We sat down *virtually* with Creative Director, The Moment Editor & Designer, and all around rad human, Jennifer Elsner to discuss the intuitive practice of print publications, small spells, and embodied interaction with design.
Tell us a little bit about yourself! What do you love to do?
I adore what my website, jenniferelsner.com, has to reveal about who I am, why I do, and what I love. What the site doesn’t cover are the small frictions that disrupt me on the regular, and also serve to define who/why/what:
1. I don’t connect with stories that heavily rely on adjectives
2. I’m confounded by drivers who veer a little left just before they turn right
3. I hear the sounds of birds, HVACs, call to prayers, civic vehicles, rocks— and sometimes respond
4. [left intentionally blank]
Can you tell us a little bit about The Moment? What is it? Why did you choose print medium? What do you hope readers experience when they hold a copy in their hands?
PRELUDE: TRUST - I can’t begin to tell you how many clients I’ve pitched a Quarterly Publication to. Some never bit, others showed great interest but not the drive to support and see it through. Jelena was all-in from day one. She, too, wanted a printed piece for Boketto since opening, so her latent desire met my suggestion— and it was off to the races!
Jelena is the ideal client as she trusts me to do what I do best. When someone gives me their trust to take care of them, and, in this case, their business, I thrive. Hats off again and again to Jel for letting me design, edit, and publish The Moment.
ACT ONE: PERSONALITY - The Moment is a (add blurb). Theme, collection, contributors…
ACT TWO: PHYSICALITY - I’ve worked with newsprint before for personal projects and Zines, and gravitate to the physicality of holding something and how that relationship between reader and object interact. The broadsheet-size was a very intentional choice for both reader-experience and “hanger appeal” (Meaning, how it successfully functions in the retail environment). The Moment is meant to be seen, picked-up and tango-ed with. There’s a casualness with newsprint, the quotidian is evoked when you think: newspaper.
That friction between the accessibility of the form and the novel content is something I want the reader to experience. This state of being stretched, I believe, is a sweet spot. It’s where growth happens, or at the very least an openness is provoked.
ACT THREE: HOSPITALITY - As the Editor, contributors’ pieces aren’t necessarily there to convince anyone of anything. But I do want all the work included to be experienced and designed to support the reader being available to the work.
FINALE: And finally (not finally), the spacial awareness one needs when reading The Moment. It’s delightful to imagine, and watch. I take pride in activating the reader in a different way. A full-bodied way. Managing the flimsy nature of large newsprint, yes!
(To be continued…)
How did you conceptualize the themes for The Moment?
It’s a very intuitive process. Which isn’t to say passive. Intuition, in my opinion, is an active process of being open to noticing what’s been submerged. Lived experience. l let it do its thing, processing in the background— and then when they emerge, I manipulate them as material objects,. Drawing threads between the set pieces.
Ha. yeah. It’s a very intuitive process.
Functionally, I might just grab a topic of interest that I feel has legs. And reverse engineer. Looking for work in the world and contributors to invite. Other times I see a story, image, word and say THAT’S IT! Either way, either they stick, lines can be connected, people flood to the concept or it never takes off. And like with Small Spells, I changed course way into the process (See next Q) because it just hit all the notes. Staying nimble is key.
Can you say a bit about your design process?
In my roles as Designer and Editor my approach is to set parameters, fencing in a corral if you will. And these boundaries… it’s not about exteriority, but rather the territory carved out. Does that make sense?
Maybe it’s better said that I design less to the edges and expectations, and rather, within a territory I’ve staked out.
One thing I’ve noticed about my process is it’s a lot about what I don’t choose. I’m a massive editor, ruthless in the best way. I have very little attachment to the time I’ve spent on something. I’m not sentimental. When I’m not feeling something, I don’t work for it. Experience has shown me that if you love the process, you’ll no doubt love the result.
How did you select Small Spells for the newest edition?
So, as I do, it was getting down to the wire, in so far as having not begun Issue 5in earnest. I was at the point where I’m ready to give it all up. I do that. I play out quitting, ducking out. Throwing it all away. But I rarely do. I have come to learn this is part of the process for me. So, here I am, nihilist Jen, driving solo from Richmond to the Hudson Valley and wanting to check in with my pal’s podcast, Magick & Alchemy. The episode Small Spells was an exceptionally rich exchange between the two hosts, but more relevantly, lent itself to being a bunch of “contributions.” So rather than collecting work from a variety of people, I decided I wanted to illustrate Small Spells as sections, myself, and make it the theme.
If you could have a tea or take a Boketto moment (a moment of daydreaming and of rest) with any person dead or alive who would it be? What kind of tea would you have?
Hilma af Klint and jasmine tea. But I’d like to be a fly on the wall, quietly, passively observing— not in conversation.
What does a moment of rest, recharging, or nourishment look like for you?
Taking time alone, away from other humans. And if it can be in someplace unfamiliar to me, well, even better.
What's something you want people to know about you that I wouldn't think to ask.
I promise you that if you are ever a passenger in a car with me, I got you. You might be scared at times. For that I’m sorry. And I promise you, I’m an ace driver.
Pisces / Libra / Leo
Take home a copy of The Moment of your very own here.