Dundee Zine Festival

Zines have become a huge part of my creative practice lately, with every second word I say relating to zines somehow. This is through commissions which I have been working on and also down to Dundee Zine Festival. As a lover of zines and the DIY culture behind them, I was very excited when I heard rumour of Dundee holding its very own zine festival.

When I signed up to take part in the festival, my zine count was 0. I decided that I would use the event as a way to force creativity, and most importantly, slowness. Making a zine cannot be rushed, no matter the style nor subject. With a combination of work, I had begun to forget about the importance of slowness and taking time out, and so the task of making enough zines to sell at a festival in a matter of weeks time was the perfect opportunity for some free creativity and slowness.

In the end, I created a range of different zines and was fortunate enough to even have some risograph printed by my favourite printers, Out of The Blueprint. Bits of Brutalism is a risograph zine filled with art inspired by brutal architecture that I have seen and photographed, with aims to make more people see and understand the beauty in brutal forms. Printed in black and red soy-based inks with natural printed half tones, the zine proved my most popular at Dundee Zine Festival (DZF). The zine acted as a compliment towards A3 brutalism prints of DJCAD that I was also selling, designed in the same style.        Long Play Lino Print (LPLP) is, as the name suggests, a lino printed zine inspired by my collection of LP records. This zine truly did encourage slowness, as cutting lino can take a vast amount of time. Printed individually by hand in blue ink or red ink, accompanied by a playlist of other great LPs with less interesting typographical features, the zine is the epitome of DIY, and again proved popular at DZF.
Finally, I photocopied special Dundee Zine Festival editions of three zines from my 35mm // Cities collection. Dundee, London and York were reimagined through the eye of my film camera lens and photocopied in high contrast black and white tones, with each zine coming with a random cutting from my wades of remaining 35mm film negatives. As with all of my zines and prints, I still have a small amount of numbered copies for sale. If you’re interested in any of my zines, please get in touch via social media or email.

Sitting at a table next to the bubbly Lily and Abi from Gears for Queers (also Edinburgh Zine Library) I spent Saturday chatting all things zine to a wonderful group of art and zine enthusiasts, and was lucky enough to sell a few copies of my zines. As well as selling my own, I made sure to pick up a brilliant collection of publications from other zinesters…

‘space oddity’ is the latest of Kirsty McKeown‘s collection of zines in glorious collage. Part of the duo behind the event, Kirsty is one of Dundee’s zine pioneers as well as being an outstanding artist whose collage work is often influenced by politics and current issues. With a gloss black cover lettered with sparkling silver stamps, ‘space oddity’ combines lyrics from Bowie’s iconic song with collage imagery of all things space to create a journey into an A6 galaxy in twelve pages.

Sticking with the theme of space and space travel, a bunch of mini comics housed in a makeshift envelope, by the talented Gosh-Wow Comics orbits its way into my growing zine collection. The skills behind the illustration within such small comics are incredible, with the use of humour in ‘Astro Amazons Voyager’ particularly causing many a chuckle, chortle and giggle.

Having started #inktober this year and lasting a mere two days, I am in awe of any artist who manages the full haul, even moreso of those who finish it with such beautiful use of line, shading and characterisation as Matthew Beakes. Drawn on round coasters, Matthew’s response to #inktober depicts life on board a ship and the marine life that surrounds it, in blue ink with delightful charm. I was delighted to pick up a copy of the zine comprised from the illustrator’s #inktober marathon.

It is known that I have a soft spot for anything of vintage or retro origin, particularly gems that involve typography or mid-century illustration. Eating Paper’s style is absolutely this. Created by Ruaridh Ellery and Tanya Hendrie, Eating Paper’s zines are inspired by all things vintage. With a collection depicting badges and slogans, labels and adverts from sweet shops, and even beer mats, it was difficult to choose which zine to buy. Ultimately, my love for food won, and I came away with ‘A Sweet Shop’, showing the soft hues and bright colour combinations of sweet shop finds right up to the early 1990s.

Finally, a group of 4th year illustration students from DJCAD was a welcome sight when first-ever-zine-festival nerves were kicking in. Ever impressive, the group showed all things a lover of print could ask for, from calendars to prints to zines. Matthew Gow‘s risograph printed ‘Through The Woods’ mini zine caught my eye, with smooth use of halftones and gradients to blend blues and reds and create a woodland world within recycled pages.

Though I only brought home a small collection of zines, the standard of independent publishing throughout the whole event and each stall was so inspiring to see. There truly was a zine for everyone, and the whole community behind zines shone as being welcoming and a warm place to be. The biggest of “thank you”s and “well done”s to Kirsty McKeown, Becca Clark and all the other minds behind Dundee Zine Festival for organising such a triumphant event, which provided not only me with something to focus on and plenty of creative satisfaction, but also a meeting point for lots of lovely people, and so much more. Here’s to the next.

– J


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