image from @enas.satir

Enas Satir 

Enas Satir is a Sudanese visual artist who currently lives in Toronto. She creates cultural projects revolving around race, blackness, and African identity. Her art is inspired by the complexity and beauty of her background and country; Sudan. Her zine Kezan & Why They Are Bad For You won best political zine in the Broken Pencil Zine Awards 2019. 

Q&A with Enas Satir

Since winning the best political zine for the Broken Pencil Zine Awards 2019, what have you been up to? Are there any new and exciting projects you’ve completed or have been working on?

Yes! I have been more active with my art since that. I have made another zine: Black Smog, as part of the inktober 2019 challenge, it discusses mental health with a focus on Sudan, which doesn’t recognize issues of mental illness and often links them to religion or being ungrateful therefore it is a huge taboo in my culture .. etc. So I started by discussing my own issues and then through Instagram so many people came forth to me with their own struggles so I ended the zine with testimonials from three people whom I also know personally. That was a difficult project but at the same time it was great that it made people who are silent about their struggles to discuss them and forgetting about the stigma.. including myself! 

I have also been doing a lot of ceramics.. I have recently finished a project: Gonat.. which is dedicated to traditional Sudanese singers. Their songs are part of our culture, and even though we enjoy their music, the society looks down on them and calls them “gonat” which is considered an insult.. so the ceramics pots have the lyrics of different songs on them.

I have also been trying to experiment more and try weaving.. I weaved the old Sudan flag that was our official flag after the independence before Sudan was forced into a Pan-Arab agenda.

I am also currently working on a new illustrative series “Racism with different seasonings”, which is more related to current events, sharing my experiences with race in different countries and hoping that people will share theirs as well, and maybe having more discussions about race can help us move forward. I am planning to turn this series into a zine eventually.

What’s the most far-out zine award category that you wish existed but doesn’t? 

I think the political zine category is great.. but I think it needs to be broken down into several categories.. At the moment.. feminism, mental health issues, politics, opinions.. all of that are part of the same category.. I think it will allow for more options if it was more specific.

 

cover of Distance 33cm to Memory

Xiaoxiao Li 

Xiaoxiao Li’s Distance 33 cm to Memory zine won best artzine in the Broken Pencil Zine Awards 2019. She currently lives in Toronto, Ontario creating comics, illustrations, and zines. 

Q&A with Xiaoxiao Li 

Since winning the best artzine for the Broken Pencil Zine Awards 2019, what have you been up to? Are there any new and exciting projects you’ve completed or have been working on? 

I’ve finished a semester of school (I’m currently a third-year in OCAD illu), and was supposed to be doing a semester abroad in China but since coronavirus happened it ended up being an extended visit to my grandparents (I’m still in China now). I’ve been dedicating a lot of time to improving my Chinese and corresponding with my Chinese language exchange friends. No art projects in the works but they’re incubating in my head. I’d like to write more in my future works.

Can you tell us a little bit about your journey to winning the best artzine and what compelled you to enter the competition? 

I don’t remember my state of mind at the time to be honest. I must have thought it was worth a try to submit. I’m grateful for that.

What did you think was going to happen as a result of winning the best artzine? And how did the reality differ? 

I don’t think I had any expectations! Entering felt (and still feels) like a strangely private thing, as if it happened in a vacuum. So did winning in a way, but then even a classmate from middle school got in touch with me saying they saw my zine in BP. The attention was lovely and out of the blue.

What advice and/or tips would you give other zinesters thinking of entering the zine awards competition? 

Practice believing your work to be worth others’ time, that it will find its audience. Consider keeping pdf copies of your zines, and having them online, maybe readable/buyable through Gumroad.  

There’s a lot of beauty and vulnerability in your artzine, what was the most valuable experience going through the process of creating it? 

I love the feeling of having implicated the closest people in my life in a kind of circle of intimacy, where I can pull them all closer to each other via myself. They could see each other, and the others’ interactions with me in a very direct way, through the book. I reviewed each draft with the people in the zine, most importantly my former partner. It was important to be responsible to the story because over time it tends to displace more immediate memory of the past. I can’t access my state of mind from Spring 2018, only the way I narrativized it in the zine. I think in a relationship as well as in a breakup, we should be on the same page as to what our story is, it should be something we tell to each other. Sharing drafts with the closest people in my life, receiving their feedback and then making revisions to service both the truth and the story, that was a process where I could lay bare to them — this is my experience, we can talk about it and also talk about and appreciate our relationship.

