On March 11th, Room Magazine is hosting its fourth annual literary and arts festival celebrating diverse Canadian writers and artists, Growing Room. The festival was created in commitment to deepen learning about inclusion and accessibility, both within the systemic structures of the festival and the creative curation. Growing Room is a celebration, a protest, a reflection, a re-visioning, a gathering, a question, and a dream.
Nav Nagra, who was recently appointed as the new publisher of Room Magazine is no stranger, having been a collective member since 2014 holding various roles. Her passion for the publishing industry has taken her through various initiatives and organizations throughout the province including consultancy with Breathing Space Creative, serving on the board of Vancouver Art Book Fair and the Professional Development Committee of AFP Vancouver.
We speak to Nav about her journey with Room Magazine and multi-disciplinary skills that have afforded her a wealth of experience in British Columbia’s publishing industry.
Tell us a little about yourself, your work and Room Magazine.
I’m a first-generation Canadian and I feel like this and the culture I was raised within really informed my interest in storytelling. Most of my life was spent living in a multi-generational house with a Grandmother who loved sharing stories and quite frankly, gossip and I think those interactions made me want to become a storyteller. I made sure my education was always centered around books and writing and then shortly before I graduated from university, I found out about Room Magazine and inquired about getting involved with the magazine. I started at Room Magazine in 2014 as the Advertising Coordinator, moved onto our Editorial roster and now am extremely humbled to be Publisher. I have published a few small pieces of poetry and hope this year will bring about a lot more writing for me. I’m also currently working on what I hope will be a novel.
For those who may not be familiar with B.C.’s magazine publishing industry, what are your thoughts on the ever-evolving landscape? What does the future of magazine publishing look like?
I think the future of magazine publishing will see magazines appearing on more than one platform in more than one format. We’re seeing it now with magazines starting podcasts, YouTube channels, and other types of audience engagement. I don’t think print is dead and I may be naive in thinking so, but I don’t see print going anywhere for a while. I do think that magazines need to be a bit nimble going forward and work towards becoming as digitally accessible as possible while maintaining a print presence.
What were the early days of your career like? How did you get to where you are now?
The early days of my career were really formed by me asking a lot of questions and finding ways of getting involved in editorial work. I have an accidental art history background and this led to my work at an art gallery and creating artist catalogues for emerging and established artists. I was almost rabid in my university days trying to find any publication that would allow me to write an article or blog post about pretty much anything. As I moved within my career, I always made sure that I could do something that would bolster my editing abilities and allow me to write. I guess I am where I am now because I would always say yes and then scope out the next opportunity. And though I acknowledge that not everyone has the privilege of doing this, I am very glad I was able to.
What inspires you as a creator?
I am very inspired by music and movies. I love reading but I find that I am so baffled by the talent of the writers I read that I never feel I can create such amazing works so I take the emotions I feel from movies and music and translate that into my writing and other creations. My influences change so quickly it’s really hard to narrow it down. Right now, I would say from a writing standpoint, I am most inspired by Carmen Maria Machado, Roxane Gay, and Chelene Knight. Oh! And Fleabag – I found so much inspiration from that show.
What advice would you give to someone starting out in the industry?
Ask questions! The art of asking is real and if you’re able to, ask lots of questions. One thing that I like to do if I’m interested in a certain aspect of the industry is I ask if I can go to coffee with someone just to find out how they got where they are or if they have any advice. For the most part, folks are more than happy to sit down with someone to share some wisdom. I know that I would not be where I am if I hadn’t just asked.
What accomplishments are you most proud of?
As of now, it’s definitely becoming the Publisher of Room Magazine. If you had asked me in 2014 where I thought my path would lead with Room, I would have never thought I would end up as Publisher. I am so humbled in my role and by the team at Room.
Are there any upcoming events or initiatives in the pipeline for Room Magazine?
Yes! Our Growing Room literary and arts festival is happening in Vancouver from March 11th – 15th and features so many amazing artists and writers. You can find out more and get your tickets at festival.roommagazine.com.
Visit Room Magazine’s website for more information.