Last September, I finished a print project called Punk Rockers on Creative Survival and the Survival of Creativity that was at least 9 months in the making. I never took much time to promote it after I finished it, despite the zine being available at zine and craft fairs, on Etsy, and most recently at Art History-- Katharine Mulherin's new art shop at 1080 Queen Street West. So here I am, finally writing about the project, which has since turned into a multi-faceted undertaking spanning a second year.
Here is a piece of writing that explains the jist of the project:
The jumping off point of PRCSSC was the potential of counter-cultural activity and the DIY ethic as vehicles for social change. This zine is essentially an exploration of the sub-culture that I have identified with for over the past ten years-- Punk Rock.
Punk Rockers on Creative Survival and the Survival of Creativity compiles interviews with punk rockers within and outside of my social circle. The interviewees are of all ages, and were interviewed based on their level of creative activity-- participants represent a cross-section of Toronto-based fanzine makers, musicians, artists and concert promoters.
In producing PRCSSC, young punks were given a platform to express their thoughts on creativity and discuss their creative production. Emphasis was put on making creative work, and how living in Toronto-- Canada’s largest metropolitan centre, the Canadian city with the highest cost of living, and the second most expensive city to live in North America-- effects creative production, from free exchange and collective work to house shows, handmade merch, “creative” methods of repairing equipment, and simply doing without. Connections were made between punk, creativity, and class as well as balancing an active creative life with a work life.
An important part of PRCSSC was its method of distribution. A plain, photocopied edition of PRCSSC was distributed for free-- by myself and by interviewees-- in public places such as bookstores, coffee shops, parks, subways, schools and libraries, to be read by people outside of the punk community. While encouraging dialogue among punk rockers, the zine also served as a way of challenging and broadening the general public’s definition of creative practice while encouraging them to explore creative acts in the same spirit.
The method employed to distribute PRCSSC is a tongue-in-cheek nod to religious tracts such as The Watchtower and the cartoon gospel tracts of Jack Chick. The cover of the limited letterpress edition of PRCSSC also references the minimalist design of many philosophy texts, as well as the King James Bible.
At the time I first conceived of the idea for the PRCSSC zine in late 2008, I was responding to both my incredibly bleak financial situation at the time and-- not at all unrelated, and on a much broader scale-- the bleak state of arts funding in Canada and the financial situations of Canadian visual artists according to this study conducted by the AGYU during the same year. It was my intention that this project would pay tribute to the way people engaged in punk culture have always done what they do on a shoestring, largely by making do with what they have in spite of perceived norms of (specifically) music, print and artistic production. PRCSSC was my way of reminding myself how I and so many other people started making creative work-- in my bedroom in the suburbs, with little more than my own energy and enthusiasm, twenty dollars at a time.
Thanks to all the people I interviewed for the project-- Ben Needham, Julian Maxymiw, Luke Forster, Patrick Mooney, Gena Meldazy, Lyndall Musselman, Candace Mooers, Matt Hitch and Greg Benedetto. Also big thanks to Nicholas Kennedy of Trip Print Press, who foil-stamped the amazing covers of the limited edition of PRCSSC.
Next up, I'm hoping to do a large scale public art intervention and performance with copies of PRCSSC, likely in early spring. Stay tuned.