In this first installment of ‘Meet this Zinester,’ we get nice and comfortable with Jamie Nyx— a 31 year old zinester from the United States, based in Australia— as we get to know her.
Why did you end up moving to Australia?
How I ended up in Australia is a long, sad story with a happy outcome. I grew up in a somewhat dysfunctional home that later became increasingly abusive. Thanks to the person who is now my partner, I was able to escape that situation. I chose to come to Australia, and now they have to keep me because I’m a citizen. I imagine there are a few more details people would like to know about that story, but I’ll save it for my memoir. Haha.
When did you first learn about zines and what was your reaction to them?
Alas, I’m afraid that I can’t remember the very first time I learned about zines. I remember starting out with a mini-zine called “The Perfect Pocket Guinness Guide” as a tribute to my partner, Wanderer’s, love of Guinness as well as starting straight off with the collab series Dear Anonymous.
Knowing me, I likely saw zines, instantly thought they were absolutely fabulous, and instantly knew that I needed to be involved in any and every way I could.
When did you start making zines and why?
I started making zines in about 2011(ish?) when I’d first moved to a new town and didn’t really know anyone. I’ve always searched for and enjoyed activities that gave me an opportunity to connect with other people in ways that didn’t aggravate my anxieties. Zines were absolutely perfect for that. I could create, trade, connect, and get to know so many people without needing to meet anyone face to face.
On a specific level, I started making Dear Anonymous because I’d actually attempted the idea in blog form. Because of what zines are and represent, I thought the zine form would suit the idea much better – and it did.
How has making zines impacted your life?
To be cheeky – and more than a little cliché – it’d be easier to answer how zines *haven’t* impacted my life. I really live and breathe zines these days, and it takes me a moment to remember that I haven’t always been involved with them in some way or another. (Though pretty close – I did make them before I’d ever heard the word.)
Zines have provided me with nearly everything I’ve ever wanted in life. They are something I create, they keep me writing, they help me to e-meet people around the world, and they help me to help others feel happy. Even when I was a little girl, I only ever wanted people to be happy. While I know I can never please all of the people all of the time, what I do with zine-related things now has given me more of a sense than ever that I am actually putting some good out into the world.
Tell me a little about your process when making zines? How do you come up with ideas for them?
Oh, gosh. I’m afraid I am one of those people who sees ideas in nearly everything. I always have something to write on with me because you never know when an idea will pop into realisation. Not all ideas make it to zine form – and rightly so – but I’m rarely in want of ideas. “That should be a zine” is a thought that frequently pops into my mind.
I think an important facet of seeing ideas everywhere is coming to truly embrace that no one can tell your story but you. No one anywhere in the universe has your perspective. Once you take that on and strip away the positives and negatives to leave just the fact of it, then the ideas present themselves more easily. I have this running list in a notebook that is currently just to the left of my left hand on my desk. I have about a dozen ideas – and those are just the ones that aren’t fleshed out at all yet. So when I want to make a zine, I usually have one of those ideas making a racket in my mind and demanding to be made into a zine. Haha. I pick one of those, and away I go.
Once I have an idea, I always do the writing first. The writing dictates the length and such. Sometimes I’ll pick out pretty papers and things to further inspire me, but words are always first. Sometimes I’ll just type away, but other times I may have to handwrite for a while before I really get a grip on what I actually want to communicate.
The next step is layout, and that goes however the zine dictates – whether I assemble things by hand or on the computer. (I’ve developed an affection for the quarter-sized zine, so I’m doing more by hand these days.) Then, very boringly, I either print booklet style or scan and then print booklet style. Haha.
I know you also review zines, what made you want to start doing that?
I don’t remember the moment of decision by any means, but reviewing was something I was pretty familiar with. I was a professional blogger ages ago and got into book reviewing that way. I also got into online publicity work for authors as well, so it felt natural to me to show my appreciation for these zines I loved so much in that way.
Showing appreciation for things I love is something I’m always very excited to do, but I’m also limited in some ways. I deal with social anxiety, so I don’t exactly run around in the streets gushing to strangers. Reviewing them online seemed like the least I could do – many times is thanks to people who were willing to trade with someone all the way in Australia.
Name two of your favorite zinesters whose work has inspired you?
Oh, gosh. Only two? Haha. This is going to be hard…
I don’t think anyone will be all that surprised that I’m going to say Alex Wrekk. Alex is inspiring in so many ways, from creating the first ‘guide to zines’ I ever read – Stolen Sharpie Revolution – to the impressive feat of having a zine series that has been going so long. (I really love the latest – Brainscan #33.) She ran a podcast, started International Zine Month, is in a punk band that creates songs about zines… Wow. And she’s done all that and more while dealing with extraordinarily difficult personal circumstances. If that’s not inspiring, then I don’t know what is.
Davida Gypsy Breier is also so inspirational to me. The zine review series Xerography Debt has gone from a 12 page zine started in late 1999 to a massive zine (70 pages not including the covers in #40, which is the last one I have but not the most recent one) with over 40 issues and a team of reviewers. It’s become a big, important part of zines and zinemaking in the world, and it inspired my zine (soon to be a series) Paper Currency. Davida also writes a personal zine series as well as created Meta Zine – a zine about zines that I absolutely adore. Even better? She’s nice! Davida helped me to soothe my completionist soul by helping me get my hands on the first 25 issues of Xerography Debt and was very generous when I asked for copies of Meta Zine so I could give them to friends.
While I don’t know her very well personally, a lot about what Davida does is where I would like to be in my zine life.
I do want to be a little cheeky and add a third… category of sorts in that I am very inspired by people who are either getting started with zines later in life or are coming back to zines after a long hiatus. It makes me feel warm and fuzzy inside to know that zines are there for everyone, regardless of age, and you can always come back to them no matter how long you’ve been away.
