Who are you? Where are you based?
My name is Amber, and I make zines under the name Lavender Picking. I live and work in Naarm (Melbourne, Australia) on unceded Wurundjeri land. I’m a non-binary artist, zine maker, and mental health advocate for myself and those who read and relate to my work. My goal is to use my ability to be candid about my mental illness to encourage others who are struggling to reach out and to show them that they’re not alone. I use my art as a platform to overcome the stigma that surrounds mental illness. I’m passionate about helping people and creating safe and comforting environments to encourage creativity in my zine workshops.
What are zines to you?
To me, zines are a form of self-expression that are accessible to everyone. I value accessibility as someone who has never had much money to buy art supplies or be involved in exhibitions. Zines are something that anyone can make, in any form. The possibilities of zine making are endless.
What was your first encounter with zines?
I became friends with a zinester named Ziggy (on Instagram as @ziggyfilth). Ziggy was my inspiration to start making zines, and I can’t thank her enough because zines have become such an important part of my life.
Tell me about your zines. What kind of zines do you make?
I make perzines about my mental health issues. I have a series entitled Fully Sick, Chronically Sad, which currently has 6 issues. I also have another series entitled The Seroquel Diaries, and I’m currently working on the 2nd issue now. I also make zines about gender identity and popular culture – one of the best zines I made was one about the TV show Murder, She Wrote.
What inspires you to create zines?
My boyfriend, Michael and my friends. I wouldn’t be able to create without their constant support. My audience also inspires me to continue to create zines, it’s the nicest feeling when someone buys one of my zines.
What’s your favorite thing about zines?
The fact that they can be so niche – you can find a zine about your favourite thing, no matter how obscure it is. I recently bought my Dad a zine about Midsomer Murders (which I bought from @14thframe on Etsy).
Do you recall your first zine ever, what was it about and what inspired you to create it?
My psychologist suggested that I start drawing pictures and comics as a form of mindfulness because I always enjoyed drawing. I just didn’t think I was any good. When I had enough drawings, I turned them into my first issue of Fully Sick, Chronically Sad. I really loved making it, and people actually enjoyed reading it, which encouraged me to continue making zines.
Tell me a little about your zine-making process.
I draw a bunch of stuff – I don’t do digital drawings because an important part of my mindfulness is that it’s an activity away from screens. I draw things in bursts because sometimes my depression is really bad, and I can’t draw. When I have enough art for my zine, I scan it into my laptop, format it, and then I print the zine, cut it, then fold and staple.
What do you hope people get out of your zines?
When I first started posting my art on Instagram, I got reactions I wasn’t expecting – mental illness makes you feel like you’re all alone and that nobody feels the same way as you, but through my art, I realised that I have an illness, with symptoms and that other people are going through the exact same thing. I hope people feel the same way when they read my zines, and they realise that they’re never alone, that there are people out there that understand, and that you don’t have to hide how you’re feeling.
Name two of your favorite zinesters.
Two of my favourite zinesters are: @frankencomix on Instagram – Frank makes incredibly beautiful and high-quality horror/sci-fi comic books. They are available from their BigCartel (link in their Instagram bio). Another of my favourite zinesters is Kate (@moonfurhat on Instagram). Their current project is to make a zine every day this year, and all the zines are so witty and clever. I bought my friend several of Kate’s Star Trek zines, and she loved them (link to Kate’s Etsy shop in their Instagram bio).
Do you have any advice for new zinesters?
Join the community. Zinesters are so kind, and they will help you out if you have any questions. I have met many wonderful people through zines.
Is there a zine website or resource you would recommend new zinesters to check out?
Yes, my friend Silver runs a great website – seagreenzines.com, where they review zines. They also host the Zine Collector Podcast. Both of these are fantastic resources, and Silver is an important part of the zine community.
Interview conducted by Solansh M.
Photos provided by Amber.