Interview with a Zinester: Brandi

Kindly give us a short description of yourself and the work you do
I am Brandi! I am from Brooklyn, NY but am currently living in Western Massachusetts with my husband and two cats for a PhD program in Sociology. I create two zines; Fat Grrrlz! and …Like Weeds. Both are personal zines, though Fat Grrrlz! focuses on fat embodiment and …Like Weeds is more of a mental health issue/survival zine. I have two issues out of Fat Grrrlz! and one of …Like Weeds and am currently working on the next issues of both. I am hoping to start working on a zine about being working-class and in grad school, too! As for academic research, I am interested in – broadly, the fat acceptance movement, zine culture, gender, work, working-class identities, ethnography, feminist theory, and queer theory. I am also currently the NYC Ladies Arm Wrestling champ and a retired janitor of ten years.

How did you get introduced to zines? Were you influenced by anyone?
I was first introduced to zines at punk shows when I was younger – maybe junior high? Eighth grade? Most of them were produced by guys and were strictly fanzines focused on punk and hardcore music. When I was in high-school I got into more personal zines, but I’m not sure exactly where that first point of contact came. I’m thinking through some Riot Grrrl connections I made during that time.

What does it mean to do “feminist zine-making”? Does feminism appear in your work (explicitly or implicitly)?
For me, doing feminist zine-making involves giving myself and others a space to allow our voices to be heard. Typically, our voices might not be heard – at least not in such an accessible and autonomous way. It is also about feminist community building via these exchanges of personal and political narratives. I think Fat Grrrlz! reads more feminist explicitly; I talk about body positivity, sex, and that intersection of women and fat bodies, amongst other things. …Like Weeds might read more feminist implicitly; though with this idea of self-care really hitting the internet and social-media networks recently, it might end up being explicitly over time.

What is your favorite zine or piece of mail art? Do you like any specific style/part of a zine?
I really love personal zines especially when talking about social class issues, body positivity, and queer stuff. I am also really into diy gardening zines and graffiti zines. Three favorites: Neckmonster, Figure 8, and FaT GiRl.

If you could sum up your zinester life in a kitchen appliance, what appliance would it be?
The lemon squeezer; I start whole and vibrant and then I squeeze all of the juice out – spilling all of my guts almost- and there is a period where I might wonder “did I go too far?” but then I realize I am whole and vibrant again, with a glass of fresh lemon juice. This sums up much of my creation process, and how I feel after reading some zines! They can transform you into new vibrant beings either after reading or creating.

Interview with a Zinester: Stevie Wilson

Kindly give us a short description of yourself and the work you do
I’m Stevie Wilson, serial zinest, maker of things, crafty costuming painted up lady. I do a variety of different comics but I’ve been putting out a couple zines a year made up of Auto-bio essay comics. I’ve been putting comics on the web since the early webcomic days. I’ve been told I’m more honest and open as my comic self then perhaps I can be in person.

My ongoing collection “You’re doing it wrong

stevieHow did you get introduced to zines? Were you influenced by anyone?
My dad had a collection of sci-fi zines from the 70’s and I grew up surrounded by my parents underground comic friends. Shary flenniken being one of them, I guess she inspired me to start writing notes about conversations I had or things I overheard to draw on for writing inspiration. I started keeping journal comics in high school and over the last couple of years they transformed into my personal platform for social equality. Like mini essays with pictures and a lot of sarcasm. I’ve probably been making zines for about 10 years at this point.

How did you come to collect zines? Why are they important to your collection?
I went to school for comics, so my zine collection started out as stuff my classmates and friends made. A lot of them were trades or bought to support artists who were near and dear to my heart.

What does it mean to do “feminist zine-making”? Does feminism appear in your work (explicitly or implicitly)?
Well most of my current zine series is about different aspects of feminism and gender issues by reacting to stuff in media, I try to break down issues into points and use personal experiences to make light of what society is doing wrong. I feel like giving a voice to under represented or marginalized issues is a way to give people something to relate to, especially issues that are day to day sexism that people often shrug off and are told to “get over it”.

