Several weeks ago I attended a fantastic event. Part of our exercise was to very quickly create a handmade Zine. A Zine, for those of you wondering, is an informal magazine, mostly in small doses, self-published. These items can be printed offset, print-on-demand or done by hand. One is not better than the other just different.
The idea was to create a Zine about a definitive moment in our life by focusing on ONE specific thing that changed our direction. My Zine is titled “R Out,” in reference to an image made by English photographer Larry Burrows. The image, “Reaching Out,” is the singular image responsible for me becoming a photographer.
When I first noticed this image I was in middle school and the image immediately made me feel unlike I had ever felt before. I knew I wanted to make other people feel this same way. From that moment on I was driven to be an actual photographer.
You might think this is a silly exercise, but if you spend all day long on a computer I think you will change your mind very shortly after beginning an exercise like this. This is tactile and harkens back to elementary school. Think glue, scissors, tape, crayons, pens, markers, ink, etc. For me, a journal-keeper, this is nothing new. But it was still very much enjoyable. And for fun, put yourself on a clock.
I used multiple pens, paper, glue, a gum wrapper and lots of cutouts from a yachting magazine. I know, an odd combination. I think sometimes we take ourselves far too seriously, with both our personal and professional lives. Taking the time to create something like this is a good reminder to be realistic about what we are doing.
And oh by the way, if you still don’t believe me about Zines just know that over the past five years I’ve seen the traditional book publishing world contract, become more conservative and decline to publish some of the best projects I’ve ever seen. On the flip side, the Zine and art book world is exploding. Just look at Art Book Fairs in NYC, LA, SF, etc. Massive attendance numbers and far more interesting than traditional book fairs.