Interview about my zines by Shoot Me Again

I was interviewed by Isabelle of Shoot Me Again webzine about my zines and my love for self-published paper media. The article is in French but maybe Deepl can help you with a translation if needed.

Read the interview at the Shoot Me Again website.

Photos by Emilie Foudelman Photography

Thank you Isabelle, Emilie, and Anso for help with my answers in French! 🙂

Why zines are important to me – also in quarantine times

Zines have a central role in my life. Ever since I first heard about (fan)zines in a Courtney Love biography that mentionned zines in the context of riot grrrl, my interest was awoken. I then found more books about zines and websites with texts taken from zines and then some actual zines too (woohoo!). It was the late 90s so in rural Belgium they weren’t easy to find or order. But I soon connected to online riot grrrl communities who produced their own zines which I started to devour and this encouraged me to start writing some too. To be honest I probably didn’t think that two decades later I’d still be making and reading zines. But on the other hand, why not? Zines are an absolutely awesome medium and I just can’t get enough of them.

Continue reading “Why zines are important to me – also in quarantine times”

Support your local (or less local) zinester

Do you value feminist alternative print media? Do you think zines should live forever? Read on… 🙂

Support is the key in the zine community!

From left to right: my zines and postcards, Lavender Witch buttons, Sister Ray Zines’ necklaces and zines, and Wayfaring Moon Apothecaries soaps and mini-zines.

Zines are a labour of love. They are meant to be non-profit. Zines should be accessible (that’s why I keep my prices low). But zinesters still have expenses that come with creating and distributing their publications. Glue sticks, pens, paper, printing costs, stamps, envelopes, travel expenses… are not free in this capitalist world – unfortunately.

I try to support other zinesters as much as I can. I mainly do this by buying (or trading for) their work and by shouting out about how great I think their zines are: f.e. in reviews. I also give zine workshops, encourage beginning zinesters, interview zine makers (in my zine Same Heartbeats), and donate my zines to zine libraries.  I’ve had the pleasure and honour of readers (often other zinesters) sharing images of my zines (and snail mail) on their social media, giving me very nice feedback, distributing or selling my zines for me, and mentioning my zines in their articles or books, which all absolutely make my day. These are just some ideas.

Without a mutually-supportive zine community zines would only exist as deserted islands, which would be pretty sad. That’s why I’d like to show you some ways in which you can help to sustain zine projects and help to grow the zine scene.

Continue reading “Support your local (or less local) zinester”

Why I don’t have an online shop but you can still order my zines online (and please do)

Zine libraries like the Salford Zine Library in Manchester are also great places to find readers for your zines

I was recently considering that opening an online shop such as on Etsy, Storenvy, or Bigcartel might get me more outreach and more sales. Because of course I’d like my zines to be found by people who might be interested in reading them and I enjoy connecting with more (potential) readers. So maybe such online shops and market places could help with this? Plenty of zinesters have their own online zine shops so there are probably a number of advantages to selling zines this way. This is what I could think of:

  • I assume it’s faster and easier for potential readers than mailing or messaging me to place an order?
  • Extra unexpected traffic and sales on marketplace shops such as Etsy where potential readers could just stumble upon my zines.
  • It looks more professional (although I don’t really care about this – I mean we’re talking DIY zines here, not magazines or books)
  • I heard there’s such a thing as “Etsy Team Zine” which sounds fun (but I don’t really know what it is)
  • UPDATE: Zinester Ryan Ewing pointed out that Etsy has a nice feature that readers can leave a review after they bought something.

But besides these advantages, I’m still hesitant. There are several reasons why I don’t use such shops (at least at the moment) and listing them here convinced me to keep things that way (at least for now):

  • I enjoy having some contact with the reader, even if very minimal. It’s just nice to receive a (more or less) personal mail or message instead of an automatic order. I’m not that overwhelmed with zine orders that I can’t respond to individual mails or facebook messages and I’m curious to know who my readers are. Also, I’m just oldschool and like receiving emails (almost as good as snail mail).
  • Online shops don’t offer the option of trading zines which is even better than selling zines. 🙂
  • I don’t have to give a part of my (very minimal) profits to a big corporation like Etsy and I don’t have to raise my zine prices just to be able to afford to be present on an online platform. (And I heard that for example Etsy keeps raising its prices and you have to pay them even if you don’t sell anything).
  • With each order I can calculate the REAL postage costs instead of general estimations that some online shops suggest. This means I don’t end up having to pay parts of the actual shipping cost AND the reader doesn’t end up paying too much.
  • I would have to register and make yet another account on some online platform…
Flyer I made in 2015 to advertise my zines

So these are my thoughts at this moment, written from the perspective of myself as a zinesters/zine seller (it might be different – or not – when I think about these things as a zine reader/buyer). I’m sure other zinesters find Etsy & co extremely useful and don’t mind these disadvantages or deal with them in one way or another. I can imagine they must be even more pratical for zine distros. In the (near? far?) future I might look into using Bandcamp for selling stuff, as I already have some accounts on that platform for the bands I’m in (check out f.e. Lavender Witch!). But I also just enjoy making a catalogue/list of my zines on this blog or design flyers which list my available zines. Some zinesters even make paper catalogues (like Hadass)! There are many options!

