Being On The Elan Staff

My name is Reece Braswell, and I am the Junior Art Editor on the Elan staff at Douglas Anderson School of the Arts. It is here where Kathryn (the Senior Art Editor) and I reach out to art schools here in the United States and even in other countries to get submissions from young visual artists who want their creative voices to be heard.

When I first heard about Elan and its thirty-year legacy, I knew instantly I wanted to be a part of its message regarding the view of artists in today’s society. Then I saw the visual art in Elan’s most recent edition and I thought, “How do I get that job?”

And sure enough, now it is! In my position as the Junior Art Editor, it is my responsibility to choose pieces of visual art from students that best connect to the writing that gets accepted. This further brings out the creativity in both art forms, and makes Elan visually-appealing. I am really excited about this position because I connect to visual art as much as I do with writing; to combine them is going to be awesome!

I also can’t wait for the learning experience I am going to get out of all of this; to be in such a professional publication at my age is going to equip me with skills I know I’m going to take with me into the working world, like team-work, communication, and organization.

As our world continues to move forward, we risk becoming distant from each other and disregarding other’s experiences. Art brings out universality by showing another’s view on life through the lens of their own experience; with art, we bridge that gap between the ones around us by bringing out what is the most personal. If we constantly move through our society without seeing what is wrong or what we take for granted, we become ignorant.

That is why Elan is so important; we must keep art alive, and encourage future generations to be proud of their art. Everyone connects to art in some way, be it roaming through an art gallery, reading a good book, or even going to see a concert. Creativity is a gate-way to our humanity, our flaws, our differences.

This is a student-driven literature magazine; it is organized by students, and we only accept student submissions. Before being on the Elan staff, I myself submitted numerous writing pieces to this magazine, hoping they would be published; and a few were! The amount of pride I had as a writer and an artist in those moments of receiving those emails is an indescribable feeling. Our goal on the Elan staff is to kindle what can be done to the future of art; to show writers and visual artists that there is a place for their voice, their expression, no matter how chaotic the world is.

I often wonder if society and our views towards each other would be different if we all embraced art as a necessity; if we would connect to each other by just opening up to the idea of understanding.

Reece Braswell

Growing with a Literary Magazine

Entering my second year as the art editor for Elan, I realize I have learned a lot in my experiences thus far. As a writer, I have been exposed to so many different forms of creativity, opening my eyes to the many individuals who express themselves through their art and the ways in which they do. The expansion of my experiences with art has given me many methods and ideas to work with in my own writing. As a person, I have learned to be more open minded in facing everyday tasks and more responsible for my actions, as what I do or fail to do in Elan can reflect directly into the production of any book or event. I also learned to be more organized in general. I can quickly find ways to make tasks more effective in their methods of execution. Teamwork has been the most useful skill I have acquired overall, however. I have learned how to reach compromises in disagreements and how to rely on others while they rely on me.

In the future, I believe Elan will allow me to become a fully developed leader. Whether I join another literary magazine staff or a debate club, I feel that I will be able to possess a sense of responsibility and leadership that others may not have had experience with yet. What I hope to further gain from this experience is the ability to push. I find that my personality does not allow me to take the place of a more dominant figure that can take charge in any situation. I can lead those who may not know where to go, but I am not yet certain on my ability to take charge of a situation that requires I reach out to people who may not want my input, no matter whether or not it is needed. I would like to change that this year, as the ability to assert insightful dominance into a situation is a skill that I can use in any area of my life to increase the ease in which objectives are accomplished.

Seeing as I am a senior this year, I also have a junior art editor that I am mentoring to fit my role next year. So far, we have gone over the basics of the position and I believe she already knows a lot about all the participation the position calls for. However, I’d also like to guide her to learn as much as I have in Elan as an artist and an individual. Over the course of the year, I want to teach her how to take leadership of the role on her own and how to confidently make the right decisions in the movement of the magazine. In addition, I can only hope that the exposure to new art that Elan poses will also inspire her to  create all kinds of new things that she might not have ever been able to consider otherwise.

Kathryn Wallis, Senior Art Editor

Finding My Place

Elan has always been somewhat of an aspiration for me. The first time I heard about the magazine was at a booster meeting my mom had dragged me along to my freshman year. It had only been a few weeks into school and I was still feeling nervous and unsure of where I’d fit in. Douglas Anderson, though exciting and compelling, was still a place I didn’t feel comfortable with. I wanted to find somewhere I could stand out, or at least something I could strive for. I had an ambitious desire and nowhere to fuel it. When I expressed these feelings to one of my teachers, she told me I belonged on the Elan staff. I was told that if I continued to work hard into my junior year, I’d fit in perfectly with the publication.

As my freshman year went on, I became aware of just how special this magazine was. I purchased one of the print editions at an event and read it cover to cover within a few days. I was amazed at the level of depth my peers were able to reach and how important it was that they were able to be represented in such a professional manner. I continued to devour the books as they came out every year and only felt more pride seeing the names of my friends and eventually myself printed on the pages.

Though classes became harder and my writing life became more of a challenge, the goal of Elan was always on the forefront of my mind. I looked up to the upperclassmen on the staff and tried my best to maintain a solid work ethic. When I was accepted onto the publication this year, I was relieved and terrified. It was the result I’d worked so hard to achieve, but I was immediately skeptical. I wondered if there would actually be a place for me on this staff. The more I learned about the positions and roles, the more I felt like none of them suited me.

When our faculty advisor suggested the role of junior layout and design editor to me, I was surprised. I had no experience with design or the program used to create the magazine. I felt like the most unqualified person for the job. After a week in my position however, my doubt turned into excitement. Learning the obligations of my role, going on creative poster endeavors, and getting to know the finnicky yet endearing software program has been much more enjoyable than I ever could have expected.

This year I hope to learn life skills I wouldn’t be able to without this opportunity. In this class I will be able to put myself into an environment similar to what I will experience as an adult in the workplace. I am looking forward to figuring out what applications my natural aptitudes and talents have in a creative and rigorous atmosphere like Elan.

Shelby Woods, Junior Layout and Design Editor