the 12 most radical zines of the moment
These are the radical DIY publications with something important to say, from 'Cuntry Living' to 'Polyester.'
Rip it out, cut it up and paste it back together. In September 1980, i-D founder Terry Jones, took his designs to a printer's shop on Portobello Road, and, with two shakes of a lamb's tail, the first issue of i-D materialized. Putting punk into print, i-D was a fanzine dedicated to counter culture, anti-heroes, trailblazers and trend sitters. It was unpolished and unapologetic, with its rough around the edges, DIY aesthetic being the ultimate fuck you to the glossy lifestyle magazines of the time. Fast-forward to today and the zine remains a powerful icon of the counter culture - here are the ones you should be reading.
Date founded: February 14, 2014.
Founder: Lotte Andersen.
What does your zine stand for?
Falling in LOVE, LOVE, LOVE, LOVE and... figuring it out in London.
What's the story behind the name? I run a party called MAXILLA. It's held in a Portuguese Restaurant in West London. We cover the walls with black and white posters, have dinner and dance. Club nights only last in your memory but the zine solidifies what the party is about. It ties the posters, the people, the vibe together, plus it's an excuse to hang out more and make something cool :)
Do you think having an online/viral presence affects the underground/subversive meaning of zines? The subversive nature of a fanzines is related to them being physically printed with limited distribution. I don't think zines exist on the internet, they become blogs! I intentionally ran Maxilla, the club night, with little to no online presence as I liked the idea that it was its own community.
Zine name: Badlands 777.
Date founded: September 2014.
Founder/editor: Founders Chloe Lamb, Jade Lamb and Lilli-Rose Bailey.
What does your zine stand for? A tribute to and celebration of females world-wide.
Zines were first started as counter culture, how do you feel about global companies and big brands tapping into the underground cultural status of zines in order to sell their product? It's smart marketing these days. Zines should not just be reserved for the underground culture, but instead for anyone who wants to exhibit work for others to see. It's time to separate snobbery from the creative world and embrace everybody's contribution.
Name: Born N Bread.
Date Founded: December 2013.
Founders: Adelaide Lawson, Abigail Jackson, Olivia Udoyen and Chika Wilson.
What does your zine stand for: Born N Bread is a platform for collaborations, experiences and to showcase up coming artists.
What makes your zine stand out from the rest? It's raw around the edges, an imperfect clean mess that applies to both written and visual content, we don't hold back and we say what we feel. It's a party that everyone's invited to, no guest-list needed.
Do you think having an online/viral presence affects the underground/subversive meaning of zines? Yes it does affect the underground or subversive meaning of zines as it creates a more inclusive community as opposed to an exclusive group. However, in this modern age an online presence is helping to revive zine culture, making it more accessible to everyone.
Zine: Cuntry Living.
Founder/Editors: Alys Hale, Niamh McIntyre, Emma Davies, Rachel Besenyei, Angeli Bhose, Lu Williams.
Date founded: 2012.
What does your zine stand for? We're a zine run by students at Oxford University. In an institution which has for centuries privileged the white cis men whose portraits crowd the walls of our dining halls, we aim to carve out a space for the voices of women and minority genders to make themselves heard.
How would you describe your zine's aesthetic? We've tried to be true to the punk, DIY aesthetic of the zine. We run 'cut and stick' sessions where anyone can drop in and work on a collage to accompany an article - our collages are made up of pop-culture debris, tabloid newspapers, little-girl-princess magazines.
What's the story behind the name? The name is a play on Country Living, a magazine which represents a valorization of femininity as bland, domesticated, quiet, homely, an ideal which we reject and subvert. It's also a play on the word 'cunt', a word which we want to reclaim.
Date founded: September 2014.
Founder: Ione Gamble.
What does your zine stand for? Polyester stands to ensure that artists working online, or who initially created a fan base online, are not ultimately dismissed as being faddy or existing as part of a trend. So, essentially challenging notions of 'good' and 'bad' taste.
What makes your zine stand out from the rest? Right now is a really strong time for zines in the sense that there are so many exploring different topics and issues. I'd say that we are unashamed in the fact we love fashion and mix fashion-based content with political issues which is something that maybe happens less within zines as opposed to magazines.
