Who are you? Where are you based?
I’m Sydnie and I live on Vancouver Island in Victoria, British Columbia in Canada. My partner Alex and I moved here from Edmonton, Alberta last summer in a frenzied adventure: we had less than 2 months notice, no place to live, no job for me, and we drove the 15 hours through the Rocky Mountains nonstop with our packed car (named Dot) in one day! We lived in several AirBnB’s through the summer until we got our place, and it was all worth it. Plus it makes a greats story, like for telling right now. Vancouver Island is a rainforest climate and one of the only places in Canada where there is almost never snow! I’m used to snow 6 months of the year so living here has been a dream and very inspiring.
What are zines to you?
Zines are relatively new to me but I think they’re an accessible and expressive creative outlet where there are no rules and the possibilities are endless. I like having no rules so that I don’t feel stressed to follow any. For me, they have been a way to share my feelings during this covid pandemic, and share them in a way that is constructive and therapeutic.
What was your first encounter with zines?
My first encounter was through my friend Aimée (@spontaneousing) who sent me a beautiful zine she made on the theme of self-care. She is one of those friends who is always so thoughtful and kinder than I ever expect, plus ludicrously talented to boot. It was called Scintilla and had tips on your self-care love language, and space to colour and write your own thoughts. I thought it was so amazing, but never thought of making my own until more than a year later. So I owe my entire zine-xistance to her!
Tell me about your zines. What kind of zines do you make?
I like using bright colours in my zines, and I usually make them about quotes I like or my own thoughts. When I share my own thoughts I want to share only things that I feel nervous to put out there, and there seems to be a direct correlation between how scared I feel to share something and how well it connects with others. That might sound strange, but I believe that we all share deep feelings that we are collectively afraid to talk about, so we feel disconnected when no one talks about them and we feel alone. So I like making things that explore those deep, vulnerable feelings. As an example, I recently made a zine dedicated to the specific things I had cried about that week, and it felt very scary to share but people really connected with it and then everyone feels a bit better, including myself.
What inspires you to create zines?
This is related to my last answer, but I feel inspired by my desire to connect with others. The zines I find most meaningful are the ones that share the most real thoughts or ideas, the ones that diverge from the neatly packaged answers we are all used to giving. I saw an illustrated zine by @kirkreedstrom called “Some Birds Saying My Anxieties Out Loud”, and I thought that was such a great way to combine humour and sharing vulnerability. Or @molly.with.her.bee made a zine about her feelings on being diagnosed with PTSD – things like that inspire me to be more open and less afraid.
What’s your favorite thing about zines?
My favorite thing is that they are so easy to make and are such a great way to combine communication via words and art. I always want to add words to my art rather than having it stand alone, and this is such a neat solution. Plus it makes sharing words more interesting when there is art around it! The short length also makes it impossible to get bored, and forces the artist to be concise. I also love that zines are by nature made to be shared and read, so even though I make them because it’s enjoyable for me I love knowing that someone else will read it and hopefully be inspired too.
Do you recall your first zine ever, what was it about and what inspired you to create it?
I do remember because it was only a couple months ago. My partner and I had been laid off due to the coronavirus and we were about a week or two into self-isolating at home, right at the beginning when the stress was fresh and people were still hoarding toilet paper. I felt so restless and was trying to think of a project for myself to stay sane – there’s only so much Netflix you can binge. One afternoon I remembered my friend’s zine about self-care, and I got the idea to make something similar but for self-isolation self-care to cheer people up when we were all feeling so stressed. I never actually made that exact zine, but I made one with a collection of quotes and art about quarantine feelings and collaged pictures. I felt like I suddenly had a fire burning in me for something, and I just kept on making them.
Tell me a little about your zine-making process.
I have a notebook where I keep a collection of quotes I come across or ideas/thoughts that inspire me, so I look through that a lot for ideas. I also think about things I’ve felt/thought throughout the day and if anything stood out – that’s how I came up with my zine about how I feel about different chords on the ukulele.
I’ll write out the quote or my thoughts onto a notebook and divide it into sections for the pages (this is where the concise bit comes in). Then sometimes I totally disregard what I planned in the notebook and just start the zine. Like I mentioned earlier, I don’t like to feel restricted so I just go with it if I feel like doing something else. I do care a lot about how the words look on the page and where they’re positioned, so if I’ve cut them out I play around until the spacing feels ‘right’, but when I write by hand directly on the zine I just hope for the best. I don’t like drawing lines to write on even though it would keep the words straight, I also don’t like writing in pencil first then tracing then erasing, and my writing isn’t’ as nice as I wish it was for artistic projects, but like I said earlier, I’m trying to be okay with ‘good enough’. I do a mix of collage zines and marker ones, the collage ones take a lot more time but have a very satisfying feeling of having been assembled and created, while the marker ones are lighthearted and playful. I do the marker ones usually when I just want to make something quick and fun, and don’t want to invest all the time of a collage.
What do you hope people get out of your zines?
There’s a quote I love by Emil Cioran: “Write books only if you are going to say in them the things you would never dare confide to anyone” – so when I am thinking of a zine topic I’m searching my own thoughts and feelings for things that feel very personal, with the trust that they are also universal. I could never share personal things if I really believed I was the only person to experience them, and I know I am not. I know that when I share the reasons I’ve cried I am connecting with everyone who cries (which is all of us), and especially with those who might feel too self-conscious to talk about it, so I’m sharing for both of us. I hope that people who see my zines get the experience of not being alone in their hard feelings, and that in seeing my sharing they feel less strange and more accepting of themselves.
Name two of your favorite zinesters.
I have to go with the two I mentioned earlier: @molly.with.her.bee and @kirkreedstrom. Molly shares such well-chosen quotes and is one of the friendliest people I’ve ever come across! And Kirk’s zines are very honest and have a wonderful balance of self-deprecating and lightheartedness.
Do you have any advice for new zinesters?
I hate to copy someone else’s slogan but just do it! If they are like me they could spend days agonizing over details and wording and placement and colours and what if it’s dumb or people don’t like it – – I’ve learned that I am robbing myself of joy when I let myself get stuck in those thoughts rather than just getting started and making choices. It’s okay to make choices that aren’t perfect. I have more fun making imperfect choices and just going ahead with it than I ever do when I worry about it being perfect and getting paralyzed. Also, give yourself permission to make. bad. art. I feel like everything I make has to be a masterpiece, but that’s literally impossible. Learn to be comfortable with the projects between your masterpieces. I have pages of watercolour where I just swirled colours because it was fun, then I felt discouraged because it didn’t look that great in the end but now I cut it up and use it as background pieces for my zines! So even the ‘blah’ art can become useful in unexpected ways, so keep thinking of new ways to use things.
Is there a zine website or resource you would recommend new zinesters to check out?
I would recommend reading Steal Like An Artist by Austin Kleon. It’s short, illustrated, and fun to read. There’s a PDF version available here.