No Rules. No Expectations. The Radical Power of Zines.

One illustrator revealed why zines are becoming just so popular


So many dream of becoming an amazing creative. It’s a path though that seems closed off. Working full time can block people from applying their talent, materials cost and some of us just don’t seem to have a propensity to create. Yet, zines are making art and illustrations accessible. If you will yourself to create, then there can be a way.

Illustrator, Nil Laverick, known as Momalish, creates incredible art work focused particularly upon queerness and mental health. The works are potent. Momalish’s art, as superb as it is, though is something to which everyone can aspire. They post videos across social media about how to create art and Momalish even holds zine workshops.

“I think part of what makes zines so accessible is that there are no set ‘rules’ to follow,” Momalish says. There’s really no ‘standard’ to meet, so anybody can make them. If you have something you want to say or draw, there are no limitations or hoops to jump through.”

 

 

The free-form nature of zines is what attracted Momalish to the medium in the first place. Zines have no threshold – almost anyone can make them. They can be handmade or printed. Zines may be for personal use, shared with friends or even sold online through sites like Etsy or at events, like craft shows. The lack of barriers to making zines means that there are incredible variety out there, tackling a wide range of topics and all displaying different skill levels. Some zines are geared towards text, others focus upon art. There are even pop up zines. There possibilities are infinite. The point of zines is to create something with passion.

“I think it’s [why Momalish enjoys zines] because I find them, mostly, very unpretentious. When visiting zine fares you will see a huge variety of artistic skill levels and messages. There’s rarely any curating of zines, so most people publishing them are doing it because they are just so excited or passionate about their message or drawings. In a way, they are a raw form of creativity and expression which I think is what makes them most appealing to me.”

 

 

Momalish though has noticed a change in the zine market of late.

“What I have noticed from visiting our biggest local small press stockist, is an increase in zines which are political in nature,” Momalish says. “I’m seeing some which are way more minimalist but clear with their message. A lot of them feel similar to zines I’ve seen from the ’70s and ’80s. I think the current discord in politics is really igniting a fire within people, and they’re using zines to vent frustration and anger.”

The revelation that zines are focusing more towards politics is understandable. Zines are an accessible art form which means that anyone theoretically can create and share them. Brexit and Trump’s Presidency have sparked a new wave of activism. Protests in the UK have become more mainstream, particularly when it comes to Brexit marches or opposing any planned visit by Trump. Politics is also dominating online news. There’s hardly a day that goes by where Trump hasn’t said something spectacularly incorrect or inflammatory. Many artists and activists then will naturally be drawn to creating political zines, either to spread their message or to try to capture a new audience. Zines thrive on passion, and few domains in life spark so much fury as politics. Crafting zines for many can be one of the most comforting ways to show resistance.

 

 

As accessible as zines are, for those who’ve never made a zine before, creating your own product might seem intimidating. Momalish though believes that everyone can give it a go, and the only limits are imposed by our imagination (or, in some cases, confidence).

“Don’t get caught up in any preconceived notions of what your work should look like,” Momalish urges. “There are no rules or expectations, and you’re only limiting yourself by imagining them. You don’t have to create something beautiful and polished; you can create something wonky or badly drawn or nonsensical. You don’t have to be shouting about politics or identity: you can make a zine about plants for all anybody cares. Just do what you want, and enjoy the process of creating something for yourself! But most of all, just do it. There is really no other advice to give other than to put pen to paper and do it.”

Momalish takes inspiration from their childhood. The pop-culture around them can be seen within the style of Momalish’s art and zines, but there is a unity between nostalgia and power within the creations. While the style may be reminiscent of certain childhood favourites, the messages themselves dig deeper into examining queerness and issues around mental health.

 

 

 

“My style is a result of interests from my childhood married with what I’m pre-occupied with now. I grew up with horror movies, ’90s sitcoms, and anime so my work is quite graphic as a result of that. As I grew older, themes like queerness and mental health started to creep in to my illustrations and comics. I mostly draw what pleases or troubles me me, which I suppose is incredibly self indulgent of me to say!”

Momalish’s workshops are connecting with people. The reaction from them has been overwhelmingly positive.

“I know I inspired at least a few people to make their own zines, which makes me so happy- that was my original goal. I’ve had a good mix of people from all age groups come in to make them which is also great. Some people have asked ‘what do I put in them?’ and when I say ‘whatever you like’. It’s always fun to watch them process that they can say or draw whatever they want. No rules.”

No rules will sound incredibly appealing to a generation who have been expected to shoulder the burden of the economic crisis, but stay silent on the rise of the far right. Zines can give people their voices back, and allow an exploration of creativity. Day jobs, and the pressures of the mundanity (and often quiet desperation) of adulthood often can feel stifling for creativity. Perhaps it’s no surprise of the popularity of zines in a time where adult colouring books are being used as a form of escapism and self-care. Zines can offer an outlet of creativity while empowering a generation to ensure their voices are heard. Given the times we live, it’s hard to see when – or if – zines will fade out of popularity.

You can visit Momalish’s website here.

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