For those of you who don’t know, a zine is traditionally known as “cheaply-made, cheaply-priced publication, often in black and white, which is mass-produced via photocopier and bound with staples.” (cheers urban dictionary for the definition). The term ‘zine’ is short for fanzine. Zines will usually cover topics related to pop culture, music, art, politics and anything in between. Zines aren’t for the faint of heart. As there aren’t any publishers behind the creator of a zine, the zine-maker is free to express and speak their mind with no limits – and I love it.
I learnt about zines when I was studying studio arts at high school. At first I found them quite confusing, I thought they were kind of random and often about topics I didn’t understand. That however was when I was only sixteen and fairly naive. Over the years as I’ve become more cultured, collecting zines from many places – but the main place I love to visit for zines is a tiny store underneath Flinders Street called Sticky Institute. This place is probably my favourite Melbourne gem. Sticky Institute is one of the few quirky stores in the underground Degraves Arcade. The arcade is also home to a great coffee stand, rotating window galleries, a few vintage clothing stores and a barber. It’s also an underground entrance to Flinders Street Station and I’m surprised how many people don’t know anything about the place.
I thought I’d give you a little insight to what zines and Sticky Institute are all about, and the treasures to be found in this tiny shop. I’ll also show you some of the zines that I own as well as share the zine-creator that is my absolute favourite.
When you step inside Sticky Institute, it’s got a very interesting atmosphere. On one hand, it’s pretty freaking overwhelming, with paper trimmings, zines, posters and signs on just about every surface. But on the other hand, it’s also very calming. The shop has a vibe that is very welcoming, as you start to look through the zines on display you’re taken to a place that resembles the rituals of being in a library. Whenever I visit the store I manage to find myself taking half an hour just to make sure I’ve seen everything the creators have to offer. Another huge plus of the place is that the music is always amazing and every staff member I’ve ever spoken to has been super friendly and happy to chat.
Another fantastic part of the arcade is the community that has been created by both the staff and users of the space. Often staff will visit one another, whether it’s for a cup of coffee, a stapler or just a quick ‘how’s your day going’. I love it, I could stay down there all day.
The types of zines available for purchase from Sticky Institute vary in type, colours, topics and mediums. Not only can you purchase a black and white booklet bound with staples, the zines often take the form of flip books, photographs, albums and even magnets. My favourite types of zines are usually of pastel aesthetic, with topics of feminism, mental health, home life and photography as the content. I’ve always loved arts and crafts as well as scrap-booking, and I think that’s why I see zines as wonderful creations that are worthy of ‘coffee table book’ status.
G E M M A F L A C K
I have the BIGGEST girl crush on Gemma Flack. I think she is hella talented, ambitious and just an overall badass. When I saw her zines in Sticky Institute I almost died from extreme fangirling. I’ve been wanting to get my hands on the ‘High Anxiety’ zine / comic as I’ve been super curious about it’s contents and I’m one of the most anxiety driven people you’ll meet so there was quite a bit of personal drive there also (update: it’s slightly more interested in the anxiety weed causes, so slightly less relevant hehe). I love her drawing style the most I think. If she started making printed tees with some of her illustrations I think I’d own them all. Okay…. enough girl crushing for today.
Let me know if you’ve heard of zines before and if there’s anything in particular you love about them! If you’d like me to go into more detail on my collection of zines in another post please comment down below!
Much love, Ebony xo
**all photographs in this post were taken and edited by myself**