“I learned that being an artist exists outside the platters of paint, you can be an artist of anything."
Liz Hunt is a dynamic creative force who is the accomplished Editor-in-Chief of Ethereal Magazine. Breaking free from the confines of traditional artistic norms, she discovered her unique artistic expression in the realms of ripping, gluing, photography, and more. Liz's passion for societal and cultural matters, fueled by her social science background, led her to Ethereal being a gateway for engaging discussions on important issues.
Tell us a bit about yourself…
LH: The Past
I found a journal entry from my 16-year-old self titled:
“I want to be an editor of a magazine or a stylist but I just don’t know how lol w I will ever get there :( ”
If you can’t draw a 3D model of a fruit basket you can’t attend art school and with no drawing abilities, I was bound by my school's idea of what is traditionally deemed as an “artist.”
I am now 23 and the current editor of this magazine for nearly 3 years. I learned that being an artist exists outside the platters of paint, you can be an artist of anything. For me, it was ripping and gluing up pieces of paper or capturing moments with my camera. Leaving the confinements of education is daunting but the prospect of allocating more time to creative endeavors is rather exciting. Reading academic journals on the way to a sea shoot or editing the magazine in the library foyer wasn’t as glamorous as one imagines an editor to be.
It is only now that I appreciate the value of my social science degree, it has taught me so much about societal, environmental, political, and cultural matters. Although, I found that academic journals were inaccessible to the average reader. I wanted our website to act as a gateway to issues that matter to us (like the climate crisis or intersectional feminism) in an engaging and interesting manner that speaks to young people.
Some creative spheres can feel a bit competitive that limits the conditions of cultivating meaningful connections but I believe there is room for us all to create together and forge meaningful friendships.
I want Ethereal to continue to act as an outlet for creatives in the west of Ireland because we really lack these spaces. I would love a non-alcoholic physical safe space for neurodivergent LGBTQ+ creatives in Galway, a place for crochet workshops, swap shops and roller discos. The future of Ethereal remains unknown but I am about to open submissions for the next edition soon. Regardless, I will always make magazines even if that's for my friends. It gives me such purpose and allows me to express myself freely.
Photo: Liz Hunt
Can you tell us about your journey in creating your own magazine? What inspired you to start this venture?
LH: Pelted by the sky I dwindled by way to campus evading hail on my travels. My college placement officer was startled by my ambitions to work at a magazine, she told me that these types of internships were only for journalism students.
We have some magazines in Ireland but they are mostly based in Dublin and none of them really spoke to me the way ID or Dazed did. There is so much creativity radiating in Galway it doesn’t even know what to do with it, it was a frustrating place to be in. I was finding it hard to connect with people in college, all these elements combined, I posted an advertisement on Instagram in late 2020. Navigating a magazine during a pandemic was interesting because we had to revert to home photoshoots and it was not the moment. We have grown so much since then, Ethereal has become a sanctuary where I have met the majority of my friends and it is quite beautiful to think it was through the art of creating. I may be biased but it feels like such a supportive inclusive queer, neurodivergent space where we constantly inspire each other.
Photo: Liz Hunt
How do you balance maintaining creative control over the magazine while also being open to different perspectives and ideas?
LH: The essence of Ethereal is ever-evolving, it is a constant flow of people’s ideas and perspectives. I think creative autonomy is key to collective creation if individuals aren’t creating what they truly want to create. What is the point? I want everyone’s stories to be shared through their lens, to keep these truths intact. Obviously, there are times when someone’s perspective may not align with mine but it opens my mind to new ideas I have never thought about.
In what ways has the fashion show, "A Midsummer Night's Dream" set a precedent for engaging with the broader Irish artistic community?
LH: “A Midsummers Night’s Dream” was a community-led project, I knew curating this show wasn't going to be a conventional fashion show, we didn’t borrow clothes off a few mannequins downtown and cast some typical models. We opened the call out to every young person in Galway. I wanted every aspect of the show to be sustainable and a product of the community. Garments were sewed out of curtains, elf ears and the fairy wings were woven by wire, clothes were borrowed from charity shops, vintage shops, even my wardrobe! The backdrops were painted by local artists, spoken word, and sound produced by my best friends. I learned a lot about implementing pillars of sustainability, it was difficult to attain plus sizes and men’s clothing in charity shops. I think when engaging with the broader Irish artistic community it is important to include everybody but you have to be aware there are also going to be challenges along the way.
