An Interview with Coin-Operated Press

Check out our 1st Birthday Zine Fair by clicking this link now!!

“Coin-Operated Press is an artist-led organisation established in 2020. We are based in Scotland and run by zine-makers Katie Mayes and Chloe Henderson. We host workshops, run zine fairs, create educational online content, produce, publish, and distribute our own collaborative zines.”

Who are you? Tell us a little bit about yourself.

We are an artist-led organisation, focusing on creating collaborative zines. We also host workshops and events, and run zine fairs. We launched the company in 2020 and we are so happy to be sharing these 1st birthday celebrations with you!

Coin-Operated Press is owned and operated by Katie Mayes and Chloe Henderson.

Katie says:  “I have been involved in all areas of the creative industries for many years. I gained my Masters in Arts, Festivals, and Cultural Management in 2018 and I have a BA (hons) in English Literature with Creative Writing. I’ve worked as a manager of a theatre, and while studying for my Undergrad in 2008, I established a production company. I have also worked as an English Teacher in China, Italy, Russia, Belgium, and the UK, before moving to Scotland, completing my Masters and launching Coin-Operated Press with Chloe!”

Chloe says: “I am a graduate of the Birmingham School of Jewellry with a Master of Arts degree. I previously trained as a jeweller at DJCAD and graduated with a Bacholors of Design with Honours in 2014. My work has evolved from etched metal-smithing inspired by stories, to filmed mockumentaries with goopy blue costumes piped in silicone, to zine-making inspired by anxiety, feminism, and cats! I’ve exhibited my work internationally, and I frequently table my art at various festivals, markets, and Comic-Cons.”

What do zines mean to you?

Zines are a wonderfully accessible art form. We love that everyone, regardless of artistic ability, can get involved with zine-making. We love that themes and intentions of zines can be so broad, and it is one of the things we delight in as a company: each one of our zines has a different theme or topic to explore, which means that we always see such a wide variety of artistic expression, style, and interpretation. 

Zines also offer the ability to communicate ideas not often seen in other traditional media: themes like mental health, disability, social justice, and so much more.

How did you first get started with zines?

Chloe says: My first interaction with zines was when I submitted an illustration piece to Artificial Womb, and after receiving my own print copy of the zine I became obsessed with the medium. I started collecting zines, attending fairs, and making my own! My creativity and making skills matched up well with Katie’s art management background and after tabling at a few zine fairs together we knew we wanted to transform our talks about various art projects into a reality… and then Coin-Operated Press happened!

Katie says: zines have always been on the periphery of my interests as I am such a big music fan, but I think I really latched onto them when I read Laura Jane Grace’s “Tranny: Confessions of Punk Rock’s Most Infamous Anarchist Sellout”, where she talks about using a zine as a tool to communicate with the punk scene, and share music and up-coming shows, in a time before the internet really existed. It felt oddly nostalgic and I immediately embraced it. I have never managed to find a copy of Laura’s zine Misanthrope…If anyone knows where I could find it, let me know!!

Tell us about your zines.

We’ve published 12 zines as Coin-Operated Press, and quite a few of our own as individual creatives. Our collaborative zines span many topics and themes, with a new call for submissions launched every month. We encourage people to submit poetry, art, photography, painting, illustration, comic book panels, essays, short stories…any media that can be put onto paper. We really love seeing the variety of work submitted, and it’s wonderful to see how far-reaching our little organisation is! We’ve had contributions from Nigeria, Australia, New Zealand, Spain, France, America…and we delight in them all! Some of our favourite zines that we have worked on include Earth Zine, Vacczine, and Hallowzine, but our top fave is Quaranzine – mostly because it was the first ever zine we made as Coin-Operated Press. We are currently on our 3rd print run of that zine, and it also has a home in the Wellcome Collection Museum and Library, along with our Vacczine. We are really proud of all that we have managed to achieve so far, and we can’t wait to see what our next year of Coin-Operated Press will bring!

What resources do you use to create your zines?

Chloe says: “My zines are a hybrid of the traditional and the digital! They are either all digital, all traditional, or a mixture of the two! For digital elements I use Photoshop, and with my hands I use a mixture of media from illustration to cut and paste to watercolour paintings and everything else in between – I use zine-making as an excuse to be experimental with the mediums I create with. I really love sitting down with Katie – either across the void of the internet on Skype or in person – and getting messy with cut up magazines, pressed flowers, scraps of rubbish! and transforming all of that into fun little zines! Our making sessions together are so much fun!!”

