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‘Zines and Paper Dreams’ with Artizine’s Ioana Simion

7 March 2021

Ioana Simion is the creative brains behind Artizine UK, a not for profit initiative which aims to connect communities together through zine-making workshops, kits, and creative activities.

She kindly agreed to join us at our latest meeting to share her insights into collaboration and the vision behind her zine-making initiative. Below we’ve shared some of her insights:

On collaboration:

“First, just think around you. Who can you immediately contact, and then their friends, and then the friends of their friends. And that’s kind of how I sparked my collaborations. And then Instagram is great. But with Instagram you do have to build a relationship with people. So the workshops I do now were just based around following each other, being active in each others feeds and stuff like that. I really love seeing stuff, so I pretty much follow everyone back who is a creative. And I really I’m just generally interested. So like, I comment I, I share on my stories… And I would like to think that Instagram is about building genuine connections and communities. People would be surprised that you don’t really have to come from the same industry to actually make something together.

On her live Artizine workshops:

Reusing and recycling:

“In our real life workshops, everything is sourced from donations. We will usually have like a pile of scraps. So we will never really use magazines and stuff like that. It will just be scraps, really, packaging, anything that we can reinvent and reinterpret. It’s all about hacktivism and craftivism.

Creating a safe space/environment:

“It’ll be quite a safe group. I like more intimate sessions. So we’ll be maybe 5, 6, 7 people. Because then, you know, the storytelling is a very important part of the workshop. I want people to feel like they belong and just be together, because I think just the act of getting together is quite political, in a way. Sometimes people really don’t want to talk and it’s okay because when you’re zine-making you’re quite into your own creative process, and a lot of people are very just immersed in that. So I just like letting them be like and saying “yeah, you can chill, it’s fine.” Some of the workshops will be quite long, actually. If there was someone that really enjoyed being in the space, I would just sit there for like three hours, you know, if I had the time.”

The Artizine ethos:

“I would say at the beginning of the session, “everything is free, you don’t have to give any money. But if you want, you can leave your zine at the end”. As in, “this is my creation. It’s part of Artizine now”. And You can come and create, you can bring back donations, or you can leave your zine. So we have this little archive of scenes. And it’s kind of like every workshop is a time capsule. When I look back at them, I know the person. You know, I remember Chloe – she did that beautiful zine. And it kind of just sits in my memory. And it’s very beautiful. It’s very close.”

On what’s next for Artizine:

“I’ve just started on these artist collaboration kits, which I’m super excited about. So I invite an illustrator to create a piece of art and then we sort of create a story around the artwork. So then you get an original art work and zine kit together, which I thought was quite cool. The first one that I’ve created with my good friend and illustrator Karolina Trhonova of 3 Angles Art is based around folklore and myth. I don’t want Artizine to just be about zine-making. I want it to be about music, anything that my friends are doing and people are interested in, but related back to zines of course.”

On the value of zine-making:

“What I love about zine-making is the accessibility. Everybody can make a zine and feel empowered. I love it because it’s based around unheard voices and unheard narratives, and I think this is what we need nowadays.”


Want to find out more? Why not connect with Artizine UK over on Instagram or Facebook? And be sure to check out Artizine’s upcoming Zoom workshop…we’ll see you there!

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‘Being a Graphic Designer’ with Luthiem Escalona

5 December 2020

Luthiem Escalona is a freelance graphic designer who currently works mainly for the online knitting and crochet store Wool and the Gang. In this meeting, she introduced the collective to what graphic design is, as well as her career path, projects, and creative process. Below we have summarised some key points from her presentation:


What is Graphic Design?

