I interview Alessandra Gatti, the artist behind the stunning confusing talks of broken-hearted Honey Bunny zines about her work, her inspirations and the zine-making process.
ME: When did you start your zine, confusing talks of broken-hearted Honey Bunny?
Well.. It actually all started nearly in November/December 2014, Issue Ø was ready the first week of the year but the whole concept was not well defined at the time. I feel like I’m still trying to understand what I’m doing.
(Really cool name by the way! How did you come up with it?)
Thank you! It is a very personal thing, as it is, I’d be Honey Bunny and the content of the zine is my confusing talks. The fact of being broken-hearted is somehow metaphysical, it is a condition. I’m not depressed or anything, I’m just an over-thinker who can’t sleep at night because thoughts are way too loud, strong on the surface but scared of everything. I have feelings which are kept secret so that I can live quietly okay. It’s contradictory I know, or better, confusing! A guy once called one of my best friends Honey Bunny and I used to make fun of her for this, but it sounds so good and her personality fits perfectly with the purpose. I feel we’re very close on this. Let’s say, it’s a tribute, too.
What is your aim with BHHB?
I don’t have a precise one. It all started very silently, I thought “ok let’s see what I can come out with” and every illustration, every page I created, I fell in love more and more. I’d spend every day for the rest of my life making zines, it excites me and makes me proud of my own self. It’s also relaxing in a way.
Why did you choose a zine format to showcase your art and ideas?
Something like a couple of years ago I was wandering through Flickr groups and found a call for submission of an indie French publishing house. They we’re seeking for photographers and the topic was the summer bite, they wanted to make a fanzine of it, and I was like “what the heck is a fanzine?” A couple of months later my pictures we’re featured in the fanzine (one of these was used for the front/back cover), and I was a super fan of self-publishing (also, some shops around here sometimes had little publications which I didn’t know were called zines). In September I had to decide the topic of my final essay for my (now forthcoming) graduation and, as I’m studying Foreign Languages for Publishing, I decided to write about zines. I also interviewed the founders of some fanzine festivals around the world and they collaborated to reinforce my passion. Fanzines are the embodiment of everything that I am. I feel like I finally found my way, my voice; it combines my passions for writing, photography and illustration with my creativity and my love for paper goods – I seriously have a problem with paper! Even if none would ever notice me, I’d be happy with that. I’m so satisfied with every piece I finish, and I can’t wait to give one to my besties to see their faces and hear them say “this is so good, well done!”.
Who and what are you inspired by?
I like simple things. I’ve been inspired by most of my actual friends: I met my group of friends when I was 15, they we’re all studying art at high school and in their “private” they were all sketching things that were masterpieces to me. I hated the way my drawings used to come out so I started making things simple. I started imitating others’ drawings to “set” my hand, my mind and my eyes (if you get what I mean) on the kind of things I liked the most and I developed my own style from that. What’s more, I’m a strong enthusiast of art: Matisse, Kandinsky, Schiele, I love them, I guess they inspired me somehow. Then, I’m interest in the Dada movement – they were used to make little pamphlets which were mind-blowing for the way they used typography (oh yeah I also developed a huge respect for typography meanwhile!) and for the layout of pages.
Do you think your art has developed since starting the zine?
Definitely! It’s been just a couple of months so far but I think this is helping a lot through defining my own style, not only in the way I draw (that is getting better, more regular, I want to make it look always the same) but also in the layout and in making a bunch of elements converge onto one single topic, and make them all fit in the right way. Also the whole organization of work improved considerably, I’m still learning from my own actions what I have to do, how should I start, etc.
How do you make BHHB? What is your creative process?
Firstly I chose a topic. When I was a toddler I used to write on a little notebook the title of a story that I’d have written later, then leaving some pages, and write another title, and so on. I never really accomplished anything that way but that’s what I do now. When I have a topic I think about some elements, or keywords to follow: I think about subjects to draw that follow those elements, I write some sentences that go with the mood and contain the keywords. When I have all the elements I try to give them a shape, a layout, an order and I assembly them. I use handwriting and drawing as well as desktop publishing. After having all the elements defined in my head I set the pages on InDesign, I print them and I put drawings and handwriting things where they have to go. Then xerography, binding, and here we go!
The real creative process happens inside my head: I have times in which I can’t control it and I start shaping pages in my mind and I need to be really quick in taking notes so that I don’t forget anything.
What are your ideas and aims for the future issues of BHHB, or indeed any other zines / creative projects that you’re thinking about?
First of all, I want to introduce another color in the BHHB series of zines, pale pink (white, black, pale pink and blue are the colors of the tumblr site). I want to make a better layout of the pages and add some photos. Unfortunately, printing photos in a good quality is a bit too expensive so I need to find a solution before making for example a photographic fanzine, which is by the way one of my aim for the future. Some topics I want to cover are laziness and stick&poke tattoos, which are both very personal things to me. I also want to publish a book about zines out of my essay: finding material where to start from was the hardest thing ever! Like the culture itself, fanzine bibliography is totally underground (and we could discuss the whys forever, starting from the contrast between underground and mainstream print), but my will is to make a guide to fanzine that is available for students or zinisters who want to go deeper in the topic. In Italy there’s such a little zine scene and I want to make something for this. A fest somewhen? Who knows.
What do you think has been particularly successful about BHHB so far?
I feel like BHHB has a sort of an inherent equilibrium, both in distribution of the colors and the composition itself. It has a tenderness (my own opinion) that make you feel okay. I don’t know I’d actually ask you “hey what do you think was most successful of it?”. I have some problems saying what people think about what I do, it’s like, I like my fanzines but I don’t think people are gonna like them as much as I do. I like my fanzines until I give it to someone, I start thinking “oh crap why did I do that? he/she’s never gonna like it”. But then they do, and I’m happy about that. Also, I still don’t think I had a huge success so I don’t know, I’m pushed to do what I feel to, and I’ll follow every advice or feedback as soon as I get some.
What advice would you give to someone interested in starting a zine?
What I read in Chip Rowe’s “The Book of Zines” sounds something like “if you stop having fun and start living it like it’s something you have to do, then quit”. My advice is all about this: making fanzines is one of the most powerful acts of art you can do at your desk without bothering anyone. You can put whatever you want and none is ever gonna tell you it’s wrong or bad or whatever. It must be something you love doing. If this stops to be as good to you, you should totally quit.
Do you have anything else you’d like to add?
I have a really good feeling about fanzines (and of course, my fanzines). I want to widen my network, share what I do with zinisters like me and keep in touch with them, learn from anyone and make this somehow big, at least to me!