What is your favorite zine or piece of mail art? Do you like any specific style/part of a zine?
Its some where between my friend Miriam Gibson’s group pokemon zine, which comes in an amazing pokemon envelope. Its so clever it makes me angry, or Megan Brennan’s “Comics the cat” which is a hysterical mini mini about the comics industry being gross but as represented by an adorable cat.

I like zines that make me smile, I guess at heart I like a well crafted joke and some good writing.

If you could sum up your zinester life in a kitchen appliance, what appliance would it be?
My nearly 40 years old Kitchen-aid mixer, it’s stylishly retro and a work horse beast. (I’m pretty mean with a stapler)

Interview with a Zinester: Katherine Arnoldi

Kindly give us a short description of yourself and the work you do
I was a teenage mom. Another mom, Jackie Ward, helped me to go to college. I wanted to do for others what Jackie had done for me.  I began in the 1980’s to make a graphic novel of my own struggle to go to college and copied it myself and handed it out at GED programs where I go as a volunteer to talk about college. I called it The Amazing True Story of a Teenage Single Mom (like the first issue of The Amazing True Story of Spiderman and other Marvel and DC comics). I ran a “College Mom Program” out of Charas Community Center on the Lower East Side (also as a volunteer) during the 1990’s. Finally, in 1998, The Amazing True Story of a Teenage Single Mom was published by Hyperion.

arnoldi

How did you get introduced to zines? Were you influenced by anyone?
I thought I was making up a new form. Later I learned about Joyce Farmer’s and Trina Robbins’ comics and zines from the 70’s out of California and about China Marten’s radical zines out of Baltimore.

How did you come to collect zines? Why are they important to your collection?
I would love to see a museum that would catalog and save some of the early work by women, many of whom did not have access to traditional publishing so made zines out of necessity.

What does it mean to do “feminist zine-making”? Does feminism appear in your work (explicitly or implicitly)?
I am adamantly pro-choice. However, over 400,000 young teenage women give birth in the United States every year. I am concerned that a large group of our young women are often coerced to leave high school and have to struggle for an equal right to education.

When my book came out I was able to speak out about how teenage mothers are denied equal access to education and how they struggle for equal rights to education.

What is your favorite zine or piece of mail art? Do you like any specific style/part of a zine?
I love the autobiographical work. In some ways, works by China Martens’ (Future Generation) and Ayun Halliday (East Village Inky) were like Facebook before Facebook. Often the zines chronicled the zinesters’ daily lives, which makes for fabulously interesting reading and makes loyal readers wait with anticipation for the next issue.

If you could sum up your zinester life in a kitchen appliance, what appliance would it be?
Is a Blender on Grind too humorless?

Interview with a Zinester: Slim Lopez

Kindly give us a short description of yourself and the work you do:
I currently live in Brooklyn. I’m a freelance Illustrator and Designer. As well as a baker

slimHow did you get introduced to zines? Were you influenced by anyone?
My first introduction to zines was through politics-I got my first zines at a political event. I got more and more into zines in art school.

(For zine archives) How did you come to collect zines? Why are they important to your collection?
I started going to zine fairs, and looking for stores that carry them. I pick zines based on content that speaks to me, or if there is something unique that really calls out to me. One time I bought a zine about pickles where the cover was painted with glow in the dark paint.

What does it mean to do “feminist zine-making”? Does feminism appear in your work (explicitly or implicitly)?
I think that making zines is inherently feminist. It gives people an outlet to work through things and join a community of people that have the same interests. Feminism shows up in my work both implicitly and explicitly. It tends to come up even if it’s not explicit because it’s something that I’m always thinking about.

What is your favorite zine or piece of mail art? Do you like any specific style/part of a zine?
My favorite zine at the moment is Feel Better: A Zine About Self Love by Marlee Grace. It’s a great zine that reminds you of small, simple things that instantly make you feel good.
My favorite zines tend to be the ones with a hand made touch.

