Published on July 26th, 2013 | by Skye Pathare


Manatees, Mags and Music – Ezra Whittaker-Powley

The AUT Zine Club, still in its green (read: disorganised and fun) stage, was founded by graphic design student Ezra Whittaker-Powley and his pals Eden Short, Laura Gan and Lauren Stewart less than three months ago. They attended the Auckland  Zinefest last year and decided they’d quite like to turn the tables (ha) and be on the other side of the stall; so now you can say hi to them and check out their zines at the 2013 event, which is going down in St. Kevin’s Arcade / The Wine Cellar THIS weekend – very fitting as July is International Zine Month. Read on to learn more about their zines and Ezra’s thoughts on everything from the future of print to, uh, sea cows!


 So, what attracted you to idea of consuming or producing zines in the first place?
I like the fact that the content isn’t dictated by anyone – it’s purely what you want; you don’t have to worry about securing advertising or pleasing your boss or client. As design students, we must work to a brief when we’re doing assignments as this mirrors the process in the real world. I love the idea of a publication which is a labour of love and nothing more or less – you get to call all the shots. Their history is also pretty interesting – at the very start they were underground and anti-establishment, usually produced by dissidents, and then began to be a form of communication adopted by subcultures like sci-fi in the 1930’s, punk in the ‘70’s, and riot grrrl in the ‘90’s. My favourites are Saddest by Thomas Casey and Ghost Ghost Squared by Richard Fairgray.

How did the AUT Zine Club come about?
It was just me and a few mates who got the idea from talking to stallholders at last year’s event [including Greta, the lovely editor of Presence] and thinking it would be a cool thing to do – forming a group where each of us would produce separate zines based on our interests, and have a stall at this year’s event. We couldn’t think of a name for the group so just went with the self-explanatory! We were pretty casual at the start but pulled our socks up as Zinefest drew closer. If you’re keen on joining for next year, let me know – my e-mail is ezra.whittakerpowley@gmail.com.

Tell me about the publications you’ll be peddling to the public come Saturday.
Mine is called Harken – it’s an old-fashioned word for ‘listen’ and will be a mix of music, art and design. It will contain original photography, mainly of landscapes and some street shots; and lots of Baskerville Old Face – a font I studied in year one of my degree and have been rather fond of ever since. I’ve also got one called Shuck, which is a collection of my illustrations [Ezra minors in illustration at AUT]. Laura will have hopefully finished hers up by the weekend – it’s an illustrated version of the Scandinavian fairytale East of the Sun, West of the Moon. And my friend Jacinta Conza will be there with her zine Shit Kevin Says. It’s full of illustrated quotes from someone she used to work with.

What do you do with yourself when you’re not studying or creating fabulous zines?
I intern at Groove Guide about once a week [with Greta], mainly clear cutting pictures using programmes like Photoshop and InDesign. I also play the guitar, but not in front of anyone. I just bought a cello bow for it because it’s easier to use and sounds cooler. In the holidays I made a game called gamesalad, which is still in its beta version. I listen to lots of music too, I’m liking alt. pop and folk at the moment and Sigur Ros’ new album.  I dabble in quite a few things…I was born in Gisborne and love going back in summer, but I think Auckland is more motivating if you’re working in the creative industries.

What’s your idea of the perfect way to earn a paycheque?
I’d love to start up my own graphic design firm with a bunch of Uni mates. It would be all-encompassing – web design, branding, corporate identity. It would be great to work in a team where everyone has complementary interests…I like writing the least, for example. And having the time to work on side projects is a must. I’d love to create a zine with illustrations of manatees – they’re also called sea cows and are as intelligent as dolphins – I just think they’re great animals! Also, it bugs me that there are so many situations not catered to by greeting cards – like, “I’m flattered, but can you stop stalking me?” is definitely not in Hallmark’s scope. I’d hand-draw them and think of really funny but relatable messages.

Do you think people will still be reading and buying zines in the future; as we hurtle further into the digital age and all that?
I hope so – there’s something special about a tangible magazine in your hands, about the smell and feel of nice paper stock. Zines kind of flew under the radar of pop culture in the late ‘90s when everyone started getting the internet, but just look at their recent revival – we even have a month dedicated to them! Also, you need to establish presence and a solid readership before moving online; I think it’s difficult to start an online zine without having a print edition first [this is the exact path Presence took].

Thanks Ezra! I look forward to flipping through the goods on Saturday and hope to see y’all there – it’s a totally free event so there’s no excuse not to come. X

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Studies journalism and PR, loves to write and eat cheese.

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