Polina Osherov believes in the power of Indianapolis. And with good reason. She’s been at the forefront of its art and fashion scene as a magazine director, commercial photographer, and all-around creative powerhouse. She has seen how the city empowers creative minds to realize their potential.
Now she’s collaborating with Pivot’s team on an upcoming project, and she took a rare break from work this week to talk with us about her belief in Indianapolis.
Polina sits at Pivot’s conference table, wearing a graphic tee and her signature cat ears. She’s up to her elbows in magazines and notebooks. “Clearly, I’m a workaholic,” she jokes, gesturing to her open laptop.
She’s not exaggerating. Polina is a commercial photographer as well as the executive director and editor-in-chief of Pattern magazine. Over the past four years, she captained Pattern’s growth from a one-time publication to an award-winning, internationally-distributed biannual. She’s also a mother of two, and she manages her husband’s motivational speaking career.
It’s a lot, but she smiles even as she describes her workload. “I really love everything that I’m working on, so I never think of any of these things as a job.”
An Indianapolis transplant, Polina sees the city as central to her creative career. She says, “I fell in love with Indianapolis slowly.” She lived in Chicago for many years and never dreamed she’d want to leave the Windy City for Naptown, but as she got to know Indianapolis, she realized it was the perfect breeding ground for creativity.
“There is so much potential here,” she raves. “If you’re young and have big dreams and want to be somewhere you can make a difference, Indianapolis is a fantastic place for that.”
Polina believes Indy’s small size makes room for ambitious creatives to spread their wings and that its collaborative community helps them succeed. “You can get in on the ground floor and make a huge difference,” she says. “If you have the work ethic and the talent for something specific and you pursue it, you can rather quickly become a standout person in that area and meet a lot of really cool people doing similar things.”
And that’s exactly what has happened throughout Polina’s career. She started Pattern magazine with designer Kathy Davis as a one-off project and published it digitally. The magazine received a groundswell of support. People asked for printed copies of the first edition. Then, they clamored for more.
“It was like, ‘So, when are you going to do a next one?’” Polina shakes her head in disbelief even now as she retells the story. “The response was so overwhelming that I just knew it was something that we needed to keep doing.” Sometimes people are surprised that such an impressive publication comes from Indianapolis. Polina says, “We put this magazine in people’s hands, and the response is, ‘How is this even possible here?’”
But Pattern truly wouldn’t have been possible elsewhere. It relies on the creativity and collaboration of Indy’s thinkers and makers. “It’s a testament to the kinds of people Indianapolis has,” Polina says. “We’ve got it all! Photographers, designers, makeup artists, models, people who make fashion and leather goods and denim and sculptures and art. It’s pretty damn amazing.”
Polina also says the ease and convenience of Indy makes really ambitious projects possible: “The things we’re doing in Indy are big, big, big things, and they are not easy. But life in Indy is easy.”
“If you move to New York or Chicago, your day-to-day—just getting groceries, picking kids up from school, parking—is such a burden that a lot of people don’t realize their full potential. Their energy gets taken from them for those basic things.” Polina shakes her head. “In Indy, you can really blossom.”
And perhaps this is the reason so many exciting initiatives are gaining steam in Indy. From linking its districts with the eight-mile Cultural Trail to launching the nation’s first food and beverage incubator to hosting the nation’s largest all-electric car share, Indianapolis is setting itself apart as a place where innovation thrives.
As fashion, art, tech, and business have flourished, Polina says she’s noticed a shift in the air. “Civic pride is at an all-time high,” she glows. “There’s an energy to it that changes the vibe. People are optimistic. They’re excited.”
More and more creative minds are joining the city everyday. “We’re gaining people,” Polina says. “People who value big ideas. People who understand diversity. People who aren’t afraid of change. … It’s definitely not the same city as it was five years ago.”
And the next five years will bring even more changes. We’re excited to see where this momentum takes Indy, and we’re glad to have Polina on board as we find out.