Behind the scenes: Dot magazine

by Miranda Thompson in May 2015
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It’s never too early to foster a passion for print, and the latest offering from The Anorak Press is just the ticket for those taking their first steps. Hot on the heels of Anorak, the fantastically creative magazine for boys and girls aged six plus, comes Dot magazine, ‘The Happy Mag for Creative Kids’, which aims to spark the resourcefulness of under-fives.

The brainchild of Cathy Olmedillas, founder and editor of The Anorak Press, its modernist illustrations are a world away from the garish offerings normally found lining newsagents’ bottom shelves. I caught up with Cathy to find out more about her new arrival.


Why have you decided to make a magazine for under-fives?
I get a lot of parents who write to me and ask for a younger version of Anorak, so the idea for Dot has always been in the back of my head. There are lots of magazines for kids (especially the under-fives) but they all follow the same format, revolving around a cartoon character or a piece of merchandise. I also have an issue with the tone these magazines take; they speak to children in a very odd way and I find them really patronising. Children aren’t stupid; they can understand an adult talking normally to them. There is no need to go over the top.

What do you think toddlers can get out of magazines?
There’s the interactive element; no one lets you write on a book (and you shouldn’t, they’re precious things!). But when using a magazine, a child should be allowed to draw and express their creativity. Plus, magazines are companionable – you can take them anywhere. That’s what I’d like Dot to be; an interactive book you take with you to keep the kids happy while mum and dad are eating at a restaurant, instead of just giving them an iPhone. And even though it’s only 36 pages, hopefully it’s got that collectible feel so that families can keep it as a memento of their children’s creativity.


Is Dot as much a tool for education as it is for enjoyment?
I don’t like the word ‘educational’ and I’m certainly not an expert on education. But I’m a mum and I’ve seen how my child learns. He learns best by having fun. In the world of kids’ culture there are a lot of magazines that try too hard to educate or just shove a brand in your face. I want to do something more fun and genuine than that.

Why is it called Dot?
Originally the magazine was going to be called Bol, which is French for bowl, because every generation in every country had a bowl haircut as a kid. As soon as I had that word in mind, Anna Dunn – who brought Dot to life – and I discussed what ‘Bol’ would look like. He/she would have a giant head with tools inside and he/she would have a bowl haircut.

But every time I mentioned the name Bol to people, they’d just stare at me blankly. So I decided I needed to find an equivalent that sounded just as good and fitted with the character, which we had already started to design by then. I thought of Dot, because he’s got such a round head that he also looks like a dot.

We have not made Dot a boy or a girl; he is just a character and kids can decide what gender he/she is.


How did you decide on the visual tone?
When I saw Anna’s work I completely fell in love with it. I thought, this is what Dot should be like. We ended up doing a secret Pinterest board together, pinning things we liked – mostly from the 60s and 70s because we both just like the use of primary colours and the simplicity of that era. Anna did 90% of the whole design/illustration, which is amazing! We have invited Lauren Humphrey to do a colouring page, Andres Lozano brought the character Mouse Marp to life, Julia Staite did the activity and Jon Boam gave some old nursery rhymes a contemporary twist.

What’s next for Dot?
The next issue is out in the summer, and I’m working on a little welcome pack for subscribers, which will contain badges, stickers and colouring sheets.

I’d love to see Dot animated at some point, and also to see it translated into other languages. It’s hard to do with Anorak because a lot of it is hand-drawn, but with Dot, we’ve ensured it’s not that way so it can be translatable and localised into lots of different languages.

World domination then?
Exactly! (laughs) Just one step at a time!

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