Giving talent a voice: an interview with the team behind Create-Zine

Create-Zine is a new industry publication that aims to get the work of designers, illustrators and studios directly in front of creative commissioners. After receiving a copy ourselves, we decided to chat to Jules Beazley and Alicja McCarthy, the team behind the zine to find out more about it.

Hello! Tell us a little about yourselves. Who you are and what are your backgrounds?

JB: I worked at Central Illustration Agency for eight years, leaving as Senior Agent ready to start my own agency. Jules Beazley Represents allowed me to fulfil a lifelong ambition of running my own agency, selecting my own talent. The responsibility of becoming a mother meant I put the agency on hold to dedicate myself to my family. During this time I came up with the concept of Create-Zine. I contacted Alicja (who I’d worked with for most of my time at CIA) to partner with me and help me realise Create-Zine.

AM: I also worked for CIA for seven years after graduating with a degree in advertising. I wanted to work with creative talent directly and it was a better fit for me to tell stories of talent/ideas/campaigns in a marketing capacity. I helped to promote over a hundred image makers over those years and it felt good. As a natural progression, I began writing for magazines and blogs and became editor-at-large of We Heart magazine in 2011. I got the opportunity to interview many artists, designers, architects and makers and that was what I wanted to do – tell stories of great talent.

Run © Deana Halsall

How did Create-Zine come to be and what were your intentions when you originally planned the publication??

JB: Agenting is all about helping the talent you represent stand apart from the crowd. This often involves coming up with creative marketing ideas. Whilst running my own agency I put together a newspaper showcasing the artists I represented, the zine concept is similar, except it is open to any image maker that fulfils our criteria.

We wanted Create-Zine to be different from the expensive coffee table style directories that existed for illustrators and designers to showcase their work. Our submission fee is purposefully at a level that most people could afford. It is important to us to give talented artists a voice, a chance for their work to be seen by commissioning professionals, irrespective of their financial means.

AM: Essentially Jules & I are hugely passionate about talent and image making and it was a natural fit for us to join forces. We’re not just professionally linked to artists, printers, graphic designers etc. but have many friends in the industry facing the same question – how do you raise your head above the crowd? Create-Zine is a solution to that.

Justin and Erika © Jugyeon Roh

Take us through a typical day running Create-Zine.

CZ: We’re always working on the next issue! Create-Zine produces three issues annually so whether we’re looking through submissions, designing the latest zine or on social. We’re always thinking about “What’s next?” We have some exciting ideas for future zines that we’re currently researching, watch this space!

Botanica (Light Grey Art Lab) © Natalie Dombois

The work you feature is an eclectic mix from a range of creative disciplines. What do you look for in the work you include and the talented individuals who create it?

JB: We’ve been very fortunate to feature numerous talented artists over the two zines. A consistent and strong folio of well-executed work is paramount. In order to keep our audience inspired and to remain credible, it is essential to only feature image makers who would interest and potentially be commissioned by the Creatives who receive the zine.

AM: We have two sets of eyes on each submission. One set is expert in portfolio selection and the other knows what trends are about to break and both are aware of the wider creative community. We get inspiration from everywhere, from interior design to music videos, but we sometimes have very different opinions. As long as there is a high quality of work that is consistently strong in a folio, we will consider it.

Lace Matches © Sarah J Coleman

The zine only goes out to industry professionals. Any plans to make it available to everyone?

CZ: Currently the zine is not available in a physical form to the wider public but a free digital PDF version of the latest zine is available to download on our site. It is an industry publication and a marketing tool. Just because it is B2B doesn’t mean it can’t look amazing.

We’ll be looking into expanding the zine’s reach into wider territories and the possibilities of making it available to the wider public, but all in good time!

Malibu © Alex Asfour | Dog East Dogs © Craig Hopson

We noticed the zine is devoid of any advertising. How do you fund each issue?

CZ: The zine is entirely funded by the artists/studios/collectives we feature. Previously all contributors paid the same fee in order to appear, regardless of the size of the image box we select for them to fill. Issue 3 still has this rule for 1/4 and 1/2 page slots but we now offer a full page at a higher fee.

We will offer, at some stage, very carefully selected relevant creative businesses (printers, paper stockists, graphic stores, institutions, colleges etc.) the opportunity to design adverts for the purpose of inclusion in the zine to showcase their products in order to help us fund circulation and expansion into new territories in the future.

Illustrations from Beastly Verse © Joohee Yoon

What made you opt for a printed publication rather than a website or blog?
CZ: In our opinion, there are too many online creative websites, blogs and platforms saturating the market already. Many of them are brilliant at promoting creative talent, but we wanted to do something different. We saw Create-Zine as an opportunity to create a beautiful tangible product that our audience could take with them and enjoy and physically share wherever they are.

We think most people feel that they spend too much time stuck in front of a screen, especially if you are a Creative searching for a particular style. You have to trawl through endless virtual folios to find what you are looking for. If you take a look at “What They Say” on our site a number of our clients have touched upon this when giving us positive feedback about the format of Create-Zine.

It was important that the concept of Create-Zine inspires us too, just coming up with an online presence wouldn’t have achieved that, but a printed product does.

All work © their original authors

What advice would you have for anyone who’s looking to start their own independent publication? Any mistakes you’ve made that should be avoided? 

CZ: We’re learning all the time! We’re currently working on CZ3 so aren’t sure if we’re in a position to offer advice yet. Understanding who your audience is and the reason you are creating your publication is hugely important. Together we have spent a long time in the creative industry so know our audience of art buyers, directors etc.

Secondly, think about when you are sending your publication out. We purposefully steer clear of sending Create-Zine out before major holiday times in the year – Christmas and July/August for example.

Thirdly, stay true to what you want to achieve, but be willing to listen. All comments and opinions are valid but taste is subjective. Narrowing your vision to suit an aesthetic or idea will only limit you. Be open and communicate well.

© Heretic Studio | Portrait photography © Bella Fenning

What we thought

Create-Zine makes a refreshing change from the norm. It puts the focus squarely on the talent inside without trying to draw attention to itself. The design is clean and simple put also colourful and vibrant, and the use of newsprint makes it light to the touch compared to heavy, glossy stock of some other publications. The work inside really is an eclectic mix, featuring branding, typography, portraiture, editorial illustration, print, animation, and sculpture.

If you wish to be featured in the zine, get in touch with Jules or Alicja directly via the Create-Zine website.

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