As Arnolfini hosts zine-making stations as part of Moving Targets, we talk to three keen fanzine contributors to find out what you can expect to get involved in throughout the summer...
“A zine (/ˈziːn/ zeen; an abbreviation of fanzine) is most commonly a small circulation self-published work of original and/or appropriated texts and images usually reproduced via photocopier.”
Cherry Styles is an artist, writer and zine maker based in Manchester. She runs the Chapess zine, Synchronise Witches press and is 1/4 of Salford Zine Library. Cherry also leads workshops and talks on zine-making, self-publishing and DIY culture.
Cherry will be contributing zines from Synchronise Witches to our in-gallery research library and will be selling her Chapess zine in the bookshop.
Rachael House is an artist who makes events, objects, performances, comic strips and zines. In the 1990s Rachael was part of the thriving queerzine scene, with her autobiographical comic Red Hanky Panky.
Rachael conceived, and is facilitating participatory zine-making project Agency : Make your Mark which talks about how we survive and pass on ideas of how to make things better, for ourselves, other people and the planet.
Lucy Condon is a fanzine fanatic who is part of The Zine Library and has put on multiple zine fairs that celebrate the DIY and handmade.
Lucy is volunteer coordinator at Arnolfini and will be working with volunteers to assist audiences to create their own ‘zines’ in the gallery.
How and why did you first get involved with zine-making? What does it mean to you?
CS: I started making music zines as a teenager but it's been my work with collective feminist zine the Chapess that has really had a huge influence not just on my practise but my ideas about community, distribution and support. I would recommend zine making to anyone who wants to get more involved with their community, get more politically engaged or just meet some new people. I have learnt, and am still learning so much from zines.
RH: I started making my autobio queerzine Red Hanky Panky in the 1990s, I had no grand plan or vision. I liked drawing comic strips, and making people laugh. Those were different times, far from the glorious inclusivity of LGBTQIA, and my strips had a campaigning role too, particularly around bisexuality and feminism.
Zines continue to be a way to find and form our communities, to enable marginalised voices to be heard and simply enjoy producing a small lo-fi publication.
LC: At university a small group of friends and myself started a DIY publication called No-Wave as a space for us to showcase our own writing and artwork, which in turn kicked off a series of music, art and film events, as well as my absolute fanzine obsession. I guess more than anything it was the freedom it brought with it that first drew me to zine-making. Anyone can make a zine, about anything and distribute it on their own terms at relatively little cost.
What’s your favourite zine and why?
CS: A couple of recent favourites are Alicia Rodriguez's latest 'notes towards a feminist utopic commune/ an imaginary sharing of oppression & power' (cherrystyles.co.uk/product/notes-towards-feminist-utopic-commune-imaginary-sharing-opression-power-alicia-m-rodriguez) which combines text and images, drawing from personal experience. I'm a huge fan of Alicia's work which includes washed out paintings and line drawings, critical essays and the submission based zine Ube. (ubezine.tumblr.com)
I also really love Brigid Deacon's zine Room, (hbrigiddeacon.bigcartel.com/product/r-0-0-m) a triptych comic told from three perspectives (girl, ant, rock) that folds out into an A3 poster.
RH: Too many to decide! From the olden days, GirlFrenzy, edited by Erica Smith, ‘articles, strips and no make up tips’. Lots of comics in GF, ‘by women for people’. Anarcho-feminism, bands, fat politics, sexuality and more.
From the twenty first century, I love Shape & Situate edited by Melanie Maddison, posters of European inspirational women. Melanie is a powerhouse of positive energy, a very inspirational woman herself.
I like zines that come from the heart, that are ranty, political, funny and personal. I enjoy being challenged and made to think. I love comic strips in zines, and firmly believe that everyone can draw. I want content over prettiness.
LC: There are so many answers I could give here and for so many different reasons, which I guess I itself goes a long way to showing the diversity and scope of fanzines. However, after much deliberation, I am going to go with a tiny publication based in Margate called Samzine, the creation of a guy named Sam Simmons who has essentially found a way of turning himself into paper. It is a publication that embraces a lot of the same qualities that drew me to fanzine in the first place – it’s personal and playful. It’s no frills and that is why it is so great. samzine.co.uk
Do you think fanzines – and ideas of the handmade, DIY, self-publishing – are relevant today – and why?
CS: I think the thing with zines which really sets them apart in a positive way to mainstream publications is that it’s all kind of trial and error. There are no stakes. If you make something and decide you hate it, or it doesn’t materialise in the way you imagined, that's all kind of part of the process. Self publishing really allows you to set those parameters for yourself, to share and distribute your work how and whenever you choose. You're not going to make any money from zines, but you have everything else to gain.
RH: There’s been a real return to the hand made recently. As so many people feel increasingly disenfranchised, it is vital that we find ways to make our voices heard. I see zines as a tool in our political toolboxes. They can be a space where we can imagine a better society. If we can imagine it, we’re closer to making it reality.
LC: Definitely. It still is a very democratic way of producing and consuming ideas and creativity, and that punk spirit is what makes it so great and continually relevant. There are some people that may discount self-publishing and the handmade as obsolete in a digital-age, but In fact I think that’s a really poisonous way of looking at the relationship between the two. I think its far more interesting to consider how one might enhance the other, whether that is through distribution or crossing multiple platforms.
Why should a member of the public be excited about the zine workshops? What will they get out of it?
CS: Zine making really is suitable for all ages and abilities, there are no particular skills or experience required, which is what can make it so exciting! Anyone with a pen and an idea can make a zine. In making a zine you are effectively your own boss, editor, distributor etc. Self publishing is political and powerful.
RH: People will be able to transform an A4 sheet of paper into a mini-zine very swiftly. If you haven’t done that before, it’s such a simple way to start self-publishing. Or, you can make a page or two which may then be part of a larger zine to be edited in September. Work in progress will be part of a constantly evolving display, growing over the summer.
As always with zines, what is central is the sharing of ideas, conversations and creativity. The zine making area will be a space of potential, of dissent and of hope.
LC: Because this is about them. It is their chance to take control of the gallery space and to bring their voice to Arnolfini and Bristol. If that isn’t exciting then I’ve no idea what is.
What does Moving Targets – our punk-inspired Summer programme – mean to you and your practice?
CS: What brings a lot of us to self publishing is a need for greater control over the media we consume and produce. In a society that systematically erases the experiences of so many, my hope is that the Chapess provides an accessible platform for women living and working by their own rules and supporting one another; which is the punkest thing ever, right? Moving Targets draws on the independent spirit on punk and reminds us there is no right or wrong way of doing things.
RH: The spirit of punk is shining through this programme. It’s not about nostalgia but a sense of urgency. What I carry with me from punk days (a formative time for me), is a love of DIY, my lo-fi aesthetic, and a sense that if you want something to happen you can make it happen.
LC: I cannot wait. To have such an arts institution not just looking at punk, but also really questioning what the different voices in punk’s lineage are and how punk is still relevant and manifesting itself today is so important. On top of which there is such strong emphasis on audience input and ownership throughout the whole programme, which for me is the where things can get really exciting. It’s that championing of the DIY spirit that means everything.