The magical place we call ~the internet~ has become a SHRINE—a place for us to share our loves, ideas, opinions, and creations. Among all of this creation/confusion are secret hideaways that are home to some of the greatest and most honest teenage artists of our time. The zines, art, and writing they’re making have encouraged me to unapologetically be myself, and have given me the confidence and space to publish and display my own work. They are places I retreat to for safety and comfort. Recently, I had the opportunity to interview some of the people who make them possible!

Collage by Lauren Tepfer.

Collage by Lauren Tepfer.

Zine Club Mag

Zine Club Mag is an online zine that encourages young artists to share their ideas and opinions. It was founded in 2014. I emailed with editor-in-chief Alyson Zetta (who also writes for Rookie’s diaries) and Talia Bellia, a writer, photographer, musician, and Zine Club Mag contributor.

LAUREN TEPFER: What is your main purpose as a zine?

ALYSON ZETTA: Everything! LOL, that’s just my impulse answer. But: Everything. Be everything. I want to be the zine that is everything. I’m not going to exclude work because they say one thing, or because their aesthetic isn’t, like, Tumblr vomit. I find that I connect with work and contributors who have that same sense of urgency/mania about creating.

What have been some of your biggest successes as a zine so far?

ALYSON ZETTA: Success! Oh boy. The thing that is screaming at me right now is the NYLON feature that we had in the February 2016 issue (#blessed). The feedback and comments that readers leave on our site is everything to me, and that’s a pretty big deal. The thing with these features and successes is to remember that it really is coming from the magical powers of us. What I first told the in-person Zine Club when the NYLON interview came out is that yes, it is my face on the page, but I am merely a representation of all that we have done. That sounds really, like, fake, but it’s important to me that people know, like you said, our successes are “as a zine,” not as an Alyson.

What is a piece of advice you’d give to someone who is afraid of sharing their art in fear of rejection/embarrassment?

ALYSON ZETTA: I went through this phase freshman year that has kind of turned into the rest of my life. I basically realized that the little ploopy walls I put up for myself about what I can wear, do, create, et cetera were all self-made constructs of my own anxiety (whoa) and that that house of cards can topple with the poke of my mind-finger if I so chose. And so I poked it. Nothing mattered (too much) anymore, regarding people’s opinions. I wear statement socks and paint bloody underwear. I write very strange things, kind of like this paragraph. When you live within your card-house, you are so gray. I was so afraid of that; I had to be colorful. POKE UR CARD HOUSE RIGHT IN THE GUT. Also, it sucks to suck, but whatever. When you are sucking, you are learning. You are “sucking” because you are sucking up all the learning juices from what life is handing ya—drink up!

Has working with Zine Club influenced the way you approach your work?

TALIA BELLIA: My involvement with Zine Club has given me an immense amount of an “I can do this! *fireworks explode as I walk by*” attitude when I go to make the things in my head a reality. Living in a small town in the Midwest and having feminist morals can make one feel very isolated sometimes, especially when all of your work revolves around the aforementioned wonderful movement. The family-like, supportive vibes of the whole Zine Club team have really caused me to create without a thought of what people may think.