art and writing; encouraging the community to advocate for what matters and vocalize what is on their minds, as we wrote on our website.
Ariana: We wanted to couple art with activism, and use all art forms as the megaphone to help add more Gen Z voices into the mix when it comes to discussion about important themes, political movements, and controversial topics.
Nina: Being young creatives ourselves, we knew how difficult it was to make your voice heard in a literary world dominated by huge publications and mature contributors. Potted Purple was created as a space to highlight these creative young writers and artists and all they have to say.
How do you choose a monthly theme?
Ariana: For the monthly themes, we start to think of what we would like to see; what we could do that’s potentially relevant to the current political or social atmosphere. We want to choose themes that can be interpretable in many ways, especially since we have a diverse and international audience with several different types of stories to tell, while still producing a magazine that is cohesive and flows together well.
Nina: We draw inspiration both from our lives and our talented community. A few issues ago was themed around urbia and suburbia, a concept that was especially important to Ariana and I as we were deciding where we will spend the next four years at college. The issue before that was about culture, inspired partially by a photo series that was submitted to us.
What type of content / contributors do you look for?
We don’t have anything specific in mind, and welcome any type of submission as long as it’s a form of artistic expression and on theme. A lot of times if we turn down a submission it’s usually that the work didn’t fit with the current theme, or that there were too many other works that interpreted the theme in exactly the same way. We also prefer our submissions to be from Gen Z and Millennial contributors.
In terms of types of art, we welcome all forms - video/short film, photography, drawing, painting, collage, mixed media, et cetera. For writing, prose, poetry, short stories, narratives, blog posts/topic pieces, anything!
Why did you create Potted Purple?
Ariana: We’ve noticed there was a lack of communities for young people to be able to properly share their art and experiment with art, particularly using art as a means to vocalize their opinions on controversial subject matter and use it as an outlet. The two of us have been active members of artistic scenes ourselves, both being accomplished writers, passionate photographers and Nina being a dedicated multimedia artist as well, and have seen that typically any publication that publishes the work of young people is run by adults, so there isn’t a direct pipeline between the editors and those submitting. By creating our own zine that is “by Gen Z, for Gen Z,” we remove the wall - we wanted Potted Purple to be a safe space for young creatives; our Instagram direct messages are always open, we try our best to accept as many pieces as possible, and our website has an anonymous advice/open conversation column, the “Community Garden.”
Ariana: When starting to put your work out there for the first time, it can definitely be scary and intimidating, and this is especially true when a lot of publications require you to include a resume, cover letter, or detail where else you’ve been published. For someone on the younger side just starting out, or someone who hasn’t tried to be featured anywhere before, it can feel impossible, so we wanted to also cultivate an environment where prior experience isn’t necessary, and young creatives can experiment with their own style, voice...what they want to say in general. In our submission guidelines, we don’t require any sort of resume, although submitters have sent us brief bios before - only name, age, state/country and titles of the works they submit.
Nina: Ariana pretty much sums it up. What was most important to us was creating a space that feels unrestricted, comfortable, and encouraging. Aside from creating the magazine, we’ve been able to create a community that supports each other and Potted Purple. Whenever we post a photo or piece of writing from an issue, we receive a flood of comments and likes supporting the artist in question. It’s incredible to be surrounded by people who value art, artistic activism, and self-expression.
What inspires/drives you creatively?
Ariana: I like to think of things in a very visual and interconnected way - my favorite thing about writing is vivid personification and comparing subject matter that otherwise might not have blended together, so I’d say just exploring and going to new places and seeing things I’d consider picturesque is what inspires me creatively the most...just imaging the potential for a space, or seeing a landscape and thinking of who or what it reminds me off. Music and song are also a big inspiration for me, and I’m very passionate about vocal and instrumental music. Song lyrics and poetry are really two birds of a feather. Generally, I love to draw inspiration from everything!
Nina: Creativity is the lifeblood of our world! Everything I love about life is rooted in creativity. From a young age, I was fortunate enough to have parents that encouraged me to pursue what my heart desired— visual art, guitar, poetry, and more. With this mindset, I’m pretty much inspired by anything, since my mind is always revolving around artistry. Particularly, I’m inspired by incredible musicians like Elliott Smith and Phoebe Bridgers, and poets like Pablo Neruda and Madisen Kuhn.
What communities do you associate with?
Ariana: I have a strong tie to my Romanian family background, and have grown up speaking the language as well, hearing stories about my relatives and their upbringings, celebrating holidays, enjoying the cuisine, etc. I’ve also had a love for cultural experiences and language instilled in me, and wish to be in similar environments and learning about the cultures of others.
Nina: My parents raised me to respect and educate myself on other cultures and the issues surrounding me. Potted Purple is a space that supports all communities: BIPOC, LGBTQ+ community members, women and misogyny-affected individuals, etc.
We have a commitment to wanting to understand others’ points of view and provide a safe space for them to share said POVs,
I’m not that “old” myself but I’m always saying shit like “I’m so inspired by the younger generation,” and this interview validated that sentiment.
Thanks for sharing, Ariana and Nina!