Photo: Liz Hunt
Are there any future projects, events, or initiatives that you have in mind to continue building your community?
LH: We put on an Ethereal art exhibition earlier this year “The Essence of Vulnerability” and it was a really special night to showcase young artists’ creations in Galway. I feel like a lot of art exhibitions are often gate kept or require a sense of professionalism but this was free space for people to come together to stick up the poems they wrote in their bedrooms, splatters of paint or the photos they have taken on a borrowed camera that made them feel alive. I would love the opportunity to hold more of these types of events.
If you could describe your thought process during your work on Ethereal Magazine as a song, what would it be?
LH: That is a great question! There is a Spotify playlist called “Witchcraft”that I listened to a lot when I was editing.
It represents long nights with Maia, where we became wizards and taught ourselves adobe photoshop and tore our hair out while doing so. But it also symbolizes the nights we would lay on her floor and exchange our life stories. In some ways, aspects of the magazine are a product of these evenings.
Photo: Liz Hunt
What have been some of the most rewarding aspects of creating your own magazine? Are there any standout moments or achievements that you are particularly proud of?
LH: That I get to explore so many creative facets by my own means, writing, photography, styling, makeup, event management, graphic design, directing, and video editing. People are always asking which one I am going to pursue and I love that I get to experiment with them all, Working on my own creative timeline also suits my ADHD because I get random bursts of inspiration in the early mornings and I get to run with it, it’s funny when you run a magazine you realize how constructed these roles are, I am just making it all up as I go along.
When I first came to Galway in 2019 I walked past the window of Charlie Byrne's Bookshop. They had a section dedicated to magazines in the rearview and I longed for a print that made me feel seen. I walked past my reflection the other day to Ethereal in that very spot it felt like a full circle moment.
The second standout moment was in 2022 at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin. The last award of the night, my dress zip had broken and I was called on stage to collect the Irish Independent “Editor of the Year” at the Student Media Awards. Being the first magazine editor to ever receive this award. As a self-taught neurodivergent magazine maker who created it from my bedroom, I was really proud of myself for that.
Photo: Liz Hunt
How do you approach diversity and inclusivity in your magazine? Is it important for you to showcase a range of perspectives and voices?
LH: Diversity and inclusivity are integral to the magazine, in terms of inclusivity, the space has always been open to everybody attending UG. No experience is required for any of our roles. We want everyone to have the same opportunities when it comes to creating as we know the creative industry is crowded with a certain socio-economic class that can afford unpaid internships.
A report from the National Council for the Training of Journalism (NCTJ) revealed that 80% of journalists come from professional and upper-class backgrounds. Obviously we have acted as a student-based magazine. There are no paid positions but we wanted everyone to gain some experience before we flee to the “real world.”
I want the magazine to truly represent the Galway community, that’s why when choosing models for a photoshoot I often put the names of everyone that is interested and pull out names out of a hat. That way I have no preconceived ideas about what someone looks like. But we can always do more to be more diverse and inclusive, so I am always looking for ways to make sure people feel like they are represented and included.
Are there any particular Irish artists or creative figures who have had a significant influence on your work?
LH: There are so many inspiring female creatives in Ireland, Niamh Barry @narryphotographyvids, a queer photographer from Cork has certainly inspired my film photography as well as my friend Kate @daisychainsphotos, two very talented individuals, photography is such a male-dominated profession, and it's so important we platform women in front and behind the camera.
Finally, what advice or words of encouragement would you give to aspiring creatives who are looking to make their mark in the artistic world?
LH: I feel like I haven't made my mark in the artistic world yet, perhaps in this tiny part of the world but I guess that still means something.
I always wanted to know how to be an editor and soon I realized you can just embody it and people will accept you as one. No one ever said I could be an editor but here we are. Everyone is genuinely making it up as they go on.
Keep up to date with Liz Hunt and explore more of her work below and check out her magazine, Ethereal.