In 2014, a group of students set out to create a magazine on campus that would focus in on cultivating the student arts and humanities scene.
A few years and a few name changes, the publication became known as Normal Noise, which is produced once a semester, publishing submitted content from ASU students. The magazines are typically 20-30 pages with 4-5 stories per issue.
Despite the unprecedented hardships of the pandemic, the Normal Noise team published four issues throughout 2020 and 2021. Each issue centers around a unique theme that the editors select together at the beginning of each semester.
Each magazine aims to tackle how arts and humanities can play a role in shaping political, social and cultural life, said Claudine Inocencio, first-year computer science major and Normal Noise arts and marketing intern.
This past spring, the editorial board came together to craft a theme that could relate to all students while also focusing on the importance of the individual.
The most recent issue of the magazine, titled the Self Issue, asks students what exactly it means to be an individual, a question everyone in the community should be able to answer.
"The Self Issue specifically offers a variety of interpretations of human existence and what life means to artists involved," Inocencio said.
Surabhi Sajith, first-year medical studies major and literary editor for the magazine, believes this semester's topic is open to many interpretations, allowing students to get both as personal as they want or as broad as they choose to go with their work.
“To me, the word 'self' means how we identify and respond to external stimuli as our responses are based on our self-confidence, doubt and identity," Sajith said.
Even though the prompt is personal, the topics covered will be relatable for many students, said Helenna Gu, marketing and social media intern for Normal Noise and a second-year student studying graphic information technology.
"I think that for our readers, these pieces will affirm their own experiences, challenge them to reflect inwards and gain insight and compassion for the experience of others," Gu said.
Dunya Mostaghimi, the magazine's features editor and a first-year economics student, said this year’s work continues the quality and purpose that attracted her to join the magazine since reading the Money Issue published in spring of 2018.
"Some of the ideas that the writing pieces address include issues of self-perception related to wealth and social class, how individuals see themselves in characters in different media as well as how our identity is shaped by fan groups," Mostaghimi said.
Kay Northrop, a fourth-year Barrett student majoring in business data analytics and psychology, started with the magazine during their sophomore year as a non-fiction writer and editor before ascending to editor-in-chief of Normal Noise.
“We wanted to really focus in on encouraging critical thinking about our micro- and macro-environments and how arts and humanities shapes cultural life in the individual and the ASU community,” Northrop said.
Kelsey Phillips, a fourth-year drawing and painting student, is in charge of both designing the magazine and overseeing all individual art submissions.
In her two years at the magazine, Phillips has witnessed both continuous success and unprecedented struggle, especially when trying to promote submissions for the publication during the pandemic and virtual schooling.
"We primarily promote ourselves via posters and flyers around campus, and when people don’t or can’t see those, we’re obviously not going to get as many submissions," Phillips said.
In the upcoming issue, Northrop has hope for not only highlighting the community, but helping it as well.
“In previous semesters, especially with COVID, we’ve gotten a lot of personal narrative pieces that have seemed to be very attractive to people right now, and that was a lot of the reason we chose to do the Self Issue," Northrop said. "We really wanted to look at what was affecting our community members specifically, how we could uplift marginalized voices, help build community and add to the discourse.”
The Self Issue is set to be released online by the end of the month.
Devon is a junior studying management.