My First Zine 3

my-first-zine-3

Aggie Toppins

Name of First Zine: All We Need is a Template

Year of Publication: 2011
templatezine_covers
What/Who inspired you to make your first fanzine? What was the zine about?  
I made the zine in graduate school and received support to print the edition with an offset printer. I used the opportunity to think about how templates affect our lives and initiate social patterns. The zine pokes fun at the use of fill-in-the-blank tools to broadcast individualism. It points to some dehumanizing aspects of post-digital life. For example, the spread on “customized gravestones,” shows how absurd consumerism can be.

   
If you had to sum up the content/design in a few sentences, how would you describe it?
In making this zine, I used a production method associated with the newspaper industry—combining an unprecious material with the signs of authority. Visually, the zine mashes up references to digital and print media including screen captures from web sites, spray-painted custom lettering, and monospace type. The content includes some long- and short-form text, lots of pictures, and template-based activities. The inside cover is a paint-by-number scene from Green Mount Cemetery in Baltimore—it took me something like 26 hours to draw!

Memorable line or quote?
My colleagues in school gave me a bit of flack for the last line: “We are all/nothing is special.” Graphic designers often insist on being optimistic with their work. I was trying to point to something that underscores consumerist myths and didn’t think sugar was appropriate. As I look back, I think this project started me on a new path in my work. It marks a time when I was becoming increasingly engaged with the political dimensions of design practice.

What was the soundtrack of your life during this period? What music or other forms of art were you accessing that may have influenced your zine writing? 
I had to give this question some thought. I was discovering critical theory at the time and thinking a lot about simulation, myth, and power with Baudrillard, Barthes, and Foucault. I was interested in relational aesthetics. I’m not sure if at the time of this zine that I was aware of what most influenced me. Looking back, perhaps it was On Kawara’s work (he used bureaucracy so elegantly) and maybe Felix Gonzalez-Torres (he used participation to discuss death and loss). I was probably listening to The Smiths.

Did your early zine making help inform your later art/writing? 
Yes. This first zine gave me a way of thinking about ideas while being productive in my studio. It lead me to my MFA thesis work which confronted problems with the design of American funerals. After grad school, I started teaching at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. I was new in town and still digesting what I had learned in school. I didn’t know what to make, so I made zines. Any time in my life when I have been at a crossroads or feeling “stuck,” I made zines. Zines always lead me to new forms and ideas. Now I make printed multiples, videos, collages, objects, artist books, and yes zines, that follow lines of inquiry that I discovered in those months after grad school. If I had to put all my current work in one box and mark it with a theme, I’d say I make things that point to problems with the influence of capitalism on perceptions of time, place, and human relationships. That’s a broad topic and I work with it in many different ways.

Do you still make zines/chapbooks or participate in zine events? 
I do. Zines are part of my larger studio practice, as I mentioned. I usually participate in art book fairs these days. But I do local zine fests sometimes. I will have a table at Asheville Zine Fest this May. I was one of the people that started Chattanooga Zine Fest, so I always try to be part of that event. Our 4th annual will be May 13!

What are you currently working on? 
I teach graphic design full time at UT Chattanooga. I’m engaged in long-term research on the role of historical reference in contemporary graphic design. I’m about to complete a new artist book called Sendings which I started last summer at an artist residency in France. I have a few prints series in the works. I’m also looking forward to a residency in Iceland this summer. I plan to make some prints using sunlight and found objects, since Iceland will be experiencing “the midnight sun” while I’m there.

 

Rory Britt 

Name of First Zine: 
Well, technically I have been writing on papers and stapling them together creating “books” since I was two. I don’t remember the earliest titles but some of them I still own include ‘Daddy’s Restaurant’ which was a story all about- you guessed it- my dad’s restaurant. The first zine I suppose I took seriously was in high school when I put together somewhat of a fanzine about Dorothy Parker which was somewhat of a school assignment. Burn Black was the first thing I put out in the world wholeheartedly so let’s go with that.

Year of Publication: 2013

burnblack

What/Who inspired you to make your first fanzine?
The idea came from social climates in punk. I wanted to create change and give back but also create understanding. I believed at the time (and still do) that everyone is a writer with a story to tell. Some people just need the tools or the push to tell them.

What was the zine about? 
It contained stories from people all over the world on how they turned tragedies into triumphs. The first issue dealt with disconnection. The first story in that zine is about my friend, Claire who is a wife and mom. But, has a penis. It’s her story about coming out trans. There are other stories like Meline’s story of her Armenian identity living in the US to stories on Jewish identity, bullying, suicide attempts, abuse, etc.

If you had to sum up the content/design in a few sentences, how would you describe it? 
Beautiful and ugly. The contrasts visually were important for this issue. My best friend, Melissa passed away in 2010 suddenly at 23. The cover is from her artwork. It was amazing seeing her artwork come to life being sold all over the world. I took quotes from her journals. Her words came alive for so many people. It was incredible.

Memorable line or quote?
“I’m trying to learn to bring myself more peace and inner strength. I have been stressed lately so it’s good to meditate and pray and just ask the universe to guide you. I’m still not positive where I’ll be when it’s all said and done but I have a feeling I am heading in the right direction.” – this is from my friend Melissa’s journal written shortly before she passed away.

