By Harry Clarke
For Ryerson journalism student Natalie Michie, creativity is a form of freedom that can create “magic.” This magic is represented in the creative storytelling of the new Toronto-based online publication Trick Magazine, created by third-year Ryerson journalism students Michie, Cheyenne Bolla and Raviya Singh.
“When people aren’t given creative boundaries,” said Michie, “the work produced feels so much more real and genuine.”
Launched on Feb. 20, the independent feminist publication Trick Magazine works to provide creativity in ways they don’t see reflected in the Ryerson journalism program through art, poetry, photography, short films and personal essays, according to co-founder and graphic designer Singh.
“There has been a standard cookie cutter way of doing things in [the journalism program],” said Singh. “The reason we created Trick is because we felt confined by the limitations that it imposes.”
Singh strayed away from the mainstream expectations of the industry, as it never gave her a place to fit into. The representation and coverage of women of colour was incredibly important and something they wanted to implement through Trick, said Singh.
“The things I wanted to explore in my art to uplift other women of colour weren’t as readily available to me through the journalism industry,” said Singh.
Trick’s creators are not the only Toronto-based publication that wants to uplift marginalized voices. Among those magazines is StyleCircle, the independent student-run Ryerson fashion magazine that used the pages of its fifth anniversary issue to discuss the need for inclusivity in the fashion industry. Toronto-based magazine The Humming Magazine works similarly by showcasing the work of marginalized creatives at quarterly events.
“What makes us different [from other publications] is that we’re open to anything,” said Bolla. “We want it to be a platform where people can experiment with their creativity.”
The first three articles from the magazine—written by all three co-founders—focuses on themes such as sisterhood, mental health and drug use.
Bolla said writing about her experience with psilocybin mushrooms is a good example of Trick’s limitlessness. Though nervous about sharing her work about the sensitive topic, she was encouraged by Michie to write the idea after hearing how the experience had impacted her.
“I had so much anxiety about how [the article] was going to be received,” said Bolla. “But I ultimately decided to stick with it because I think it’s a true reflection of how boundless we want Trick to be.”
The first of Trick’s submissions is a piece from writer and visual artist Martina Gordon, “Who I Want To Be vs. Who I Need to Be.” Gordon said Trick was the perfect platform to share her piece on the experience of growing up as a Black woman.
“As a Black writer, I find myself having to choose between being able to creatively express myself and appealing to the masses,” said Gordon. “The narrative of Black women [shouldn’t] be censored and I know that their platform is meant to uplift your content the way it is.”
Gordon added that she has come across the work of Black writers so heavily edited by magazines to the point that it’s hard for her to relate to. Trick’s dedication to uplifting all types of unfiltered voices made her feel more represented.
The lack of marginalized voices has been a long pressing issue in Canadian newsrooms, with less than 3.4 per cent of journalists being people of color.
“[With Trick] I was able to express myself freely and unapologetically,” said Gordon.
The three students say they are mostly inspired by Toronto’s culturally diverse art scene. Bolla said that one of her biggest inspirations come from Toronto’s spoken word community, specifically Toronto-based art collective Blank Canvas Toronto’s monthly spoken word event “Dead Poet.”
Creating Trick Magazine has come with its challenges—such as keeping up with school.
“Over reading week we prioritized Trick because it’s our baby, but we also have school,” said Bolla. “Now I have to be allotting days to work on the details [of the magazine] while getting [school] work done.”
Despite this, Singh added that the freedom of being able to contribute to her own independent publication has fuelled her creativity and helped her grow into her identity.
Michie said focusing on how to market the magazine is a tough learning process she’s still very excited about.
“We’re learning more about the art scene in Toronto,” said Michie. “[We’re] trying to network more and pay attention to other platforms. We still have a lot to learn but are very excited to keep growing.”
Singh says followers should expect a submission showcase and a small zine this summer. The three are hopeful that they can build a community in that time.