Interview: Magdalena Antuña, Editor and Founder of Selva Beat Magazine

In recent months I’ve become fascinated by the routines and day-to-day practices of creative people, in an effort to understand how they actually get things done. Hence, a new series of interviews where creators talk about how they accomplish anything at all in this busy life.  

A self-described “workaholic,” Magdalena Antuña is a former primatologist, turned editor-in-chief and founder of the vegan lifestyle magazine Selva Beat, which serves a community of readers all over the world. Not only is her passion for educating others about a palm-oil free lifestyle inspiring, she's also frank about the challenges of maintaining mental health as a creative person. From discussing the realities of self-care, to her financial mantra: "life is short and beans are cheap," Magdalena is wholeheartedly and refreshingly real. 

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How do you deal with the continual ebb and flow of “success” as a maker/influencer? It’s definitely tough. It can be really disorienting and deflating but I try to hold onto the excitement of what we’re doing. This is my mantra: If you love what you do, the right people will feel your joy and want to be a part of it — forever and always.

When is a time you felt really successful? Or a time you felt like you failed? I always feel my best the moments after a good photoshoot , when I’m reviewing the film. All of these little moving parts came together — from sourcing the sustainable makeup to finding a model to picking a location and pulling clothes — to make this one photo. It sounds tedious on paper but it’s totally magical when you’re in the thick of it. I feel like a giant failure when I look at my inbox and see the number of unread e-mails: currently 1,643. Every time I write “apologies for the delay” a little part of me dies.

What is your biggest struggle as a person in creative industry? My biggest struggle is definitely mental illness. I have OCD and even though I was diagnosed at a young age and continue to do everything I can to treat it, it still rules my life. Creativity requires motivation and momentum is definitely something of which my OCD robs me. I have ideas for days but getting them out of me is a problem. But I find that that’s a common problem among creatives so I don’t feel alone.

What is your daily routine? Your weekend routine? I’m a workaholic but I try to treat myself early on in the day, to set the mood. I wake up at 5:45am with my partner.  He goes to work and I take the dog for a walk. Then, I try to grab a latte somewhere low-key — Flitch is probably my favorite spot. Then I’m at my desk until dinner! Constant chatter tends to tamper my OCD so I play movies and TV shows all day long while I work. I don’t know how I do it but I concentrate best with one of my favorite horror flicks blasting in the background, haha. It’s therapeutic! I don’t really have a traditional weekend but I try to get coffee with my partner two days a week and ice cream one night a week. You know, all the important stuff. I thrift whenever I can. I promise my life is exciting. 

How do you motivate yourself to actually get things done? Visualizations are definitely my friend. If I can picture it from A to Z, it feels a lot more doable. If I can't "see" some part of the process, it's not happenin'.

Especially given that it’s unusually expensive to make things, how do you afford to be a creative person financially? Do you have a day job? During the day, I’m a Creative Director at liquor company. I wish I could say that I am some expertly frugal person but I definitely care more about the end product than how much I spend to get there, much to the chagrin of my business partners. Another mantra: Life is short and beans are cheap.

How do you manage the stress/anxiety that’s inevitable with putting yourself out there?  Love, food, and medication. In that order. And investing in your person. Spend money on haircuts, manicures, brow waxing — whatever you’re into. There’s no shame in being unable to take care of yourself all of the time. Self-care is great but it’s the ‘care’ part that matters.

How do you know when it’s time to rest? Routine is really important for me and the moment that starts getting skewed — I begin oversleeping or not answering time sensitive e-mails, etc — I know it’s time to scale back and push the restart button.

How do you manage the internet/social media? It probably manages me more than I manage it, haha. I put myself in the place of our viewer/reader 24/7. There’s no formula really but imagining what I would be excited to open or read or scroll through is really key. If it doesn’t give me butterflies, I don’t want to put it out there. Half-assing stuff haunts me, even something as dumb as an animated IG story that won’t even last more than a day.

What’s your collaborative process like? I love mood boards and brainstorming! Our Web Editor is also my best friend and we’re really good at riffing back and forth.  I definitely thrive better in a team atmosphere. It’s feels incredible to look back on certain editorials and features that we’ve done and be able to trace it back to one text message or random event, like seeing a red beret on the way to the movies, etc. 

What’s your big dream? Do you have one? How do you set goals/set yourself up to achieve? My big, big dream would be to have a brick & mortar — with three main functions. First, a headquarters for the magazine, somewhere we could stretch our legs and be productive. Secondly, a place where we could hold cheap classes for young people in the neighborhood on anything from composting to sustainable fashion and thrifting. Finally, a little convenience store where you could buy affordable eco-friendly goods like toothpaste or candy. Like an ethical 7-Eleven, ha!

It’s sounds so huge — and it is — but there are so many multi-purpose spaces in Austin that I feel hopeful this could happen someday.  I love dreaming big. Reach for the moon and even if you fall short, you’ll land among the stars, amirite? 

Find more of Magdalena here or follow Selva Beat