Zine: Don't Get Culty.
Date founded: A balmy summers eve in July 2014.
Founder: Grace Pickering and Joseph Sweeney.
What does your zine stand for? We're an online platform for artists and creators, allowing a curated art space for us to showcase undervalued talents.
What's the story behind the name? Joseph and I would spend many a late night obsessing over The Sopranos in our living room, our favorite was Paulie Walnuts "don't get cunty!!" We loved his shell suits and gold chains and how crass he was, we wanted him as our mascot. It morphed in to culty quite naturally, I guess we wanted to move away from cult like conventions of everyone dropping the same names and shine a light on to lots of different talents instead.
Title: The Mushpit.
Date founded: 2011.
Founders: Char Roberts and Bertie Brandes.
What does your zine stand for? We like to think of Mushpit as a mix of the been-there-done-it big sister and your best friend. We stand for a voice that's worlds away from the slick, straightforward women's magazines on the market and focuses on the trickier, funnier, less glossy aspects of life.
What makes your zine stand out from the rest? It's completely honest, no agenda, no bullshit. When we first started a lot of people told us how good it would look on our CV but we literally could not care less about how this might benefit us in a professional sense, it's a total labor of love.
Zine: Girls Only.
Founder: Antonia Marsh.
Date founded: March 1, 2014.
What does your zine stand for? Our zine celebrates the fabulous work being made by the talented and unstoppable female artists that exhibit alongside or complete Girls Only residencies at our studio.
Do you think having an online/viral presence affects the underground/subversive meaning of zines? No I think it mimics it. Punk was about getting what you could done with whatever means were available to you, and if today this includes the internet, then why the fuck not.
Zine:The Le Sigh.
Date founded: Spring of 2012.
Founder: Diana Cirullo.
What does your zine stand for? The Le Sigh is a website that aims to highlight female-identified artists in the underground art and music world. The site started as dumping ground for everything that we found cool-interesting-awesome, but quickly turned into great outlet for us to support a cause that is very dear and near to our hearts.
How would you describe your zine's aesthetic? We want The Le Sigh to feel like its own girl gang, like the lunch table at the back of the cafeteria where you can go and swap mix CDs. It's important to us that no matter how much we expand, we still remain an intimate and safe space for everyone involved to share music/art/etc.
Date founded: 2013.
Founders: Sofia Niazi, Rose Nordin, Heiba Lamara and Sabba Khan.
What does your zine stand for? O.O.M.K literally stands for One of My Kind and figuratively stands for DIY and creative activism coming from women and girls.
What makes your zine stand out from the rest? We work to reflect our own worlds and not to distill the lives and creative work of women. All our contributors are women, the majority being women of color and a significant number being women of faith.
Zine: Girls Get Busy.
Date founded: December 2010.
Founder: Beth Siveyer
What does your zine stand for? Girls Get Busy is a creative platform and support network for women to showcase their work and ideas about feminism, and to feel a part of a community with a voice
How would you describe your zine's aesthetic? Digital DIY
What makes your zine stand out from the rest? There are a lot of feminist zines springing up at the moment, which is amazing - I feel the more, the better! I think what makes Girls Get Busy stand out, is the fact that it's intersectional and there isn't a particular theme for each issue, so it has more of an open anthology feel to it. You can find work about class, race, mental health, disability, sexuality, gender, motherhood and other feminist topics.
Date founded: 2014.
Founder: Philomena Epps
What makes your zine stand out from the rest? It has complete longevity. It doesn't have a niche, it's not inspired by trends, and it will continue to be relevant. My intention is for the platform to be used to encourage ideas of progression and social change on multiple levels. Although grounded in the arts and humanities, which is my area of expertise, I am also passionate about giving a voice to social activists, campaigns that are fighting political injustices and issues surrounding climate change and greener futures. One of the fundamental ideas behind Orlando is that collaboration equals innovation. Although the idea was born from feminism, gender theory and queer discourse, I think people often don't realize that these perspectives can be used to tackle the effect of any rigid of stigmatizing politics, and provides a critical language in which to question the world we live in.
Text Tish Weinstock