Katie says: “Myself and Chloe have a vast magazine and newspaper collection that we use to collage and make traditional cut & paste style zines. Glue, scissors, and Sharpies form the basis of any good stationary collection for zine-making! We have both also been known to collect and press flowers and plants to make collage backgrounds for our zines – which is great fun! We then scan these into the PC and add any digital elements, before sending them to print. I use this style of zine-making for my personal zines, which I don’t currently sell. Chloe sells her own zines, apart from Coin-Operated Press, and she makes them in this style.”

As all of the zines produced by Coin-Operated Press are collaborative, and submissions are sent to us in a digital format,  we create all of these digitally, using Photoshop.

Tell us about your zine-making process.

I would like to write out a beautifully aesthetic making process for you… but that is wishful For every zine we host a monthly call for submissions – we post on our social media the theme or topic for the month. Zinesters will send us art, poetry, photography, and writing. We will then have a Skype meeting to go through all of the submissions and pick the ones we want to include…this is always a really difficult process, because we always get such wonderful submissions! It’s very fun, seeing how everyone interprets our theme! Once we have made our selection, Katie will email the contributors, and Chloe will get to work in Photoshop, putting the zine together and sending it off to the printers. The process of making the zine starts off with a list of contributor names, which Chloe checks off as she goes, ensuring the layout of each individual piece is best represented on the page. Once this is done, she matches work together to find the best flow for reading through the zine – this part of the process usually takes her ages as she continuously reads through the work to see what fits best where! Once the zine is in good running order, Chloe adds the final embellishments, as well as hand-illustrating the covers. Once the zines arrive at Katie’s doorstep, she will get her merch-girl hat on, popping them in the Coin-Op Shop, fulfilling orders, and doing post-office runs!

Do you have any advice for newbie zine makers?

Chloe says: “KEEP EVERYTHING! Haha if you’re going to get into zine-making you need to get yourself a big box and start saving all of the shiny pretty bits of paper that pass through your life… that sweet wrapper = a perfect zine-background… that pizza coupon shoved through your letterbox = a perfect source of text to cut and paste a zine with. Become a magpie and keep all the things! Double sided sticky tape, PVA glue, and sharpies are your new best friends. Don’t worry too much about things looking perfect, just start making. Cut things up, glue things to other things, add a dash of glitter, and try not to get too anxious about making a mess because messy zines are some of the best zines I have read!! Just start! Do the thing!”

Katie Says: “I think it’s important to just do it! Make a thing, even if you think it’s bad…you are better than you think! Embrace the DIY aesthetic! You will only get better by doing and learning as you go. And you don’t need tonnes of stationery and all the fancy tools – even a pencil and one piece of printer paper will get the job done!”

What is your favourite thing about zine culture?

We love the sense of community that comes with making zines, and we are really happy to have been able to foster a group of like-minded, creative people, through our work as Coin-Op. 

Katie Says: “I have a chronic illness, anxiety, and depression, and It’s been so helpful to find my community  – I often get advice and tips & tricks from fellow spoonies through the wonderfully honest, beautiful zines they make. Drawn Poorly is one of my favourite zine-makers who deals with chronic illness and disability.”

Chloe says: “I love that anything goes. Think of any random topic you are interested in and there will be a zine out there for it… and if there isn’t, zines are so accessible for anyone to make that you could be the person to make that random zine! I love the accepting nature of the community and I love the diversity that zines capture.”

Do you have a favourite zine or zinester?

We are so thankful to have had the support of so many amazing zine-makers. Some special mentions include Caw & Paw, Sapphic Writers, Femme Filth Press, Artificial Womb, and Drawn Poorly. Check out our Coin-Operated Press zine reviews on YouTube for more recommendations of cool zines to check out!

Why do you make zines?

We make zines as it is an accessible artform that is only as limiting as your imagination. We love the fact that zines offer an inclusive community, and we are really proud of the fact that we can give a voice to marginalised communities, and feature artwork that would otherwise be overlooked in traditional media.

Do you have any events, zine fairs, zine launches, or anything else exciting that you would like to tell us about?

We hope to be able to do at least one in-person zine fair this year…we are keeping everything crossed for restrictions easing enough to let that happen!

Thank you so much for celebrating our 1st birthday with us – this zine fair has been such a great experience! We can’t wait to do many more in the future…and hopefully in-person events can happen again soon! 

We will be a bit quieter in July as Katie is getting married at the end of the month – but do keep your eye on our social media for more updates and submission call-outs.

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