Shades of true 

"I always knew I wanted to get into the magazine industry — but I didn't think it would happen," Margarita Barry says. "At least not in the traditional way."

Fair enough. The traditional mold hardly suits Barry, whose current career owes more to the punk rock ethos than corporate ladder-climbing. Barry's steadfast self-reliance is the primary ingredient of her hip, sharp and sassy multicultural women's zine, Tint (tintmag.com).

At first glimpse, the 21-year-old college student, freelance writer and graphic designer looks like any other young woman you'd spot on Wayne State University's campus: stylish glasses balanced on her pretty, fresh face, her casual outfit accented with a single arty detail: a colorful cloth flower pin that appears expertly handmade.

"It's from sveetcouture.com," she says — one of those cool, crafty sites featuring homespun fashion and art items that seem to be spreading like Web wildfire. It's fitting; this isn't the kind of girl who favors prefab, chintzy merchandise from Claire's.

An emphasis on grassroots, DIY culture is integral to Tint's mission: "In a world largely dominated by the mass media that makes women feel worthless, unattractive, invisible, and excluded: culturally and physically, Tint magazine was created to speak to women of all cultures, sizes, personal beliefs and socioeconomic backgrounds ... [promoting] strength, global and self-awareness, human rights, tolerance and respect for all people."

A passion for magazines and zine culture claimed Barry at an age when most young girls haven't even packed away the Barbies yet. By 13, she was producing her own zine called Tasty Lipgloss, which boasted not only its own Web site but also managed to score interviews with fashion designers, including Nicole Murray, the name behind the popular Dollhouse clothing line.

"It was a fashion, rock 'n' roll-type zine. That was fun. I was very proud of it," Barry says. "Zine-making is like an art. It's hard work. But even if you have just one person who is interested and wants to read your stuff — that's a good feeling."

Barry, who is of African-American and Native American descent, was raised in Detroit and attended Catholic schools.

"I had a pretty normal childhood. I still feel like my roots are in Detroit. I went to school here, grew up here."

Recently married, she's currently finishing up her degree at Wayne State, a double major in journalism and graphic design. Her early forays into publishing led her to make industry contacts and even land some work for national teen mags such as Teen People and Cosmo Girl — all at the tender age of 13.

Barry founded Tint as an online endeavor during her freshman year at Bowling Green University in Ohio (the print version came later). By then a seasoned zinester, she enlisted the help of fellow students to bring her vision to reality.

"I felt like there was a big need for some kind of publication that spoke to minority women — something that all women can relate to. ... I know when I read magazines I don't necessarily see people that look like me or that have the same thoughts and ideas or even the same values that I care about. In a lot of the mainstream publications you read about celebrity gossip, and you see beauty columns, but the columns don't really have anything to do with you because your hair is not like that or your skin color is not like that."

Her ideas met with an enthusiastic response.

"I got a lot of help from the students. We had hundreds of people show up for the first meeting."

The first issue, available both online and in a Kinko's-assisted, cut-and-paste format, covered everything from fashion, entertainment and culture to first-person narratives and global news. Past Tint article titles read a little like a Mother Jones-meets-Jane mag: "Silenced Beauty: the Yemeni Illiteracy Epidemic," "How to Start a Revolution," "Afro Punk'd: a Place in the Scene" and "Blogging for Girls."

Blurring genres appeals to Barry. After all, why should a love for fashion preclude political and social awareness?

"Women are not just not one-sided. You're not really that [compartmentalized] in real life."

Though Tint's viewpoints tend to reflect feminist values, liberal politics and a younger demographic (its target audience is 18-35, but can skew both younger and older), it still retains a democratic and laid-back feel.

"We feature ordinary women with ordinary stories — and sometimes the stories are extraordinary. It's not a big to-do about things, just whatever you want to talk about, whatever is on your mind. This magazine is very rooted in grassroots publishing — it's about taking the media into your own hands. We don't have any boundaries and we have full editorial control in that sense."

This spring, Barry expects to launch a new look for Tint: a full color, bi-monthly glossy in a mini-mag format. It will be available for free at retail locations around metro Detroit; out-of-state readers can snag a copy for a minimal shipping cost. The premiere issue will feature Girlfriends actress Persia White on the cover — a woman chosen for her unconventional appeal.

Of her cover girl pick, Barry says: "She's in a rock metal band, she's a vegan, she's an animal activist and did a campaign with PETA, and she recently did a documentary that Joaquin Phoenix directed. She embodies the diversity that Tint magazine is about."

Although glossier in appearance, the new Tint will remain true to its independent, grassroots spirit, and will retain a Detroit-centric focus.

"I want an equal balance between national and Detroit issues," Barry says. "I want our readers to know that Detroit is our hometown."

In a refreshing break from the mainstream, know-it-all authorial voice, contributors are welcome from all backgrounds, ages and skill levels.

"It's about different voices," Barry explains. "If you have something you care about that you want to share with the world, you could submit it to us. Even though you may not be the best writer and may not have a lot of experience, you do have a voice and I think you have a right to be heard."

 

To buy back issues of Tint, or find a store near you that carries it, visit lulu.com/tintmagazine.

Christina Kallery writes about arts and culture for Metro Times. Send comments to letters@metrotimes.com

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