Lily Cole has launched the first print edition of her social giving network, uncovering the stories that weave together humans, ecosystems and continents.
“If we all try to push the concept of impossibility even just a little bit, it quickly becomes apparent that the things we deemed as ‘impossible’, often are not—not even remotely, not even at all.” These are the words of Lily Cole, the 28-year-old model—with a double first in History of Art from Cambridge. Cole is an actress, a mother and the founder of Impossible, a social giving network that has just launched its first print magazine, featuring Dame Vivienne Westwood, Paul McCartney and Joss Whedon, along with essays on ethical fashion production and the corporate evisceration of Soho.
Having been awarded an honorary doctorate by Glasgow Caledonian University for her outstanding contribution to humanitarian and environmental causes, the British beauty moved on to write a book focussed on the concept of impossible utopias and later founded impossible.com; a global community that facilitates an online gift economy by encouraging its readers to share their time and skills in an attempt to make the world less consumeristic in nature and ultimately a better place. Alongside the online network there is also an Impossible shop in South London, so Lily tells us that “a print edition felt like the next natural step in the Impossible story”. Not only is the content compelling, but the Poison Girls-inspired designed aesthetic leaves an impression on the reader that is both magazine and manifesto, despite Cole’s assertions that this is not a piece of activism in the conventional sense. Here we ask Cole about the importance of print in a digital age, how she sees the Impossible concept evolving, and get a sneak peek inside the print edition itself.
Tell us about Impossible to Print in your own words
Impossible to Print is an offshoot of our work on Impossible as a concept and running narrative over the last few years. We have collected some of the very best Impossible moments and stories (so far) and put them together in magazine-form. There are a few new surprises in there too. So, I guess I would describe it as a tangible documentation of the very best bits.
What were the ideas and questions that ignited this project for you?
As so many great things do, this came out of a suggestion from a friend who said we should make a printed magazine. I then showed him “Impossible to Dream”—the anarcho-feminist zine produced by the Poison Girls and that formed some of the aesthetic inspiration.
Why start a print publication in a digital age?
I love physical objects and believe that print publications are more important now than ever before, I mean, let’s face it—we all need to take a big break from our screens and absorb information in a tangible and serendipitous way and a magazine allows for that.
Your work toys with the notion of a utopian state—do you think it is possible to reach this state of being?
Yes, because as you defined it, it is a state—a moment—rather than a fixed thing or idea. And I think that possibility is always available to use, albeit transient in nature, but available nevertheless.
And the online gifting economy, how far do you want to take this?
The question really should be, how far does it want to take me! I am doing my very best to facilitate the idea and then it’s up to the community to see how far they want to take it. I do hope the culture of sharing becomes a bigger force on our planet, with more tools built to facilitate it—but Impossible doesn’t need to be (and shouldn’t be) the only player!
I read that you were keen for Impossible to Print, and in extension Impossible as a concept, not to be misconstrued as zealous piece of activism?
Exactly. Activism can feel alienating. It feels like a label to me, that you subscribe to a really specific type of person, whereas I think what we are trying to do with Impossible to Print is have a more generalised appeal. I see where the argument of activism comes from, but it’s the much softer gestures which could be as simple as smiling, or doing a small favour that we focus on. It’s thinking about how activism can be seamlessly integrate into the everyday.
Whose activism do you admire and why?
Random anonymous people (most of whom I don’t know). People who are just trying to do their bit everyday in terms of questioning the stars quo, being kind, being conscious. Oh, and on the more radical side, I love the folks at GreenPeace and the Environmental Justice Foundation, who amongst other people, are risking their lives to fight for justice.
You became a mother last year to baby Wylde (huge congratulations). Has being a mother changed your view on the world at all?
It hasn’t changed my view of the world, but it has me a happier (and busier) person!
What’s next for team Impossible?
We are working on a new app which we will be launching soon—watch this space!
Words: Elizabeth Coop