Never apologise for what you represent, forget budgets and push for change: London’s favourite zine gives us its guide to shaking up the industry
Last September something magic happened to the UK zine scene when Polyester was launched from a London bedroom by its founder, writer, editor and all-round creative, Ione Gamble. One year on and their influence is ricocheting across the country – something Gamble can’t quite fathom herself. In under such a small amount of time, amongst the pressures of the publishing industry and the pressures of being a young creative in London in general, Polyester has fast risen to become one of the most known, most inspired and most loved titles you can get your hands on.
Now three issues in and a few banging events under their belts (more below) Gamble is curating some of the most exciting talent in the UK right now for their 1st birthday celebrations – from photographer Maisie Cousins who will be shooting attendees live, to Dora Miller hosting a workshop on set design, and business tips from designer Clio Peppiatt, there’s nine hours worth of solid gold (check out the full schedule here and buy tickets here). Ahead of the event this Saturday, we caught up Gamble herself for her guide to turning the publishing industry on its head, making BFFs in the industry and, most importantly, raising your voice above the norm.
“Stand up for what you believe in and change people’s minds through the work you create” – Ione Gamble
REACH OUT TO THE PEOPLE YOU ADMIRE
“When we started Polyester we had no inside contacts or connections, the scene was completely new to us but we put ourselves out there and took every opportunity we could to introduce ourselves and the zine to the people we looked up to. Working with Meadham Kirchhoff on a feature for our second issue and some posters for their SS15 show was completely unbelievable and something we thought would be totally unattainable, but people are often more approachable than you think.”
BE THE CHANGE YOU WANT TO SEE IN PRINT MEDIA
“What’s the point in creating something that’s just like every other publication out there? We created Polyester through a frustration of not seeing the people we care about getting the column inches they deserved. Internet culture was being discussed in print as ‘faddy’ and we wanted the culture we loved to be seriously analysed and appreciated. We also felt providing a space to push against fashion industry standards was a really important way of dealing with our own conflicting issues about fashion. Identity is often a super important part of the feminist and queer experience, but often these bodies are marginalised, under represented, or completely ignored by the mainstream media. By creating strong imagery that represents these people and bodies we’re aiming to prove that fashion doesn’t have to be so white skinny centric.”
COLLABORATE TO CREATE
“All the best work comes from a meeting of two minds. One of our highlights from the past year is the exhibition we co-curated back in June entitled Female Matters with one of our favourite designers Clio Peppiatt. A group exhibition raising money for FGM support group The Dahlia Project, we round up the best of female talent in London (as well as creating a group installation involving other female fronted publications and collectives), to bring the feminist community together and raise money for an important cause. Collaboration is a word over-used in the creative industries these days, but teaming up with other like-minded people can often lead to working on projects you would never have thought of otherwise. You’re also likely to come out the other side with a new best mate, which is always a bonus.”
INCLUSIVE ENVIRONMENTS ARE IMPORTANT
“With Polyester we want to promote inclusivity and the amplifying of marginalised voices in terms of gender, race, and sexuality. Through our events, zine, and website we hope marginalised voices feel they have a space to create and communicate. The first birthday event will be an opportunity for everyone to come together and discuss the issues and topics surrounding our community such as micro-aggressions, sexism within the music industry and the future of publishing, and all panels will include 20 minutes of audience Q&A. Our online submissions are always open, we don’t want Polyester to come across as a club for a certain group of people so new voices are really important. Drop us an email and get involved!”
NEVER APOLOGISE FOR WHAT YOU REPRESENT...
“We’re extremely open in the fact we only commission female or queer identified people exclusively for the print zine. Cis men have multiple platforms and opportunities open to them that others don’t experience within the publishing community, so it’s important to shine a spotlight for female and queer artists who may not be getting as much exposure as their cis, male counterpart. We also get a lot of shit for our unashamed love of fashion. But it’s naïve to dismiss the industry as it’s one of the only commercial spaces largely run by women, right from the bottom jobs up to the top, and therefore can obviously be analysed through the feminist gaze. Stand up for what you believe in and change people’s minds through the work you create.”
DON'T BE HELD BACK BY BUDGET
“Polyester is non-profit and unfunded but we’re resourceful and make it work for us. It’s possible to make zines for very little money if you shop around, consider the best options, and call in every favour you can. Realise the power of social media, use it as much as possible to peddle your zine and represent the world it exists within, and soon enough other people who feel passionate will find you as a result. It may take a while but creating a community is a shared experience, and the more it grows the more people want to be a part of it. We’re not saying it’s not difficult and you have to work really hard (for no money whatsoever), but once you have a physical zine in your hand it’s all worth it.”