 

image from https://www.maryampatel.com/

Maryam Patel 

Maryam Patel is an illustrator and emerging artist from Toronto. Her work is dreamy and surreal; and she likes creating art that tells stories, and evokes feelings of tranquility, nostalgia, and wonder. 

Q&A with Maryam Patel 

Since entering the Broken Pencil Zine Awards 2019, what have you been up to? Are there any new and exciting projects you’ve completed or have been working on? 

Upon entering the Broken Pencil Zine Awards, I had just graduated from art school (Independent Illustration at Seneca College). In the summer and fall of 2019, I had the opportunity to exhibit at a couple of conventions, including Canzine and Mississauga Comic Expo, which were both amazing experiences! Since then, I have been working part-time (up until mid-March – but had to stop due to Covid), and have been working on art in any free time I have.

I’ve mostly been painting, working on a bigger commission (which hopefully I’ll be able to share soon!), but also taking the time to learn, practice, and hone in on my skills. I’m planning a new zine, that will be more health/science-related, which I’m looking forward to beginning to work on!

Can you tell us a little bit about your zine award journey? How did you enter the Zine Awards and what compelled you to ultimately enter the competition? 

Around the time I found out about the Zine Awards, I had just finished making my comic zine Dreamscapes – which had started out as a project for a class in my Illustration program. It took a lot of time, effort, and discipline to create – I had put my heart into this zine – and it was the first real zine I’ve made and the first comic. It was also entirely handmade, printed, and bound at home. While definitely not perfect, I was happy with how it turned out, because it was true to the initial feeling and vision I had for the comic, and how I imagined it to be. Having a tangible book that I could hold in my hands (that I made myself) was also really satisfying; and being able to share it with others was pretty special. It was for these reasons that I chose to enter the Zine Awards. I could have never imagined it being nominated (especially being my first comic)! But I am honored that it was.

Reflecting back on the day you submitted your zine and comparing it to present day, what did you learn during that one year span? 

It has been a crazy year. The last few months in particular.

One important thing I have learned this past year is to be careful not to take on more work than you can handle. This is something I struggled with during my part-time job, often working extra long hours, and at the end of the day not having enough time to work on any art – and it really took a toll. It’s okay and sometimes necessary to say ‘no’ to jobs that are too much and to prioritize things that are important to you.

I’ve learned to keep an open mind, to be open to new interests, and to change. I’ve surprised myself this year, in developing deep interests in topics I never thought I’d be into, and opening doors I thought I had already closed.

And lastly, I have learned (or re-learned)  that you never know what can happen in life. Things can change in the blink of an eye. I was reminded of the importance of taking care of oneself, one’s physical, mental, and spiritual health… and in being there for the loved ones in your life.

What advice and/or tips would you give other zinesters thinking of entering the zine awards competition?

I think the most important thing is to be genuine in your work and to not be afraid of expressing yourself in a way that may be deemed as different! Even if you think your zine is not good enough or has too many flaws, or that you are not ready, I would still consider entering, because you never know who your work may speak to, and who it may impact.

Your comic zine is incredibly vivid and dreamy, what was your creative process like? 

Thank you so much! In terms of my creative process… I had wanted to make a “dream comic” for quite some time. The comic came from a pretty personal place, and when it came to the planning / thumbnailing stage, after overcoming an initial block, the comic kind of wrote itself. As though the images had been swimming around in my subconscious.

When it comes to the creative process for this zine, this quote by David Lynch really resonates with me: “Ideas are like fish. If you want to catch little fish, you can stay in the shallow water. But if you want to catch the big fish, you’ve got to go deeper. Down deep, the fish are more powerful and more pure. They’re huge and abstract. And they’re very beautiful.”

And a lot of the zine has to do with this idea of diving deep. I knew that the comic would be more metaphorical, rather than being narrative-driven. And I wanted the imagery to be able to speak for itself, in an exploration of sorts. I thought watercolour would be perfect for this! I think watercolour is a medium that lends to a sense of dreaminess, which I thought would be fitting. Additionally, I find painting in watercolour to be calming, and very therapeutic, which made the process all the more enjoyable.