If you could sum up your zinester life in a kitchen appliance, what appliance would it be?
A coffee grinder. I really like freshly ground coffee, but I don’t buy whole coffee beans as often as I would like to.

Interview with a Zinester: Dre Grigoropol

Kindly give us a short description of yourself and the work you do.
I create illustrations, write stories and a blog, and put zines together. My work is very focused on women’s experiences, lifestyles, and senses of humor. Aside from the DIY zine and art making I run one of my comics on the web at Deesdream.net. It is about a female fronted post-punk band. As of the beginning of 2014 I started a comics, illustration, and culture appreciation website and podcast called Comixgab.net. My more personal work can be found at Dretime.net.

dre

How did you get introduced to zines? Were you influenced by anyone?
I was very interested and inspired by collecting comics and magazines growing up. I was always making paper pamphlets and homemade magazines by myself or with my friends. At that time I wasn’t aware of the term “zine.” I’m not sure when I was introduced to word “zine,” but it most likely happened over the internet. My first time visiting a zine fest was the Philly Zine Fest in 2003. I visited the fest many times, but only started to exhibit my own zines at the event in recent years.

What does it mean to do “feminist zine-making”? Does feminism appear in your work (explicitly or implicitly)?
Feminism is a huge part of the work I am interested in and the work I create. I identify as a feminist, and the characters and motifs in my writing have dealt with many different gender and social issues.

What is your favorite zine or piece of mail art? Do you like any specific style/part of a zine?
Some of my favorite zines out of my zine collection may be the Unlovable zines by Esther Pearl Watson that have been gifted to me. The title really grew on me over the years as it has been a long time feature in the back of BUST magazine. I keep them with other zines that are also the same size (5 x 5 inches) in a wooden box. Also, many of my friends have conducted postcard projects, where they send artsy, interesting, or handmade postcards to their friends on a regular basis. It is actually really nice to see a postcard in the mail, especially when so much junk mail keeps coming in. One of favorite postcards that floated in is an illustration of the zodiac sign Capricorn.

If you could sum up your zinester life in a kitchen appliance, what appliance would it be?
I would like to think of my zinester life as a Ninja Mixer. Strong, powerful, and it mixes everything up.

Interview with a Zinester: April Duang!

April Duang – who runs Fluxxii Mental Health Distro and writes the zine Coffee and Ziggurats – talks to us about the therapeutic potential of zines and the intersection of mental health and feminism. Check it out:
Image
1. Kindly give us a short description of yourself and the work you do.
My name is April and I am all over the place, literally and figuratively. In the zine world, I run a mental health distro called Fluxxii, write a perzine called Coffee and Ziggurats, and try to collect as many diverse voices on the subjects of mental health as I possibly can. In addition to that, I travel, photography, study science, tinker with computers, and drink far too much coffee.
2. How did you get introduced to zines? Were you influenced by anyone? 
Remember the days of Laundromatic, anyone? I received my first package of zines (which I still have!) in a trade and have been accumulating and reading them since I was a teenager. I never produced anything of my own until freshman year of college, where I was involved to mental health advocacy initiatives and learned that writing and creating zines are amazingly therapeutic for both readers and writers. The ability to get a glimpse into the minds of experiences of others, however similar or different, helps us feel a little less lonely in the world. And the very act of writing about the tough stuff is definitely not easy – I appreciate anyone brave enough to do so.
Image
3. What does it mean to do “feminist zine-making”? Does feminism appear in your work (explicitly or implicitly)?
To make feminist zines is to contribute to a growing pool of diverse voices by documenting your experiences and creating your own space in the world. A lot of my work and the work that I distribute is implicitly feminist. In my experience, mental health and feminism are very closely intertwined as they both rely on a degree of self-awareness, identity, open and honest conversation, and progression.
4. What is your favorite zine or piece of mail art? Do you like any specific style/part of a zine?
I don’t think I could ever identify one or even a few favorite zines, but I can always tell when someone has a clear vision for their zine because they execute it so well. It can be any written or visual style, but I will always respect someone who has defined themselves well in that sense.
5. If you could sum up your zinester life in a kitchen appliance, what appliance would it be?
I’m tempted to say a corkscrew. Because I’m always hidden around somewhere but I pretty much only come out when things are either really good or really bad.
Image

Interview with a Zinester: Interference Archive!

