A Chat With : Anorak Magazine Founder Cathy Olmedillas
Hello JustBees! I’m Cathy, founder of Anorak Magazine, the Happy Mag For Kids and I am delighted to tell you a bit more about the Anorak world I inhabit.
I launched Anorak back in 2006, frustrated by the lack of good magazines for kids on the market. In case you have not come across it, Anorak is a pop culture magazine for all kids (from 6 onwards), published five times a year.
When I was a child, we had lovely magazines. Magazines that carried stories, games, activities; magazines that weren’t so concerned with selling us stuff. I am fascinated by how the means were a lot simpler back in the day. Somehow, that made everything that was created more inspiring & impactful.
As I was figuring out what Anorak would be made of, I did wonder whether I was being a hopeless “nostalgist” or just completely barmy. Most distributors I spoke to certainly thought I was insane. I am not very good at listening to others so I went ahead anyway. When I introduced my son to the Yellow Submarine, Ladybird books or the Pink Panther, I saw first hand how the culture we had could also be enjoyed by kids nowadays. I am no expert, but my gut feeling is that today’s kids are not so different to the kids that we were.
What is different, however, is the culture, the marketing and the technology they are fed. I think we owe kids more than a homogenized world of shouty, hyper-commercialized instant gratification… CRAP!
It’s not that I am against screen-based culture. On the contrary, I love it and so does my child. I just think there’s virtue in varied experiences that involve a bit of calm and a lot of imagination and creativity.
Creatively, I am completely influenced by the colourful artwork of 60s and 70s’ kids annuals. I have been collecting them for a while and cherish them hugely because they always make me smile. I am particularly fond of Playhour and Bimbo annuals. Yes, some kids annuals were called BIMBO?!! They are aimed at a much younger audience than Anorak but I find their drawings inspiring. They definitely influence the illustrators who are commissioned in Anorak.
The highlight of last year for me was when we got to work with 60s legendary artist Alain Grée to create a magazine aimed at the 8 and under, with his archived material. I read his books when I was a child and now there we were, making a magazine with his work!! I actually shed a tear of joy when the contract was signed!!
Six years is a long time in independent magazine publishing. I am very grateful that we are able to just about survive against all odds, having completely disregarded the rule book.
And our adventure is far from over: not content with shaking the kids’ magazine market, we are about to launch Anorak… TV!! These distributors were probably right after all.
Cathy Olmedillas is the founder and Editor of the world’s best kids’ mag, Anorak Magazine. Cathy previously worked at The Face, loves Roald Dahl and is about to launch Anorak TV! Oh my!