The Fishladder brings publishing opportunities to creative students


Courtesy / Fish Ladder

Haley Rosendale, Staff Writer

This upcoming April, the GVSU Fishladder will be releasing the 2023 edition of the student journal on art and writing.

This year is Fishladder’s 20th anniversary. Fishladder is a student-run publication run through the VMA department that’s published once a school year. They publish students’ works in photography, writing and artwork. The Fishladder takes student submissions until the end of the first semester, then uses the rest of the school year to put the journal together. The Fishladder has editors for each section, as well as reviewers of the artworks and writing submissions.

Bruna Ngassa is this year’s editor-in-chief of the Fishladder. Ngassa is in charge of everything from the hiring process to the final say in what’s published in this year’s edition.

“In the beginning of the school year, my first order of business was securing a staff of editors and readers,” Ngassa said.

Even though the process for hiring editors was long, it opened up an opportunity for Ngassa to learn.

Next year, the Fishladder will have a new editor-in-chief, Ashlyn Miller. Miller is currently the assistant editor.

“Right now, I essentially work as the co-editor to the Editor In Chief,” Miller said. “This includes aiding in administrative and editorial tasks and helping make the final decisions for what pieces will be included in the new issue.” 

Fishladder has 13 editors, including assistant editors for the sections to back up the main editors and help with their needs. 

“My favorite part of being on staff for the Fishladder is the amazing work I get to see in all genres and from students in a variety of disciplines,” Miller said. “The hardest part of the job is trying to figure out which pieces to include in the new issue. It feels impossible with all the excellent work that gets submitted.” 

The Fishladder receives many pieces of student-made works, which then undergo the publication’s selection process. This stage is where the readers and advisors come into play. They look over the art pieces and writing submissions and help decide which are going into the publication. 

Liv Chow, a senior student at Grand Valley State University, is the editor of the art and photography section in Fishladder.

“I can’t speak for the other editors, but the way I conduct my reviewing of the work is by sending out an online survey to my reviewers that they can fill out at their leisure to give their feedback on the artwork,” Chow said. “After I receive the feedback, I add up the quantitative data and compile the qualitative data, then rank the images from most preferred to be added to the issue, to least preferred.”

The Fishladder has its own editors, but they consider the reviews and readers just as important.

“The part of putting my section together that takes the longest is waiting for the feedback from my reviewers,” Chow said. “Other than that, the making of the survey only takes an hour or two, and the compiling of data takes a couple of hours. After that, our roles as art and photography editors/reviewers are pretty much done.”

The Fishladder is accepting staff applications and submission samples for the yearly publication during the first semester of the year. The Fishladder is open to students of any major at multiple levels of experience, making it a great opportunity for any students on campus that want to show off their creativity and become published artists.

“In future years, Fishladder would love to have more contributions in the art and photography sector,” Chow said. “Contributions from anyone passionate about art and photography are more than welcome to join the staff and review work as well.”

For more information about the Fishladder staff and its upcoming issue, those interested can visit the GVSU Fishladder website