This year has been tough for everybody, but if nothing else it has highlighted just how important love, community, and genuine meaningful connection is. During the last few months at NB literary magazine, we have been working on the ‘Love’ issue, something we think we may all need a little more of at the moment. We have filled the magazines with lots of stories of love and family, something that our latest front cover demonstrates beautifully, showing that friends truly are the family you choose.

The cover art was created by the incredibly talented designer and illustrator Soledad Garcia Saravia, as a reflection on a moment that has stayed with her over lockdown. She has written the story of how her image came to be, and we are delighted to share that with you below:

The story behind this illustration is a story of love; beautiful, warm, deeply fulfilling friendship love.

The illustration was inspired by a photograph of me hugging my friends goodbye at the airport moments before leaving my home country with a one-way ticket in hand. I didn’t know when I was coming back but I knew it wasn’t going to be anytime in the near future; it’s much harder to say goodbye to dear friends with that in mind. I later came to realize that such an unbreakable bond cannot be altered by time or space, no matter how far or how long you’re apart. While abroad I discovered I carried that bond with me and that it’s expansive, it multiplies and grows, connecting us to networks of mutual loving support wherever we happen to find ourselves. The global pandemic proved to me that this support network is essential for our wellbeing, as C.S. Lewis wrote: “Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art… It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things which give value to survival.”

Being apart from my friends during lockdown inspired me to make the illustration as a way to express to them my infinite gratitude for giving immeasurable meaning to my life.

I see a true friend as someone who I can share my inner-most self, my mind and heart, and feel completely seen, safe, and understood. I have learned to accept my friends in a radical way, loving them unconditionally for all that they are, have been, and will be. By experiencing their love and acceptance I have also learned to love and accept myself to an extent I would’ve never imagined possible. Today I understand that when we are filled with self-love, we shine. And for every person shining, there are friends rekindling that light.

Soledad is a freelance graphic designer, illustrator and food-stylist based in Uruguay. To check out more of her beautiful creations, head to www.solegarcia.com

From lead interview with bestselling author Heather Morris to prize features with Julia Bradbury and Dara McAnulty, winner of the Wainwright Prize for Nature Writing with Diary of a Young Naturalist, the ‘Love Issue’ was guest edited by Catherine Isaac, author of Messy, Wonderful Us and You Me Everything, and is jam-packed with stories of love, loss, hope and support and the latest literary news. If you’re intrigued by what the ‘Love Issue’ has in store, subscribe today or visit our shop to buy our individual magazines!

NB 105 Literary Magazine UK