Dublin Zine Fair Participant’s Interviews #3

Barry Quinn
Barry is an illustrator and independent publisher of graphic novels, comics and zines. He writes and draws fantasy stories, using watercolour and pencil mostly. Online he’s probably “mooliki”, “invert this space” or “burrquinn” and also plays music as Emakousma. He lives with a cat called Django (as in Reinhardt, not the film), collects skulls and photos of dead birds and his favourite colour is yellow.

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1.What are zines to you?
For me, zines are these little glimpses into the lives of DIY creatives. There’s something a little more intimate about independent publications and the aspect of zine fairs that I love is this idea that you’ve all these people busy working away in their homes and studios, going about their lives, then every now and then you get to share a little part of that personal space, swapping and trading with this chronicle of whatever it is your passionate about.


2. What’s your first memory of zines?
I’m certain there were earlier ones (I have an atrocious memory) but what sticks out is a 2008 zine by Zoe Manville, Love vs Wellbeing. I was just starting to get involved in the Dublin art scene and it was totally something I wanted to be making, just filled with simple, lovely illustrations, all with quite a personal, intimate feel, like looking through someones private sketchbook.


3. What was your first publication? Please describe.
Around 2008 I’d drawn a series called Invert This Space. They’re simple satirical illustrations in an A6 booklet, kind of cynical, self-deprecative humour.


4. Why did you start making zines/self publishing?
I’ve been drawing since as long as I can remember and around 2008/2009 I started to look at art as my work or way of life rather than just a pass-time. I was taking part in exhibitions, mostly around Dublin and they tended to be artist-run events, with a DIY-ethos at the heart of them. So the world of zines and self-publishing was never too far away. I had been making my own sketchbooks and learning book-bindings so when I started selling at markets and craft fairs it seemed natural to just start putting collections of illustrations together.


5. What/who are your influences?
I love graphic novels, especially graphic memoirs. Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis, Mariko and Jillian Tamaki’s Skim, Adrian Tomine and Alison Bechdel’s work and most recently Katie Green’s Lighter Than My Shadow. My drawing and story-telling style would be hugely influenced by comics, fantasy stories and anime, especially Studio Ghibli. Also music is a huge creative influence. Joanna Newsom and Laura Marling, I think I’d share similar tone with their music, dark and broody, but erring towards surreal folk tales.


6. What is your favourite material or method (in making your publications)?
For illustrating, it would be pencil and watercolour. For making publications, I edit them in Photoshop, print on an Epson and then usually use a sewing machine to bind them. I use only recycled papers and packaging, mostly from Klee Paper in Dublin, possibly my favourite shop in the country.


7. Do you have a favourite zine?
At the minute it’s Katie Green’s The Green Bean, a bi-monthly illustrated journal. I’m really loving her work. Zoe Manville’s Love vs Wellbeing, I’d still have a soft spot for. I usually go for more illustration-based stuff but I love the writing in Vadge.


8. What’s the best & worst things about making a zine?
Best: Sewing. Worst: Sewing.
I love the look of a hand sewn book and it just makes it feel more precious and solid. But I get totally stressed sewing, stabbing myself with needles, getting thread tangled, I’m ridiculously clumsy with it and it always takes longer than I expect.


9. How do you distribute your publications?
There are a few shops in Dublin (Jam Art Factory and May Fly mostly) that sell my stuff. Aside from that, online through Etsy or my own site. And then there’s the occasional craft market or zine fair.


10. Do you have any advice for anyone who wants to start a zine?
Aside from the ever apt “just do it”, I think one of the big problems with creating anything is getting over the idea of creating something “perfect”. At least for me, that’s one of the hurdles I have to keep checking myself on; do your best, while accepting that there are going to be mistakes, it might be a bit rubbish and a year later I might end up being embarrassed at even having made it. But one of the reasons to publish something and get it out there is to get that perspective on it, see the mistakes and then learn from them. Write what you want to read about, draw pictures you want to see, make zines you’d want to buy, don’t worry about whether other people will like it, do it cause you like it. And deadlines! Deadlines are your friend!