stef mitchell made a new zine for the hell of it
After a busy year it was time to reconnect with the fun of image making and self-publishing.
After moving from Australia to New York to intern with Annie Leibovitz, Stef Mitchell has gone on to create work for a slew of fashion’s leading retailers and publishers. With recent commissions ranging from leading and independent style titles, to retail giants like Barney’s, the multimedia image maker has firmly cemented her place as one of our generation’s most refreshing, and challenging voices. Her exploration of gender roles and how they have come to inform modern identity politics, has given a tactful voice to the generation of image makers who aren’t satisfied with complying with the hyper-commercial approach New York was once best known for.
In the midst of a busy year, which included contributions to i-D’s Fall 2018 issue, Stef teamed up with Emily Manning, Simone Kurland and Rhamier Auguste on a zine which celebrates creative freedom without the pressure of looming deadlines. At a time when young image makers are in a constant battle with the hyper-saturated digital content economy, this zine offers itself as a necessary reminder of why self-publishing and printed matter are as important now as ever.
What’s the zine about?
I’ve worked with Rhamier a few times and I’ve always loved how he has an innocent way of swinging between masculine and feminine. It’s not easy to explain but Rhamier has a quiet confidence and can sit comfortably in a few different worlds. And because he’s so open, it allows for a kind of exchange to happen between us, which is really enjoyable and not something that happens all the time.
What made you want to do it?
I think it’s important to do projects that have no consequence or deadlines, both for the creative freedom and the purpose of just making something with friends. For me anyway, it’s a nice reminder of how things felt when I really got into making pictures in the first place.
You worked on it with Emily Manning and Simone Kurland, right? Was this the first time the three of you had collaborated?
Emily and I first worked together and became friends on a project for i-D. I really love her brain and take on things, and it has always felt natural to come up with ideas together. Sim is a really talented designer and made a few pieces that we mixed into both zines too, everything we’ve done together has felt relaxed and easy.
What was the editing and selection process like?
I know what I like as soon as I see it, so the first part is usually pretty easy. Because we had the time I printed the pictures and had them laying around for a while and would add text or drawing whenever it felt right, then a few weeks later we culled it all down and started laying it out properly until it visually made sense to us.
From what I've seen, it features paintings too. We've seen you work with illustration a lot, but can you tell me about your work with painting and how that came about?
I’ve been trying to translate the drawings into paintings for a few months. I never went to art school or studied photography, so it’s nice to approach painting in a similarly blind way. I’ve really enjoyed it so far – it feels like trying to translate a book into a language you know nothing about. I’ll have a few pieces in a group show for Drawing a Blank in London in May which should be fun.
You're no stranger to self-publishing. How important is it to your process?
It’s important to my process mostly because I learn in a visual way and I like to make objects you can hold, rather than images just existing online. It’s a nice way to take a step back and look at everything you’ve been into in the last few months. It helps me to see things I sometimes miss, notice patterns and what’s worked. It’s also a good way to look back and see where your head was at different times, which might be nice in a few years.
What do you hope people will take away from the zine?
I always hope people feel something, and maybe think about the images in relation to themselves.
How can we get our hands on a copy?
It’ll be available at Dashwood Books in New York next week.