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D&AD Festival Speaker Interview: Anorak

Cathy Olmedillas is Founder and Creative Director of Anorak, an independent kids publishing house established in 2006. Anorak parked their colourful caravan and family workshops at D&AD Festival over the Exhibition weekend.

Ahead of these workshops in the interview below Cathy reveals more about the history of Anorak, what we can learn from kids' creaivity, and what she was most excited about seeing at D&AD Festival.

Anorak Magazine Museum issue

First of all, can you describe what Anorak is?

Anorak is the Happy Mag for Kids, aimed at kids aged 6+. It first started off as a magazine and then grew to become a publishing house producing kids books and other magazines, such as DOT for pre-schoolers, and an illustration collective Studio Anorak.

Why did you decide to start Anorak?

Anorak Magazine

I have always had a passion for magazines and in the 1990s I was privileged to work for lifestyle youth bibles such as The Face and Sleazenation. When I became a Mum, I looked at the kids’ magazine market and couldn’t find anything that wasn’t either hyper-commercial or throw-away. I remembered the magazines and annuals I used to read as a child and decided to launch one that will have the same creative qualities. It had to be all about culture, creativity, having fun and learning, rather than being a brand extension of some TV character.

What have you learned about your own creative approach from working with children?

I came to creativity quite late in my life, as - prior to making Anorak - I had no idea I was creative. I didn’t know whether I could edit, commission or even write. Working with and for kids has basically given me the key to a previously unexplored area of my brain! The main thing I have discovered is how free and spontaneous kids are in their thinking. They have direct access to imagination, which us grown-ups often lack the time/energy or opportunity to explore. I feel grateful that my job is to think like a kid and imagine like a kid.

Anorak Magazine Imaginarium

Can you tell what you have in store for D&AD Festival?

We are super excited to be at the D&AD Festival as we will be bringing 'The Drawing Imaginarium' for the weekend (23 and 24 April). Supported by the Arts Council and Paperchase, it will house many creative workshops for the young at heart (families, kids and big kids!), such as creative contraptions, Anorak’s School of Mischief, Draw What You See activities, kite-making and fuzzy felt workshops. We are also bringing our friend's 60s caravan turned into a bookshop, called How Brave is the Wren, where we will sell our magazines and some great books too. 

I will be doing a Q&A with one of our illustrators Rob Flowers – who has the most amazing collection of 80s toys – about childhood influences and creativity.

What are you most looking forward to about D&AD Festival?

I am looking forward to being surrounded by brilliant ideas and hugely excited about listening to some of speakers the festival has lined up, such as Ralph Steadman and Andrew Diprose. And meeting all our little fans too.

Anorak magazine Dot Slideshow

Why is London such an exciting place for creatives?

I think London’s unique combination of free culture, green space, rich history and the many different cultures that live in it make it a very unique place and a magnet for creatives. I get inspired by its pace and the many surprises it throws at you. I cycle every day all over it and there is always something new I discover.

The D&AD Festival theme is 'Nothing matters more'. In your view, why does creativity matter?

Creativity is a magical thing that we must all (big and small) exercise more often, whether in classrooms or at work. It helps us work things out, solves problems and makes things progress. It is also hugely empowering as it is free and free-ing.

The D&AD Professional Awards celebrate creativity in 27 different categories. If you think you have a campain that deserves a D&AD Pencil, why not enter it and see if our board of judges agrees. Or, for more creative inspiration and the opportunity to get up close and personal with the world’s best design and advertising, join us at D&AD Festival.

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