Breaking into the Zine

April 19, 2018

 

Zines are an important medium for young people, allowing them to share visual and written content cheaply and independently. Smack bang in the middle of Melbourne’s zine scene is Discord Zine, a publication that aims to make its readers uncomfortable. I sat down with one of Discord’s creators Katia Pellicciotta to discuss her zine baby. We discussed how Discord was conceived, whether or not my piece ‘My Farrah Fixation’ was her favourite and she shares some tips for those thinking about starting their own zine.

 

Hey queen.

 

[Laughs] Hello.

 

Let’s start from the start. I’m assuming you didn’t just pop out of your mum’s uterus wanting to create a zine. What sparked your interest?

 

There’s no cool way to tell this part. I think it was a pretty natural progression from my slightly emo, child of the Internet days. I was really into the art and blogger scene online and got into zines through the people I read about and met that way.

 

As I got older, I moved past that scene mostly, thank God, but stayed interested in zine culture. Everything that it represents, like underground communities, the concept of a collection based around a niche theme, cheap to make and distribute, and how open the possibilities are for how and what content to make, has stayed appealing to me and what I value in creative endeavours.

 

Now let’s move onto your zine Discord. How did that happen?

 

With a lot of blood, sweat and tears [laughs].

 

But seriously, it started without [co-creators Georgia Bunker, Sam Hansford, and I] actually realising what it would become. It grew out of a conversation about art that makes people uncomfortable in a productive way. We had nothing to lose, because we started from literally nothing, so just sort of decided to go for it.

 

We worked especially hard at the beginning to figure out our vibe and build a ‘brand’, reached out to artists and writers, sought out editors, and the rest is history!

 

And the name of your zine - why did you guys pick ‘Discord’?

 

We wanted something that reflected the ethos of the zine, which is best summed up by the phase “art that makes you uncomfortable”, but also was sort of vague so that it made people want to know more. We played around with a few titles and ended up going with Discord. It’s short, not a cliché or overused word, and looks nice too, which was pretty important to us for a zine that was going to be graphics-heavy.

 

What has been the biggest challenge in creating Discord?

 

There have been many. I don’t mean that in a negative way though. Money is an obvious one. We aren’t financially lucrative, so our ‘financial plan’ is mainly funding it with our own money then deciding how to most efficiently direct the little profit we make. We can’t afford to be as risky as we perhaps would’ve liked, because we can’t operate at a loss – we’re just uni students after all.

 

A more interesting challenge, which I’ve really enjoyed, has been how to become a sensitive editor that can maintain their vision for the publication. As we’re all at the start of our professional lives, we’re familiar with the apparent industry standard by which creatives have to compromise control of their work. It’s been a challenging learning curve to understand how to try to do better, be an empathetic editor that works with a writer or visual artist to produce a final piece that feels authentic for them, but also something that is appropriate for our zine’s direction and its readership. The most rewarding pieces, in my opinion at least, happen when the artist trusts and takes on the editorial feedback, to bring back a really creative and interesting interpretation of it.

 

Speaking of which… what has been your favourite piece published in Discord, and is it Trent Vu’s ‘My Farrah Fixation’?

 

[Laughs] He wishes. I know this isn’t what you wanted to hear, but I really don’t have any single favourite! The closest I could come to answering that is perhaps the cover designs? It is so exciting to get those, especially because they’re something we commission towards the end of editing when we have a really strong idea of what the theme has become and all of the submitted content is at its best.

 

For both issues so far, we’ve asked artists that we feel have a style that vibes really well with lots of the work in the issue. We send them snippets of writing and graphics that will be published, and ask them to come up with something that sums up the theme and work. They’ve done really brilliant work, and I know it sounds dorky, but I really feel so honoured to have their work as the representative images of their respective issues.

Shout out to Brooke Van Der Linden and Lilly McLean. They’re fantastic to work with, and are both deeply considerate artists. Everyone should check them out!

 

What’s your one biggest piece of advice for those wanting to start their own publication?

 

Put a lot of effort into curating an authentic, honest image (as much as I hate the word ‘image’) of yourself online. It goes without saying that nowadays social media will be a lot of people’s first point of contact with you. Especially at the start, when no one really knows what you are yet, you have to give people a reason to give a hick heck about your publication. Showing them what your point of difference is, posting material that is on the same wavelength as your aesthetic, writing about political events that are relevant to your publication… whatever it is, you have to be consistent with it, which can be really hard. But absolutely reaps rewards in the long run.

 

And that’s the end of the interview! Where can our readers find themselves a copy of Discord?

 

Thank you for having me! We are stocked in Sticky Institute, Grub St. Bookshop, the University of Melbourne’s Book Co-Op, and of course in our online shop, discordzine.bigcartel.com.

 

You can follow Discord Zine on Facebook and Instagram @discordzine.

Follow Katia on Instagram @evidenceofforms.

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MACSS is a society for students at the University of Melbourne, situated on Wurundjeri land. We are proudly affiliated with the University of Melbourne Student Union. For enquiries, membership, or sponsorships, please contact us at media.comm.society@gmail.com.

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