You also write books which is amazing! How many books have you written and what is your process like? Is it different from creating zines? Which do you enjoy doing more, making zines or writing a fiction book or do you like them both equally?
Thank you so much. I have been writing various stories since I learned how to write. My earliest ‘tome’ was a retelling of the three little pigs that exonerated the wolf. Ha!
I’ve written and published three books, written and not published quite a few more, and have had various short stories both fiction and non-fiction published over the years. I even wrote a play that my high school drama group performed, and years later my screenwriting class made into a short film.
Writing books is similar to writing zines for me in that I always have something near to write on because ideas are everywhere. I’m really not at all as organised as I would like to be with either of them, but I’m working on that. Currently, though, sticky notes and scrap bits of paper everywhere I go house zine ideas and book ideas that pop into my brain.
I think the differences between writing the two outweigh the similarities, though. With novels, I have a stack of notecards to keep track of scenes as well as various scratchings, character summaries, and so on. There’s a lot more to weigh and keep track of because I am creating an entire world and lives within those worlds. With zines, I mostly write non-fiction, so all I need to draw on are my memories and experiences. This still requires a few notes, but not nearly as many.
There is also the artistic side of zines as well. While I do the layout for my books as well, book layouts have a lot more rules and the like. Zines allow me a bit more freedom, a few more scribbles, and lot more visual creativity.
I’m not really sure which I enjoy doing more. I adore zines through and through, but I know that some of the somewhat lesser adoration I have for writing a book is only because writing a book is a pain in the backside. It’s difficult on a multitude of levels and takes such a long time, whereas zines can be more fun, more community-driven, and give that gratification of the finished work a lot sooner.
Yet whether I am holding my novel or holding one of my zines in my hand, I’m still a bit gobsmacked that I created something.
You have a lot going on for you right now. Aside from creating zines and reviewing zines, you also have a zine podcast. Tell me a little about it. What do you hope to accomplish with your podcast? What do you want people to get out of it?
If I’m not busy, then I’m not Jaime Nyx. Haha. Yes! I started The Zine Collector podcast where I talk about all sorts of zine related topics (as well as share zine events, talk about things I love, and answer questions from everyone). I had intended to start at the beginning – what are zines – and move onward in some sort of growing order. What are zines, how to make them, so on and so forth. But things evolved and changed as they do, and I’ve talked about what zines are, perzines, the importance of copyright, and all sorts, really.
I’d be lying if I didn’t say that one of my goals is for it to be a financially viable thing. Right now that means having a goal of covering the hosting fees, but who knows from there. More than that, though, is that I want there to be a visible, easy to access source of information that extends beyond what I do on the blog. I love the blog and will always continue on with it, but not everyone is a blog reader. Not everyone is a podcast listener. Not everyone watches videos (or longer videos) on YouTube. But if I’m doing all three, then there are multiple ways for people to discover and learn about zines.
When I first got into zinemaking and then later when I started playing with the idea of a podcast, I was sad to find that so many zine spaces and places were no longer running. You’d get a few episodes of something or a good archive, but it hadn’t been updated in years. That sort of thing. While that’s just the way of the world, even from those early days I didn’t want to ever just disappear. If that does happen, then it’s for a bad reason. Still, I would like to think that, even if something were to happen to me tomorrow, what I’ve created is big enough, informative enough, and just plain enjoyable enough that it will live on past me.
Wow, that got a bit serious, eh?
Simply put: I want people to feel welcome. I want people to really know that they can make zines no matter where they are starting from, and that I will be cheering them on while they do it.
That’s amazing! I have been following your podcast and your advice on starting to write your memoir NOW is awesome. I immediately started to write about my day, right after. It was nice just to write. Have you started working on your memoir?
I am so, so happy to hear that you’re writing about your life. It irks me to think that people feel that they are too young to write about their experiences. You may never end up sharing what you’ve written, but even just the act of writing can be a way of showing yourself care and love. Your perspectives are worth putting on paper, no matter what you do or don’t do with that paper. Sure, there are things that I’m glad I didn’t put out into the world when I was young, but I am glad I wrote when I did.
I must admit that I found myself facing those sorts of feelings when I was younger, which is why I feel so strongly about it now. I wish I would have written more while I was experiencing things. I have definitely played with the idea of actually writing a memoir, but I haven’t made the time to sit down and figure out exactly what stories I want to put together and tell in that form.
Do you have any advice for anyone who is just getting into zines and wants to start creating them?
Funnily enough, episode 6 of The Zine Collector (going live on March 21st) features five tips from me when it comes to getting started with zines. Beyond those (though I sort of touch on it in the podcast), I think what is really important is to remember that no one has your voice. You do you! While constructive criticism is a part of life, don’t let anyone bully or shame you into thinking that you’re ‘doing zines wrong’ or that you’re not ‘good enough’ to make zines. You’re not doing anything wrong (so long as you’re respecting the culture and others), and you are more than good enough to make zines!
One of my favourite zines because it always makes me laugh is a one-page mini-zine printed on pink paper that features pictures of beautiful models with hand drawn fart ‘clouds’ behind their bums. It’s silly, it’s fun, and it’s beautifully uncomplicated. You really can make a zine about anything!
No one has your voice, so try not to get too wrapped up in what others may think and focus on what you want to say/express/create. All the connections, the feedback, and the interactions will come later.
Jamie Nyx’s Links:
Interview conducted by Solansh Moya
Pictures provided by Jamie Nyx
Stay tuned for next week’s ‘Meet this Zinester’ with Steve Sibbald, creator of the zine, Point Blank Teesside.