The Mastermind Behind Chickpea Magazine: Meet Cara Livermore

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(photos by Mary Dougherty of Mary Dougherty Photography)

Tell us a little about yourself and what you do.
My name is Cara Livermore and I run the food magazine, Chickpea. I work in food photography, hand lettering, design, and manage to bring all of that together into one big beautiful thing (see more of her work HERE).

What are you passionaite about? What makes you tick?
I would never say I have one passion, or even many - I think the closest thing to “passion” I have is in pushing myself to think and do better every day. When I do something, I want to do it right, that’s an obsession I have that runs my thoughts constantly. Everything else could go away, really, and as long as I’m making 15-year-old me proud by challenging myself and critically thinking about my actions every day. I’m happy with how I’m doing.

How did you get started? What were the difficulties you faced?
I started as a illustration graduate who couldn’t figure out what I wanted to do. I loved so many things: photography, drawing, printmaking, bookmaking, etc. that I couldn’t move in one direction, so I gave it all up for a few months to clear my mind and just work. After going vegan, I realized that I really needed to learn to cook to live a normal life, so I did so with a small tumblr blog to mark my progress. That got huge over a short few months (50-75k followers at the time, 250k now), and I had gotten my footing back into photography and drawing by then, so I decided to turn my audience into my team and create a print magazine.

Ever since then it’s been really dramatic, tearful nights of learning and mistakes and big successes too. The difficulties then are the same intensity as today- they never get easier, but you can get more confident when combatting problems. If I had to pick one thing that was the hardest, it’d be either getting past my own insecurities and blocks, or learning InDesign. (Seriously, most of those terrible nights were yelling at my computer because Adobe ain’t easy to navigate.)

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What is your biggest regret pertaining to your business?
I would say that “pausing” is the biggest pitfall of my own journey, and maybe others as well. It’s incredibly easy to keep going every day once you have momentum and a queue of projects or posts lined up. When I said “I want to take a week off from blogging” or “they won’t miss me from social media”, I set myself on a dangerous course. They might not miss you, but you’ll be letting yourself down by stopping your momentum and your train of thought. If you want to take a break, build up a queue to post and let your ideas come more naturally on your de-stressing break. Better yet, build up that queue far before you get burnt out, so you give yourself time to be burnt out.

What is your best advice to someone just starting out? What advice do you wish someone had said to you?
Don’t worry about other people or competitors, don’t compare yourself to others. Of course get educated, see what’s out there, but don’t let others dictate your thoughts. Their journey’s book is different than yours, and they’re on a different chapter. (And similar books can sit on the same shelf; people will buy both if they’re good enough!) When I was in school the best advice I got was from my illustration professor: all of those Caldecott-award winning illustrators have completely different styles, whether they’re photorealistic or minimalistic, but they all won the same award. Be whoever you want, don’t ever do what you think you have to. In the end you’ll stand out more because of it.

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(hand lettering by Andrea Burke)

What is your favorite part of what you do?
I really love the challenge of it, especially the creative challenge. I love solving problems, whether it’s visually or practically. I like rethinking and examining the systems around me, to push progress in my work and the work of the people on our team. Without the challenge, I wouldn’t be doing this.

Name some of your favorite local creatives.
I really admire Voula (Katsetos-Stratton) of Voula’s Greek Sweets because she’s so welcoming & warm, while being a strong business lady and, in a way, brave - I know what it’s like to get the highs and lows from customers of vegan items, and it takes a tough person to put that forward, especially with the skill that she does. Same goes for Andrea Parros of The Red Fern.

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