Artist Spotlight: Isis Nicole Magazine

The Isis Nicole Magazine (or IN Magazine for short, named after its founder) is unabashedly colorful, vibrant and glittery, often spotlighting women of color: think Tumblr come to life. The Chicago-based publication is the perfect blend of traditional print media and Internet age fervor. Isis and the other half of the magazine, Hannah Black, are not only creative partners but real life gal pals who always make sure to Snapchat each other about their days. The two tell ACRO what IN Magazine is all about and how they balance work and fun:

ACRO: So what is IN Magazine?

Hannah Black: We’re a print platform that collaborates with artists. We love all things beautiful, glamorous, new, ahead of the trend but not “trendy,” and fashion, music and design-related. We describe ourselves as Tumblr in real life. Social media gives us a lot of new artists to collaborate with; it’s how we meet new people and find work. We see ourselves as a platform for the Internet generation in a print voice.

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Why take an online medium and make it print?

Isis Nicole: It’s been my passion since I was nine years old. It’s intentional. I have never pictured myself not having a print publication in my life. Paranoia has something to do with it as well. I’m afraid of being limited to Tumblr or an online space only, which can be deleted. It’s so ephemeral and can disappear. A beautiful [tangible] product is exciting to have instead of ephemeral media. Hannah and I grew up reading magazines and catalogues, so it just comes naturally and it’s authentic to both of us and our passions in print.

What kinds of artists do you feature?

I: Our readers are, a lot of the time, our contributors who are seeking to express their art. I like to see people make their ideas come true. We naturally form a community that way. We’re not a giant corporation that has a lot to worry about as far as advertisers and an audience goes. We can do what we want and give voices to those the Internet exposes to us. It takes a couple of years for online talents to get featured in major publications, so if we can be an in-between step as a platform in a print magazine, that’s exciting.

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A lot of the featured artists in the magazine appear to be women of color. Is that intentional?

I: We have the intention of showing diversity, so yes, we definitely think about including diverse voices. Before, it just so happened to be that way, but we are a lot more conscious of our decisions when it comes to people of color that we feature in the magazine. We don’t want to tokenize people, so it’s a balancing act of being aware of peoples’ art and their voices rather than just, “Oh I want to hire a black writer to tell a story.” Hannah did a great job with our last cover story with Barf Troop. I wasn’t entirely familiar with their Tumblr and music, but what I learned is that they are a nonbinary rap collective, and we got a lot of positive feedback for the feature and what they represent.

H:  I was familiar with Barf Troop from Tumblr and was really excited about them being vocal about being nonbinary and the challenges they face in an image-based, binary industry. It’s awesome to have that kind of conversation and shine a light on the gender binary in our last issue in a conversational way and not in a “trendy” way. We’re not doing it for clicks or likes.

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How did you two meet?

H: We met at a Glossier event in Chicago 2014 in the W Hotel. Isis had set Glossier up with the W Hotel location for the event. I was just there to buy some makeup before the holiday season. I had printed some graphic design samples to bring home to my family so I had some magazines in my bag and Isis had some magazines in her bag, and I was like, “This is like the coolest thing I’ve ever seen.” I hit her up and she said she needed someone to develop the next issue so we formed a working relationship from there.

But that transitioned into a genuine friendship. What’s that dynamic like?

H: For me, the relationship we have kind of informs not only the magazine but the way I navigate relationships in general. We have very, very open communication. We’re constantly texting, talking on Snapchat and we call each other for an hour a day. So you can’t hold any grudges or resentment. We work through stuff very quickly; you want to get back to being normal friends and not only worry about business.

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You can find Isis Nicole online at:

their website | Instagram | Tumblr | and of course, in print!

Originally written for Acro Collective: CLICK HERE FOR THE STORY.

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