Zines at the NGA! Jo Daniell talks to us about her creative process.
Jo Daniell on the practice of zine making
27 June 2011
A few months ago we were lucky to sneak out of work and over to the NGA to hear Jo Daniell talk about her art practice and her experience making zines. Jo is a contributor to the gallery's exhibition Space Invaders and she told us about her introduction to the form via her connection with the Adelaide music scene and the punk distro Spiral Objective. People were trading or selling, usually photocopied, zines at gigs. She included a couple of interesting facts about the establishment of zines in alternative culture saying that the first recorded instance of the term fanzine was around the 1940s and that 'fan' was dropped in the 1970s leaving us with the term zine to describe any handmade, multiple copy leaflet or booklet.
In outlining her interest in zines Jo explained that she enjoyed the informality of them, the DIY aspect as well as the inexpensive nature of producing them. Because zines can be made at home they provide an inexpensive outlet for creativity and allow artists to continue their practice in limited space. She also made the point that in many ways the zine format is a step up from the single item form as printing allows for multiple copies. When artists and makers are experimenting with drawing and creative techniques the ability to print and disseminate multiple copies inexpensively for feedback is highly valuable. In talking about her own practice Jo introduced us to the Rizzeria printing machine. Located in Sydney the Rizzaria is a volunteer artist run collective and allows for screen print style works with the speed of a photocopier. Jo explained that the accessibility of this machine and it's speed has changed artist's practice, allowing for up to 7 printed colours it works directly from digital files to print zines, gig posters, post cards and other types of ephemera.
Daniell explained to us the process of becoming involved with the NGA and the Space Invaders exhibition, saying that it was the presence of her zines at the Melbourne shopfront The Sticky Institute that caught the eye of the curators scouting for works to include. Once you let zines go out into the world you will never know where they will end up. She explained it is this kind of unpredictable life force that can lead their maker into all kinds of unknown futures. Jo said she loves being able to put her email address on her zines and be available to fans. She explained that you simply don't get this with other art forms! She also expressed excitement that zines are collected by libraries. That this made them available to anyone who wanted to read them. The talk was wound up with a few questions from the audience... Such as how many print runs does she do? Jo replied that initially she was unsure of how they would be received from the zine fan base only printing 50 or so. With the rise of zine fairs, such as Sydney's MCA zine fair, demand is high and she will print around 200. One particularly interesting question was how might the rise of online book making companies impact the zine scene? Jo said that she felt the impact would be minimal. Explaining that while she felt it was an interesting development in self publishing, the DIY nature of zines was entirely a different mode of production and therefore unlikely to have a large impact. Saying that people will still create in the form that inspires them most. They might experiment though. She went on to explain that, through the online community, exhibitions like Space Invaders and libraries adding zines to their permanent collections, was contributing to a legitimisation of the form.
All in all the zine cataloguers from the NLA had a great time listening to Jo Daniell's experiences and views on the practice of zine making. We look forward to including her future work in our collection. The Space Invaders exhibition will be travelling to the RMIT Gallery, RMIT University, Melbourne, 1 September – 5 November 2011 and then on to Western Plains Cultural Centre, Dubbo, 18 November 2011 – 18 March 2012.