Auroras & Blossoms, Cendrine Marrouat and David Ellis (Interview)
Interviewed by Melissa Logan
Auroras & Blossoms, founded by Cendrine Marrouat and David Ellis, publishes “positive, uplifting, and inspirational written and visual art” from artists of all ages. Beginning in early 2019 as a poetry journal, Auroras & Blossoms now publishes a variety of genres and produces anthologies, books, and guides for writers. They also started PoArtMo, originally shorthand for Positive Art Month/Positive Art Moves, which brings attention to positive art in the month of June and promotes the creation of positive art year-round. PoArtMo now stands for Positive Actions Rally Thoughts & Momentum and has expanded to foster a community of people sharing positive ideas and stories. To learn more about Auroras & Blossoms, visit https://abpositiveart.com or find them on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. They can be contacted at email@example.com.
How did you come up with the name for Auroras & Blossoms?
David:- It was at the beginning of our creative partnership. Cendrine & I both wanted to settle on a name that made sense to us, when it comes to positivity, upliftment, and inspiration. I have been very fond of the pairing of the words “aurora” and “euphoria”, especially how good the sun/sunlight makes you feel first thing in the morning. Cendrine has a deep passion for writing Japanese poetry and adores cherry blossoms. We thought of our platform growing and flourishing in the future.
The blossoming of our creative forces came together, and Auroras & Blossoms was then born!
Why did you choose to make Auroras & Blossoms specifically family-friendly, and to accept submissions from teenagers?
Cendrine:- We believe that art is a universal language. As such, it should be shared with everyone, no matter their age, and used as a vehicle for important conversations.
Most magazines have an “either or” approach when it comes to their focus. It is either adult artists or young creatives. There is no in-between. Our motto is inclusivity in every possible way.
Young people have a lot of powerful things to tell and teach us about the world. We want their voices to be heard too.
What made you initially decide to focus on poetry, and what made you choose to expand the scope of Auroras & Blossoms from poetry to other forms of art?
David:- We focused on poetry initially because that was our background and specialty when it came to the books that we had previously published. Cendrine & I have been writing poetry for years, but we have ties to the art world as well. Cendrine is a talented photographer, and we have both dabbled in short story forms, humor, flash fiction, and other artistic projects.
It became apparent to us both that as much as we adore poetry as a medium of expression, we were missing out on connecting with the rest of the artistic community to help them release their potential. This is why we expanded the scope of our platform to cover a variety of different art forms, visual and written, in order to fully embrace the notion of being inspirational artists who support a much wider community of talented creators.
How does the digital format of the journal affect the publishing process?
Cendrine:- Auroras & Blossoms is a digital platform, so we do not provide anything in print.
From experience, compared to the print format, the digital format is easier to work with. It is also much cheaper, hence allowing us to provide quality publishing opportunities to the many artists who do not have the knowhow or time to release their own books; and pay them ongoing royalties in the process.
How does the publishing process differ between your anthologies and your other books?
David:- I would say that there is more scope for errors to turn up in the anthologies for us to have to edit because we are dealing with a large number of different artists and artistic mediums. There are a lot of moving parts and things we need to lay out professionally. Regarding our books that we (Cendrine & I) co-write and publish individually, I would say that the process is much faster, smoother, and efficient when it comes to publishing because we tend to have a lot of information that carries over from our previous books regarding our bios and our stories behind writing them. As hard-working editors, we try to ensure that the submissions to our anthologies are well edited before they are accepted by us and we will then tweak them accordingly, if further edits are required. We would be unlikely to accept submissions that are poorly edited, as this would create hours of work for ourselves that should have been covered by the person submitting their work to us. We are not getting paid to edit their work and we have enough on our plate vetting, formatting, publishing, and promoting the submissions for our publications!
Finally, it is worth noting that we can publish our own books faster compared to the anthologies because we are not subject to submission deadlines; some of our projects have long deadlines to give people plenty of time to submit to us. We have no such constraints with our own individual projects.
I noticed that in addition to selling the journal itself you also sell some merchandise like clothes, face masks, and stickers. How did you decide what types of merchandise to create and sell, and how much do merch sales help keep the journal running?
Cendrine:- Our decision was based on the market studies we conducted to find out the kind of merchandise people were the most likely to purchase.
A platform like ours takes time, hard work, and money to be run. Merchandising rarely brings a lot of money, so it is vital to understand the importance of diversity in a business strategy. That is why we do not just rely on merchandising. We run regular submission calls for anthologies, a monthly art prompt, an artistic movement (PoArtMo), and a series of guides for authors and artists. We are also constantly inventing new poetry forms and artistic expression mediums as well!
NB: We are not salaried and do not use sponsors/advertising. Our only sources of revenue are submission fees, donations, and book issue sales.
How did your work with the journal influence the creation of Positive Art Month/Moves?
David:- That is a very good question! When we started the journal (which is now closed and we focus on anthologies instead), we were consciously aware of National Poetry Writing Month (NaPoWriMo) in April, which actually inspired us to release an anthology of works created within this particular month. It became our first successfully produced anthology called The Auroras & Blossoms NaPoWriMo Anthology: 2020 Edition. One of the most important things we noticed about the wonderful NaPoWriMo community of poets that gets together to write for an entire month is that it only lasts a month and people have to wait patiently for the next one for a whole year!
We really wanted to start our own unique positive movement and while we wanted it to be focused on a specific month to foster/encourage creativity, we also wanted it to be accessible by anyone throughout the year, even if you found out about it well after the month of June (which is the month we picked to host the event itself). We therefore came up with the idea for hosting a “Positive Art Month” in June every year to create a community event for people to participate in that embraces all inspirational art forms. In order to keep the vibe going throughout the year and beyond, that’s where we came up with the additional concept of “Positive Art Moves” because art can move people in ways that nothing else can, regardless of when and where it is experienced.
What are your future goals for Auroras & Blossoms?
Cendrine & David:- The same as before. Auroras & Blossoms will always promote positive, uplifting, and inspirational written and visual art; and give artists (ages 13 and over) of all levels a platform where they can showcase their work and build their publishing credits.
Do you have any advice for people interested in a career in publishing and editing?
Cendrine & David:- Editing is a lot of hard work but very rewarding when you get to see how much you can polish a piece of writing until it gleams. That is the goal, to make the writing sing and give it the best light possible. If you want to do well in editing, you need to be someone who has keen attention to detail (we are talking about being meticulous regarding spelling, grammar, and punctuation!)
You have to be good at spotting errors/mistakes in pieces of writing. You need to be someone who reads a lot, preferably multiple different genres, so that you can appreciate good and bad writing when you see it, then you can apply the lessons you have learnt to the pieces you are editing. You need to build a good reputation for yourself, be it through a company that offers Editing Services or through your own client bank if you decide to go freelance.
When it comes to publishing, you can try to apply for jobs in the traditional publishing industry or do it yourself, via some self-publishing platforms. Not everyone has a flair for it, but a lot of things can be learnt with hard work, dedication, and patience. You must also be willing to work with other creatives who can help you with editing/formatting (you need to have a partner as a co-editor or if that is not possible then hire a decent editor to check over your work). You especially need someone who is confident in cover design. Good covers are extremely important in the publishing world, they need to be eye-catching and professionally made, if you want to make serious impacts on your readers. Learn how to promote yourself with good etiquette on social media; Auroras & Blossoms can help with this, as we have extensive books that cover these topics (pun intended!), along with also providing artistic prompts to boost creativity too.