“There are no rules”: Local zine creators on craft culture in a digital world

Historically, zines were a potent form of craft culture and a resistance to superfluous materialism. The blurring of what constitutes a zine has been an issue since digital platforms offered efficiency and reach. Although, many creators still stick passionately to corporeality. I spoke to some local zine-creators to ask their thoughts.

Minty, UEA graduate and co-founder of literature-focused and surreal Just Snails!?, chose an exclusively physical platform: “The internet is oversaturated with creative work and people screaming: ‘Hey! Hey, look at this! I made a thing! Please look at my thing!’ and it’s kind of sad to be a part of that dense fog.” For Minty, the strength of zines lies in commitment to craft. “That’s definitely a quality that is encouraged by zine-making – without JS?! I’m not sure I would have written more than a poem or two since graduating.”

Another UEA graduate, Monica Guarnieri, has recently created a new zine, Penny Nails. The first collection is available now, both physically and digitally, combining the two platforms in a literature-focused worldly assortment. “Seeing the labour of love go from a Word Doc to a booklet in my hands was inspiring.” But also, ‘making an online version makes it more accessible too” – the choice being central. “The medium is revolutionary regardless of what tools you have to hand! It’s about making something happen and finding creative (and cost effective) ways to do it.” I asked whether the forced creativity allows greater latitude. “Zines are a space that’s yours and there are no rules. Zines exist for different purposes […] that’s what makes them all unique.”

“There are no rules. If I want to review a single with a story about exploring vibrant underwater cities and high-fiving fish, then who’s to tell me otherwise?”, Dom Sellars, creator of NoGlum tells me. NoGlum has been around for a while now, brandishing brutish punk collages alongside a passion for Norwich’s creative scene. NoGlum operates entirely in the physical realm: “We spend too much time looking at screens, man! I wanted people to have the sense that it was something special, to be cherished.” But equally, Instagram remains vital for NoGlum’s sales.

Zine-making is what you make of it. Digitalisation has produced several divergences; it can resist the digital world and its resulting superficiality, but equally, it offers new and exciting ways to share and evolve the craft.

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Callum Gray

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September 2021
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