Today on interview with a zinester, we have the bunch of rad folks over at Interference Archive talking to us about their work collecting and exhibiting zines to the public! Their space in Brooklyn gives a home to a lot of radical activist work and artwork and they will be bringing some of their community flair up to Barnard this weekend for the zine fest. Check out what they’ve got to say!

fem_zine_3

Give us a short description of yourself and the work you do (including any zine samples if you have them!).

Interference Archive explores the relationship between cultural production and social movements, through exhibitions, an archive, publications, workshops, and an online presence. The collection contains cultural materials and crucial tools of communication and expression: posters, flyers, publications, photographs, books, T-shirts, buttons, and audiovisual recordings. Through our programming, this cultural ephemera is used to animate histories of people mobilizing for social transformation, which is often marginalized in mainstream society. As an archive from below, we are a collectively organized, and are open to the public.  We work in collaboration with like-minded projects, and encourage creative engagement with radical histories and current struggles.

How did you come to collect zines? Why are they important to your collection?

At the Archive, we have collected zines through our involvement in social movements, punk, riot grrl, and political art projects over the past 25 years.

A large part of the Archive’s original collection came from the personal collection of Josh MacPhee, who started collecting zines as an extension of making them. The first zine he made was in 1988/89 with a group of friends, and was mostly poetry and graphics, with some punk record reviews. They tried to sell it for a quarter in the high school lunch room. The first zine he “collected” was a mail-art type thing he picked up a year earlier.

Zines are important because, through the process of creating and distributing them, their creators become part of a DIY community and meet other artistic collaborators.  Through zines we encountered a wider network of people independently publishing and disseminating alternative media. They are a marker of the ability of marginalized individuals and small groups to express themselves, and articulate different ways the world can work. They are the foundation for understanding that we can both do things ourselves, and do them in ways that run counter to the status quo.

What is your favorite zine or piece of mail art? Do you like any specific style/part of a zine?

Mimi Nguyen’s evolution of a race riot made a gigantic impression; another favourite is Annie Danger’s Go Fuck Yourself, about DIY sex toys.

If you could sum up your zinester life in a kitchen appliance, what appliance would it be?

I think if Interference Archive were something in the kitchen we could be described as a large glass Pyrex storage container-solid, accessible and climate controlled which you can look through whenever you want.

fem_zine_4

Interview with the FZF’14 DJ Troy Frost: Kyara Andrade!

Bet you didn’t know we were going to have a live DJ at the Feminist Zine Fest this year! Kyara Andrade, a.k.a. DJ Troy Frost is an amazing artist and currently works at the Barnard Zine Library with one of our organizers, Jenna Freedman. Check out what she has to say in this special interview:

KyaraPhoto

1. Give us a short description of yourself and the work you do (including any zine samples if you have them!)

My name is DJ Troy Frost. I identify as a prata*, DJ, oil painter, Hip Hop enthusiast, and a feminist supastar. When creating and engaging with art, my intention is to heal.

2. How did you come to make music and art? Do you have the same process for every type of media?

My mother and I would go to an art class offered at my high school every Wednesday and in that space I engaged with visual art in a comfortable, accessible way. Painting has been a way for me to process my feelings and experiences, while expressing things I don’t want to put words to. I was raised on hip hop music. I talk about it, critique it, and listen to it all the time. DJing is allowing me to contribute to the culture in a way that’s new, challenging, and fun for me! A part of my artistic process that is consistent is approaching each medium with humility, commitment and a willingness to connect with the people and the things around me.

3. What does it mean to do “feminist art/music-making”? Does feminism appear in your work (explicitly or implicitly)?

Doing what you love in the face of doubt, systems of oppression that actively work against you and your people, and just your everyday haters is feminist as fuck because you are writing your own narrative and sending the message to those around you that they can too.

