The best of the self publishing scene proving the importance of DIY 'til you die
What does being radical actually encompass? From the rise of young activists to an increasing need for fashion to become politicised, the sense of fighting for what you believe in has become more and more prevalent in youth culture. Despite a misconception that all millennials are apathetic and non-politicised, one creative community that has seen this change more than ever is self-publishing.
With an ever-increasing number of ‘zines and independent magazines infiltrating London and the wider publishing community at large, our bookshelves have never seemed more radical. Enter the Radical Bookfair – a one day event bringing the best of the London scene under one roof.
“It’s important to take up space sometimes – I’m all for less consumerism, less production and less waste, but if something is really worth doing then it’s quite possibly worth materialising it in the real world,” says organiser Nik Gorecki. Founding the fair in 2011, the annual event now houses 50 exhibitors, ranging from titles exploring the housing crisis, austerity, feminism, queer politics and more.
“People increasingly expect to have their voice heard, be prepared to do things for themselves and work horizontally,” he says. Representing their own communities and individual identities, self-publishing offers no restrictions, no expectations and endless opportunities for people to create space on their own terms. Below, we select five of the best from the upcoming fair.
Unashamedly DIY til she dies, The Chapess is a feminist punk zine headed up by Manchester based zinester Cherry Styles. Remaining true to the format with photocopied, black and white editions featuring the best of female literature, photography and prose, Styles co-founded the platform in 2011 after becoming frustrated with the boys club and craving a space for women to flourish and find each other creatively. Pick up copies at the bookfair before she drops an anthology edition later this year.
The anarchist news-printed magazine hijacking bus stops with anti-capitalist art and running the bookshop at Banksy's Dismaland. Combining radical socialism and anarchic sentiments with beautiful, accessible graphic design, the quarterly publication aims to create an accessible platform inclusive of all identities while dismantling capitalist systems and right-wing oppression. Offering a no bullshit approach to anarchy in the publishing industry, the titles most recent issue includes tongue-in-cheek quizzes to determine your manarchist status, with articles covering issues such as fighting fascism as queer, trans people of colour.
After setting up shop in 2009, Vampire Sushi Distro made it their mission to open up the world of zines beyond localised communities and online environments. Currently stocking over 31 titles, the distro is less interested in group zines or those on the more glossy end of the spectrum – instead focussing their attention on perzines, a personal zine focusing on the ideas, thoughts, feelings or politics of one individual person. Expect #relatable illustration and hard-to-find, rare publications spanning topics such as feminism, mental health, food and queer politics.
A multimedia artist working across artistic platforms such as zines, comics, t-shirts and prints, Rudy Loewe's work takes complex narratives and transforms them into accessible, non-intimidating art forms. With their Loud White Men/Opinions That Matter Venn diagram t-shirt becoming the somewhat unofficial uniform for queer south London, Loewe’s work focuses on untold narratives and bringing heightened visibility to marginalised communities. Covering topics such as assimilation, afro hair and queer politics, Loewe and their practice has been recognised and championed by institutions such as the Tate.
A newcomer to London's already thriving feminist zine community, X=Y aims to fight the arguably exclusionary nature of some feminist movements with intersectional content and an unsnobby approach to politics. Demystifying an increasingly popular movement and turning clickbait feminist fodder on its head, the title covers topics such as what it's like to be the boyfriend of a feminist while pushing the importance of individual perspective in relation to the fight for women's rights.
London's Radical Bookfair takes place Saturday, 7th May at Goldsmiths University. More info here