She works digitally, prizes print
Gen-Z triple threat Tavi Gevinson is out with “Rookie Yearbook Four,” the final print edition of the 19-year-old’s publication for teen girls. The meticulously curated and designed book features pieces by Rookie website (www.rookiemag.com) contributors and exclusives from Rashida Jones, Florence Welch, and Lorde. Gevinson — digital media wunderkind, writer, and actress — stops at
the Brattle on Sunday.
Q. Because you’re so accessible on social media, do you draw a lot of story ideas from readers?
A. Yeah, I think so. Readers will tell us something they would like to see, or we’ll get a submission that maybe as-is isn’t right, but there’s an element that we want the writer or artist to go back to and push out instead.
Q. What’s your process for writing the editor’s letter?
A. I’m kind of writing all the time in some way. I have a note-card system and a journal and right now, this other thing I’m writing for myself, so I always have a few balls in the air in terms of just ideas that are floating around.
Q. Rookie was born digital. What is it like to be able to hold a yearbook?
A. It’s so nice. I am clearly a huge advocate for using the Internet in a way that’s creative and enriching, and I’m very happy that Rookie is a website because for what our mission is, it’s makes the most sense. We want it to be accessible and make it easy for readers to find each other. And that wouldn’t be the case if we were, say, a monthly print.
But I have collected magazines from a very young age, and often magazines that come out only once or twice a year and feel more like books. So it was really important to me that we would have something like that that memorializes these pieces that I can’t really bear for them to just be in an online archive.
Q. What advice do you have for young writers?
A. You can’t get too in your head before you’ve even started writing, because then you’re not writing, you’re editing. And you’re making it harder for yourself to write because you’re trying to edit something that hasn’t been written yet.
You really just have to do it and get in the habit and give yourself a lot of room to make mistakes or write things that are stupid because you have to get through all of that to get to the good stuff.
It’s not like as soon as you write something down, the world sees it. You’re very safe. It’s not a measure of your character that you should write a sentence that is cliche or silly or trying to hard or any of that.
For me, it’s helped if I’m struggling to sound like myself again and I feel like I’m just reciting facts, I’ll start it as an e-mail to a friend and that helps because the way you talk with a friend is personal and then it all hopefully comes out from there.
Q. You’re at the point where your readers have literally grown up with you.
A. I’m really happy because there’s what I think is a pretty ideal balance between people who are in college now and have been reading Rookie since high school, as well as people who are 13 and just discovering it.
Q. What will it mean for you to no longer be a teen come April?
A. I think that part of getting older is learning how little everyone knows, including you, of course. At this point, nothing is gospel, not to sound disillusioned, but I just mean, you start to see where the adults you admired or your mentors or your heroes have blind spots. No part of me feels like there is actually some huge binary between teen and adult.
Maybe when you’re a teenager a lot of it is concentrated or heightened, but I don’t find that anyone gets to a point where now they have everything figured out. And that’s great. There’d be no reason to keep writing or doing anything if you knew everything. I’m not trying to sound cynical, but it’s really freeing when you realize that no one knows what they’re doing.
It’s not only freeing in the sense that it brings people off their pedestals, it also allows you to be more compassionate to them. I feel like I went through a phase in what’s been a year of living in New York where there was a period of idolizing and a period of disappointment and now — I’d like to hang out in this period for a while — a period of compassion. It’s like, “Of course. Being a human is so hard. Why would this person in my life who is a lot older but is a human know how to do everything ever?”
Q. Since you just started living on your own last year, do you have any advice for Boston’s incoming new freshman?
A. When I lived in my parents’ house, it was easy to keep a mess around, because it would just live in one of those places where there’s mess, like the garage or the basement. And now if I do that, then it just ends up on my coffee table. So I feel like my only my useful advice is get rid of stuff.
Q. What about advice for making new friends?
A. I think when you feel nervous about meeting people, for me at least, I’ll try to conform or withdraw completely. But if you can cut through all the insecurity and actually look at the person in front of you and ask them a question, there’s more of a chance for you to be on the same page and then a friendship could bloom.