Coming Out of the Fog 1
Delivered to Stack subscribers in  Apr 2023

by Steve Watson in May 2023
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A one-off magazine made by Zoe Lowdermilk-Oppenheim when she was studying at London College of Fashion, Coming Out of the Fog is inspired by her own experiences as a British woman who was adopted from China as a result of that country’s one-child policy. Connecting with other British women who were adopted from China under similar circumstances, she presents a powerful and affecting portrait of life from their perspectives.

Zoe Lowdermilk-Oppenheim

Job title
Editor and creative director

What is Coming Out of the Fog?
Coming Out of the Fog is a publication that documents the lives of eight women adopted from China and raised in the United Kingdom. Told from the adoptee perspective, the project consists of a series of portraits, interviews and archival photographs exploring the individual stories of these women.

What makes it different to the rest?
It’s a one-off publication, which provides a unique, intimate glimpse into the lives — and identity dilemmas — experienced by the eight adopted women. The fact that the interviewer is herself adopted created the basis of trust and shared experience which is essential to the publication’s authenticity.

Who makes Coming Out of the Fog?
I was the main creative on this project, which required a range of roles: photography, interviewing, graphic design and overall project management. However, the magazine required the adoptees to be more than interviewees. They were deeply involved in the overall project, requiring their active support and collaboration to contribute to a collective process and sense of ownership in the results.

Who reads it?
Although COOTF talks about Chinese adoptees, its audience is much larger than just that community. One of the aims for this project was to start a conversation about adoption, but more importantly to open up an exploration of the relationship between identity and place.

Why do you work in magazines?
COOTF was actually my first introduction to the world of making a magazine. I found it a great visual way to communicate ideas that can be shared across many readers. I love the physical quality of magazines and the ways that the audience can interact with it. It’s interesting to see how small details such as paper type, size and finish can help aid the message / feel of a magazine.

Aside from the print magazine, what else are you involved in?
I am currently studying Graphic Communication Design for my Masters at Central Saint Martins as well as working as a graphic designer for a creative direction studio. I am still exploring all sorts of mediums, from magazines to screen-printing.

What would you change about Coming Out of the Fog if you could?
This was a university project conducted during Covid, so I was constrained on time and resources and not able to interview as many adoptees as I would have liked. I would also have ideally reached out to the creative community for more support on the photography aspects of the magazine.

Where do you see Coming Out of the Fog in five years?
I think that COOTF is a one-off project. However, I would want COOTF to resonate with adoptees and to give confidence to other people questioning their identity, helping them to feel less alone. Maybe, it could inspire other dislocated individuals — for example, adoptees from other countries — to make their own unique publications, helping them to explore and express their sense of identity. Throughout the journey, I have met many adoptees who have such interesting stories to tell. In a few years’ time, I might be tempted to do another COOTF project, either with a new set of interviewees, or continuing the journey with the original group of eight who have written a first chapter together.

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