So what’s your experience with and preference of selling zines online? If you run an online shop, can you recommend it, and if yes, why? Which platform do you use or have you built your shop from scratch? Or do you prefer to table at zine fests, have distros take care of your distribution, and/or sell your zines in brick-and-mortar shops instead and erase any traces of your zines on the internet? Do you have other ideas and strategies? I’m curious to hear your views and stories!

Same Heartbeats #14, one of my most recent zines

More info:

Craftivism article – ScumGrrrls

I wrote this article in 2011 for Scumgrrrls magazine #18. So quite a long time ago… I might phrase some things differently nowadays but I think this can still be an interesting text to read and discuss.

The article is about craftivism, using craft for activist purposed. Is crafting and craftivism really as radical and revolutionary as some people say? Or is it just an update of back-to-the-kitchen domestic patriarchy or even new kind of consumerism? I’m curious for your thoughts too!

Mixing craft + activism = craftivism

“I started thinking about ways to knit for the greater good, and I realized that right now, right here at this very moment in time, the act of craft is political. In a time of over-ease and overuse and overspending, I can take back the control over where my money goes, over what my outfit is, and over how my life is lived.”

Betsy Greer in Handmade Nation [1]

Knitting, sewing, cross-stitch, crochet: crafts like these probably bring to mind grannies in rocking chairs making clothes for their grandchildren. They are linked to the traditional domestic life that women led up until a few decades ago: locked inside their homes, supplying their families with handmade jumpers, scarves and socks and decorating the house with quilts and embroideries… But since a few years, craft started to become popular again, especially in the USA and the UK. Old and young, women and men were reinventing, reclaiming and renewing old craft techniques. Arty craft books were published, craft shops flourished, craft fairs were organised, craft blogs started and craft zines written, and people even started to knit in public again. Handmade was hip!

Continue reading “Craftivism article – ScumGrrrls”

Sleater-Kinney concert memories

Old flyer I made, with a drawing of Sleater-Kinney drummer Janet Weiss, and someone coloured it in 🙂

I didn’t know anyone who liked or even knew Sleater-Kinney when I went to see them for the very first time in Amsterdam in 2000. It was the year of sexual violence at the renewed Woodstock festivals as well as the beginnings of Ladyfest which started as a reaction to the fact that women could not find a safe space at music festivals. It was also a time when in small Belgian towns you could still find CDs of “obscure” bands like Babes in Toyland, Bikini Kill and Sleater-Kinney in any random record shop. Internet was still relatively new but it opened a world to images and MP3s of bands that were rarely if ever played on the radio. I already owned Dig Me Out (thanks to one of the random record shops) and bought the newly released All Hands on the Bad One at the concert.

Continue reading “Sleater-Kinney concert memories”

Article about feminist zines as activism in DiGeSt journal

Some cool news: My second research article was published a little while ago in the new issue of the journal for gender studies and diversity DiGeSt (published by the Leuven University Press). The article focuses on the ways zines can benefit feminist activists resisting body norms, often in unexpected or less traditionally-activist ways. My first research paper (for Tijdschrift voor Genderstudies) set some definitions of feminist perzines and delved into what makes them what they are. This second article highlights the importance of these “unruly booklets” for feminist activists who are fighting body norms.

Mail me if you’re interested in reading the article.

I’m very happy and proud that my articles were published in these scientific journals and it was a sometimes hard but ultimately great experience: helpful peer reviewers, patient editors who were willing to give my articles a chance despite not being an academic myself, amazing interviewees with super interesting and important stuff to say, learning to craft/build/edit my articles in the structure required for journals, reading other relevant (and less relevant but still very interesting) research, and hoping to convince readers who’ve never heard of zines of their amazing potential. I want to keep writing and researching about this stuff (zines, feminism, activism) but right now I’d like to focus again on writing for DIY and more accessible publications. The journals I wrote for are probably some of the more accessible (to write for) and are interested in gender stuff but all academic publications have the disadvantage of not reaching a lot of people* because of their excessive cost (unless you’re a student who can find them at their university library or database). That said, do contact me if you want to read my articles.

*It’s funny how people sometimes criticise zines for their limited reach (something which I wrote about in my article too) but I think that my zines will probably find more readers than my articles will…

Book review: The Archival Turn in Feminism

The Archival Turn in Feminism: Outrage in Order
– Kate Eichhorn

How could I not have picked up this book from the anarchist bookshop Fort Van Sjakoo in Amsterdam? It’s about several of my biggest passions: archives, libraries, zines, riot grrrl, and feminism. Can you imagine my excitement when I found it? However, despite the interesting subject matter, the book couldn’t continuously hold my attention and left me with quite a lot of questions…

 

Continue reading “Book review: The Archival Turn in Feminism”

Looking for: local zine scene reports?

Mailbox at the Salford Zine Library in Manchester

I’m really curious about local zine scenes anywhere in the world, what they are like, which kind of zines are written, who is writing them, how are those zines distributed, what is the response, are there zine fests / workshops / shops / libraries / distros or other projects, are they linked to subcultures / political movements / art scenes / certain spaces, a little bit of local zine herstory/history…

Please send me your local* zine scene reports and I will publish them on this blog! I’m especially interested in a focus on feminist / poc / queer / trans / grrrl / per – zines but anything is welcome!

Mail me at flapper_grrrl@yahoo.co.uk

*You can decide on how you define “local”. It can be a city/town, country, or other geographical region.

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