Pre-Owned, Good Condition is a multimedia magazine founded by Milly Berman ’24 and Emma Kendall ’24 in Spring 2022 and published by the campus literary collective Route 9. As an American Studies major and IDEAS minor, Berman wanted a place to delve into her passion for graphic design. Kendall—an English and art history major with experience in historical research and archiving—wanted to connect her interests to the various media of the magazine.
Kendall and Berman hope that Pre-Owned, Good Condition can provide a safe space for artists to explore and experiment with different types of media they enjoy. Rather than seeking out the grandiose or the perfect in art and art’s subjects, the magazine finds beauty in the imperfect and forgotten. It allows artists to question what is considered good art and what art itself truly is. Kendall and Berman encourage their submitters to realize that there are no rules or criteria for what constitutes art and trivialize the idea of what art should be by experimenting with what is widely regarded as trash.
“[The magazine] is about our mental frameworks and the way that we think about what is art, and what is valuable production, and what gets designated as trash,” Berman said. “So we wanted to create a platform to sort of reframe what is artistic production and what makes things that are usually thrown away into a magazine all by itself.”
Pre-Owned, Good Condition’s third and latest edition, published on Wednesday, Sept. 13, was entitled “Hot and Trashy,” and highlighted how some of the best art can scrape at the bottom of the (trash) barrel. The issue delves into the idea of trash in a variety of ways, exploring the beauty in literal garbage. It also peeks into pockets of culture that are considered trashy but are really spaces of social exploration and have sentimental value if looked at from the right angle. The art takes inspiration from the digital trash we delete every day from our devices, the smatterings of Kim Kardashian and other stars across so-called trashy magazine covers, and representations of the morbid and grotesque in forgotten and rotting trash. This ode to trash aligns with the magazine’s emphasis on sustainability. Kendall and Berman argue that we can practice sustainability in our approach to art by appreciating and nurturing what we produce, rather than judging it and throwing it away.
“It comes out of this sustainability ethos, which is reframing the way that we think of our consumer culture, and the way that we cycle through material and throw away so much trash,” Berman said.
In this way, Pre-Owned, Good Condition’s goals are purely conceptual, rather than focused on perfecting the media that the magazine works with. Unlike the genre-specific magazines on campus, Pre-Owned, Good Condition is not striving to perfect any kind of craft. Instead, it allows people to explore the space, mold it to what they feel like, and read (or write) between the lines.
“Categories of creative production exist for a reason,” Berman said. “It gives people a way to define themselves as a writer, or as an artist, and a community for people as writers, or artists. We’re not in any of those communities, so that’s a challenge for the magazine. But I do also think that, ultimately, it’s [to] the benefit of the magazine that we can access submissions from people who don’t fit into those groups.”
Kendall expanded on this, explaining how they want the free spirit of their magazine to push people who haven’t yet gained confidence in their creations to contribute to the magazine, and identified the panic that can come with sharing your art.
“People self-identify as artists, and so I feel like there’s a hesitancy to get involved when you’re…like, ‘I don’t draw, I don’t write, I don’t do anything!’” Kendall said. “That’s what we want to push against.”
For the next edition, titled “Monsters,” Kendall and Berman want to move away from the more feminine, fun, and pop-culture theme of the “Hot and Trashy” edition, and have decided to go with something darker and more punk. Kendall explained that this continues with the magazine’s ethos that art can find beauty in unexpected places.
“Trashiness is one aspect of culture, but monstrosity is another aspect of things that are deemed undesirable,” Kendall said.
Past editions of Pre-Owned, Good Condition, as well as submission guidelines and instructions, can be found on the Route 9 website or on the forms on their posters. Pre-Owned, Good condition is the perfect place to submit your creations if you have a slight suspicion that they might be trash. So what if they are? The magazine is such an enjoyable read because it is clear that all the creators experimented and had fun with their creations, finding inspiration in places unique to their perceptions that would have been forgotten by the rest of us. When reading the magazine, I felt that I was seeing the world through fresh, creative, and forgiving eyes, invited in by the art and the hidden beauty it conveyed.
Emma Kendall is an Opinion Editor for The Argus.
Charlotte Seal can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.