They are pocket-sized, collectible and affordable; they offer illustrators, designers and artists an unparalleled opportunity to show what they’re capable of – and you can make one yourself today. It’s small wonder that zines – self-generated picture books, monographs, comics and magazines – are currently in the spotlight. At the Pick Me Up art fair, which took over London’s huge Somerset House in March for a celebration of all things related to illustration culture, there was no escaping the current popularity of limited edition print projects, and zines in particular.
Alongside the screen-printed posters and postcards that we have come to expect were a surprising number of lovingly-created, limited edition comics, children’s books and zines produced by independent designers and collectives. Some were standalone projects, while others were linked to the elaborate stalls that immersed visitors in collectives’ worldviews.
But zines and similar projects aren’t just a fleeting trend from one event: DIY culture is a movement that has been building momentum in the past couple of years and is now bursting into full flower. In design stores, art gallery shops and in the ‘shop’ section of illustrators’ websites and blogs they’re more popular than ever, while indie publishers such as Nobrow (nobrow.net) have championed the form. Concrete Hermit, (concretehermit.com) the illustration shop, has even created a dedicated online store, Nibwax, dedicated to small press books and artists’ zines.
The idea for Ouroboros came to Ben Newman “while staring out the window when we were on a country drive. I spent a long time developing it before it evolved into a 24-page zine”
Chrissie Abbott (chrissieabbott.co.uk), whose cosmic designs have been used by the Guardian, Wallpaper*, the V&A and pop singer Little Boots, says: “I’ve always been into zine culture, just because it’s so DIY and uncensored and low budget. I like the enthusiasm that it represents, that someone has been bothered to make something that represents them or what they believe in.”