Meet this Zinester: Mia Maxwell

In today’s installment of ‘Meet this Zinester’ we meet the amazing artist/zinester, Mia Maxwell. She’s a talented 20-year-old gal from South London.

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Who is Mia Maxwell?
I am an artist living in London, studying fashion styling and am the founder of FEM ZINE. I am a freelance creative director, fashion stylist and casting director, and draw for fun. I spend most days writing emails, most nights going to events, and a lot of Brooklyn 99 in-between.

What are zines to you?
To me zines are any publication that is independently made; no big business, no crazy prices, and overall it’s about DIY culture.

When did you first learn about zines?
Honestly, when I made one myself. Feeling extremely tired of Instagram likes, I wanted to make a book of work that people could keep forever. It turns out that was a zine.

When did you start making zines and why?
I made one at university in April 2017. I loved making it and realised how much I loved and rely on all my publications and art books. I collect publications and have always used them for reference. Being dyslexic, I can’t sit with a book and read for pleasure, so publications with small amounts of writing, loads of images are my version of books. I love that they are something I continue to reference in my work, whereas I see something I love on Instagram and within 0.2 seconds it’s gone and I’ve forgotten about it. People’s work is worth more than that and I felt my work is worth more than that. I then realised there was no reason why I couldn’t make one myself for others to buy. From my little fem zine experiment I did at university, I decided to work on one that would be bought online and appear in stores. That started in May of the same year. We released in October and it’s all kicked off from there.

How has making zines impacted your life?
It has opened me up to so much. I have met so many incredible people and my personal work is able to grow and develop with having that constant stream of inspiration. The zine community is so inclusive and London in general feels like such an amazing place to be (most of the time).

Tell me a little about your process when making zines? Is it a group effort, do you have a team that helps you create the zines? How do you come up with themes?
It’s myself and my text editor Georgia Mitchell at the moment, but we’re trying to expand. Right now Georgia deals with all the text submissions, all the text editing for each zine, and I deal with all the image based submissions. I do my own shoots, the graphics, branding and marketing for the zine. Both themes so far (our first zine ‘Women and Hair’ and then our second {out in June} ‘Night life’) were both themes that were based around issues I was and am exploring and researching at the time and are themes of work I want to produce. It starts with a small issue – like the horror felt by family members at my body hair, or being completely sick and tired of going clubbing due to constant harassment and sexual assault in straight clubs, and feeling uncomfortable in queer clubs because all the women are in fact straight and look at queer girls weird…. So yeah, from these things that start to bug me I find a wider theme that has the potential to be inclusive and intersectional for women and femmes. It’s worked well so far so now I just need to figure out what’s next!

Tell me about your zine, ‘Fem Zine’?
We began as a printed publication in October 2017 with the release of ‘Women and Hair’ zine. We are now also an events space, and an online platform for films, art, photography, and text. We support unpublished / under represented talent and aim to create a space that is inclusive of any nationality / ethnicity / race / gender identification / sexual orientation / age. We feature all kinds of medium that explores the given theme; we have poetry, illustration, opinion articles, fashion shoots, fine art photography etc. The publication is a luxury zine, somewhere in-between a magazine and a classic staple bound zine- this is important to me as it feels DIY but it is still something that can withstand years of ownership. The graphics of the zine are bold and can be a bit weird for non-dyslexic readers. I have dyslexia, so though I love zines, they’re often full of tiny black and white text that I can’t read so I feel limited. Now the graphic style is something that makes it unique and is important and amazing to me that dyslexic people can access all our content.


Who is your targeted audience and what do you hope to accomplish with your zine?
Our target audience is anyone interested in intersectional feminism. No age, gender or ability specifically; exclusive spaces are so important, but I also believe in the importance of them having a space where it can all come together, so we aim for inclusivity of all femmes and allies. It’s not perfect but it’s always getting better.

I see you are heavily involved with the exposure of your zine– like I know you guys were at Creative Debuts. Tell me a little about your experience being there?
Honestly it was so much fun. I met so many great people and it always feels incredible meeting people who are fans of fem zine and I love talking to people who didn’t know about it prior. It’s always full of fantastic feedback which is amazing when most of my zine life is me on my laptop. I’m making it all up as I go along too so its nice knowing people are appreciating everything and that I’m doing something right!  At creative debuts we were lucky enough to be offered one of their tables during their ‘empowerment’ exhibition- I asked what they were doing with the other 8 smaller tables and Calum said nothing! So I asked if we could have all 8 tables and put a different feminist zine on each one. We brought along so many amazing zines from our community and we were all really grateful to meet a new crowd who were inspiring and interesting and lovely. 2 zines sold out entirely! So it went down well with their audience.

I know you guys are selling FEM merch and are involved in zine festivals, do you guys have anything else coming up for your zine? What is the future looking like for ‘FEM Zine’?
I’m always trying to think of new ways to make money that can support the huge expenses of the publication the publication is what is most important to me, but funding it is really hard and my biggest goal is to be able to pay all our contributors, teams, and editors. It’s not currently possible but events and merch are all helping the cause and we hope to be supporting our artists economically too, soon. This year I want to have a pop up store, host at least three zine fairs, launch another two zines, more merch, and more events… everything I can possibly fit-in alongside being at university…

FEM Festival was my first ever event and FEM Zine’s first event. We did a night of film screenings which were all commissioned and made for that night, these played in between spoken word performances from some incredible talent including the incredible activist and artist Liv Wynter. We finished the night with female rapper and producer Gegge Adeyemi and a dj set with my friend Tony’s group, ‘Dads on Holiday’. It was so much fun but was so scary in the weeks leading up to it. It was my goal that people have fun, party but also that we use our platform to share creative work and educate on social and political issues. I really didn’t know what I was doing but we pulled it off 150 people came and that was really unimaginable to me.

fem zine picture the right one

Name two of your favorite zinesters whose work has inspired you?
Lu Williams of Grrrl zine fair is like mama zine to me. It was her events and her platform that allowed me to meet and be a part of the feminist zine world in London. She provides so many incredible opportunities for all of us and I really want to be a part of that growth and try to do the same. Then there’s the powerhouse that is gal-dem. They are redefining what a zine is and what a zine can do within mainstream culture and wider influence they’re in the window of LIBERTY of London right now…! I want to be on that level with FEM ZINE for sure.

Do you have any advice for anyone who wants to make their own zine?
Honestly, just do it. Do it and you’ll see where the mistakes are and you’ll do it again and it’ll be so much better and bigger. Just do it. Then figure out everything else later. The main thing is being active.

Mia Maxwell’s Links
Instagram: @femzinelondon
Instagram: @miamaxwelll

Stay tuned for next week’s installment of ‘Meet this Zinester’ with Ezra Ercolini, creator of many zines.

Interview conducted by Solansh Moya
Pictures provided by Mia Maxwell


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