Teens awarded for merging DIY with high design
By Elizabeth Dwyer Sandlin
A typical art publication made by teenagers comes off a Xerox machine, is bound by a Swingline and has an alternating blank page for every page of off-toned black and white print. When Amy Biehl High School students Mikala Sterling and Sofia Resnik took an elective class freshman year, their teachers encouraged them to aim for a more professional and focused aesthetic.
Elizabeth Dwyer Sandlin
Borne from a shared interest in magazines, fashion and design, Fraise (meaning strawberry in French) is a response to what Sterling and Resnik, now juniors, find lacking in other teen magazines. “Coming from Albuquerque, we think there’s a lot of design and fashion that’s just starting to emerge here,” Resnik says, “and we’re in a unique position to take advantage of that inspiration. ... We want this to be an Albuquerque magazine with an international context.” And they do so with flair: The pages of Fraise are splashed with fashion spreads, articles on architecture, and blurbs on innovative products and textiles.
Now, two years in, they're getting a major salute for their efforts. It comes in the form of a new award at the Creative Bravos ceremony, run by Creative Albuquerque (formerly the Arts Alliance). On March 24 they'll be distinguished as the first honorees to take home the Young Creative Bravos Award, which includes a statue designed by sculptor Randy Cooper.
Fraise began with the "Texture" issue (each has a theme): a professionally bound print edition replete with articles, photo shoots and advertisements. “We love the tangible experience of holding a magazine,” Resnik says, “so the idea of a cheaper, online magazine wasn’t an option."
In spite of Sterling’s insistence that she isn’t a writer, the girls do nearly every job on the magazine themselves. They are co-editors-in-chief, talent recruiters, fashion shoot stylists and photographers, advertising solicitors, printing collaborators, and, yes, they write the articles. “The only things we don’t do are the things we have no idea how to do,” Sterling says. She shows me some pages of fashion collages. “We had no clue how to do that,” she says. So they enlisted the help of Erin Piasecki, a sophomore at Amy Biehl, who put those layouts together.
Sterling adds that most teen magazines don’t focus on design at all. “Architecture and interior design aren’t usually considered teen interests,” she says, “so we brought those elements into Fraise.” As for fashion, Sterling notes that magazines geared toward teenage girls have a superficial focus at best (think of handy articles about “What to Wear on a First Date!”), while Fraise approaches fashion on a broader scale. They feature international collaborations, eco-friendly textiles and handmade products.
Fraise made a small profit on the first issue, which was printed in a run of about 150. Those proceeds went toward creating the second issue (the “Culture Shock” issue, featuring cross-culturally inspired design and fashion) their sophomore year.
Reflecting on all they’ve learned from the Fraise experience, both girls agree that the financial aspects of making a magazine are the most difficult. But they also acknowledge the support they've received from businesses, providing invaluable lessons in networking and self-promotion. "It’s amazing how helpful businesses have been," Resnik says. " Buffalo Exchange and 2 Time Couture donated clothes for fashion spreads, we’ve convinced local vendors to advertise with us. ... It’s been hard but really great.”
Sterling also confesses they’re in a holding pattern. “Junior year at Amy Biehl is intense. Fraise means too much to us to do another issue that isn’t the best it can be.”
Winning the Young Creative Bravos award is just one more sign of support that keeps the girls going. “It’s encouraging to see that people appreciate what we’re doing,” Resnik says. “So many people have helped us, it’s great that they’ll get more recognition now, too. It makes me want to keep doing this.”
Creative Bravos Gala Celebration and Awards Ceremony
Saturday, March 24, 6 p.m.
Albuquerque Museum of Art and History
2000 Mountain NW
Tickets: $95, $75 Creative Albuquerque members, $125 pair of members
To order back issues ($20 each), email email@example.com
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