Who are you? Where are you based?
I’m Cassie. I’m a 23-year-old zinester from the deepest darkest countryside of the East of England. Next month, I’m betraying my country bumpkin roots and moving to East London with my partner Eddie to start a new job in crowdfunded publishing. I have Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (also known as ME), depression, anxiety, and agoraphobia and much of my zines explore these areas of my life.
What are zines to you?
Zines to me are an accessible, creative way to share information, art, and ideas outside of mainstream media. They are rebellious and extremely diverse. Personally, they are a way of exploring my life and experiences and sharing that with others.
What was your first encounter with zines?
My first encounter with zines as I know them now was a couple of years ago when I went to a DIY Art Fair in Shoreditch, London with one of my best friends. I was fascinated by these small, beautiful, concise and affordable pieces of artwork. As a young working-class woman, I’d never been able to own any more art than a postcard from a museum, and here I was able to meet artists directly and buy their art from them at a price I could afford. I came away with so many zines; my favourites being two zines full of Simpsons screenshots of Martin Prince and Ned Flanders. They’re by Bootleg Boy and @thephotocopyclub and they are very treasured possessions. Before that, I’d been engaging with the zine format for years but not in the way you would expect. During my time at uni I worked with children, at both an after-school club and as a nanny. The children would always ask me to make them a ‘book’ to write and draw in and I would endlessly cut and staple zines for them to use – it was one of my favourite activities to do with the kids. I would love to run a children’s zine workshop when the world starts to look more normal.
Tell me about your zines. What kind of zines do you make?
I make mini zines, using collages created from magazines, books and old scraps of paper, with my own handwritten text. They tend to be about my experiences of living with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, anxiety, depression and agoraphobia and being a working-class woman, but I also make zines about anything from The Simpsons to facts about the vagina. I like to think that there’s no topic I wouldn’t explore in my zines and I don’t want to be held back by fitting into too strict a theme.
What inspires you to create zines?
I feel inspired to make something physical and beautiful from my thoughts and experiences. I’ve kept a diary since I was little and zines are kind of like an extension of that, a way of documenting my thoughts. As a reader and someone who works in publishing, I love words, paper and books. Creating zines taps into everything I love.
I’m also really inspired by other zinesters. I enjoy keeping on top of other zinesters work and spiralling ideas from zines that I love. For example Sydnie’s (@staysanemakeart) zine ‘Things I Cried About This Week’, inspired me to make my own zines about crying.
What’s your favorite thing about zines?
My favourite thing about zines is that anyone can make them. I’ve always loved to create, write, draw and collage but I’ve never seen myself as being an artist or creator because I wasn’t ‘good enough’. But I have something to say and as a zinester, that’s what counts. Sharing my zines has really helped me to feel confident in my work and appreciate it myself.
Do you recall your first zine ever, what was it about and what inspired you to create it?
The first zine I made was called ‘Holiday’. It was very different to the zines that I make now. After leaving my flat in Bath and moving back into my parent’s house for a short while, I found a huge box of photographs of family and friends, starting in the early 80s when my parents were teenagers to just a few years ago. I’ve always been fascinated by photos and used to collect random photos that I found at antiques shops and charity shops. I was struck by some of the more universal experiences of life such as love, family and home and how everyone’s can be so different yet so similar. It was this idea that gave my zine page the name ‘This Is Your Life’. I asked all of my friends if they would send me their photos and I compiled them into groups based on themes. ‘Holiday’ has pictures of my mum in Ibiza in 1991 next to my sister as a child in France and me in Majorca with my friends in 2017. I got side-tracked from this project by making mini zines, but I might come back to it one day.
Tell me a little about your zine-making process.
Since I started making zines, the process has taken over my life, in a good way! I’m always thinking about my next few zines. My brain never stops working; I go to sleep and I’m thinking about zines, I wake up randomly at 4 in the morning and they’re the first thing on my mind. Sometimes 4am is when I get my best ideas. I don’t really write these ideas down (perhaps I should), I just leave them ticking over in my mind as I start to formulate the words. The words come first and the images come second.
Once I have a topic, I start collecting images. I have a box full of all my zine inspirations, including old magazines, a book of images to cut out and collage (best purchase ever!) and all kinds of scraps that I’ve collected over time. I’m a terrible hoarder for postcards, old tickets, leaflets that I thought looked pretty, and birthday cards. I can’t let them go, but I can turn them into something new.
I always stick down the images first. This is quite intuitive and I don’t spend much time laying them out or testing where they should go. Then I begin writing, almost like a short stream of consciousness. I like to write down what comes to my mind in the moment, using some of the ideas I’d thought about earlier. This sometimes results in spelling mistakes or a tiny bit of repetition, but it’s the way my brain works and part of what makes them personal to me.
What do you hope people get out of your zines?
A trans activist I follow called Charlie Craggs once said that if anybody ever threatened to expose her secrets she would say ‘do you want help flyering?’ Whilst I don’t necessarily make zines about secrets, I do make zines about things that have been shameful or embarrassing to me in the past, such as having sweaty hands or being diagnosed with agoraphobia. I love that quote because it’s a reminder that if you are open and own all of your experiences that shape you, then you are in control and those negative feelings can’t stop you. I hope that people read my zines and see aspects of universality in them and feel a sense of acceptance towards themselves. I hope my zines speak to anyone who has experienced situations that are outside of their control, doubt or illness. I hope that people feel a sense of connection and that they are not alone. With my zines that detail specific illnesses or mental health conditions, I hope that people gain a greater sense of awareness and understanding of what it is like to live with these conditions.
Name two of your favorite zinesters.
I would have to say Sydnie at @staysanemakeart and @molly.with.her.bee.
Sydnie’s zines are so raw, personal and beautiful; they inspire me to be even more honest and to tackle even more personal and ‘difficult’ subjects. Molly’s zine about being diagnosed with PTSD inspired me to make more zines about my mental health experiences. I love the breadth of her zines, from gender to early 2000’s bangers (and they were all bangers). Both Syndie and Molly have been so friendly and so supportive of my zines. I couldn’t ask for anything more from fellow zinesters.
Do you have any advice for new zinesters?
My advice would be, don’t be afraid to ask questions. I reached out to @molly.with.her.bee @beautifulmindzines and @remikeahi and they were all so helpful in offering advice as I’ve started to build my zine page. I would love to help new zinesters just as much as other people have helped me. I love the zine community because it’s such a friendly and open corner of the internet. Since sharing my zines, other zinesters have been so kind and welcoming. There’s no sense of competition or judgement, just a genuine interest in other people’s work and wanting to support new zinesters. Also, just keep making, even if you think what you’ve made isn’t good. Be as creative as you can and know there’s (almost) no topic off limits.
Is there a zine website or resource you would recommend new zinesters to check out?
I would just endlessly explore the zine hashtag on Instagram and take a look at zine blogs or recommendations you find from there. I love this ‘Meet This Zinester’ feature on Weirdo Brigade because it gives me a great insight into the process of other zinesters and helps me to explore new accounts that I may not otherwise have found.
Interview by Solansh M
Pictures by Cassie