For a while now I have been feeling a bit meh about this whole life thing. The past few years have been eventful, and after expending considerable time and effort I am now back in a place where I feel I can stop rebuilding and start living my life. But I don’t honestly have much of a clue what that looks like, so I have been letting Brain have free range, to go where it wants to go and do what it wants to do. Brain has a lot of interests, and a lot of creative energy, but finds it tiresome when projects take too long, at which point I feel bogged down if I can’t finish things before moving on.
So the result, at the moment, is that Brain wants to make zines. Zines are self-published booklets with a small circulation, often made by cutting and sticking and photocopying. They’re quick, and have a delightfully homemade charm. They have a long history in the counterculture, with people using them as a way to say what they want to say. They’re having a bit of a resurgence in the feminist sphere at the moment (and others).
I am concerned about the direction capitalism is taking us in, leading to environmental destruction, climate chaos and rampaging inequality. There are things I want to say on those subjects – but they don’t sell. People don’t want to pay to publish them, because they don’t sit well with the adverts that make most media profitable, and seeking a commercial outlet for those thoughts feels counterproductive.
For me, making zines its also a response to seeing life on the internet go to a dark place. As a teen ziner explained in the Guardian, two years ago, “I read zines to escape surveillance and clickbait.” There’s also something lovely and old school about a finished printed product, and I don’t think that will ever fade.
Making my first zine has been a challenging experience. I have always been more focused on words than graphics, so creating artwork I am happy to share with the world has been a bit nerve wracking. And the mechanics of putting together a booklet are a bit mind bending. But I have overcome all of the obstacles, and I am now proud to announce that my first zine is finished!
I have some more arty zine projects that I want to tackle, but I wanted to create something Brexit-related, so that came first because of the time constraints. ‘Keep Calm and Grow Food’ is a light-hearted and practical guide to starting on a journey to a more self-reliant life, and has grown out of the way in which Brexit has highlighted the vulnerabilities in our food supply.
It’s 44 pages of A5, with a cover printed on coloured recycled card. It has black sheep page numbers, of which I am quite fond. They’re not all the same size, but then – of course – neither are sheep.
If you’re in the UK and you’d like a printed copy of the zine, you can buy one via my shiny new Etsy shop. If you’re elsewhere and you’d like a PDF copy then let me know. Due to the way the file is put together, it’s over 20Mb and Esty won’t let me upload it.
Each copy will be lovingly printed, folded and stapled by me. In the meantime, Brain gets to start work on the next one.
In the zine, I mention that Seeds of Italy have started selling a Brexit Vegetable Growing Survival Kit, which contains 12 different varieties of seed for easy harvests throughout the year. Suttons Seeds are now getting in on the ‘Brexit gardening’ act with their Brexit boxes of fruit and vegetable plants. There are three to choose from – a selection of salad plants, strawberries and blueberries, or grafted tomatoes, cucumbers and lettuce.