Behind the scenes: Agapornis magazine
As a person more than averagely obsessed with animals, I was very excited to see another independent title about animals hit the shelves this Spring. Barcelona-based Agapornis magazine is all about the importance of having animals in our lives and how they influence culture, art and fashion.
Unable to find a cultural magazine about animals rather than a how-to guide to keeping them, Toni Chaquet, Iván Jiménez and Laura Mata decided to start one themselves. With their second issue right around the corner, I caught up with Toni to talk about the magazine and what we should expect from the next issue.
Spain has a rather gloomy history of animal welfare, but this seems to be improving. What’s the current state?
Yes, luckily it seems that people are becoming more conscious of animal rights. Just recently, the Spanish law was changed so that the punishment for animal cruelty is tougher, and only last week, three people were sentenced to prison for harming animals.
In your editor’s letter, you write that not only is there an increase in the number of households with pets, people also seem to appreciate their pets more. Why do you think that is?
I think we’re a new generation whose idea of animals is different from our parents’. I grew up with dogs, but we kept them outside; today, animals are considered a real part of the family, not merely mouse-catchers or property guards.
Maybe as a result of that development, we have seen quite a few independent animal magazines launch over the last two years; Puss Puss, Four & Sons, Cat People, Pet People… What separates Agapornis from the rest?
Yes, we didn’t know of any of the other ones when we first started talking about Agapornis. We were a bit scared when we saw other titles launching, but we soon realised ours is still unique – we didn’t want to talk about any specific animal because when you really love all animals it’s so difficult to choose one of them. Agapornis is all about the importance of having animals in your life, and how they influence the contemporary culture. So we link them with arts, fashion, photography, illustration, etc.
I think the feature on cats as part of therapy for children with Aspergers is a great example of that. Do you have any similar stories in your upcoming issue?
Yes, we have done a feature on how people feel when their pet dies.
Have you ever experienced that yourself?
As a kid we had two dogs dying from a mosquito-borne disease. My father buried them and I remember seeing him crying. After that, my parents decided not to have another dog. So I didn’t have another one until Iván and I got our Dachshund, Picnic.
Making Agapornis must involve meeting a lot of animals – I’m very envious. If you can pick one, what’s been your greatest experience?
We do meet a lot of animals, and a lot of animal-loving people. We knew animals are great, but I think we’ve been surprised by all the amazing people we have met. I think one of the greatest experiences must have been meeting Gabi, who’s featured in issue one. He’s almost built a mini zoo in his garden, and before meeting him we thought he was a bit of a freak. But it turned out that he was actually sheltering animals that others had abandoned. His relationship to the animals was very special, and especially to his puma Lasha – unless he visits her every day, she stops eating. Their relationship was quite magical.
You’re currently finishing off your second issue – what should we expect from that?
We’re following the same model as with the first issue; a diverse mix of stories featuring exotic animals alongside domestic ones, and combining it with animal-inspired art and fashion. In each issue we feature a different shelter, which, when buying Agapornis online, you can choose to support with €3. For our next issue we’re featuring Tierra de Animales (TDA) in Mexico, a shelter taking in all kinds of animals: from turtles to chickens, horses or pigs that have been mistreated or abandoned.
With a second issue comes a lot of responsibility. The reception of our first issue has been great, so the expectations are naturally high for the next issue. But we think it’s a great issue and we’re very excited about it. We have also started working with a distributor, which means we’ll have more time to work on the different aspects of the magazine, and hopefully reach more people. Another step towards that is to further develop our website to include a blog where we could post continuously.
We’re all new to magazine publishing and the learning curve is steep, but we love doing it, and hopefully one day we’ll be able to work on it full-time!
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