As a black woman living below the poverty line, being financially secure is important to me. Sometime I doubt that I can fulfill that need and be an artist. Creating anyway, believing in myself anyway, fueling what I love anyway is a way that feminism appears in my life, having family and friends that love, encourage, and invest in me is a way that feminism appears in my life, and knowing that my and my peoples’ identities and unrefined narratives (pleasant or traumatic) deserve to be at the center rather than the margins is a way that feminism appears in my work. I hope that living my life this way will encourage those around me to invest in what they love, be apart of supportive communities, and explore the depth of their identity.

4. What is your favorite zine or piece of mail art? Did you have a seminal “zine moment”?

As of now my favorite zine is “Shotgun Seamstress” by Osa Atoe. The content is empowering and meaningful. I know very little about punk rock music/culture and SS has been an awesome starting point for me. Aesthetically, it’s AMAZING; I love the cut-and-paste element, the layouts, and the images. SS is the inspiration for a zine I’m currently working on that will explore the intersection of Hip Hop, Identity and Feminism (be on the look out <3). SS has made me think more critically about capitalism, consumerism, and blackness without leaving me lost in theory or ideas far-removed from my lived experience.

5. If you could sum up your creative life in a kitchen appliance, what appliance would it be?

Uh, wow this is hard. I would sum up my creative life in a pilon, which is a little bowl with a stick used to crush herbs, seasonings and other tasty ingredient that add the flavor, texture, excitement to my grandma’s dishes in the way that I add the flavor, excitement and style to the art forms that I explore and engage with. Hopefully that wasn’t too corny. 🙂

Ps: I am ecstatic about DJing for all the dope people that will be present on Saturday. See ya there!
* Prata means black girl in Cape Verdean Creole

Interview with a Zinester: Nicole Nemergut and the Calhoun School zine class!

Nicole Nemergut, social studies teacher at the Calhoun School in NYC, and the students from her zine-making class will be sharing the fruits of their labor with us at Zinefest this Saturday! Most of the responses to this interview are from Nicole, except for 2a, from Chiara Wood, junior at Calhoun School. Here’s what they have to say:

Image1. Kindly give us a short description of yourself and the work you do.

I teach Social Studies at the Calhoun School. I mostly teach World History, but we have a great project called October Session, where we suspend normal classes for a week and students and teachers have an opportunity to study something that interests them intensively. I offered a class on zines. I turned into a really excited women’s space with students from all grades.

2. How did you get introduced to zines? Were you influenced by anyone?

When I was in high school I tried to get my friends to make a zine with me. We talked about it a lot and planned everything we would write, but we never actually did it. Later I worked on our college zine called The Catalyst. That was a really great group zining project and slowly began to make my own zines.

2a. (Answered by Chiara) How did you come to collect zines? Why are they important to your collection?

My zine making teacher, Nicole, took my zine class to Bluestockings bookstore in NYC’s lower east side. This bookstore closely resembles the feminist bookstore in Portlandia, with a bowl of carrots behind the counter and a huge zine library. I stood by the shelves flipping through zine after zine, even after my legs were very tired. After a half hour I had picked out my favorite 5. I have returned to the library many times to pick up more. Zines are important to my collection because they remind me that I, too, have the power to create work and share it with the world. They are also very easy to relate to, so when I feel like shit I can just read some zines and know that I am not the only one.

Image

 3. What does it mean to do “feminist zine-making”? Does feminism appear in your work (explicitly or implicitly)?

Feminist zine making is about content, but also form. My first experience with actually making zines was a wildly collaborative and inclusive process. In this sense when we’re thinking about doing or practicing feminism this process provided a great model. We had to negotiate what to include, how to represent ourselves and contributors, how do deal with conflict. So, zine making was a really important feminist praxis for me. Feminisms also explicitly appear in zines that I’ve worked on. I worked on a zine with the NYC Anarchist People of Color Womyn’s Collective and we wrote about food politics.Though not explicitly about women, as a women’s collective talking about food and reproductive labor, feminism emerged as a central organizing theme. My personal zines are about telling my stories and the stories of my family. These are feminist narratives because they place women’s voices and agency at the center. As a history teacher this is a really democratic way of doing history and something I wish were more present in my own curricula.

