Artist Profile: Jeremy Staples
Jeremy Staples’ is all about creating spaces for community engagement that provides a platform for people to be heard and opportunities for skill share. He has published dozens of zines including his American travel zine ‘Whenever I See a Bearded Hobo on the Street’, ‘I’ll Think of You and Smile’, bilingual portrait photography zine ‘Faces of Nippon’, and Toowoomba’s legendary music and arts zine ‘Bizoo’. Staples is also responsible for co-founding the Zine and Indie Comic Symposium (ZICS) that ran from 2013 – 2017 and curating Copier Jam!, an exhibition of underground publishers. DIY isn’t a philosophy that operates on the weekends. From building an off-grid container home, to cycling to Sydney from Brisbane and presenting a talk at the Vivid Ideas festival, Jeremy lives and breathes DIY or, as he prefers, DIT – Do It Together.
Why are zines important to you?
I love that zines are an amazing platform for anyone to document, share a viewpoint or simply share your creativity. History defines us, inspires us to create, which builds culture and provides a sense of place and/or purpose. Since the inception of independent publishing, zines and independent publishing have been sharing and documenting stories, moments in time direct from the front line from those involved or encountering these cultural moments. This is one of the many things I love about these raw publications: they capture a time period, or voice that might otherwise be lost to the ages.
How did you first discover zines?
As a somewhat lost punk delinquent in the regional town of Toowoomba. I grew up listening to punk bands, then progressed reading and researching these bands. I stumbled upon these raw, crudely produced publications, zines!
When did you first publish your zine?
‘Bizoo’ was my first zine. It was a music and arts zine that grew from the regional town of Toowoomba QLD, out of the lack of live music in the area in 2001. Over the 25 issues, ‘Bizoo’ became a lot more than a little black and white zine. It grew into something massive that I couldn’t tame. With more than sixty contributors across the country, it was free and we actually printed everything we ever received. Originally focused around music and art in and around the Darling Downs, ‘Bizoo’ became a platform to discuss everything from social political issues to interviewing some of the world’s biggest bands at the time. ‘Bizoo’ was a collectively created zine and in 2011 the collective created a final issue titled ‘Bizoo: The Best, The Worst & The Trash that Never Made It’. It’s a retrospective book that documents and revisits the bands and the community it grew from, including the people behind ‘Bizoo’ and the tales behind the fights and legal cases.
What is your favourite part of being a zine maker?
Being such an accessible outlet and platform for self-expression. Closely followed by connecting with others in the zine community along with showcasing the art form and inspiring others to create their own zines. For nearly two decades I’ve been able to travel and deliver workshops from Sydney’s Museum of Contemporary Art to school children on Palm Island.