Only few words seem to encapsulating as much mystery, longing, and wonder as “youth”. If sex is said to sell, youth probably is the Supreme equivalent to that. Linked to being unpredictable, free, able to explore anything and shape everything, there truly is no such feeling as that of endless possibilities. And though fashion is often fixated onto the young, the next, the emerging talents the industry seems to be ambivalent when it comes to youth, divided by an ubiquitous desire to always be in the know of what the next generation is thinking and doing yet also hesitant towards people being too inexperienced.
A paradox especially young creatives are directly affected by – their visions appropriated yet not equally appreciated. Elise by Olsen, 17-year-old editor in chief of her own print publication Recens Paper, made changing this instance her mission. She started her own magazine at the age of 13 and is since then constantly striving to showcase the diverse talent of her generation. “Recens Paper was the result of my personal vision to create a platform for young people I met through the Internet. These people never had the chance to get the word out about their work or were immediately rejected by the industry. The youth’s hidden world which often lies behind the screen is what we want to feature and unite in Recens Paper,” Elise explains the publication, “Speaking from experience, it’s easier to communicate with youth as a teenager yourself. I exist to build young talent; offer a space for young people to voice their ideas.”
To Elise the validation of those ideas goes without question. Demonstrations led by youth, emerging collectives claiming the importance of their rights, and young designers challenging norms are prove to her that the important change comes from her generation. And that it needs to be rightfully acknowledged. “Youth has always had a big impact in terms of setting trends, innovating, and pushing limits. The industry takes advantage of that. The usual misconception I experience from most adults I work with is that I work for free because I “lack experience”. Valuing and treating young creatives and bright minds the same as adults is extremely important. Everyone’s capability should be judged on the work they deliver rather than age.”
For her own work, Elise focuses on authenticity and honesty – attributes she misses in most publications targeted towards her generation. “The only magazine options for youth used to be conventional magazines covering the topics of celebrities, beauty products, and puberty with a Disney-like approach. We are being exposed to 4000-5000 commercials every day – that is extremely manipulating and distracting.” With Recens Paper she wants to provide a counterpart to the often one-sided media coverage. “Recens Paper has no retouching and strives to show diversity in terms of body, gender, and race. We also feature “ad warning borders” to make our already small amount of commercial content visible at first sight.”
It’s no wonder that with such a distinct vision Elise is all about creating the future and leading the way for her generation as well as the next to come. For her, being confident in your own power and that of others isn’t a question of age, but of determination. “I believe in creating a new future, rather than changing the existing one. Unfortunately I think my generation lacks an optimistic view when it comes to that, maybe caused by the political and ecological world crisis happening at the moment. Since the beginning of mankind the youth was at the forefront of shaping what’s to come. With a bit more time and a more optimistic view, now is the opportunity to actively shape the future.”
All photography by Maria Pasenau