In this week’s installment of ‘Meet this Zinester,’ we meet 24-year-old Ezra, a zinester from Boston, Massachusetts. So stick around, get inspired, and then make zines~
Who is Ezra?
I did an exercise recently where I had to describe myself in five words and I came up with – Christ-centered, forward-thinking, creative, introspective, and empowered. A lot of the zine and other art I make revolve around my religion and being trans, and I am actually getting ready to move to Boston to study towards a Masters of Theology. I hope that by sharing my opinions and ideas, I can empower others to be who they are. So you could add student and activist to that list as well. I am rarely sitting still and always looking for my next creative project – whether utilizing photography, illustration or writing.
When was the first time you came across a zine? What was your reaction?
The first time I learned what a zine was, I was taking a college class about self-publishing. I had seen zines before, but did not really understand what they were, who made them, or how. I don’t remember the exact topic the zine covered, but I remember it was a little folded book that some pages could be taken out of and refolded. I was blown away by how tactile it was. Flipping through the pages made me want to know more about the topic. I was drawn to how easy it could be to replicate, and how many people could be reached through the medium.
Do you recall the first zine you ever made? What was it about?
The first zine I ever made was a tiny butterfly-folded booklet called “Shit my Professor Says”. I wrote down quotes from my teachers for one semester in my undergrad photography program, and created a zine from the best ones. A lot of people liked it even though it was simple. It really told a story about how even a liberal institution can be racist and ostracizing.
What kind of zines do you make?
Most of my zines now include a mix of poetry, activism, and photography. I create a simple format and usually print them on folded computer paper. I’ve always been drawn to collecting things of like nature – pictures of sunsets, quotes from older men at work, drawings of similar things. I view a lot of the zines I’ve made and the ones I am working on as collections themselves.
What inspires you to make zines?
I am always inspired to create when I feel compelled to change something – however intense that change is. That could mean changing my mood after a rough breakup, or changing the way people think about sexism in the workplace. The tactile nature of zines made me want to devour as many as I could when I first learned what they were, and my hope is that if people feel the same way about my work, they will walk away changed in some way too.
Why do you choose to display your art through the medium of zines?
Zines inspire the activist in me. I am introverted, and talking to people is sometimes hard for me. Making zines gave me a voice that was easily created in mass, distributed, and recreated. There is such a wide range in what zines can be – from informational booklets to pieces of sculpture. They challenge me to be more creative, and to push the boundaries of the forms of expression I have at my disposal – photography, illustration, and writing. They can say so much or so little. They can be light and fun, or carry a lot of weight. I love that variety and the endless possibility to what I am able to created and put out into the world.
What is your favorite thing about zines?
My favorite thing about zines is that in the variety they appear in, there is something for everyone. I can walk through a fair and find fully bound, printed digital comic books alongside Xeroxed rough-draft poetry. I feel open to create whatever I feel compelled to in this medium, and I don’t feel pigeon-holed into one category. I am always discovering new ways to create and new ways to challenge my way of thinking. I love that challenge.
Tell me about your zine-making process— what style and method do you usually use?
Usually when I am creating a new zine, I start with one piece – either a poem, or a photograph, or a quote – that inspires me that I want to create around. Then from there I think of how to create a meaningful piece that would captivate others. For example, this past Lenten season before Easter, I posted a line from different Psalms for about 50 days. I knew I wanted to create around that, so I expanded my idea to include illustrations of crosses I found around the city, and my own analysis of the biblical text. My work is always personal to me, and I felt that the Psalms I included needed my own illustrations and words to carry the message I was hoping for. Usually from there, I will create a rough draft of what I want my zine to look like on scrap paper to use as a template. Then I will make the actual zine in InDesign to be printed on my hp printer. Recently I’ve been using a lot of computer paper, but I also love the feeling of notebook paper, or 4×6 cardstock.
Can you share with us some of your favorite zines that you have created and why?
My favorite zine I created was for a series I did in 2016/2017, where I made one zine a month for an entire year. November is my Dad’s birthday and so I asked my family, friends, and his coworkers to send me stories about him that showed what his character was like. My dad passed away in 2014, so it was a beautiful collaboration between a lot of people. I loved being able to put everyone’s words together with photographs and my own writing. It brought a lot of people together, brought a bit of healing, and everyone was given one for free. I think the goal in all of my zines is to make a person reading it to feel less alone, and this was the perfect example of that. I did another collaborative zine where I asked other artists to tell me about their coming out stories – they could basically send in anything they wanted and I arranged it all. I really hope to create more collaborative work like this in the near future.
Name two favorite zinesters that have inspired you?
One zinester that has inspired me is definitely Got a Girl Crush. I met Got a Girl Crush at Pete’s Mini Zine Fest two years ago, and it was really my first star-struck experience meeting a zinester. I found her work on Instragram, and it was so empowering to see someone writing narratives about women in such a creative and well-designed way. I bought her pin that says “my name ain’t baby” and it has really shown me how you can make an impact by sharing painful or frustrating experiences. It is such a short, cutting statement – “my name ain’t baby” – and I always have a lot of great conversations about how feminine people are treated when I wear it. I also draw a lot of my inspiration from books and photographs. One of my favorite publishers I love to look at is Conveyor Studios. Although they are not a zinester specifically, they publish a range of books and zines. One of my favorites is called Visible Spectrum. It is a collection of booklets corresponding to colors of the rainbow. Each booklet is curated by a different artist inspired by the color on the cover. Looking at this work really inspired a lot of the work I create now – creating collections, working with photographs, paying deep attention to colors, and requesting collaboration with others. It challenged me to think more about how I format my work, and how to best present it.
Do you have any advice for new zinesters?
I have two pieces of advice for new zinesters – one would be, read a variety of other zines. The second would be – just create. I spent a lot of time afraid that no one would want to see my art, or no one would share my opinion, or that what I was making wasn’t good enough. A lot of the zines I make I put together because they make me feel good, and it is an outlet for my own struggle. When I first started, I would make editions of ten and just send them out to friends and family for free just to share my work and see what they thought. If it makes you feel good, do it!
Ezra Ercolini’s Links:
Stay tuned for next week’s installment of ‘Meet this Zinester’ with Emma Wiseman, creator of many zines.
Interview conducted by Solansh Moya
Pictures provided by Ezra Ercolini