indie art & design blog

drawn to zine

Thursday, June 17, 2010 | by Carolyn Price

Cover of MOTE zine and cover of Fly Away Bird zine

Zines MOTE by Cameron Baker and Fly Away Bird by Miss Helen

Self-published pages stapled or stitched together in the form of zines are fulfilling mediums to directly exhibit ideas, writings and artwork, without rules or external limitations. Usually of small stature, the tiny time-commitment required to read a zine is far outweighed by the pleasure found within the pages. Content is limitless, however drawings are a common element that lend themselves to the zine format. Recently I have spent some idle moments with a number of captivating zines, all filled with the illustrative talents of their inspiring creators.

Pages from MOTE zine

Pages from MOTE

A zine by Cameron Baker, MOTE partly contains traditional magazine content such as interviews, reviews and photo essays, but is accented with drawings by Cam himself and has an ingest and interact feel to it. Throughout MOTE the reader is challenged to tasks such as strategically placing an illustrated post-it note in the city, or sending in a point-of-view photograph. This interactive communication with readers is the most important element of Cam's continual creation of Mote as he wants people to feel like he is giving them something through the zine. Cam draws satisfaction from knowing that there are "people out there smiling" because of something he made, and aims to balance the endearing chaos of zines with information and thoughts that remain easy to read.

Cam is a regular reader of Lumpen by Pat Grant.

Pages from Fly Away Bird zine

Pages from Fly Away Bird

Fly Away Bird
Gentle illustrations fill the zine Fly Away Bird, along with personal words presented as non-linear thoughts. Fly Away Bird reads as if it is a privileged look into the inner workings of creator Miss Helen, as each page projects an emotional idea, with the tender drawings softening the blow of honest and sometimes darkened sentiment. Miss Helen has been creating zines for 13 years, and says she does so as an "unrestricted catharsis", free to control content, timing and distribution. Circulation of her zine is purposefully kept small, allowing each copy to remain as an edition of an artwork, rather than a repeatable product. In return for sharing her intimate outlook, Miss Helen gains joy from connecting with people, and the zine provides an ideal medium to do so in a "personal, yet safely distant way".

Miss Helen views all zines as art, and likes to read sincere zines such as those created by Vanessa Berry or Tiny Paper Hearts. She also looks forward to discovering zines that are yet to be created.

Pages from Telephone & Me zine

Pages from Telephone & Me

Telephone & Me
The talent of illustrator and visual artist Mel Stringer is immediately perceptible in her latest zine Telephone & Me. Set out within frames, each component of the zine is a reflective narrative on situations and people Mel has encountered. The basic facts of the stories are written out by hand, but the accompanying illustrations provide the insightful detail. Mel's zines are created as if they were her diary, she attempts to forget that ultimately she will have an audience and writes and draws as if it were only for herself. This serves an important purpose for her, as she loves "dealing with big, scary life by drawing about it".

Among Mel's favourite zines is BATS by a young group of Brisbane girls.

Pages from Beef Knuckles zine

Pages from Beef Knuckles

Beef Knuckles
Born from an admiration of comics and humorous stories, Beef Knuckles is a collaborative zine between 3 creative friends by the names of Bryn, Hon and Rob. Beef Knuckles stands out with a hand screen-printed cover and is packed with entertaining comics, discourses and artworks. As a zine, it contains a relatively huge amount of matter to get buried into, and although they are very open to what gets published, the Beef Knuckles team have discovered a framework of 70-80% comics and illustration with 20-30% text works best. The guys approach zine creation with the idea that "it's fun to make something", and this attitude is reflected in the lighthearted pages.

For a dose of jokes the Beef Knuckles boys enjoy the zine The Titled Page.

Beef Knuckles zine cover and Telephone zine cover

Zines Beef Knuckles, a collaborative effort, and Telephone & Me by Mel Stringer.

The world of zine and zinesters is a vast one, but the best places to start for information and distribution are the Sticky Institute in Melbourne and Bird in the Hand Zine Shop in Newcastle. Keep an eye also on the Australian Zines and Small Press group.

Zine Fairs happen frequently and the next large one will be at Canberra Contemporary Art Space on Saturday July 3rd from 11am to 4pm.

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