We have a winner! The wonderful pin design featured on our 2011 Participant Pin was created by Katie of Hen House Distro! Katie is extremely active in her town’s zine culture, resuscitation and successfully hosted an event in her apartment in Birmingham for the 2011 24 Hour Zine Thing Challenge! She was gracious enough to take time out of her busy schedule to answer a few questions for us about her involvement in zines, sick how to create a zine culture in your hometown, hygiene and more! You can read the interview and see pictures of zines completed during the event below the cut.
1. When and how did you become involved with zines? How has your involvement with zines changed since then?
I got interested in zines when I was about 12. My older brother was into them and mail art and I thought they were so cool. I contributed to his first zine that I canâ€™t remember the name ofâ€¦Armies of Summer? It had an interview with Squeaky Fromme and I just did a little doodle or something. My freshman year in college I started to be really dissatisfied (i.e. jealous) with how the South seemed so barren when compared to places in the Northwest as far as zines went, so I decided to start my own distro that featured southern writers
2. You started Hen House Distro out of your dorm in 2007. How has the distro grown in the past 4 years?
In some ways itâ€™s gotten bigger and in other ways, smaller. In the beginning I was interested in getting the largest variety of stock that I could. But the older Iâ€™ve gotten (I was 20 at the time) the more focused Iâ€™ve become on using the distro to curate titles I really love, and not just southern titles anymore either. Now Iâ€™m much more involved in the community and hosting events. I just published my first zine under the Hen House Imprint called Sing Me Back Home. It was a split with Victimized records. My ex boyfriend Tripp Norris passed away in February and Hen House published his poems and short stories in zine form, and Victimized put out a cassette tape of all of his bands. We worked together with the Spring Street Firehouse (who helped me print the zine) and Wess Gregg from DIY Birmingham to release the split the night of Trippâ€™s memorial show. So Iâ€™ve been getting a lot more involved in the community and working with other people. Iâ€™d love to publish more stuff and ultimately, my dream is to have a place like the IPRC in Birmingham.
3. How did you learn about the 24 Hour Zine Thing?
I had heard about it a couple of years ago, from somewhere on the internet. This year I found out about it through the â€œJuly is International Zine Monthâ€ page that Alex Wrekk set up. I had started working as a contributor for DIY Birmingham and we had just finished setting up this huge event for the websiteâ€™s birthday. I was riding the waves of that productivity when I saw the link and decided it would be a great thing for Hen House to host.
4.This was your first year signing up for the 24 Hour Zine Thing. How did your 24 hour zine go this year? What challenges did you find along the way and what advice would you give to others who are attempting the challenge?
The event went really well. I just hosted it at my apartment and we made BBQ. I was really surprised and happy about how many people showed up that I didnâ€™t know. I went to the thrift store and got a bunch of National Geographics and weird books for people to cut up for collages, and I had some other supplies like scissors and glue sticks and paper, and I have a desktop printer. In the future Iâ€™d like to invest in a commercial Xerox machine so people can make copies. Next year Iâ€™m also going to try to host it somewhere bigger since I didnâ€™t think about people bringing laptops and electric typewriters and we had issues with the lack of outlets. My advice to anyone wanting to host an event is donâ€™t drink beer, because youâ€™re just going to get sleepy and want to kick everyone out at like midnight. Also, the next time I do it Iâ€™m going to advertise outside of Facebook by printing flyers and passing them out in the university district.
5. What inspired you to create the wonderful pin design for the 2011 Pin Design Contest?
Iâ€™ve always been into design, but I just recently started getting into making flyers for shows. The design was basically the flyer that I made for our 24 Hour Zine thing, but set up in button form.
6. You are very active in trying to create a zine culture in Birmingham, where you have said that there doesnâ€™t seem to be much of one. What advice do you have to others who are in a similar situation?
It really just takes time and perseverance and just doing it. When I first started it was like no one at shows even knew what zines were, and they felt awkward about coming over and looking through stuff. Birmingham kind of moves in cycles though, sometimes the older generation doesnâ€™t do so great in passing along positivity and involvement with the scene when cynicism and jadedness start to set in. When I was ignored it made me just want to do it even more. I reached out to friends who let me table at shows for free. This was back when Myspace was the thing, which was a really static way to get information out. Facebook is much more useful in interacting with people. The scene is way better now than in 2007 and I think it comes from allowing people to feel involved, like with the 24 Hour Zine Thing. We have a zine here called The Forge which is about the city and itâ€™s written by the kids who go to shows and put on events and generally make Birmingham worth something. I get really excited about things like that. If you want to make something happen in your city, get involved in what the younger kids are doing. Theyâ€™re the ones with the energy and the idealism.
The pins have been ordered, so if you have already sent in your zine, you only have a little longer to wait! If you have not yet sent in your zine and would like a nice shiny pin with Katie’s design on it, be sure to get your zine in before September 1st, 2011 to the address below:
Raven / 24 Hour Zine Thing
PO Box 2001
Abingdon, VA 24210