East Sixth Street: Fostering a creative community for artists

East Sixth Street members Taite Jorgenson CM ’21, Blake Morton CM ’21, Lena Proctor CM ’21 and Antonio Pineda CM ’21 pose for their website. (Courtesy: Elton Smole)

East Sixth Street, a creative online magazine for all artists in Claremont, was founded last year by co-executive editors Lena Proctor CM ’21 and Elton Smole CM ’21, along with a group of their friends.

After one year, they have expanded into holding regular live events for the 5C community, while accepting artwork submissions for photography, illustration, music, writing, film and more.

Recently, the editors spoke to TSL, sharing insights into their creative processes, backgrounds, group dynamics and hopes for the publication.

TSL: How did you guys get together and come up with the idea of East Sixth Street magazine?

Elton Smole: We [the editors] all met in the first week of coming to [Claremont McKenna College]. One of my friends, who’s now one of the editors, gave me the idea of starting a fashion photography magazine, so I ran with that idea and it ended up developing into a creative magazine. We decided to make it an online magazine, so that’s how the website was born, and we started doing events and just building the community.

Lena Proctor: We had a squad, like, five or six people that we knew all really valued creativity. And being on CMC’s campus, we noticed there was a huge lack of creative representation, so we immediately went: “Let’s do something about this. This will be dope.”

TSL: Could you talk a little more about the style and vision of the magazine?

LP: Our mission was to have an online platform for people at CMC and the 5Cs, and for artists to be able to collaborate with each other. Recently, we’ve been more focused on performances and live events, so that’s given people the opportunity to see performers and present their own artwork, visual art, jewelry, etc.

ES: The most recent event we did was last semester in Claremont Hall’s courtyard, and we did another one the previous semester. It’s kind of become a tradition, and it’s basically just a two-part kind of event, with the first part being live student performances — which includes stand-up, poetry, spoken word, dance, artists singing or rapping — then it usually transitions from there into a party with the DJ set.

TSL: What are some of your goals for East Sixth Street?

LP: I think just being more consistent with events. Because it’s hard getting everything organized and preparing for them, but they’ve shown to be really worthwhile, and people really enjoy them, so i’d be interested in doing more.

ES: Definitely just increasing our presence.

TSL: Could you share more about your individual creative backgrounds?

ES: I’ve been doing photography for maybe five years. My dad gave me a film camera in high school, which I started using around sophomore year, and then I started taking pictures of landscape scenes, and then I kind of transitioned more into portrait photography. But I have been moving in the direction of film work and videography, so I started working at the film studio at Pomona — Studio 47. And then I’m also interested in literature, reading, writing, that kind of stuff.

LP: I’ve been someone who draws and sings a lot, but I really only started songwriting and taking my music more seriously in high school. Once I got to college, there was a group of people or community that was supportive and interested in the same types of things that I was, so that gave me a bit more of courage to keep going. Last semester, I joined another club called “Live Your Best Life.” It’s a record label on Pitzer’s campus, and we do collaborate a little bit with East Sixth Street as well.

TSL: How did you branch out into the different sections of the magazine?

LP: Well, we came together because we each brought something else to the table.

[Taite Jorgensen CM ’21] loved fashion; [Giano Stringfellow CM ’21] was a rapper; I did music; Elton did photography; [Antonio Pineda CM ’21] also loved fashion. And we thought a lot about how to be inclusive for all types of creative expressions. We included prose, poetry and an “other” section where people could just submit, as well as design, style, clothing.

TSL: What are the group dynamics like within the editorial team?

ES: I mean, we’re just like best friends, so we spend all of our time together, anyway.

LP: Yeah, I think that’s what makes it really fun. It doesn’t feel too much like work, a lot of times, especially when we’re planning an event; it’s a way we can all support each other as well as other people who appreciate it, so it just works.

TSL: What has been a project you’ve most enjoyed working on so far? And why?

ES: Probably the most memorable one was the first photo shoot that we did. It was just really exciting ‘cause it cemented the idea. I also really enjoyed designing the website.

LP: The beginning of the year, things were still so exciting as freshmen, and we were like, “Wow, we’re really doing something that we care about, and we’re making this happen.” We walked around the 5Cs at the perfect time of the day. Elton had his camera. We were just in our best outfits, having so much fun, playing music and expressing ourselves.

TSL: What has been the response from the community been like?

LP: People have been really excited. I remember our first event that we had, I had multiple people come up to me to say, “Thank you for bringing this to CMC because I’ve never seen people this excited to support other artists.” So, just hearing that made it so worthwhile, on our end, for the work being put in, ‘cause it’s really being appreciated by our campus. And I think I didn’t give it enough credit before on how supportive our community really is. And the 5Cs as well.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

For more information on East Sixth Street, visit their website or submit your own original creative work to submit@eastsixthstreet.com. If you’re interested in staying updated on upcoming events, check out their Facebook page.

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