Print as an art form, is well-and-truly OK.
As a Gen X and Y mongrel, I’m often torn between my addiction to digital life and a nostalgic appreciation for a more analog time. Don’t get me wrong: I’m as addicted to Facebook and 25 GIFs You Have To See Or You’ll Spontaneously Combust as the next guy, but I also remember what it felt like to actually talk on the phone or get my LOLs from pieces of paper. OH, HOW QUAINT!
My own journey as a writer, editor, and more recently "digital content producer," has followed a similar arch. Upon finishing my university studies in psychology, I went in search of something more "fun" and decided to write about my other great love—music. After several cold emails to the editor of Melbourne-based magazine Beat, I had my first assignment. In the following days, I hammed together 500 hyperbolic words and voilà... my byline was in print for the first time. The feeling was indescribable. For good or ill, I was now a writer.
Over the next half decade, I moved from print to online with aplomb. As I gained expertise with digital (read: learning about how to make lists of things and boobs in ALL CAPS), my work was awarded and nominated for shiny things. Yet despite these "successes," my yearning for print grew with each soul-crushing photo gallery pandering to the clicks of hopelessly-addicted, gormless web browsers.
Boiling point hit in late 2011. Feeling completely overcome with emptiness for online content and "social media," I decided to stage a protest on paper. My remonstration was to become the aptly-titled 'zine Everything is Fucked, Everything is OK. The concept was intentionally vague: I wanted my friends—all of whom are almost unbearably interesting—to write about things on their mind as they relate to the modern world. With this loose brief, I was astounded to see how many pieces focused on the hefty role technology played in our lives. I quickly worked out, I was not the only one with these nostalgic leanings.
Taking nine months from conception to release, the process of crafting the debut issue was arduous. When compared to digital, print has a fuck-ton of "friction"—hard costs, actual materials, labor, and the rest. I dare anyone to now complain to me about "how annoying it was to set up their Wordpress blog."
With the help of those amazing friends/collaborators, Issue One was birthed in September, 2012. Holding the first copies in my hands, I was overcome by an unexpected welling of SO MANY EMOTIONS. It was like being teleported back a decade to that same moment with Beat.
Many asked if I had plans to also publish online. Having spent years learning how to use the internet to grow editorial brands, I’ll admit that the temptation was hard to resist, but I did. My decision was vindicated within minutes of showing copies to close friends at our launch event. If ever you need to be reminded of the reverence of print, make something physical and give it to a loved one. Then compare their reaction with that time you sent them a cute .jpg you made in Photoshop. There is no comparison.
With another two issues now under my belt—including a Hurricane Sandy special that came together in just 10 days—and on the eve of exhibiting at my first Brooklyn Zine Fest taking place this weekend, my love of 'zine publishing print is still strong. Maybe I’m a curmudgeon, romantic, delusional, and/or all-of-the-above, but I’m going long on the future of print. Advertising revenues from newspapers and magazines might be fucked, but print as an art form, is well-and-truly OK.
Issue Two of Everything is Fucked, Everything is OK is available now for $5 via the EFEOK online store. Brookyn Zine Fest 2013 is this Sunday, April 21, 11 a.m.-6 p.m. at Public Assembly in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.