Independent publishers AZEEMA and Bellissimo gave readers tips on making magazines, collaboration, tone of voice, and making a movement – here are the takeawaysCALVIN KLEIN
SELF PUBLISHED is a project presented by Dazed and Calvin Klein celebrating independent publishing and spotlighting the ideas of different magazines from across Europe.
Bellissimo (Milan), Gloria Glitzer and Tabloid Press (Berlin), Matto (Paris), and Azeema (London) each created a one-off digital zine, covering themes true to their editorial outlooks such as gender, identity, teen angst and the housing crisis, self-styling shoots using iconic jeans and underwear essentials from Calvin Klein. The result is four different attitudes and approaches, four different visions.
We wanted to bring our audience into the project, and so hosted two Zoom sessions with two of the publishers, offering tips and guidance on creativity. One talk was called “How To Make Your Magazine Fun” with Bellissimo, hosted by contributing Dazed editor Claire Healy, and the second was called “How To Make Your Magazine A Movement” with AZEEMA, hosted by Dazed’s Head of Content Ahmad Swaid. Here’s some takeaways.
HOW TO GET STARTED
Ivan Ruberto, Bellissimo: I would advise to collaborate. I don’t think the budget is a problem, I don’t think even the PR or the design... it’s not a problem. It can be quite overwhelming to start with and you could give up too. So the important thing is to find some likeminded people, and go together and divide your tasks. You know, someone does the photography, someone the design, someone else maybe emails to people to do a little bit of PR. Really collaborate – that’s the key to making something happen I think. Unless you’re a genius you know. Then you can do it by yourself.
WHAT IS THE MEANING OF A ZINE IN 2021?
Jameela Elfaki, AZEEMA: To me, a zine is independent publishing, it’s whatever you want to express in whatever format. A zine doesn’t have to be pages, it can be an Instagram, it could be a video, it could be anything, as long as you’re communicating something through that zine.
Sunayah Arshad, AZEEMA: It’s a tool to be as creative and explorative as you want to be.
Evar Hussayni, AZEEMA: It’s much more grassroots and DIY, community based as well.
Jameela Elfaki, AZEEMA: One of the reasons we started the magazine was because we wanted to have our own voice and, and by self publishing that’s exactly what we’re doing, we’re writing our own narrative. We’re writing what we want to write, it’s unfiltered. So I think that’s what a zine means today.
THE IMPORTANCE OF COMMUNICATION
Paolo Zerbini, Bellissimo: We started Bellissimo because we could see that we could communicate well, now that has grown a lot too. I think we had the hardest moment at the beginning, because maybe we had different ways of doing things but we had to kind of keep on talking to each other. Sometimes we had, you know, yes, the same opinions on things, but not always. But that kind of communication level is so important. I think once that kind of grows, then you can overcome a lot of the main issues.
WHERE TO FIND INSPIRATION WHEN YOU’RE STARTING OUT
Jameela Elfaki, AZEEMA: Researching around the area you are interested in making the zine about. I think it always starts from research, looking at your references and things that inspire you so that you have a solid idea. I think it’s much easier to connect with something if it’s got a strong idea or a strong purpose. I think it’s a lot easier for other people to connect to it or to appreciate if it has a theme.
Sunayah Arshad, AZEEMA: I definitely agree. Because we live so digitally now, a lot of people forget that books exist. There’s so many amazing publications out there that you could just take cuttings from, put them all together, collage.
Jameela Elfaki, AZEEMA: I would encourage people to look offline. And for example with AZEEMA, we look at cultural things, so that it doesn’t always exist in an online space. I would always encourage people when they’re starting a project to just look for inspiration everywhere, and then pull that together and then make what you want to make – whether that’s a film, an online platform, or whatever medium you choose to do it in.