Monday, 31 December 2018

My year in zines 2018

Evaluating your worth through your productivity isn't healthy, neither is comparing your achievements with other people, especially at this time of year. And really, just surviving the year is enough. 

It's been a tough year and looking back on things I've made and done can feel weird, but it can also feel comforting to know that during some bad times I've found  space to make things, some of these things are never seen by anyone else and are just for me, and I'm forever grateful to queer diy zine communities for providing some much needed escapism outside of real life stuff at times. I wrote about the zines from 2018 which inspired me and kept me going here

At the beginning of the year my band The Potentials broke up and I was so scared that my year was going to be devoid of any creativity and wondered what I would do with myself now.
Photo by James Birtwhistle

And it turned out that the answer to that was just to make a bunch of zines, talk about zines, and host a bunch of zine events.

I made Queers on the Edge of Town zine which was part of my ongoing Me and Bruce zine series. This zine  looked at queer lonliness, appropriating lyrics, and imagining Bruce Springsteen as the hot butch girl of my dreams.

I also created a postcard set and print to go along with the zine

As part of International Zine Month this year I made my new zine Things I didn't learn at Library school, which was a collection of peronal reflections on working in libraries.

I was super proud of working on creating and editing the Art Box zine anthology which was made in collaboration with 6 schools and artists Paula Varjack, Åbäke, and Rhiannon Adam. It was a massive project which saw young peple responding to the work of Basquiat in a zine format and I'm so happy that the legacy of these workshops lives on in this zine.

I contributed to a zine accompanying Fat Blokes, the new dance show by Scottee. The zine celebrated fat bodies and queer diy culture and was compiled by the wonderful Unskinny Bop. I contributed this comic about re-learning to love dancing as a fat girl after seeing Beth Ditto perform at Ladyfest Glasgow 2001.

I wrote about the UK and Ireland Zine Libraries group for a special issue of the Art Libraries journal which was published this year. The special issue featured so many other rad zine librarians such as Leila Kassir, Siobhan Britton, Debbie Cox, Ruth Collingwood, Stephanie Moran, Nicola Cook, Loesja Vigour, Steve Carlton, Ingrid Francis and I'm proud to be associated with you.

I also hosted a zine cataloguing workshop with Nicola and Loesja with other art librarians at the Arlis conference this summer.

I hosted zine making workshops with University of Arts London, Barbican, Camden Arts Centre, Haringey Libraries, Ravensbourne, Poplar Union, Tate as well as with schools in East London.


Turns out I really love to chat and I gave talks about zines at Goldsmiths, The British Library, and also ended up giving a last minute keynote on my Me and Bruce zine series at Graphic Brighton. If anyone wants me to give a talk on Springsteen and comics and zines then please help me make my dream of talking about Springsteen for a living a reality.

I curated a display of queer zines and co-hosted an intro to queer zines and zine making workshop with Ruth Collingwood as part of the queer and now fest at Tate Britain.

Photo by Ruth Collingwood, LCC

Every year I make the resolution to say NO to more things  and to manage my time better, well I can honestly say I kind of did that this year. I said no to so many things. I said no to projects I really wanted to do and worried that I'd missed my window of opportunity, I cancelled on things at the last minute for the sake of my mental health, and I said no to things that I just couldn't fit into my schedule as I work full time and didnt want any additional pressures. Saying no is hard but I said it a bunch. And it felt great.

I know it looks like I've done a lot of things this year but honestly the groundwork for so many of these things was laid last year and I've learned to share workloads and collaborate with people more so that I don't feel responsible for too much. I'm so happy to have collaborated and worked with so many rad zinesters and librarians this year.

And if you're wondering what happened to the UK and Ireland zine libraries zine, or why I've been quiet on zine workshops and why a lot of my zine output seemed to stop around 6 months ago it's because I have a full time job as a librarian and this summer I fought against a restructure and lost but then became a union rep. It has been a tough time and it felt like everything else in my life was shadowed by this. I got signed off work with stress and cleared my schedule for a whole 6 months because I am just very good at saying no to things now. 

And my take away from this is join a union.

Hopes and dreams for 2019: Say no to fake diy.

In 2019 I want to be more selective with the zine workshops I do, thinking about the intentions of large organisations and art institutions working with zines and thinking about if the output will be authentic and diy or a quick cheap way to tick a diversity box or target a youth demographic. 

Zines are radical and diy and political and important, but a workshop with a big name arts organisation this year left me cold when the zines made by participants in a 3 hour zine workshop were thrown into a bin by a curator at the end of the day. It made me realise that so many of these instituions view this shoddy diy culture as disposable and unimportant and not real although I can't deny that they pay well. But really in 2019 I would like to not spend my time chasing unpaid invoices from insitutions that can damn well afford to pay and spend more time making zines and comics with people who give a shit.

It is wild but 2019 is my 20th aniversary of making zines so my most important  zine resolutions for next year are to read more zines, make more zines, go to more zine fairs, visit more zine libraries,  and do more work with the UK and Ireland zine libraries group. 

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