  • Creating visual content to communicate a message
  • By using hierarchy, typography, colours, photography and illustration you can communicate a feeling or message
  • You see it all day every day, even if you might not realise it in:
    • packaging
    • logos
    • books
    • branding
    • websites
    • posters

Career path:

  1. Luthiem graduated with a BA in Graphic Design from the University of Herfordshire in 2017.
  2. She subsequently ended up getting an internship and later a full time job at Liberty London’s graphic studio as a junior graphic designer. Here she worked on mainly campaign identities, posters, signage, and window graphics. Above is an example of one of these designs.
  3. After a year at Liberty Luthiem decided to go freelance and now works predominantly for a company called Wool and the Gang, who focus on sustainability and slow fashion.

An example of Luthiem’s work for Wool and the Gang

What does a graphic designer do all day?

“I currently work 4 days a week at Wool and the Gang from Monday to Friday. While I’m there my day starts at 9am. We have a daily catch up at 10am, where we talk about what we’re working on the day, now that we’re all working from home. Then I’ll work on what I’ve been briefed in, paid ads, a newsletter, etc. Depending on the day I might have a meeting where we will talk about upcoming campaigns, how we think it should look, etc. I finish at 5:30pm!”

Luthiem

An example of a gift card Luthiem designed for a client

Creative process:

“It depends on the brief. Some clients are really set on what they would like, some others are a bit more open. But it’s always very important to know what needs to be communicated. Based on that it always helps me to write down a few key words that summarise the message.”

Luthiem

Step by step:

  1. Write down some key words. What is the message and who is it coming from?
  2. Create a moodboard of your references and inspirations
  3. Make sketches, testing our your initial ideas
  4. Present to the client and get feedback
  5. Amend and create the final artwork

And finally…some lovely creative advice!

“Don’t be scared to ask for help or try things. Find people who inspire you and encourage you and keep them close. Give yourself space to do whatever you want. Draw, paint, sculpt, read, take photos. Go there, do that thing you’ve been wanting to do for ages, don’t be scared to go all the way there cause it’s easier to edit back than to add more.”

Luthiem

Want to discover more of Luthiem’s gorgeous work? Why not give her a follow on Instagram or check out her website?

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‘A snapshot of me’ with photographer Charlotte Dobson

Meeting 3: 16 July 2020

I’m trying to connect to the beauty in the world, as it is something that everyone can see, but is often not appreciated in the fast pace of life.


Assemblage member Charlotte Dobson is an undergraduate photographer at Leeds Arts University. As an emerging photographer, she has had works exhibited and featured in various magazines and exhibitions, namely in Italy and Rome. In this meeting she chatted us about her process, inspirations, and experimentations. Below are some key quotes from her talk and you can download her presentation slides at the bottom of this post:

My approach to photography:
‘Usually have something planned in mind, this usually consists of the subject matter and background, but then I experiment with things like the angles and focus. I have recently been enjoying being more spontaneous, for example, with the photograph of my sister in deep thought whilst setting up the camera (below). So I have been realising lately how capturing something in the moment can be so effective. The mediums that we use can be so powerful in capturing reality.’

What inspires me:
‘Initially I find my phone a useful device to document and record, but I then switch to another medium that I feel can better reflect everything I want to express. I have recently been using film more to push my technical skills, but discovered that I have to be completely calm and undistracted to really make effective images’


Shooting outdoors:
‘I sometimes shoot outdoors with dreamy light, usually early in the morning, just as the sun is coming down. It’s about having patience and using light almost as a director and being less in control, which kind of contradicts the idea of a photographer, but when working with nature, it is about working with it slowly.’


Experimenting with film photography:
‘I think it’s great when different art forms cross over and are able to support and heighten one another. Coming from a fine art background, I have always been pushed to experiment, and have took this further in photography with other technical processes like film. I enjoy working with film photography because it offers an element of surprise. It’s definitely easier to work in the moment more because there are limited shots for a roll, not unlimited like digital, so you have to have a stronger presence with it.’

Working with colour:
‘I like to use black and white photography to emphasise shadows, but I use colour photography when there is really interesting colour, for example bright or moody. This image of my Mum (below) with the black eye gives soft textures on the skin with the background, which contrasts the harshness of the red bruised eye.’