What was the most valuable experience going through the process of creating your zine? 

Through the process of creating this zine, I realized how much work actually goes into a comic, how time-consuming the process is, and how methodical one has to be in its different stages (from thumbnails to rough pencils, tight pencils, inking, and lastly painting). It took diligence, patience, and a strong work ethic to complete the zine, which in itself was a valuable learning experience. Creating the comic digitally would have been easier in many ways, but spending the time to create it traditionally was really worthwhile.

Creating and completing this zine was an accomplishment for me on a personal level as well. A year earlier, I had a huge creative block when it came to comics. I realized I had to dig deep and find my own way of expressing myself. Once I did it was as though something was unlocked. It was really liberating. I initially wasn’t quite sure if a comic that was more exploratory and less driven by narrative would be accepted; but I’m really glad I went for it anyway.

 

cover of Wallop, Issue One

Meredith Mason & Sarah Venaccio 

Meredith Mason & Sarah Venaccio are creators of Wallop Zine, a brand new, independently produced zine out of Appleton, WI. Each issue has a different theme, represented from a variety of perspectives.

Q&A with Meredith Mason & Sarah Venaccio 

Since entering the Broken Pencil Zine Awards 2019, what have you been up to? Are there any new and exciting projects you’ve completed or have been working on? 

We are about to release our second issue of Wallop Zine!

Can you tell us a little bit about your zine award journey? How did you enter the Zine Awards and what compelled you to ultimately enter the competition? 

Meredith entered the awards on a whim. We were surprised and delighted to be nominated.

Reflecting back on the day you submitted your zine and comparing it to the present day, what did you learn the most within that one year span? 

We have been inspired and motivated by all the other zines we’ve come into contact with. Our eyes were opened to a dynamic and thriving community of zinesters.

What advice and/or tips would you give other zinesters thinking of entering the zine awards competition?

Don’t hesitate! Do it! Even if you don’t win, you will enjoy the process and get to meet a lot of interesting people and zines!

As a zine that explores multiple perspectives, what would you say was most valuable about going through the process of creating it? 

Hearing other people’s voices. Seeing new perspectives.

 

cover of My Gender is Not a Costume (Except When It Is)

Zines by Al (Alistair J. Cusack)

Based in Fredericton, New Brunswick, Zines by Al, creates and produces well-loved zines such as My Gender is Not a Costume (Except When It Is) and Queer as Uranus

Q&A with Zines by Al

Since entering the Broken Pencil Zine Awards 2019, what have you been up to? Are there any new and exciting projects you’ve completed or have been working on? 

I have been creating zines as part of a Pride month art series that I founded called Queer Art @ Home, an have been accepted to participate in the Fredericton Arts Alliance summer residency.

Can you tell us a little bit about your zine award journey? How did you enter the Zine Awards and what compelled you to ultimately enter the competition? 

I entered the zine awards as a way to level up. I did not expect to get nominated but felt that trying would help to motivate me to keep doing better. The email announcing that I was a double nominee actually went to my spam folder, and it wasn’t until I saw my zines on the BP website that I realized I had even been selected. I was shocked and honoured.

Reflecting back on the day you submitted your zine and comparing it to the present day, what did you learn during that one year span? 

I just finished my final year of my Bachelor of Arts in Sociology, Human Rights, and Communications and Public Policy, so that has taken up a lot of my time and not left much time for zine-making, unfortunately. However, being nominated in the BP Zine Awards made me realize that I am competent as an artist and creative, giving me more confidence in my choice to walk away from academia after my undergrad and pursue creative endeavours instead.

What advice and/or tips would you give other zinesters thinking of entering the zine awards competition? 

What’s the worst that can happen? Not getting nominated? Is that the end of the world? No! And no matter what happens you will feel more motivated to work harder on zine-making, so go for it! I believe in you!

Your zine explores complex and significant experiences, who would you say was most important to your creative process? 

There have been a lot of folks who were really important in helping stay determined while making zines. I would say the most influential people were the ones who reminded me of my values; I am a creative, I am a community-oriented person, and I believe in the power of stories. The folks who affirmed those things for me even when I wasn’t certain they mattered… Those people made a difference.