As we love illustrators around the world who present their work in independent zines and books, we present you the second edition of our new-ish regular feature The Lines Are Drawn.
Portraying playful, rounded characters on oddly shaped and coloured pages, Edward Cheverton's latest zine initially appears to fit in the same niche as his other work. However, when learning the context of the zine, Therapy - the result of a creative spell Ed experienced during a 'troubling time' - one inevitably sees the work in a different light. Small blank faces, a snake in the grass and what may just be opaque portals draw the viewer's eye; maybe Ed's let on more than the intended creative 'self indulgence'.
Fortunately, Ed's not one to navel gaze for too long, as he heads up a small self-publishing press called Jazz Dad Books. Beginning early last year it has grown to encompass a variety of formats and creators, resulting in an equally diverse range of limited, quality publications.
We spoke to Ed about his 'staple' gear, the benefits of self-publishing and what interests him in collaborating with fellow artists.
Hi Ed! Where are you from, where are you based and what do you do outside of illustration?
Hello! I grew up in Bath, then went to Brighton to study illustration, and I now live and work in Bristol. Outside of my work I have a rather dull and simple life, I pour all my energy into making things, it's my main source of fun. I read a lot of comics and listen to jazz when I'm not working, I guess that's how I relax.
Is there any equipment you rely on, or are you pretty flexible?
I do try and be really flexible with what I use. I think paper (in all its forms) is my staple, but other than that I try not to get too comfortable with any materials. I get bored quite easily of working in one way for too long so I like bouncing around media.
Do you have quite a rigorous drafting process, or is your work quite spontaneous?
My work ethic is quite rigorous. Before I get stuck into work I'll spend at least an hour warming up in a sketchbook; it's absolutely vital. When I'm actually making my work, it's fairly fast and spontaneous. I like having an energy in what I do, and poring over one piece for too long definitely takes that away. I will do variations on the same piece if it's not quite right, but it's still quick.
How, if at all do you apply digital manipulation to your work?
In the past year I've really noticed myself using less and less digital processes. The computer is another tool for me. I mostly use it to scan, clean up or prepare work for print, I found myself rarely using it to create. That's not to say I don't think you can create good work on a computer, I just find it somewhat out of tune with what I want to achieve.
You've described Therapy as a means to 'escape from depression, stress and anxiety.' Did you accomplish this through the creative process, or do you feel it reflects in the art itself? Was it difficult making such a personal piece?
Therapy was born out of about 6 months of drawing, around year ago. For me I look at it as marking the end of that particular period. I didn't have the resulting zine in mind when drawing, it was more the culmination to that body of work. I'd definitely say the process was the means to escape as opposed to the result. Drawing is freedom encompassed for me. It's a place where you can't really do anything wrong and nothing bad can happen. It's comforting. In that way it's certainly become an escape for me, and in that period of my life it was extremely important to be able to switch off and escape with my characters, worlds, stories and so on.
I'll fully admit Therapy is entirely self indulgent and I'm fine with that. I'm not sure how people look at the drawings; whether they open the zine expecting to see 'illustrations of depression', but to me it's a condensed pocket of happiness as avoidance and escapism. That's all it meant to be, a side result of troubling time. Was it difficult? Nope.
You run Jazz Dad Books. What inspired you to start a DIY endeavor? When encountering artists, what makes you want to work with them?
I've been self publishing for a few years now. I fell in love with it at university, when I had access to an amazing book binding workshop. Self publishing is incredibly liberating, you aren't given any limits or restraints, only what you impose on yourself. You can do whatever you want. I've always really enjoyed the physical side of self publishing, experimenting with formats and binding. You can be really playful when you don't have to print a huge run.
I had the idea of starting a really small press late in my studies, mostly as a sort of umbrella for my own zines and comics. I then saw it as a really great platform for creative people I knew who didn't really have a platform for their work, and so Jazz Dad Books was born early this year.
Jazz Dad has grown into sort of a collaborative/family venture now, a space where artists can be experimental and have total freedom with the books they make. I had a very strong ethos when I started out; Jazz Dad is a very small press (me in my bedroom, hand sewing every copy), and I want to focus on small runs of very nicely constructed, collectable, publications. I want to keep it raw and have that early 'DIY' zine publication attitude.
Who I want to work with is usually: someone I know who hasn't really had much chance to self publish their work or had a platform for it, someone who I've really wanted to see in zine form, whatever that work might be. We aren't a 'comics publisher', or an 'illustration zine publisher'; we have comics, art books, short fiction, sketchbook zines and more. As I say, it's turned into quite a family-feel venture, so everyone knows and supports each other. It's a great excuse for us to all celebrate making small press publications together.
Working in 2014, how do you think utilising social media and making zines has affected your career?
Honestly I haven't really thought of it. I use social media to share my work, to show people what I've made, what I've worked on, but I try not to have it in mind at all when making work, that's quite dangerous. It's where clients often look to see what I'm working on; most often they will link me to something I've put on a blog as reference to what they want. In that regard I guess it has opened me up to a lot more work.
Making zines on the other hand is very much a personal endeavor. As I produce very short runs, they don't reach anywhere near the same sized audience. I don't make them to do so, however, they're just another element to my working process.
Lastly, when staring at a page you've put time and effort into, how do you tell your work is finished?
I don't consider work finished unless I've achieved something with it. I always set out with an objective with work, with personal work that can develop and mature, which is great. The process and the act of making something for me is the reward, so often I don't look at the result as 'finished'- quite often it was just where I decided to stop.
Anyone you'd like to shout out?
Upcoming zines from Jazz Dad Books include amazing new releases from: Jonny Clapham, Marianna Madriz, Matt Pettit (with Kevin Truman Part 2) and our first novella from author Aisling Marray!
Enjoy more of Edward's work right here.