I always knew the last semester of my bachelors would be difficult, but I didn’t expect the feelings that I’ve sat with these last few months. A heady mix of hope, disappointment, shame, and relief, sloshing about like an oil and water toy. My understanding was as the degree went on, pressure to perform academically rose. However the importance of getting this degree seems to have faded. I can’t shake the feeling that outside the walls of academia, this all means relatively little.
People keep saying I should be proud of what I achieved, that fonishing at all is the achievment, I can’t help but feel unsure. I look back on my approach to school, and feel pangs of regret. I should of studied more, made more art, reached out more, made better connections with my classmates. Regardless, it’s the end of something huge, and I do feel proud.
I know this is all a little ‘woe is me’, however I’m predisposed to a good little ‘woe’, and if I can’t ‘woe’ on my own blog where can I!?
So what have you been making this last month?
Wow great question; I feel seen and valued.
Ok, so, initially for my final project this semester i was a little ambitious! It involved websites, interactivity, programming, live interaction, and maybe even a little AI. It was a project born out of a desire to escalate, to take what I had made these last four years, and crank up the complexity. I put a lot of pressure on myself, and after a few unfortunate events, a devastating break up, my number 1 dropping out, and some mild mental health kerfuffle’s, I realized I needed scale back in a big way.
Initially I wanted to keep the same thematic skeleton, talking about the internet, and it’s effect on masculinity and social norms. Instead of a website and computer interface, I was going to have people fill out a physical survey, aiming to bridge the gap between the IRL and online worlds. Unfortunately, or maybe in hindsight fortunately, I couldn’t get passionate about the internet as a subject. The idea of putting my energy and effort trying to decode something as all consuming as the internet seemed not only futile, but reckless considering how online space takes so much time from me already.
I ran the idea of rebuilding my project from scratch past my year coordinator, and was met with understanding, and a request to submit a new project proposal. I’m ashamed to admit I never wrote it (sorry Richard!), I tried a few times but I couldn’t really put into words what I was feeling, or what I wanted to do. I had an overwhelming feeling that I just needed to try and make something, to not feel hemmed in by a project brief or subject, to make work expressing a really difficult, tumultuous time in my life.
I returned to collage, a medium that’s always felt really comfortable and reliable to me. Looking back on the work I’d made so far, what was really speaking to me was the idea of found text. Batman comics from the 90s had a poetry to them, they took themselves seriously even though it was essentially children’s entertainment. So I went about cutting out as many little thought boxes as I could.
It was a wonderfully monotonous experience flipping through old comics and slicing out these tiny thoughts, monotony gets a bad rap, there’s something soothing about it. After collecting hundreds of clippings, I started to try and reconstitute a story from them, in the form of little poems. I thought I could arrange them with images, similar to my previous works, but this end up giving a Pinterest vibe, very “inspirational” and corny.
I think overloading the page with text cheapens the imagery, with my other works it’s usually a single thought box, but here it’s a whole poem. I also found it hard to build a story with the images when I had laid out the story so clearly within the poem. The world of the poem can become so big so quickly, which really is the appeal of working with words for me.
I then decided to create several smaller poems from the clippings, and see if they could stand on their own. This is roughly how the works appear in the final zine, some small tweaks to order, but basically I had the bulk from the first session.
From this point it was simply arrange the poems on my A4 page, do a series of test prints for group crit, and then arrange to have them printed. I really like the idea of getting them riso printed, which is like a printer that replicates screen-printing. Old 90s comics were printed on very cheap paper, and you can clearly see the halftone in a lot of them, riso helped recreate this aesthetic. I got a quote from the lovely people at Glom Press, a Melbourne based riso printer, and they helped me adjust the layers so they would work better with the process.
Finally we have the finished zine!
100 editions, on 150 gsm paper, all hand folded and titled!
I’m really happy with the finished work. Sometimes you make something and it feels like it just exists, not that you hate it or anything, but it’s not really a bit of you. This feels like a bit of me.
I’ve always been aware of zine making as a really flexible way of disseminating your work, but had never really attempted to make one till now. I did try to write one when I first got sober, a small comic series about the night I last drank, it is unfortunately lost to time. Thinking about it I actually did attempt to make another, about a man who raises slugs that people use to get high, again I’m unsure as to it’s whereabouts.
The ease of making zines really lends itself to making more, kind of like the itch to get more tattoos. Over the last few weeks I’ve been approaching my more creative friends to find out whether they’d be interested in making zines with me, and most have been receptive to the idea. The biggest joy for me is letting go the idea that I need to do something illustrative in order to make a zine, something that’s been rattling in my skull for decades.
I’ve also rediscovered my love of poetry, few artforms lend themselves to the specific kind of melancholy I love. Conspiratorial as it may sound, I firmly believe there’s no such thing as a good poem, just the right time to read it.
Having said that, I hope you’re in the mood, because here’s a little poem for you!
I am the paper detective,
a soggy wad underfoot,
a crumpled fiver pocket bound,
looking through receipts for clues.
I am the worm,
a wet clump scraped hastily,
a compost heap sat soddenly,
wincing and twisting in the dirt.
I am the reformed man,
a lofty ideal strived for,
a mark missed willingly,
trying and failing and trying and failing.
When I find you,
I hope it’s in a charitable mood,
that it’s Thursday and 24 degrees,
some time around noon.