Michelle Vandermeer’s Mini Majellen
I’ve been a big fan of Michelle Vandermeer’s work since I came across her Mini Majellen zines at this year’s Sydney Writers Festival. Describing herself as a doer — as in one of those people who are always doing or making something — Michelle’s work, which includes book binding, illustration, jewelery making and her zines, stems from an internal creative springboard and a double degree in architecture and graphic design. Her work is smart and succinct. When did you first venture into making zines? ‘I set out to make a zine when I was in my third year of my design course, but I accidentally made an artist’s book instead! Being a graphic designer, I went totally over the top with all the different papers I used and the hand embellishments and the bindings. A few months later, I decided to try something more ziney and simple, and ended up with Mini Majellen’. Do you have any favourite zines in your own collection? ‘One of my most favourite zines was actually the first one I discovered. It’s called Little, and it’s an A6-sized perzine created by Brisbane-based writer Joanna Coltman. I can credit Little with introducing me to zine subculture’. What do you think marks a good zine from a bad one? ‘I think a good zine is one that has had some good, expressive, creative thinking go into it. For example, I love the Melbourne zine YOU because it has a clear pivotal idea — a weekly letter to the world, delivered in a handcrafted paper bag — and I love Vanessa Berry’s zines because her quirky writings are beautifully focused on her inner-city exploits and observations. And I particularly love zines that have a purpose, like Ivana Stab’s tiny zine that gives ten suggested ways to enjoy Sydney’s western suburbs. Bad zines are too random, too pointless, too ‘nothing’. Like any method of communication, you’ve got to consider both the medium and the message, and the good zines successfully utilise both well’.