Interview: Ariel Bissett on YouTube, Making Zines, and Portrait of a Freelancer

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Where do I even begin? Ariel Bissett is a Canadian Youtuber and freelancer living in London, creating zines, a podcast, poetry, videos, all sorts of wonderful art, and soon, short films. For me, she's such a delight to watch, as she speaks with passion about everything she comes across, and isn't afraid to dabble with anything. Her videos and podcasts are incredibly engaging, and her art is poignant, but fun. I can't wait for you to meet her if you haven't already, because her attitude and creations will help you breathe life into your own ideas without you even realising. 



Magic & Musings:
Thank you for taking the time to answer some of my questions, Ariel! First of all, for any readers who don't know your background, tell me a little bit about yourself and where you are today.

Ariel Bissett:
Hey, Magic and Musings! My name is Ariel Bissett and six years ago I decided to start a YouTube channel to share my love of reading with other bookish people. During those six years I surpassed 100k subscribers, I've gotten an English degree, I've found a new love for making zines, and I've gotten to speak at events like VidCon and Book Expo!

Magic & Musings:
When did you first get into creating YouTube videos? Was there something that drove you to do it?

Ariel Bissett:
I was sixteen when I filmed my first video, and I haven't stopped since. I was in high school and I didn't have any friends who were into reading as much as I was (or, at least, I didn't know of anyone who was into reading as much as me!) and when I accidentally stumbled onto some book reviews on YouTube I knew I wanted to be a part of it. For me it started purely out of the want to create something, share my ideas, and be a part of a community.

Magic & Musings:
Moving on to some of the specifics of what you get up to, what was your first introduction into the world of zines and what about them made you want to create them yourself?

Ariel Bissett:
Hilariously, my mum found a zine I made when I was around seven years old about a snowman, but I didn't call them zines then. I've always been making little booklets and stories, I just didn't know there was an awesome community behind it! I learned about zines in one of my classes at university, but it wasn't until two years later when I decided to try and make one. And then I was hooked!

Magic & Musings:
I'm the same! I remember spending so much of my childhood making booklets about literally ANYTHING. So, what makes a good zine in your opinion? What are some of your favourites and are there any we should keep our eye out for?

Ariel Bissett:
The whole point of zines is that they're ALL amazing! Personally, I actually don't think the content matters that much - it's more about the creator's drive and enthusiasm to make something that they care about come to life. The whole world of self-publishing really excites me! Two of my favourite zines are Chump by Seán O'Reilly and Missing by George Muncey.


Magic & Musings:
George is wonderful! I can't wait to check out his zine, but I already love his photography and YouTube channel, so I know I'm going to love it. Now tell me a little about your podcast, Portrait of a Freelancer! I'm really enjoying hearing about your experiences so far, and it's been the last kick up the butt I needed to declare myself as beginning the freelance journey.

Ariel Bissett:
I'm so excited to hear that! While thinking up an answer to your question I had a little bit of an epiphany: I think I've started my podcast for the exact same reason I started my YouTube channel all those years ago. I wanted to surround myself in a community I'm excited about and I wanted to share my ideas and experiences. I have a lot of freelancer friends, but they all live in different cities or countries, so this podcast is giving me a way to communicate with other freelancers. I also think it's so valuable to share your process with others so that everyone can know that it isn't easy for anyone: we're all going to make mistakes.

Magic & Musings:
Did you have to overcome any self-confidence barriers in order to get to that place where you could share your words, videos, podcast episodes, or any of your work?

Ariel Bissett:
This is a tough one. I've never been afraid of public speaking or of sharing my ideas, so my hesitation to post content doesn't come from that angle, but as my audience has grown I have definitely started to worry more and more that I'm going to offend someone or be misunderstood. The key for me is to not rush: if I spend time putting in the work and making sure I'm proud of it, I know I can release it out into the world and feel okay!

Magic & Musings:
Of all of your work, what are you the proudest of and why?

Ariel Bissett:
You're going to make me pick?! (Yes, because I am pure evil.) I'm very proud of a lot of my projects, from my simple discussion videos like "Not A Proper Reader?", to my poem "Thigh Gaps and Other Traps" (Seriously people, watch this amazing video!), to my zines! I think I'm just really proud to be an advocate for reading and creativity. But also, I think I have some great projects in the works that might be some of my proudest achievements!

Magic & Musings:
On Magic & Musings I love talking about female-identifying or non-binary artists and their work. Which writers and bloggers, if any, would you say have been influences on your work? Do you have any favourites to look at when you need a spark of inspiration?

Ariel Bissett:
Because I'm sure you don't want this list to go on for too long, some of the ladies that have really inspired me are: Leena Norms (The best.), who is clever and inquisitive and confident, Estée Lalonde, who is so full of grace and savvy and shows me what hard work can achieve, Sanne Vliegenthard, who is incredibly generous and open and a never-ending fountain of kindness, and Alli Cherry, who has taught me how important it is to embrace yourself, be comfortable in yourself, and how great it feels to take care of the planet!


Magic & Musings:
You've just named a whole bunch of people I adore too! Now, I know you spoke a little bit about this on your podcast, but for those who don't know, do you have a particular place you work or find yourself the most productive? Are there a particular set of things that need to be in place for things to get done, like a milky cup of tea or a particular album of music you listen to?

Ariel Bissett:
If I need to get to work, like really get to work, I have to put on jeans. For some reason it makes me feel like "OKAY, ARIEL, IT'S PRODUCTIVITY TIME!" But generally no, I seem (at least so far) to be able to work anywhere. (Mainly from my bed...)

Magic & Musings:
I ALWAYS work from my bed, so no judgement here.

What do you do if you find yourself stuck in a rut creatively? Are there any books on writing and creativity you would recommend to others?

Ariel Bissett:
If I could make every creative person read a book it would be Show Your Work by Austin Kleon (I love Austin's other book Steal Like an Artist!). That book opened me up so much and made me so excited to be creative! And if I find myself in a rut? I just move on to a different project! I don't want to waste time stressing about something if it isn't working. I just pick something else and keep going.

Magic & Musings:
Is there a medium you would really like to experiment working with next?

Ariel Bissett:
I'm really interested in doing more stuff with digital tools. I'd love to make a Twitter bot and I have a cool idea for an ebook!

Magic & Musings:
Onto a fun question! Can you recommend everyone reading a book you've enjoyed recently, as well as a film and an album or song?

Ariel Bissett:
No one is going to be surprised, but I definitely think that you should have Lorde's 'Green Light' on repeat right now (Trust me, I already do!). As for a movie, have you seen Captain Fantastic?! It will make you a better person, SERIOUSLY GO WATCH IT. And ahhhh books. I think you should go pick up So You've Been Publicly Shamed by Jon Ronson (A fantastic read.). If you're reading this it means you're on the internet and this book needs to be read by everyone who uses the internet.

Magic & Musings:
Is there anything else you would like to say before we finish? How can people find out more about you and your work? What's on the horizon for you in the next few months?

Ariel Bissett:
Thanks for having me! You can find me on most social medias under Ariel Bissett, and as for upcoming things...all I'll say is that I'm trying my hand at my first ever short film!

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