It’s always gratifying to hear of people who choose to forge their own destiny; the ones who happily stick two fingers up at circumstance and, like Frank Sinatra, can look back and say, “I did it my way.”
One happy encounter I made on the web recently was with graphic designer Daniela Di-Benedetto and writer Laura Cude, who together have set up The Lost Generation magazine (in print and online). They’re targeting young, creative individuals who are looking for that vital first step on the ladder and seeking their way out of the wilderness of unemployment or lack of opportunity.
Here’s a brief interview they gave me over email, about their project and aspirations for the future.
Me: Do you feel that the accessibility of the Internet and communications technology has opened up new opportunities or created another platform for worker exploitation?
Daniela and Laura: The Internet has allowed us to instantly connect to struggling creatives, and do this at little to no expense. Doing things "on the cheap" is obviously very important when you're starting out with anything. The Internet has therefore been invaluable to The Lost Generation. On the flipside, the accessibility of such technology means there's a lot of superfluous information, which makes it harder for genuinely good ideas to find their way to the surface.
Me: So how do you go about identifying your target audience and what would you say is your message?
Daniela and Laura: Our target audience are people like us: whether they've gone to uni or not, the Lost Generation is about the young people who have relevant skills and talents for the jobs that they're applying for, but can't seem to get anywhere because we don't have the experience to go with it. The response to our ads has been staggering, and when you hear that youth unemployment increased by 66,000 in the last three months of 2010, it's not surprising.
Our message is if you can't get any paid work, let alone a job in the industry you're actually trained in, then embrace this hostile job seeking environment and do something creative. Whether that be literally turning to the arts or seeking inventive ways to make money, like starting your own business. It is precisely this "do it yourself" mentality that inspired us to create our magazine.
Me: Where do you hope to promote your venture and where would you like to be in two years' time?
Daniela and Laura: The Internet is our most powerful tool to ensure we get the word out about our product and forthcoming publication. It's swift, can reach a mass of people and most importantly, it's free or entails little expense. As our project grows, we would like to promote ourselves in publications that are in a similar vein - such as art and writing mags.
We want the magazine to be a success in the sense that it's doing something progressive about youth unemployment, and promoting high quality work. With our mission in mind, ideally, in two years time I would like there to not even be a need for a magazine such as The Lost Generation, and see the young adults of this country with prospects of paid work - and not have to choose between full time, unpaid internships and long term unemployment.
Me: If you had a message to anyone who is struggling to bring their creativity to the marketplace or to find that first open door, what would it be?
Daniela and Laura: Our message would be to not lose motivation, feel disenfranchised or critical of yourself because of the turbulent job market. There are literally millions in the same boat. If no one will give you an opportunity, then create one for yourself.
Me: How can people get involved in The Lost Generation?
Daniela and Laura: To get involved, all you have to do is drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org along with a few samples of your work. Alternatively, mail us directly via the contact form on our site. So, for anyone who feels drawn to what we’re doing, what are you waiting for!
The URL is: www.thelostgen.co.uk and you’ll find useful links for writers and designers, as well as a warm welcome from an emerging creative community.