SOLVE magazine Issue 03 2021 | Page 34

DEMOCRATIC CITIZENSHIP mass-mediated perspective .
“ You ’ ll get a very personal angle rather than a corporate or government angle ,” Dr Batey says .
the creator chooses . In ArtZines , the narrative is driven by visual content : illustration , photography and the like .
Often deeply personal , unfiltered and raw , “ like seeing directly inside the head of the creator ”, says Dr Batey , zines are often produced quickly and seldom for profit .
Because of their immediacy , they are an ideal vehicle to capture the world around us at the precise moment it is unfolding , she says . From Brexit to royal babies , the credit crunch and now COVID-19 , zines document the issues and language of our times as they morph .
Today ’ s zines , for instance , feature a lot of content around the pandemic – anxiety , self-isolation , debates about masks and doomscrolling – all foreign concepts not so long ago .
“ Doomscrolling ( that act of obsessively consuming negative news online ) I had never heard of until this year ,” Dr Batey says . “ I love how language changes so quickly with people as incidents happen . Zines can capture that .”
As a collection , Zineopolis serves as an effective eyewitness social record of our quickly changing times from the grassroots community rather than a “ flat ”
From the heart This authenticity , says Dr Batey , is what makes zines such an effective communication tool , particularly for young people who are often cut out of traditional publishing . Through zines , creators speak directly to their audience without mediation from editors or publishers with other agendas .
“ It ’ s liberating ”, she says , for young people to express themselves in the public domain around issues that are important to them , such as climate change , sexuality or animal welfare , through a medium without censorship .
“ It ’ s grown-up on one hand , but also quite radical in that you change the narrative about how you ’ re seen around things like LGBTQI issues or mental health ,” she says . “ People can tell a story that ’ s not so familiar in ‘ mainstream ’ communications .”
That said , the mainstream is picking up on the power of zines to connect with young people , particularly regarding issues such as mental health .
The Time to Change campaign supported by the UK ’ s Department of Health and Social Care , for example , is using illustrations from Panic , a zine by Riley James when he was a student of Dr Batey about post-traumatic stress disorder , to help reduce stigma around mental health . Depicting a visual narrative through a panic attack , it provides insights such as how hard it is to use a smartphone with hands too sweaty to activate the touch button and vision too blurred to type in a code .
Dr Batey says it ’ s important for people living with mental health challenges to hear the authentic voice of the zine maker who has shared a common experience . “ I think it is probably our most valuable asset .”
And ArtZines , which use images over words to convey their messages , are particularly relatable in this space , she
ISSUE 03 / 2021