How this Columbus magazine is different than the rest (And why we’re super happy to promote what they’re doing)
My last day of May was spent celebrating one of the first issues of The Dollhouse Magazine.
At this issue’s release party, freedom floated through the room. Guests were greeted at the door by a little green blow- up alien. The magazine staff were identifiable in their bright and futuristic garb, with hair and makeup on 10. Fashion editor Archelaine Bing even painted herself pink for the party! The decor included blacklight and a glow-up dance floor, with two DJ sets on the night’s schedule.
The magazine held the release party for their second issue at Brothers Drake Meadery, and has a team stacked with OSU students from both past and present. Not only did the staff have copies of the first and second issues for sale, but also custom Dollhouse earrings, buttons, stickers and shirts.
The Dollhouse, if you’re unfamiliar, is an independent magazine based here in Columbus and founded by CJ Fink. In response to the lack of diversity in Columbus’ art scene, Fink took on the responsibility of creating something new: a magazine by queer students and students of color, for queer students and students of color. A magazine that aimed to highlight these voices and give them a space to be creative in.
“We definitely like work that’s feminist in nature, political in nature, anything like that that’s pushing back against all of the things that are wrong in the country and in the world right now,” the editor-in-chief specified. “We want it to be a way to showcase people’s art”, whether that art be from a queer or non-binary person, a person of color, or a woman.
Fink believes that the Columbus art community needs a stronger intersectional feminist presence.
“It started as a 12-month zine series that I did by myself,” Fink reminisced. “Then we started having shows in my apartment and we just got so much support from the community.”
This love and support was fully seen in January 2019. Despite a snow storm, the then-team of six succeeded in packing the venue for the launch of The Dollhouse Magazine’s premiere issue.
After starting to put the second issue together, Fink reached out to Bing in March to join the team as the seventh member and cover fashion. In addition to being the magazine’s first fashion editor, she is also the first woman of color on the staff . The fashion student sees herself and her identity represented through the magazine’s ideals, values and mission.
“It makes me feel cool to be able to bring a different perspective to the group and actually raise awareness for the things we talk about.”
For photo editor Sara Liptow, the publication came as refuge. When searching on Facebook for a place to live in Columbus, she found that The Dollhouse was looking for tenants. Here she found a new group of friends and a creative space. When the magazine started, Liptow took the role of selecting photography submissions and photographing the magazine’s numerous events. Throughout her experience, she states that her favorite thing about The Dollhouse is that it was built from the ground up and is a true DIY project that gives back.
Shiloh Platt, a friend of the Dollhouse staff, created hand-made t-shirts that were on sale at the party. Although she’s not on the staff, she’s contributed to the publication’s development since it was a zine. She believes in its vision and hopes to celebrate and bring attention to the common human experience.
“Whether it’s being trans or different skin tone, background, culture, women, any issue. Representation is everything… it’s so empowering in a subconscious, but in a very real way.”
The team anticipates the magazine growing larger and larger, both literally and figuratively. The magazine itself is physically increasing in size. Its second issue has nearly twice as many pages as its predecessor and the upcoming third issue could fill even more pages. With increasing awareness of the publication, there have even been submissions from around the world!
“We get them from everywhere. We’ve gotten some from China, Brazil, all over the place,” says Fink. “We thought we’d get mainly just local artists because that’s who knows about Dollhouse, but we get them from everywhere, which is really exciting. We get a lot of queer artists and a lot of women… Things can always read different than you mean for them to, so it’s cool that our message translates well online.”
And while many of the editorial staff are students in local colleges, some, like Fink and Liptow, have recently graduated and are ready to leave Columbus soon to spread The Dollhouse’s message throughout the US. The team plans to continue working together through Skype calls as members move to Cleveland and Chicago, gain help from friends in Philadelphia, and dream of Los Angeles. To forever remember their experience, Fink and writing editor Laurel Hilliard each have a tattoo of The Dollhouse’s logo, and there’s a plan for the rest of the team to get variations of the house to unite them all in sisterhood.
But regardless of where the contributors are, they aim to continue giving back to the individuals and community that formed them. After the tornadoes that hit Dayton at the end of May, The Dollhouse called for Instagram followers to donate to relief efforts. On the night of this party, donations were being accepted for the National Network for Abortion Funds. Beyond that, the group has raised money in the past to help local musicians get essentials, assist people in sticky situations, and donate to local thrift shop, Out of the Closet.
And when it comes to the people who submit their art to the magazine, The Dollhouse makes sure that all contributors receive compensation. With the profits that they make from each issue, they save enough to produce their next issue and then give the rest to artists who are featured.
“Exposure’s great,” Fink adds. “But so many artists are just so used to getting exposure and they never get paid. We’ll all donate out of our pockets to make stuff happen.”
Simply put, The Dollhouse Magazine is a labor of love.
Physical copies of The Dollhouse Magazine’s second issue are available at varying Columbus locations, including the popular off-campus indie spot Kafe Kerouac, Used Kids Records and the Wexner Bookstore on OSU’s campus.
Photos by Sara Liptow