Tori West: The Young Publisher Disrupting the Magazine Industry and Challenging Taboos

Cover image of Bricks Magazine by Tori West

Bricks Magazine by Tori West

Tori West is not your average 24-year-old. The Wales-raised, London-based editor already has three homegrown publications to her name and has worked as the social editor for i-D magazine. In addition to running her own publications, West does freelance projects and is currently collaborating with Village to build an editorial platform dedicated to youth culture called Neighbourhood. Though she may be best known for her fashion glossy, Bricks Magazine, or her digital romance-inspired Disaster Zine, it’s really her latest venture, Flaps, that caught our eye.

The yet-to-be released publication, which we included in our recent Gen Z: Sex Education 2.0 report (subscribers check it out here), aims to educate and inspire young readers about sex in an honest, refreshing, and innovative way. We recently sat down with Tori to hear more about her creative process as well as the need for imagery that challenges taboos and celebrates sexual diversity.

Tell us more about you. What did you study in school, where have you worked,  and what are you up to now?

My name is Tori, I’m a 24-year-old London-based publisher and editor of Bricks Magazine. I grew up in a small town in Wales called Caerphilly where all my family still live and I studied fashion communication BA(Hons) at Bristol UWE. I used to be the social editor at i-D and I currently work freelance alongside helping Village build a new editorial platform dedicated to youth culture called Neighbourhood. 

What inspired you to start making zines and magazines? How do you balance the different projects and keep each one moving forward? 

I fell in love with publishing in the  final year of my degree, I loved the process of collaborating with other creatives, a final print, a community brought together by a specific idea- all that is my way of feeling like I belong to something. I guess publishing is my coping mechanism, I feel better about myself when I can support people. All of my projects offer people a platform to explore, provoke and encourage conversation; I want to share the voice of young creatives and people across the globe. The only unfortunate thing about print is the cost. I grew up poor, so I’ve never had any money; I had no savings and had 3 jobs throughout uni to stay afloat. I was very lucky that my university believed in my ideas when I graduated and offered to support me financially.

Why do you prefer making your own zines over buying larger more established publications such as Vogue or Love Magazine?

I feel as though when you’re a huge magazine, you’re solely running because of your advertisers, which over time can heavily manipulate your output. It may bring money but it also brings hierarchy, it gets harder to represent lesser-known creatives because you have to be working with the most established ones in the industry to keep up your credibility. I’m lucky with BRICKS, making money has never been my focus, I can work with whomever I want to represent, I want to share the voice of people that deserve to be listened to. I don’t want to get to the point where my work benefits people with money and not our audience.

How did Flaps Magazine come about? What inspired you to launch it?

I believe the greatest tool we have as human beings is the ability to communicate with each other, express ourselves. It’s incredible to think we can have conversations and educate one another, but more often than not, we don’t. When it comes to sex and/or our own body we shy away because it’s so personal. I just want to provide a comfortable space to talk about all these things. For me, Flaps is necessary. Creatives I’ve worked with previously for BRICKS are creating a 300-page book-like magazine, documenting individuals or couples naked around the globe whilst asking for their personal thoughts on sex education and body image. I’m so frustrated with the media’s current click-bait approach towards body image sex and feminsm. Flaps is our chance to create an honest educational approach to this.

When will the zine release and where will we be able to find it?

Originally, I wanted it to be released this September, but I just want to get it right. It’s a huge project, I want to make sure we’ve covered as many topics as we possibly can so I don’t want to rush it, I’m considering publishing it later in the year so give me more design and edit time. It will be stocked independently, in our favourite indie bookstores over the world and museums, stocked on our online site and some copies will be donated to high school libraries.

How do you feel about sex education today? What is lacking and what do you wish there was more of?

One of the things that really hit me this year is that my younger sister is currently 13-years-old and now having sex education at school. Her best friend in her class is gay, but they only teach same-sex education. It just brought me back to when I was her age 11 years ago, I confused about my sexuality and felt uncomfortable with my body cause I didn’t understand it. I needed that information then, I needed someone to talk to but more importantly, I needed people to be having these conversations already. If we grew up in a space where sex, gender and image where regularly discussed, we’d feel less like outsiders or embarrassed to open up, we’d realize we’re all-different, it would be easier to accept ourselves for who we are and not what we think we should be. Sex education should be a lot more than just learning about puberty, putting on a condom and understanding pregnancy once a semester.

Love this? Follow Tori on Instagram here.

For more from our WGSN Youth Editor, follow Sara here

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