Illustration is good, climate change is very bad. So what happens when you put both of these into one book? And right in time to coincide with HOPENHAGEN, the UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen?
We caught up with AMELIA GREGORY – of the very beautiful Amelia’s Magazine fame – at the launch of her new book, The Anthology of Illustration, which does exactly that.
We’re here for the launch of your Anthology of Illustration, in which illustrators design and draw contraptions that can help to combat climate change. How do you feel about the end product?
Well, it’s been in the making since May, when I put the brief on the website, so I’m really happy that it’s out there now and in print. I think time will tell how people respond to it and how much of an effect it has. I want it to be more than just a book about illustration.
Your approach is really unusual. Why did you choose illustration as a platform to explore climate change?
I think illustration has a very important part to play in imagining a different world. Often the problem in moving towards that kind of world is that you don’t know what that place looks like. People don’t know what these renewable technologies look like and they can’t imagine them in their lives. Illustration is a perfectly good place to imagine it from, and illustrators know how to make theme look appealing. They can do something in this way that maybe someone in a lab wouldn’t be able to do.
Before this anthology there was Amelia’s Magazine, and with it you’ve managed to get some pretty incredible designs, like fluffy and sparkly covers. How did you pull that off?
Well the only way that could have worked was if I was my own publisher, and I approached printers myself.
[At this point, one of the many people clamouring for Amelia’s attention grabs her and says goodbye.]
Oh! Are you leaving? I’m sort of doing an interview actually, I’ll come and find you later. No, in a bit. Yes, it was lovely to see you. Oh, hi, sorry. I’m in the middle of some….
[The crowds start to descend. I’m wondering if the interview ends here. Luckily, Amelia appears used to crowd control.]
Um, what was I saying? Um. Oh yes. No normal publisher would have put up the amount of money that it cost to do that sort of thing. I wanted to do it myself because I’m really interested in the whole production of things, and if you’re going to produce a print magazine then it’s got to be beautiful so that people want to collect it. Even if I don’t make any money out of it, which I never have so far, I just like making lovely things.
You started the magazine five years ago now. What were the processes involved in such a costly affair?
Well, I borrowed a lot of money! But I also got a lot of sponsorship for the first one, which basically involved me hunting around for about six months, which made the whole thing comparatively cheaper. But I’ve never had a big sponsor or anything- there was never really much interest.
Do you think there would be now?
R: What are your plans now you’ve finished the magazine? You were looking for interns recently…
I’m looking to expand the website so I wanted writers to help with that, because I still love sharing ideas with people, and as our print edition only came out twice a year, sharing ideas online is more cost-effective and much quicker. It’s also turned into a beast of its own, and its now one of the top ten art blogs in the country. But I don’t know if that means that many people are reading it; there are people reading things everywhere! But even then, I’m not entirely sure how long I can sustain that, as it’s completely reliant on interns.
What do you think the world will look like in five years?
Well I think the most important thing is that we have to realise we need to live in a different way. In five years we’ll already be feeling the effects of climate change, and a lot of countries already are, in fact. I think our weather has changed and people don’t really equate that with climate change, even though that’s probably exactly what it is. I’d just like to think that in five years people will be more aware of how they live, and the big one is, of course, flying. It emits a huge amount of CO2 and all these flights need to stop. But then, I’m not really sure how to illustrate that.
Buy Amelia’s Anthology of Illustration for £20 from the WEBSITE.
Text/Photography: SIOBHAN LEDDY