conversations with bianca

Zines: How Freedom of Expression Went From Photocopier to Phenomenon

No Cure Magazine zine special

Earlier this morning I shared with you my debut feature for No Cure – Violent Soho + Artist Callum Preston Interviews – I have more news to share too! I’ve been featured in No Cure’s Zines: How Freedom of Expression Went From Photocopier to Phenomenon piece in this issue also. Celebrating zine culture and independent publishing, Beth Greshwalk interviewed me, Mariam Bastani from (punk bible) Maximum Rock n Roll, Jessie Duke from Microcosm zine distro, Staples from Bizoo zine, Thomas Blatchford from Australian zine distro + zine shop Sticky Institute and, zine maker and Smells Like Zines distro boss lady Elouise Quinlivan.

They asked me about my journey of zine making and my limited edition zine project Conversations with Punx. Due to space limits, the entire interview wasn’t published though, so I thought I’d share with you guys the extras. See below.

If you have a zine (I’d love to see what you’re working on ) or have any zine related questions (I’d be happy to share my zine knowledge/experience further) please get in touch. If you’re interested in getting a copy of my zine get in contact too!

No Cure Magazine zine feature + Bianca Valentino

For how many years have you been involved in zines?

I’ve been involved in making zines for almost two decades, since I was a 15-year-old punk kid sitting on my bedroom floor cutting and pasting. Long time, huh? To this day, I still make my zines sitting on the floor cutting and pasting for the most part.

How would you define the purpose of a zine, or what a zine stands for?

Simply put zines are a vehicle for communication and connection. I think the purpose of a zine and what it stands for depends on the person who creates it. Self-expression; boredom; being super passionate about, or to raise awareness of, something; to document times, events and places; to share information and ideas; to make a statement; to make people think and to inspire discussion are all purposes for creating zines that I’ve heard from zine creators that I’ve interviewed over the years about the craft. Personally, I’ve made zines for all those reasons and more. I especially love making one-off zines to cheer my friends up when they’re sad! There’s something very magical about zines.

Conversations With Punx by Bianca Valentino Faith + Truth issues

Are your zines typically solo projects or do you enlist help from multiple writers?

My first zine Social Stupidity was pretty much a solo effort, although from time to time in later issues I’d have friends do interviews, contribute reviews, comics or photos. My second zine 15th Precinct started as a solo effort too but then grew into a huge collaborative effort. I had contributors in every Australian state and some from overseas. With my most recent zine, Conversations with Punx, I’ve done all the interviews and writing for it myself but I see it as a collaborative effort as I’ve interviewed around 70+ individuals for it, had around 30+ photographers contribute images, and then there’s intro guest writers like my friends Greg Attonito from Bouncing Souls and Vic DiCara from 108, plus my niece Leasha helped with the layout and my Jhonny from band Mystery School helped screen print the covers and with art inside the zines. I am so thankful I have such amazing supportive people in my life.

In your own words, what makes a zine better than a magazine or newspaper?

With a zine you can do anything you want, your imagination is the only limit really. Magazines and newspapers for the most part, have to keep advertisers in mind and happy when working on content for the publication…

From my experience, I believe it’s better making your own zine or blog and working to build that, build your dream, rather than doing all the hard work helping someone else build their dream. I’m really happy at where I’m at now, making my own zines, doing my own blog conversationswithbianca.com and only writing for publications I can get behind and who actually care about their writers and value their efforts.

Conversations With Punx Omar Rodriguez Lopez photo by Stephen Booth

When it comes to zine content, do you think there is ever a limit to how far one can go to express themselves, or is there an understood “freedom of expression-at-all-costs” standard that your zines—and the zine culture in general—abide by?

I can only speak for myself and basically I express myself as I want but I try to keep everything on the positive tip. Like Aleister Crowley said: Do what thou will shall be the whole of the law. Love is the law… I try to do everything from a place of love, in my zine life and in my general life. If you’re coming from a place of love, truth and sincerity, for the most part, you’ll end up in a great place. It’s not always an easy thing to do though!

List the qualities of a zine you’d love to read.

Qualities that are important to me in zines that I read are: they’re handmade, the writing or images connect with me, the content makes me think or opens my heart and mind to new ideas or challenges what I believe, honesty and uniqueness.

Conversations With Punx by Bianca Valentino PMA + Creativity issues

Name a zine that has stood out to you over the years and why.

The first zine I ever saw and held in my hands has a special place in my heart, I actually still have it. I like a lot of the older punk and hardcore zines from the US. I dig a lot of the old Riot Grrrl zines. Part of why I made my zines is because I couldn’t find anything out there like it. I adore in-depth thoughtful interviews and I haven’t found many zines that do that. If you know of any please get in touch and let me know, I’m always looking for new zines to read! I make zines that I want to read, if that makes sense?

Describe the printing method(s) you and other zine writers use today.

I use the good old photocopier. I still stand there and copy all of my zines myself, it’s part of the process to me. I’ve seen other zines use professional printing, and I have at times too, but for the most part I think photocopying is the way to go and easiest, most popular form of printing for zine makers. It’s cheap and effective. Standing at the photocopier you have control. I’ve been ripped off by dodgy printers before so I think that’s part of why I like to do it myself too. I’ll make up a cut n paste master copy and then head to the copy shop.

Conversations With Punx John Joseph photo by Oliver Wilke

Tell us about your progression from zines to zine-making to creative workshops and public speaking —what is your ultimate goal?

Wow! What a question. As a zine maker you wear a lot of hats, making zines has taught me so many skills. I’m self-taught in all that I do and it’s been lots of trial and error. Zines have become such a huge part of my life. I’m pretty sure I’ll make zines forever. I find the process meditative. Making zines is good for my health – spiritually, mentally and emotionally. Facilitating workshops and public speaking engagements are an extension of making zines for me and a way to share information and ideas with others. I like teaching people tricks I’ve picked up along the way that will help make their zine making easier. I’ve been making more of a conscious effort to put myself out there more.

As for my ultimate goal, I’d just enjoy doing what I love for a living; don’t we all want that though? Ha! Many times I’ve been close, right now I’m closer than ever! I just want to keep doing positive things, working with positive people and interviewing. Interviewing and making zines are two of my all-time favourite things.

Conversations with Punx #5 Faith

Describe how you’ve seen the zine culture evolve over the years. Where do you think zines are going in the future?

Zines go through periods of ebb and flow and cycles just like most everything else. They were really popular in the 90s for a period and I think they’re quite popular now. I’ve never really felt a part of zine culture or the zine community despite being a zine maker for so long, I just make my zines and put them out. As for where zines are going, who knows?

What does it take to keep the zine and independent publishing community thriving?

To keep the zine and independent publishing community thriving it takes dedicated individuals with lots of passion who are brave enough to commit their thoughts to paper and share it with the world.

Conversations With Punx by Bianca Valentino Love + Gratitude issues

To read the entire Zines: How Freedom of Expression Went From Photocopier to Phenomenon feature: NO CURE MAGAZINE.

With love,

I heart you

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