Sunday, 19 September 2010

Interview 11

Interview 11
Maximo Tuja is a prolific producer living in Barcelona. His titles include Revolucion Juvenil (Youth Revolt), Zine, Alludd:Un Fanzine de Max-o-Matic, Algo Sobre (Something about),and Contenedor.

Tell us something about why you started doing fanzines?

I started my first fanzine in 1995. I´m not sure why i did it, but without even noticing it i had texts, collages and pictures layed out (awfully) in a proto-fanzine. Then I wasn´t aware of what a fanzine was or all the history behind independent publishing. I think i just needed to express my anger, disappointment, confusion, etc. in a positive way.
After that i met some really interesting people with different backgrounds that had a much more rich idea of what a fanzine could be. There i discovered a whole new world and fell in love instantly with it. Not only i felt great publishing my ideas and sharing them with pairs, but also felt really identified with the DIY ethics that´s deeply related with the fanzine culture. Doing fanzines, for me, was always related with learning something. And that´s what kept me doing fanzines for so many years; it was a perfect way to learn, experiment and have a great time.

What do you think the smaller, mini-zine format adds to the message of the zine (for example, Alego Sobre or Contendor)? How is the visual important in your zines?
I started doing fanzines because i wanted to write. Design was just a necessary thing to display the content. But as fanzines and years went by i became interested in the design as well -till the point I became a designer myself. So now the visual aspect is as important as the content.
Contenedor and Algo sobre have only in common their mini format, but the rest of them is quite different. Contenedor is a visual exercise. It´s just playing with images. Also it was a container (that´s what Contenedor means in Spanish) of small visual gadgets (stickers, pictures, etc.). This was the first fanzine i did after many more conceptual and text based ones. This was the result of a couple of ludic afternoons playing with images with a friend. The size in this case was just a way of making something slightly different using a standard paper size (A4 paper folded into an A6 fanzine). Also the folds helped us to divide the content in only one sheet of paper. On the other hand, Algo sobre (Something about) was a fanzine about people we knew. Each number was about one friend. Each number was written by different people and it was written in a way that the personality of the featured friend could be best described (one number is only a copy and paste of emails; another is a list of obsessive compulsive behaviors...). The design of this fanzine is basic and there´s no intention of adding visual elements that could distract from the main element of the zine: the text. Design was meant to be invisible. The visual elements of the fanzine (pictures mainly) had to work along with the text to help the reader to make a portrait as real as possible. In this case the size had no special meaning. We just liked it to be thick, and that was the only way to make it with the amount of text we had.

You live in Barcelona, so what's the fanzine scene like there?
Barcelona fanzine scene is quite interesting. There are many talented people doing interesting things and there some great projects that are helping the scene to grow and become more self-conscious.One of Barcelona´s greatest projects is 'La fanzinoteca ambulant' ( It´s a public and mobile fanzine library with a huge collection of classic and rare fanzines from Spain and other parts of the world. The library is a mobile module that goes around showing their collection, which is categorized in a data base that help the reader find what they want between all the great stuff they´ve got. Also La Fanzinoteca is an organization that every year organize Fanzine Jam sessions and other kind of activities related to the independent publishing world. The guys that run La Fanzinoteca are really passionate about fanzines, super friendly and work really hard. They publish two fanzines: Minca (fanzine about fanzines) and Minca Ilustrada (a visual zine showing their favorite illustators).In my opinion, La Fanzinoteca is responsible of a big part of the rebirth of the fanzine movement in Barcelona.

What fanzine would you recommend for us to read?
For those who hadn´t already read them, I would recommend Harmony Korine´s Collected Fanzines published by Drag City. They are wild, fresh and with a great attitude. They made me want to make more fanzines.

Friday, 3 September 2010

Interview 10

Interview 10
justseeds members Josh MacPhee, Nicolas Lampert and Colin Matthes produced the stencil zine Cut & Paint, USA

Josh MacPhee responds:
How has 'graphic agitation' shifted focus in the post-Bush era?
I'm not sure it has shifted much, I think the Bush-era set the tone, and in general the same pattern is being followed. Basically, Bush was perceived as being uniquely 'evil', and as such, a personal embodiment of what people wanted to reject. Their imagery became dominated by images of him as a person, and our landscape was flooded by pictures of Bush. When Obama came along, he began to be perceived as uniquely 'good', and as such, a personal embodiment of what people wanted to embrace. Just like Bush previously, our landscape became littered with heroic representations of Obama. Either way, our graphic toolbox is dominated by rich guys from above, and there has been little effort to think through graphic representations of empowerment on a much more direct, human, and democratic scale.

How might justseeds bring a different perspective to political activism?
I can't speak for all 26 members of justseeds, but for myself, I believe it is important for cultural producers to work more directly with and in response to social movements on the ground, and that is what we are trying to do. Social justice organizations often doing great political work have little sense of how to best represent their ideas both internally to themselves, and eternally to the rest of the world, and artists with experience in this realm can be very useful. On the flip side, often politically-minded artists think that their cultural production alone will make the changes in the world they wish to see, and lose sight of the fact that generally their work only gains real traction when it operates in concert with on the ground, grassroots political activity by people, lots and lots of people.

What does self-publishing (Like Cut & Paint) bring to your projects?
Self-publishing is mostly about the direct joy of making things yourself. I'm not sure it is 'better' than other forms of publishing, but it allows a little more control and a more direct role in the creation of your projects. Having a hand in the entire process, from idea to final printed zine, allow an author or editor the ability to have a deeper understanding of the materialization of their labor.

Please recommend a zine for us and tell us why.
I like homemade graffiti zines, not the slick 'lifestyle' ones, but down-and-dirty photocopied collections of photos and drawings, offspring of the original International Graffiti Times (ICT/TIGHT).

Interview 09

Interview 09
Dana Leigh Raidt is producer of She Must be Having a Bad Day/The Cult of the Female Food Service Worker, USA

How would you describe your zine?
For the reader, I think it's a funny (and sometimes sad or angering) tell-all about what actually goes on in the food-service industry between servers and customers, employees and employers. For me, it's a distillation of, and outlet for, a lot of pent-up anxiety left over from working in that industry for a long time.

What can your zine do that a mainstream publications can't?
I think any zine has an advantage in that we don't have to worry about what others will think. If people like it, great. If they don't, no big deal. Zine makers are spending money out of their own pockets. Design and editorial decisions aren't influenced by worry over scaring away advertisers, like in the mainstream commercial publishing world. Those decisions are coming straight from the heart and gut of the zine maker. So readers are getting content that is unfiltered and heartfelt.

Does the look of a zine matter?
To me, yes. But if a zine has great content but flawed design, I'm willing to look past it.

Please recommend a zine for us and tell us why.
I'm not sure if it's in print anymore, but my friend Karen Olson Edwards wrote A Tenderness So Painful I thought My Heart Would Burst back in 2005 or 2006. It's a great personal zine - basically Karen's musings and memories, but it's written so well that the emotion seems universal. My copy is dog-eared and dirty from dragging it around. Karen is the one who really got me involved in zine culture, and this is the one she put out right as I was putting my first one out. Lacey Prpich Hedtke's Excitement and Adventure is also great. She studies the lives of gangsters, photocopied their fingerprints and arrest sheets, and even made gangster trading cards.