4. What is your favorite zine or piece of mail art? Do you like any specific style/part of a zine?

I love zines that are very carefully crafted and have a lot of attention to printing, binding and details. Mine are not.

5. If you could sum up your zinester life in a kitchen appliance, what appliance would it be?

This maybe says more about my cooking style, but it would probably be something like a blender. I have one and it only gets used once in awhile, but I’m really into while I’m doing it. Like when I go on a green smoothie kick for a week.

Image

Interview with a Zinester: Papercut Zine Library!

Learn about the rad zine librarians behind Papercut Zine Library in Cambridge, MA (and why they would be a pressure canner) here:

 

Image

 

1. Kindly give us a short description of yourself and the work you do.
Papercut Zine Library is a collectively run, fully-functioning lending library, serving the Boston area since 2005! We have over 15,000 zines in circulation on a huge range of topics, including politics, music, travel, DIY, foreign language, and more. We are committed to maintaining an archive of the past just as much as we strive to foster creativity and community around zines today through workshops, readings, producing our own zines, and outreach events.

 

2. How did you come to collect zines? Why are they important to your collection?
Each of our collective members was drawn to the library for their own reasons, but we all share a common love for zines and believe in supporting each other’s creative endeavors. Some of us started making zines years before we had ever heard of Papercut, whereas some of us wanted to be a part of a collective or a zine-related project and were later inspired to produce our own work.  Our library was born from a big stack of zines one of the founders was trying to find a new home for. Since then, we have grown tremendously, all through donations and submissions. We are still one of the largest libraries of this kind in the country, and our collection is always evolving. Over the last 8 1/2 years, we have constantly revisited questions like, what IS a zine? What categories should we use for organizing our collection? Should we keep controversial materials with offensive or hateful material? Although the discussion continues, there is a core understanding that our library is a place for the voices not so easily heard in the mainstream, and it is a unique historical record. We exist to preserve the histories of underground culture(s) as well as to document the many faces of our beloved do-it-yourself medium.

 

3. What does it mean to do “feminist zine-making”? Does feminism appear in your work (explicitly or implicitly)?
You could say Papercut is a strongly feminist organization based on its content, mission, and membership. So much of the material we carry has come out of feminism and anti-oppression movements across decades, and these values are shared by the collective itself. We strive to maintain a safer space for folks of marginalized identities, and it is important to us that we do not automatically follow the models of capitalist organization. We do this through consensus decision making, conducting meetings and events in such a way that everyone is encouraged to participate, operating on a donation basis rather than charging for any of our services, and so on.
For several years, Papercut has partnered with the Girls Rock Camp in Boston, teaching a zine-making workshop to participants, and we even carry compilation zines made by these young ladies in our library! This is one example of the work we like to do – using zines as a way to encourage self-expression and highlight stories that are often under-represented in the mainstream.

 

4. What is your favorite zine or piece of mail art? Do you like any specific style/part of a zine?
This is a tough question to answer as a group – each collective member has their own taste and expertise! One thing we all have a soft spot for, though, is when we lead zine workshops for kids and they get to make their own zines, usually for the first time. The stuff that comes out of this is amazing! We had a kid make a mini zine all about slime recently.

 

5. If you could sum up your zinester life in a kitchen appliance, what appliance would it be?
A canner! We preserve the precious fruits of people’s labor. But sometimes what you get in the end, looks or smells or tastes a bit different than the original product. Just like strawberries take on a new flavor when made into jam, sometimes a zine found a decade after it was published has a different meaning or impact when re-visited. This could be because of cultural shifts, changes in language, or the same reader has grown and changed. Or maybe the pages have just gotten more beaten up. So yeah, a pressure cooker canner.