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The Link Interview: Tilke Elkins

All Round Magazine’s Publisher/Editor Tilke Elkins

by Michael Leppert

Recently I had the pleasure of speaking with Tilke (pron. Tilka) Elkins, the youthful, artistic, and ambitious Publisher/Editor of the excellent all-ages publication, All Round Magazine. All Round Magazine is published twice per year in Eugene, Oregon, and averages 46 to 48 pages of full color, original artwork, mostly created and executed by Tilke herself -- even the lettering! For anyone at all familiar with publishing, this is a tremendous undertaking, and in the case of All Round, is made even more so by the fact that Tilke researches the content and then writes each issue herself, too. The exceptions to Tilke’s exclusive art and text creation are submission invitations which include original drawings and ideas from Tilke’s readers (ranging in age from 4 through 47+).

Each issue of All Round Magazine is centered around a topic -- some past ones have included "Color" "Trees" "Night" "Flying" "Music" -- and most of an issue contains information pertinent to that topic. There are also regular features that may or may not address the topic. One such feature is a cartoon family of a girl and boy, Jakes and Dustin, and their mom and dad, who live in a house in the clouds and have adventures coming to earth, relating to earth people.

In the current issue, No. 11, one of the central concepts addressed is Tilke’s encouraging readers to become super heroes under the title "Invent Yourself", by adopting a name -- "Compost Man" or "Queen Bee" or "Brownie Boy" and then listing a few ways you wish to help people, plants and animals. The main thrust of this theme of super hero-making is doing acts of kindness for others. This is a very creative and fun way to approach the discipline of service to others, for both children and adults, and many of the super heroes featured in a photograph accompanying the main article are adults!

The Link: When did you found All Round Magazine?

Tilke Elkins: I prepared a test issue seven years ago while I was completing my Master in Fine Arts degree in Bennington, Vermont. Once it was completed, I showed it around to some people and it received a favorable response. So, technically, Issue #2 was the first public issue. The next issue will be #12.

Link: What made you found All Round?

TE: As a child I enjoyed magazines like Ranger Rick and Cricket. As I grew up, it seemed to me that there could be a magazine that was more age-inclusive and contained information that was unusual, well-researched and still be fascinating to kids. I also wanted to communicate my excitement for tolerance and humanity in general. I love the planet and I want All Round to reflect that love -- from the paper it is printed on (100% post-consumer recycled paper) to the facts that are presented in it. As a child, I was also very sensitive to condescension and I when I began doing All Round I wanted to make sure that it did not have a condescending tone.

Link: Is there a particular audience you wanted to target with your magazine?

TE: Well, kids, of course, but really, as it has developed I have realized that it appeals to people of all ages, from very young children to adults. I love getting letters from parents who say "I make sure to get the new issue out of the mailbox first, so I can read it before my child sees it."! I even have subscribers who are not parents, but just love reading it. I like the idea of making a magazine that parents can enjoy with their children. I try to do that with each issue -- make it one that will be inspiring and new for everyone to enjoy together.

Link: How do you prepare for an issue?

TE: I am constantly thinking about the magazine. I will consider things that interest me and then research them, talk with other people, take a workshop or two about the subject, then focus more on what aspect of the theme is most interesting for me.

Link: Publishing a magazine like All Round is quite an undertaking. How long does it take to complete an issue and how do you compose it?

TE: It seems to me that I am always at my desk. I am the entire staff! I do all of the lettering by hand, I compose each page. I sometimes make a color photocopy of a drawing or something, but that is all. Then, outside of editorial work, I have a person who handles public relations, trying to spread the word about the magazine, and then another person who takes care of circulation, but that is all. I compose the magazine on art boards, the old-fashioned way!

Link: Speaking of circulation, do you only send All Round to subscribers or is it available anywhere else?

TE: Besides our wonderful subscribers, we also distribute it to independent bookstores, newsstands, and it is in Whole Foods Markets. If your local store doesn’t carry it, you might be able to ask the manager to stock it.

Link: What are your plans and hopes for the future of All Round?

TE: First, we need to increase our subscriber base. I would love to get All Round out to the whole country in a big way. I would also like to become more involved internationally with the magazine and other projects. I am starting a ‘Zine Club which will encourage members to exchange their ‘Zines and talk and so on. (Link: A ‘Zine is a publication that is created on a printer or photocopier, 8-1/2 x 11 paper, black & white only, and is usually only a few pages in length.)

The next issue, #12, will have as its theme: Plants You Can Eat and will focus particularly on urban-area edible plants.

Also, All Round will have a booth at the San Francisco Green Festival, November 6 & 7. I will be there, so if any of your readers are in the area, please stop by and see me and chat!

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All Round Magazine, POB 10193, Eugene, OR 97440; 541-431-3390 or 888/669-6991. Please visit the website at www.allroundmagazine.com. Also, please see the display ad on p. 28 of this issue.