Booking making:
Book making has been an effective
way to portray my interest in creating connections, due to pairings, layout and sequencing. I created a book to do with climate change and animal welfare, to encourage the viewer to simply question their thoughts and beliefs, including poems from other people. I find poems make the work more dreamy and less harsh. I collaborated with a graphic designer to keep it playful as something too harsh might put certain audiences off.’

On photography:

‘Like other art forms photography is also about imagining, not just showing what is there.’

Want find out more? You can check out Charlotte’s other work here: @charlottedobson.photography

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All about fashion with Ivanka Wu

Meeting 1: 14 June 2020

Ivanka Wu is a creative multi-specialist, including fashion stylist, art director, designer and collage artist based in Jakarta, Indonesia and has a strong background in fashion. 

We were delighted to have Ivanka speak to us about her work. During the talk, she shared many of her projects with us and its importance to her career. 

‘The Art of Contradiction’ was a project that refined her style and direction within the industry. I personally found her creative process really interesting; how she initially takes much of her inspiration from visual references, constantly referring back to this to avoid becoming lost. However, through trial and error, the outcome becomes strengthened, due to experimenting with materials and processes, with spontaneous things happening along the way. To add to this, an unplanned crack in fabric within this project resulted in a closer connection to her concept. So even through organising and creating mood boards to clarify ideas, the out come is always something spontaneous. 

Even with a contrast of planned and spontaneous approach in the creating stages, the concepts are usually contrasting as well, so the creative process becomes consolidated. Within ‘The Art of Contradiction,’ beauty and ugliness are mixed together in a very elegant, subtle, perfectly executed way, redefining what beauty is. The idea of beauty has been studied throughout the Renaissance period and early art, and still dominates as a significant topic in contemporary society today.

I was fascinated by the techniques Ivanka adopts, with draping being of great importance to her practice. This meets her intentions of flowing beauty and elegance, but also becomes highly relevant to all art practices. For example, the running of paint and the flow in a poem.

Another series, titled ‘Little Black Dress for Cartier’ created for Icon Magazine references Ren Hang, a Chinese photographer and poet, using the concept of twinning. It is visually strong and powerful, using the harsher properties of flash photography. It is clear to see that Ivanka uses very close attention to detail, creating clean shots. Not only this, but Ivanka explained how especially in the styling, a material’s position can greatly alter the feel of the work. 

Within the styling and art direction, I love the careful placement and arrangement of images and then how the viewer interprets this. To expand upon this, Ivanka compares nature to the human body, perhaps comparing the beauty of the two, exclaiming that beauty is natural and can come within different forms. In the image above, the chin was represented as the vase and the eye as the flower.

Furthermore, I found Ivanka’s styling for brands useful in understanding the role between the creative and the brand, as well as maintaining the balance between adding your personal style whilst meeting the clients needs. Within her work for ‘Sanne studio’ (above) a minimal approach was used with pastel colours. This idea of simplicity of only a few objects and a minimal colour palette is certainly seen across many of her works.

Another way that Ivanka inspired me is again in the process stage: documenting creative ideas in a journal to strengthen personal branding and development, because ideas can happen anywhere at anytime.

Additionally, Ivanka also spoke to us about her collage work. Like her other works, she uses trial and error, with knowledge of composition and balance to meet the concept and appear aesthetically strong. I love the many materials and textures she uses, that are perfectly attuned and balanced within the collage. 

Having reflected upon Ivanka’s work, it is important to note that although Ivanka grew up in a small town during her childhood with limited resources, she now sees this as an opportunity to become more creative as it forces you to use what you have in more open-minded, experimental ways. I think that this is relevant to many now in the current situation, such as photographers using FaceTime shoots to connect with models due to distancing. 

You can check out Ivanka’s work via Instagram @ivanka.wu @vanarte.studio or via behance.net/ivankawu

By Charlotte Dobson