Tori West
“I want to open up an IRL and URL community studio and workspace for working class queer creatives

Tori West

Age - 30
 London, United Kingdom
Tori West
“I want to open up an IRL and URL community studio and workspace for working class queer creatives

Publisher, writer, and part-time cleaner, you’ll know Tori West as much as editor of BRICKS – a magazine that views fashion through the lens of precarious political and social systems – as you will for smashing the stigmas around working-class creatives and the jobs they do to support their art. Two seasons ago, West called out the British Fashion Council and London Fashion Week for their lack of focus on sustainability amid the climate crisis, and in this season just past, West came back to open up the BFC’s DiscoveryLAB with a panel on how the fashion industry could change that for the better. 

“I never went into the publishing or fashion industry because I admired it, I wanted to change it. I want my work to make others question, rethink, and alter their practices and productions methods to do better,” West asserts, At the heart of her work lives the mission to champion and platform the art, voices, and experiences of marginalised people, usually ignored in mainstream media – BRICKS can splash drag artist Sasha Velour and sex-positive musician Brooke Candy on its cover, and capture the Welsh PoC creative communities and youth activists at the forefront of the climate movement.

With the magazine in its sixth year and with the forthcoming ‘Visibility’ Issue, West is a voice for social, ethical, and sustainable change: “Even though it shouldn’t be their responsibility to clean up the older generation’s mess, I truly believe queer youth will save and change the world.”

How is your work unique to you, or informed by your perspective, experiences, or identity?

Tori West: I grew up in a small council estate in South Wales, which was once voted one of the most deprived places to live in the UK. Growing up there really taught me how to make things out of nothing. There aren’t a lot of creative opportunities there. I’m a strong believer of ‘you can’t be what you can’t see’, and because I couldn’t see anyone doing those jobs growing up, I thought it would be entirely unattainable. It got me thinking about geographical and financial limitations, and how London-centric the creative publication industry is – two things which I still challenge.

My first language is Welsh; my teacher told me I would never be a published writer because my English was so bad. As a queer, working-class woman whose first language isn’t English, I just never felt confident working for mainstream publications. I felt extremely out of place and self-conscious because I had to constantly prove I was credible and capable of doing my job. Instead of finding a space I felt comfortable working in, I made one instead. BRICKS is a queer and working-class led publication that supports the ideas of other creatives. It belongs to everyone that needs it. 

Where do you eventually want to get to in your career?

Tori West: I’d like BRICKS to become a self-sustaining publication in order to help further fund the ideas of our community whose voices and work deserve to be recognised. After losing our studio space last year to housing developers, we’ve really struggled to not only create our own editorial work, but we recognise that the studio was our main source of income and is a necessity to fund not only the publication, but also massively helped other marginalised creatives in London. 

“Instead of finding a space I felt comfortable working in, I made one instead” – Tori West

How might this project help get you there, or help to spotlight something important to you?

Tori West: I don’t think I’m taken that seriously as a publisher or a creative because I made my career myself. People are still shocked that BRICKS is an actual printed, professional publication, which I sometimes question is down to the fact of how they perceive me and our network; as young emerging creatives can’t make something that looks, in their words, like ‘a legit magazine’. I’m hoping that being on the Dazed 100 will help gain us some sort of credibility and we’ll have access to some extra support.

What creative or philanthropic project would you work on with a grant from the Dazed 100 Ideas Fund?

Tori West: After living in London for four years, I’ve realised there’s a desperate need for affordable space for young creatives to make editorial work. I want to continue to help marginalised communities find more support in the creative industry. Through the BRICKS network, I’d like to open up a non-profit, queer-led, photography studio and workspace. I come across so many incredible photographers and editorial makers that just don’t have the resources to bring their ideas to life. Working-class and queer creatives can send us their pitches and could have access to space, and use the equipment and resources for free to help create their ideas, whether for their porfolio, BRICKS or beyond. 

I've always been really vocal about the importance of alternative education methods, during Covid-19, we'd love to set up a brand new accessible tab on the website where members of our queer and working-class creative community and network can earn while providing tutorials, how-to-guides and lectures for creatives who would like to learn new skills during isolation or need help with their existing small business.

Anna Cafolla

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