In changing times for the printing press, the DIY nature of zines have allowed for raw artistic expression and a growing niche industry during these periods of uncertainty.
This makes it really exciting to see the effort and initiative put in by Juvenile Zine – a Joburg based zine publication founded by Liam Sweeney and Jack Singer that focuses on highlighting illustrators and designers from South Africa.
With two editions already out on the streets, we chat to them to get some much needed advice on how to sustain a DIY publication.
For anyone that’s definitely been living under a rock, what exactly is a zine?
A zine is a miniature magazine or fan zine, usually self-published and created in an inexpensive manner, to allow for cost savings as well as ease of production and distribution.
Juvenile Zine is a South African illustration zine, created by Jack Singer and Liam Sweeney. We look for up and coming illustrators to feature in our zine and create a platform for them to break into the industry.
What’s the zine landscape like in South Africa? I remember a couple that were based out of Cape Town, but most seem to have sort of vanished?
Zines can be quite rare because of the nature of self-publication - there can be anywhere between 100 to 5 zines of a specific publication. Bat Butt and Fresh Zine are great examples of some South African zines. However, there is definitely plenty of opportunity for more zines to be created. Thanks to brands like the Bubblegum Club and Street Art Cinemart there is more of a spotlight being shone on zines. Hopefully the events and exhibitions they host inspire more creators.
Zines are definitely a passion project. The disappearance of some zines could just be the creators moving on and taking their passion with them. This, however, is an invitation for other creatives to step in.
Is that a specific focus or theme in the kind of content or illustrators you feature, just about creating?
Being South African creatives, we find a lot of inspiration around us - from visuals and themes around us.
The main theme that inspires our content is “Streets of SA” which was our first edition of Juvenile. However, we try to give the illustrators as much freedom as possible, allowing them to interpret the theme how they choose.
We choose our featured illustrators by looking out for those who are passionate and trying to break into the creative industry.
I’m sure the few spots you have fill up quite quickly
Yes they do. We are quite fortunate as there are plenty of talented illustrators to choose from.
Print is often associated with high costs, what are the challenges you guys face with that in the digital age
We have been lucky enough to form a great relationship with our printer and he assisted us in finding the most cost effective way to produce our zine.
A lot of zines tend to use KickStarter, GoFundMe and give away some sweet gifts for initial costs or to sustain themselves. How do you do it and have you considered this?
Initially, we were fortunate as we had enough money saved from selling work as independent illustrators.
Juvenile was a passion project, our main goal was to provide a new platform for South African Illustrators. As emerging creatives, we highly recommend putting your earnings from freelance jobs into projects that can potentially give you the opportunity to do more work in the future and eventually generate a profit.
How else can illustrators make money or put themselves out there nowadays? Instagram right?
To keep it as straightforward as possible:
Making the most of tools like Behance, Dribble, and Instagram.
Selling prints and merchandise. Start off small with cheaper items such as stickers and zines and build your way up from there.
Networking is essential. You can’t get work if people don’t know who you are (in person is always best!).
How do you discover new artists and how can other’s get featured?
Initially we started by adding our friends and identified people trying to make a name for themselves in the industry. One of our main tools for finding new artists is Instagram. But we try to find creatives anywhere!
Artists can apply to be featured by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org or by contacting us on social media - @juvenile.zine.
We are always happy to receive messages of interest from creatives.
Where can one find a copy?
You can contact us via our Instagram or Facebook page - @juvenile.zine. We also have zines available with delivery on Satori’s website.
When can we expect volume 3?
We don’t have anything set in stone as of yet, however, you can definitely expect to see issue three some time next year. Bigger and better than the last edition!
Thank you for the questions.
Liam MacSweenay | Jack Singer | Dillon Harland | Christy Lee | Johnny Allison | Elio Moavero
DM us on IG to get a free copy...if we have any left.