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Interview: Nina And Ariana of Potted Purple On Creating Their Own Safe Space For Creatives

Updated: Sep 16, 2021

Nina and Ariana - founders of Potted Purple Mag - talk to us about COVID's impact on their work, their latest issue, creating a safe space for creatives and more.

Hi there! Can you start off by telling us a little bit about Potted Purple magazine? And what inspired you to start it?

Nina: Potted Purple is a youth creative magazine that features young writers, artists, and photographers from all over the world. It’s run by myself and my friend Ariana. Each month or so, we set a theme for our upcoming issue and our followers send us any and all work they think would fit the subject. We curate the content and design the magazine, then release it for everyone to see! We created the magazine because we’ve both got so much creative energy, and we wanted to channel that into a space for all kinds of creative people to showcase their talent.

Ariana: We also found that most publications were run by older people, so we wanted to curate a “by Gen Z, for Gen Z” space. Lots of other magazines also require you to have prior experience to submit, a bio/cover letter or some sort of padded resume, but we wanted to remove that barrier and give young people an open submission space where they don’t have to pay or feel as if they need other experience to explore their craft!

Part of Potted Purple’s mission is to provide a space for creativity. Do you believe our schools and campuses are doing enough to foster creativity and innovation in young people?

Nina: Both of us were lucky to attend a school that did have creative programs for students, like a literary magazine, school newspaper, and all sorts of music-related offerings. However, we are super aware that when it comes time for schools to reconsider their budgeting, creative classes and clubs are often the first to be marked as “optional.” For us, the arts are absolutely essential, which ties into our passion for Potted Purple and why we wanted to start our own magazine.

Ariana: I would also say that there’s definitely been an increase in emphasis on STEM curriculums and jobs, and that – because of this - people are likely to correlate “intelligence” with the STEM field. Because of this, a lot of young people who are more creative end up quitting their original passions and replacing it with more “practical” skills. Potted Purple sort of takes the role of a friend. We are a hand to hold when you don’t feel like your voice is being heard - we try to provide reassurance and foster creativity in its many forms.

Your latest issue - entitled “What Are You Hiding?” – asked for creatives to submit their secrets in the form of poetry, art or writing. From unrequited love to concealed emotion, this issue felt – from a reader’s perspective – strikingly personal. What inspired the issue, and do you plan to continue down this path of vulnerability for future ones?

Nina: I remember while we were producing our previous issue - we discussed how our favorite poems from that issue were confessional, almost diary-like. They felt so genuine, and those pieces ended up having a much stronger effect on us because of their candidness and warmth. We started talking about what an issue full of secrets would look like, and the theme of our latest issue just began to develop.

Ariana: We’ve always wanted to position Potted Purple as a safe space, a place where vulnerability is encouraged and accepted. Our most recent issue took that to a new level. We really wanted to give our contributors the opportunity to be diaristic, to confess openly, and to take weight off of their shoulders.

As previously mentioned, it was our aim to curate a “by Gen-Z, for Gen-Z space,” a magazine by young people for young people. We think that dynamic nurtures creativity, since it takes away some of the potential judgment and scrutiny teenagers and young adults might feel if they were pouring their heart out to someone older who might not get how they were feeling.

For many young people, COVID-19 has been especially draining: from the constraints on socializing to the concerns around school work to anxiety about what the future holds. In fact, sometimes the only thing that has felt constant has been change itself. However, the past year has also provided ample time for reflection and creative growth. How has COVID-19 affected Potted Purple magazine?

Ariana: Thankfully, the pandemic hasn’t had a major impact on the magazine - in fact, a majority of our issues were released in the midst of the pandemic. We would typically video call and then work virtually on reading submissions, putting the magazine together, guidelines, social media, etcetera. In fact, being able to work virtually was a huge help for when we were in different cities, someone was away, our schedules didn’t line up, and so on.

Nina: If anything, the pandemic might have finally given us the kick we needed to start the magazine. We were both pent up at home, itching for a way to connect with the world. We had already developed the idea for Potted Purple and begun building a reading base, but once quarantine hit, we finally had the time and focus to actually release an issue!

Finally, are there any opportunities for our readers to get involved with Potted Purple?

Absolutely! We believe the younger generation is a force to be reckoned with and we are so grateful to be able to share their stories and amplify their voices!

Our submissions open monthly or semi-monthly (depending on production time) and anyone who identifies as a member of Gen Z or the Millennial Generation is encouraged to submit! We accept all forms of art, which we define pretty broadly! Any type of literary or artistic endeavor that relates to our most current theme is something that we are incredibly excited to read and has a good shot at publication. Aside from contributing to the magazine artistically, any sort of narrative or blog post/op-ed is also welcome. We also regularly include features for musicians, artists, small business owners, etc. and we accept interview requests.

All submissions can be made via email at, and our DMs on Instagram are always open to questions. We also have several posts and a story highlight dedicated to submitting and submission guidelines.

Of course, we also enthusiastically welcome any new reader with open arms! Any and all support is wonderful, and we look forward to growing our community as much as possible - readers are an essential part of that goal!

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