In the spotlight with Snapper
“I think, as many others do, that print is on the way out, and it’s a real fucking shame.” We can all relate to his, some more than others. There are a rare few who believe print is the real deal but when you find them you’re guaranteed have a conversation with them full of expletives to show their passion and enthusiasm for the print industry.”
The art and design scene in Hull is incredibly small. However, for designers and entrepreneurs this can actually work in their favour. Cracking the market in Hull can be a good step to building a presence in the design community in bigger cities, online and of course in the print world. For Snapper, the print world has been a challenge and he is often faced with adversity when it comes to printing his independent Zines. Luckily for me and my research on the print vs digital debate, Snapper is incredibly enthusiastic about keeping print alive but he can see the argument from both sides. I caught up with him to get his opinions on print and digital and what it’s like to be an indie publisher.
Q: Snapper, for those that don’t know of you, sum up what Something Entirely Different does?
Something Entirely Different is a platform and collaboration-based collective with a focus on teaming-up with creative souls within the city of Hull. We have zero funding or backing which means we can do whatever we want. Sometimes we’ll do larger projects with artists from elsewhere, but it always comes back to showing the talent available within Hull. As well as print we showcase occasional spotlights, features and articles on the main website to put a focus on individuals or local projects worthy of attention.
Q: I first found out about you through your recent self-published group comic ‘The Ultimate Celebrity Nudes Compilation Vol.3’. Where did the idea come to print something independently?
My love for Zines and DIY culture was the driving force behind the earliest magazines under the Something Entirely Different banner. Publishers, understandably, don’t jump at the chance to print work by inexperienced souls, so going the independent, small print-run route was an obvious decision that I’ve stuck with over the years. I’m fortunate enough to send two to three magazines/zines/comics to print each year, working with a variety of amazing artists, designers, illustrators, comic artists, writers and creative people.
Q: Since then you’ve created publications regularly alongside your, now iconic, Hull related tshirts. However, you’ve found it harder to get people involved and advertisers to invest to give you the funding to physically publish your magazines. Do you think this is because of a lack of interest in printed publications or because advertisers can promote themselves in other ways other than magazines?
I think it just boils down to easier ways of promotion. Social media is easily accessible, easy to use, and can reach their audience in an effective way. They have a bit more of a guarantee that they’re reaching the people they want to attract, instead of the unknown response to print adverts. The benefit of Something Entirely Different moving to being self-funded has meant that over the last couple of years I’ve been able to promote and advertise the companies I have an interest in. There’s always a risk within magazines that some of the adverts look forced or awkwardly irrelevant to the content. In terms of contribution, the magazines can be hard as collaboration-based work doesn’t pay well and people’s jobs and own projects come first. I’ve worked on roughly 12 zines, comics or magazines that have been cancelled halfway through because of people dropping out. It’s a damn shame, but understandable sometimes. The pieces that are contributed to usually end up in another publication or feature down the line, but it can be disheartening for the people who tried hard and put in a lot of time and effort.
Q: Some of your publications you’ve made available to read to free on Issuu. Many independent companies use this to publish their Zines if they cannot afford to physically print. Do you believe that online magazines might be making print and editorial magazines defunct in this technological world?
I think, online, the preference is usually articles over whole magazines. I see articles and features shared every day, by hundreds of people, but online magazines don’t really get a reaction in the same way – at least not locally. Articles and features are straight to the point with their headlines, while magazines can be vague regarding content. Some people are moving to treating Facebook pages as ‘online magazines’, with each post and status update being an article of sorts, so that the piece is straight in a reader’s face, without having to flick through or scan content. This idea doesn’t always work. Thanks to Facebook’s shitty recent changes to how ‘pages’ work, ‘successful’ pages work better with the money to boost and advertise each post within Facebook.
Q: Having printed your magazines and also published online, which do you prefer? Does one give you a better response than the other or is it more about the art and sharing it with the design community?
Websites like Issuu are great for self-funded groups or individuals, especially for sharing or embedding on other social media sites, but they’re not for me- I’ll always prefer print for a variety of reasons. It may not be as affordable but it’s worth it to have something physical in a reader’s hands. As someone who promotes the work of others at Comic Conventions and similar art-based gatherings, it’s important to have stuff on a table or freebies to post out with my own products.
I’ll always prefer print for a variety of reasons.
Q: Something Entirely Different is one of your creative outlets, you also work for a series of bars in Hull as a designer. The artwork you produce for Welly really appeals to the student masses here and you’ve recently just finished their latest Zine for the Freshers’ Fair. How does it feel when a magazine you’ve worked on gets printed and distributed to thousands of students?
It’s a huge contrast to producing my own shit. With the Something Entirely Different magazines, I can only afford to produce a couple of thousand copies for distribution, whereas the Welly and Fruit zines I produce get mass-produced by the company- roughly 10,000 each year. Each September/October, I get messages from dozens of people either showing off their new dorm’s ‘Welly Walls’ or people trying to get hold of copies. It’s an amazing experience that pushes my love for working in print even further. If I could bring about that level of enthusiasm to the S.E.D projects, I’d be living the dream. Every artist in every publication deserves to be framed on somebody’s wall.
Every artist in every publication deserves to be framed on somebody’s wall.
Q: There’s no denying you have a distinctive style. While editorial design may not be your primary focus what are your thoughts on the argument of print vs digital?
I think, as many others do, that print is on the way out, and it’s a real fucking shame. Magazines are constantly getting cancelled, moving online, or shifting their focus to gain new readers. NME features pop music now, Playboy recently announced they’d be moving away from being a rudie-magazine; other magazines are putting their attention towards online articles. I can’t imagine we’ll live in a magazine-free world, but things seem to be slowly heading in that direction. I can’t tell how that’s going to affect printing costs in the years to come, but I hope things remain affordable for the small print folk.
Q: Finally, as an indie publisher, what other independent Zines do you love and why?
Anything local, or produced with low budgets. There’s a huge audience on the internet reading and producing zines that have the lowest production-costs possible, and I think that’s wonderful. The people who are printing on shit pound-shop coloured paper and cutting it down with a near-broken guillotine, with that horrific screech when you slide it down, and sticking a staple in, they’re telling another story besides the actual content of the zine. Hull and Bristol-based collaboration Pizza Eaters are doing amazing things using an underground visual style, with their range of ‘Rainy Day Activity Books’, which is a huge inspiration to me.
Snapper is just one of many who are trying to keep print alive with independent Zine publications. Sometimes as a start-up you have no option but to take the easy route and use digital platforms to get your product out there, and print is indeed a costly risk, but from Snapper’s enthusiasm you can easily see that print still means something. It’s incredibly relevant to this generation that grew up with band posters from Kerrang all over their walls and now a new surge of wall art has emerged with independent Zines like Something Entirely Different. Print is making a comeback through the indie scene and it’s inspiring to see what can be produced.
Check out Snapper’s links below to keep-up-to-date with his latest projects and find out how to get involved with future magazines.