I realized just how far you can get just by asking for the things you need.
In 2006, Elana Schlenker founded the non-profit arts and culture magazine The Original when she was in still in school at the University of Pittsburgh. She didn’t have a network, know any writers or photographers, or have a plan for distribution. All she knew was that she really, really wanted to make something real. She gave The Original life and learned a few key lessons. She said, “I realized just how far you can get just by asking for the things you need. People can be incredibly helpful and supportive if you give them the opportunity, especially if you’re able to get them excited about what you’re doing.”
Now six years later she’s still doing what she loves, making magazines. Her current passion project, Gratuitous Type, a “pamphlet of typographic smut” draws on her experience with The Original and allows her to make something that’s all her own. We asked her what challenges she has experienced publishing Gratuitous Type.
She said, “If anything, the biggest challenge is that now everyone can do it, how do you cut through the noise and differentiate yourself? How do you keep people interested in what you’re doing when there are so many other things out there to occupy their attention?”
Attention to detail warrants our attention and Gratuitous Type is full of hand-crafted elements. Elana presents a beautifully curated selection of interviews, conversations, and of course letters. Each edition is hand-numbered and features intricate production elements like perforated peel-away centerfolds and silk-screened inserts. Gratuitous Type looks and feels like a labor of love—a love for the content and for print.
We pre-ordered Issue 2 and are awaiting it’s arrival. In the meantime, check it out here.