What was the soundtrack of your life during this period? What music or other forms of art were you accessing that may have influenced your zine writing?
I interviewed mostly friends bands in this issue. Spine and Rock Bottom were the first two interviews I did and they were kind of disappointing on my end. I really learned by Issue 4 how to be a more compelling interviewer.  I did an albums of the year list in this issue. I was apparently listening to: Full of Hell, Incendiary, Angel Du$t, The Wake Up Dead comp (mostly Curmudgeon and Thick Skin.)

How, or did your early zine making help inform your later art/writing? 
I recently put out what I deem my most honest work which is a zine called Sucker! It was brutally raw because it started out as a personal journal of my decent into madness after a really tragic break up/move/PTSD attack. I remember early on, I was very scared about being that honest in my zine. Burn Black was like a crutch for me to really put myself out there with Sucker!

Do you still make zines/chapbooks or participate in zine events?
Yes. Just launched a distro! www.burnblackzine.com. I do zine reviews sometimes for Maximum RockNRoll. (Shout out to anyone who makes zines and wants them reviewed. Send them to the incredible Ari! Ari@maximumrocknroll.com

What are you currently working on?
A thousand things.

I am currently working on a state to state directory of small businesses and online shops owned by marginalized people who affected by the new administration in the US in an effort for people to shop with them this holiday season and year-round. The goal is to try to print it for free and then encourage others to bootleg it, reprint it adding their own spots, reprint, redistribute, over and over and over again.

I am working on two fanzines. I am working on a new issue of Burn Black and my next perzine, Tart! which is a sequel to Sucker! I am working on an interview for Maximum RockNRoll with this great new band from Florida. I am also doing a second edition of Sucker! and hopefully a release party in Chicago at this bookstore in Wicker Park! Stay tuned.

 

Matthew Thompson

Name of First Zine: Fluke

Year of Publication: 1991

 fluke1What/Who inspired you to make your first fanzine?
Steve Schmidt and Jason White, whom I started Fluke with. We skated and went to shows together, and Steve had interviews with Fugazi and Plaid Retina, so we built upon that. I didn’t really play an instrument but I wanted to be more than a spectator of punk, so it fit for me.

What was the zine about?
Punk rock! Interviews, photos, comics, record reviews, opinions and art.

If you had to sum up the content/design in a few sentences, how would you describe it? 
Fluke is a magazine about punk rock, community, connection, music and art. It’s life.

Memorable line or quote?
From my grandmother: “If you’re bored, you’re boring.” 

What was the soundtrack of your life during this period? What music or other forms of art were you accessing that may have influenced your zine writing?
Crimpshrine, Fifteen, Operation Ivy, Jawbreaker, Plaid Retina, Fugazi, Minor Threat, Trusty, Numbskulz, Econochrist, Chino Horde, 8 Bark, Fuel, Shudder to Think, Ignition, Nation of Ulysses, Nuisance, Filth, Blatz, so many great bands came out of that time. Public Enemy was a huge influence back then. 

How, or did your early zine making help inform your later art/writing?
It introduced an audience who was into the same music and lifestyle which influenced my writing and content of the magazine.

Do you still make zines/chapbooks or participate in zine events?
Yes I do. I just published issue 14 last week. It’s 40 flyers from Little Rock punk shows between 1988 – 1992. It’s a supplement to Fluke 13, which was the 25th anniversary issue.

What are you currently working on?
I’m working on a compilation tape of Little Rock punk bands from 1988 – 1992. It goes along with the last two issues I just released. It’s the 25th anniversary year so there’s been some nostalgia around the early days of Fluke and the Little Rock scene of that era. I’m also working on Fluke 15, which will be out sometime in the near future. Keep an eye out for it!

 

Ethan Minsker

Name of First Zine: East Coast Exchange (1988–1994); Psycho Moto Zine (1994–present)

Year of Publication: 1988–Present

pmz

What/who inspired you to make your first fanzine?
I am dyslexic so when I got into the DC punk scene I came across zines and realized that there were no rules. The mistakes I made didn’t matter as long as I loved making the zine.

What was the zine about?
Art and artists. Each issue comes with a featured writer and artist, from submissions from around the world.

If you had to sum up the content/design in a few sentences, how would you describe it?
Clean and scrappy. We want the content to be easy to read yet keep the feel of what makes zines fun (cutting and pasting).

Memorable line or quote?
Artists don’t have to live a solitary existence, art can make your community.

What was the soundtrack of your life during this period?
Sham 69, The Clash, The Misfits, Dag Nasty, and Stiff Little Fingers.

What music or other forms of art were you accessing that may have influenced your zine writing?  Movies like The World According to GarpThe Fisher King, and Harold and Maude.

How, or did your early zine making help inform your later art/writing? 
Practice makes perfect. I am continually looking for new things to try. Sometimes they work, sometimes they don’t.

Do you still make zines/chapbooks or participate in zine events?
I do. Even if I wanted to stop I don’t think I could. I have been doing it so long I’m not sure what would be next. A few years ago, I did the Brooklyn Zine fest. My editor on the west coast does lots of zine events out there.

What are you currently working on?
A book about the Antagonist Art Movement, a new issue of the zine, and a film about my art titled The Man in Camo. It won’t be done for a few years so don’t wait up for it, go to bed.

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