According to the dictionary, a zine is an inexpensively produced, self-published, underground publication. This is the first project and the theme is Dialogue.
I called my zine Between Us as I chose to write about my twin sister Fabienne. I am close to her and I thought it would be easy to interview her and develop a zine. How wrong could I be? The more you know somebody, the more difficult it is to remain objective and not put words into their mouth. I had to stop myself from using my former skills as a journalist and from being too directive. I therefore ended up with a plethora of resources to go through and narrow down. Not easy.
The way we communicated was not always straight forward. Apart from face to face, we emailed and called each other. She sent me all the resources I needed. I wanted the zine to communicate the different means of communication and the fact that through emails I got more out of her than I did face to face when we just chatted about this and that sipping wine. I pixellated a few images to reflect this. I think because she loves words and writing, typing away made it easier. She had time to reflect and give me a true but never glorified version.
I used charcoal and acrylics, Photoshop, collage and monoprinting. I love mixed media as it enables to express various things in the medium that is most suitable for it. I also love exploring and learning all the time. I found monoprinting fun but messy and I ended up using just one image out of the exploration. Not a great result. But I loved it even so.
The practitioners that inspired me for the zine are Barbara Kruger for the strong and don’t-argue-with-me message. I used it when Fabienne talked about individuality and how important it is to remain to true to yourself.
What we discussed is the emphasis she puts on individuality and the need to be yourself even if you don’t fit
I also chose to carry on with the black and red colour theme throughout the zine. Kruger uses primarily two fonts Futura and Helvetica. For the zine, I experimented with many but also decided to limit myself to two: Futura and Handwriting Dakota but using the lightbox to give it a more handmade look.
As I said words and speaking well are essential to her. She took part to amateur acting and I used all the part of the interview to express it in her own words. She is a shy and reserved person never speaking out of turn and never offensive. Acting was a way of combatting this trait and to also discover a brand new world without masks. She was very successful at it. Here I used my own imagery and also looked into Lichtentein’s for a Wow or a Pow factor! The quotes on the page are the ones she chose and they are in english and french to highlight bilingualism. The words in red on the right hand page are her key words.
The following page is my favourite. It is a contrast to the others. It is almost bare. I liked the art of Jean Cocteau, Guillaume Apollinaire and Sara Fanelli and succeeded in amalgamating them to say something simple with a one liner slogan.
The image is printed on acetate. When you turn it to the other page, the text that forms the hair and face cannot be read and I feel it gives a mysterious feel to the person. Fabienne can be secretive and I think this page is the best summary. I loved playing with the font that decreases and slows down through the double spread.
Finally the end double spread says life is a journey in four different languages that Fabienne speaks. The imagery suggests it is ongoing and invites to go along with it.
Oliver Jeffers, an extremely successful and acclaimed author/illustrator who has proven that a label is just that and that the artificial divide between fine art and illustration can be blurred.
In his monograph of his figurative oil paintings and installation in the book Neither here nor there, he displays a different side of his character and talent. Although he had exhibited in New York, Dublin, Sydney, some of his paintings previously, it is the first time that most of his work is shown to the public. Jeffers is intrigued by the world around him and has a great sense of humour.
The same applies in his picture books. His style differs. Besides I don’t think it is an artist who would like to be classified. He likes to think of himself as somebody ‘who makes art.’ In picture books, his style is minimalist. His characters are never described in words and their facial expressions are almost non existent apart for a prominent nose for the boy who appears in the series of fantastical quests in How to catch a star, Lost and Found, The way back home and Up and down. Another characteristic is his footless legs and most importantly his body language and the way he is placed in a gigantic landscape to show his emotions, his loneliness and his quest of a friend. They are universal themes but still Jeffers never preaches. He thinks ‘children are smarter than we give them credit for’ and ‘I totally avoid forced content, thinly veiled morals, anything preachy or funny for the sake of it.’
I particularly admire the layout and the use of negative space, that helps putting emphasis on the hero’s emotions. In his picture books, less is definitely more but it takes a real gift to know which best moment to depict to capture the tension at a certain point of a story. Being an author and an illustrator probably gives an advantage that you can choose to draw instead of saying it or vice versa. The key is to get it right.
I also love the fact that the characters; actions are anchored in reality: they stop to have lunch or have a bath. Any child will relate to this and it will make the characters even more loveable and the quest even more possible.
His books are magical even for an adult. I can’t wait to see what comes next out of this multimedia artist.