Tavi Gevinson is starting to become just Tavi — like Cher. She could be a Bob and would still be THE Bob. She’s just insanely special, and we were head over heels honored to collaborate again with Tavi and her team at Rookie for Fashion Week this year to celebrate Rookie’s one year anniversary and the launch of their new book, Rookie Yearbook One, at Ace Hotel New York. Bob took some time out of her creative hurricane to talk to us about what Rookie means to her, trying to relax and what the future holds.
You’re living an unconventional life for a teenager — absorbing and experiencing stuff way beyond the confines of what high school can offer. If you were to invent a Rookie school, what would the curriculum be like? How do you think elements of that could be imbued into normal, every day high schools to change the lives of teenage girls, boys and everyone else?
I’m not comfortable even theorizing about How to Change the Schools of America, but Freaks and Geeks and Daniel Clowes’ work each blessed me with a sense of appreciation for human misery, and that outlook certainly changed what I get out of my school experience. Also, one of my teachers once told a story about his dad taking him shopping at Wal-Mart when everyone else in his school wore Ralph Lauren polos. He was horrified by the prospect of someone from his school seeing him there and him feeling embarrassed, but realized that in order for one of his peers to see him at Wal-Mart, they, too, would have to be at Wal-Mart. High school is terrible but learning is good and people are interesting and we’re all in Wal-Mart together.
Rookie has had a couple of articles that mention transgender, gay, lesbian and queer folks, but not a huge amount of content. The magazine is “for teenage girls” — does this ever feel clunky or ill-fitting when you think about reaching a trans, queer or gender variant audience of young people?
We’re always looking to expand the definitions of what girls can do and be, and looking for readers to share their stories through Rookie as well, so while our first year has meant a lot of figuring out who our audience is and what they would like to see from us, it doesn’t feel clunky at all to welcome all kinds of people into Rookie. Supporting girls also means sometimes questioning what it means to be a girl (or a boy), and we’ll keep on doing that.
How do you make time to daydream, create, space out and do nothing/everything with such an insane schedule? A lot of people don’t have to learn that skill until they’re much older, and most of us still struggle to figure it out, present company included. Do you think “success” ever takes a toll on your creative life or your psyche?
For each day I have different time units, like Hugh Grant in About a Boy: school, Rookie, friends, relaxing, my own creative projects, etc. I usually have to sacrifice at least one of these units on a regular school day. I’ve learned that I prefer the stress of trying to do everything I want, to the stress of wondering if I should do everything I want. I’ve also learned that it’s better to just do things all the time than sit around and think about how much shit I have to do and what to do next.
I asked S.E. Hinton a similar question when I interviewed her for Lula, not about her schedule specifically, but about the downsides of success in general. She said simply that success didn’t feel like as big a burden as no success would feel. My life is very stressful, but a lot of it comes from expectations I have for myself. I don’t feel like I got talked into anything or signed up for something I didn’t know I couldn’t handle. The fact that I even get to do all this and people will look at it is an extreme privilege, so it’s stressful, but I’m not complaining. I don’t really feel like my “success” takes a toll on my creative life or my psyche because all the projects I do that technically make me successful are my creative life and psyche — they’re creative outlets and places for me to express myself.
Tell us about some of your hopes and dreams for Rookie in year two.
I always want us to be bigger and better and all of that stuff, but it’s too scary to delve into the details right now.
Photograph of Tavi by Emily Berl for The New York Times