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The Chapess 9
Cover by Brigid DeaconCourtesy of The Chapess

How to fight the patriarchy through publishing

Know your audience, find a community and don't doubt the format– zine queen Cherry Styles shows us how to shake up the DIY scene

After founding punk feminist zine ‘The Chapess’ in 2011 with Zara Gardner, Cherry Styles has become a staple of the UK DIY publishing scene. A forerunner within the zine community and it’s current popularity, ‘The Chapess’ provides women a space in print to create and communicate, working on a submission basis with content ranging from photography to poetry, illustration, prose, and a focus on literature.

Championing DIY culture ‘till she dies, Styles still prints the zine black and white using photocopiers, keeping costs low to ensure easy accessibility of the publication. But don’t confuse the punk ethos with unprofessionalism. Marrying the many worlds that zine makers seem to juggle, including publishing, distribution and editing, Styles founded Synchronise Witches, a press and distribution service, as a way to support the artists and other zine-makers she loves, whilst additionally running zine workshops and lectures on the importance of self publishing. Managing to turn your passion into a day job whilst contributing towards a fair, equal voice for women is no small feat, so below we ask Styles for five tips on how to get started in the zine and self publishing community.


“In making a zine you are effectively your own editor, publisher and boss. There are no rules. And you can distribute your work how and when you choose - and if no one likes it or even sees it who cares, there are no stakes. Working on the Chapess has literally changed my life; I've met so many ace people and had opportunities to do all sorts of things as a direct result of making zines, including paid work. I would recommend zine making to anyone who wants to get more involved with their community, become more politically engaged or just meet some new people.”


“I have always felt part of the DIY scene, which has helped me do all sorts of things and  given me a framework to get the shit done i need to do. Working with the Salford Zine Library helped me meet new people when I first moved to Manchester. I grew up in a town with a university that is widely recognised as one of the best places to study creative writing and poetry in the UK. It wasn't until i moved away that i realised all these 'great writers' i knew, were not only all dudes but were also a direct product of that.

The zine community is consistently supportive and welcoming and i've met a lot of the best people i know through zines, both online and IRL. I always really wanted the Chapess to act as a platform for all these women doing things in their corners of the world/internet, to show their work but also to create a kind of global support system.”

“Try not to waste too much energy on hating stuff, instead use that energy to try and make the kind of media you want to see”– Cherry Styles 


“Co-founder Zara and I wanted to make a zine full of stuff by women, there wasn't much else to it than that. We wanted to make something that didn't really seem like it already existed, something inclusive and accessible, something that we wanted to read.  We had both grown up with zines, with books, with riot grrrl and a supportive DIY community, but these things seemed a million miles away from many of  the young people we were working with. We wanted to create something to bridge that gap, something to help them kind of piece together their identities. The first issue of the Chapess contained work by staff and students alike and the project grew from there. Zara and I both felt strongly that we wanted to help make feminism relevant to girls, especially those in rural areas and with limited resources as we had been.”


“As a teen zines provided me with content i wasn't finding elsewhere, and i still think they have the capacity to do that. It was music zines that i first got into as a teenager, and i just loved everything about them, the style, the whole DIY ethos. They were cheap or free and people would just swap them or give them away at gigs. Being a super fan was a huge part of my identity and zines gave me the perfect outlet. I stopped making zines entirely while i was at art school, and instead concentrated on bookbinding which seemed like the ‘adult version’.  My tutors definitely made me feel as though zines were kind of a silly thing that it was time i grew out of, and made some ‘proper art’. Thankfully, I think zine culture is evolving, more people are finding ways to self publish.”


“I’ve learnt that however small or relatively non-existent your budget, your immediate community or contacts - none of these things are necessarily barriers when it comes to zine making. If you're not sure where to start, or you're unsure about the content/ or layout do a bit of research, find out what zines are interesting to you. Talk to people who make zines, most of us don't mind getting the odd email. Think about your intent and motivation for making a zine, you're not going to make any money from it but you have everything (else) to gain. Try not to waste too much energy on hating stuff, instead use that energy to try and make the kind of media you want to see. Be accountable for the stuff you put out in the world.”

Issue nine of The Chapess is available to buy here. For more information on Synchronise Witches distribution click here