Zine Review: Ground

Lee Taylor

Ground is the first zine in a sweet comic series about love, life, and working in a coffee shop. (Spoilers: I love it.)

I couldn’t help but be taken in by the physical qualities of this zine straight away. The cover is made of what looks like recycled paper (I’m pretty sure it is…) and is bound by string wound through triangular-shaped holes in the spine. The square you see on the cover in the picture above isn’t something stuck onto the cover but is actually a square cut into the cover.

I could get into the possible thematic implications of cutting the square into the cover to reveal some of the first page, but then I begin to wonder if I’m getting a little deep into it right from the get to.

With such pleasant expectations set up by the physical side of the zine, I began to wonder what I would find inside…

The humour in Ground is a ‘softer’ humour that I enjoyed. There were little things that made me smile and care about the characters as well as things that felt like ‘inside’ jokes for working in a coffee shop but that I still understood. (‘Can I just have a normal coffee?’ made me smile.)

The art in Ground is lovely with attention to detail and a lot of soft lines involved. You are introduced to the characters involved by getting a peek into the work lockers. I’m a bit of a nosey nelly, and I really liked that choice for introductions. I also enjoyed how Lee used both single panels as well as single pictures over multiple panels.

[Picture shared with permission from Lee Taylor]

(Just looking at that pour makes me want a coffee.)

While it’s definitely a beginning – a chapter one, if you will – I like that it didn’t just cut off in the middle of things. There’s certainly more story implied, but this first zine has a beginning, middle and end. I definitely want to read more, but I’m not left feeling rudely interrupted. At the same time, everything is set up for a series ahead.

All up, this is a lovely zine, and I already know that I want the whole series from start to finish. I recommend checking it out.

PS. I try to regard a zine in and of itself. That being said, this zine did come with a loyalty card on which you can stick letters that you collect by buying the Ground series zines. I really love this idea in and of itself, but the fact that it ties into the coffee shop theme makes it even more fun.

Zine Review: Side Project #5

Side Project #5
Samantha EE, Teresa Watts, Sabrina Wong, Sophie Raynor, Evelyn Paolino
@sideproject_mag (Twitter/IG/FB/Pinterest)

Side Project is a series about DIY and living creatively. In this issue, there are artist interviews, how-to instructions for a couple crafty projects, and various articles. This zine is the magazine that I always wanted to read growing up.

At $10, Side Project is definitely in the higher price range for a zine. However, for the price, you are getting a full colour, 46 page zine printed on nice paper. Aesthetically, it’s a very pretty zine. Everything is very neat, colourful, nicely laid out, and readable. It’s chock full of information and is a zine you can sit and pour over for hours.

In layout and feel, it’s very much a magazine. Those can be fighting words in the zine arena, but with ‘a zine for creatives’ on the cover but ‘mag’ in the URL, I don’t think the Side Project team is going to take it badly. I think they understand that they walk an interesting line.

Side Project puts me in a very strange space that I’ve never been in before. On one hand, it’s a zine. On the other hand, it’s almost not. It’s so perfectly well put together and perfectly created that it almost throws me a bit. There is often a sort of grit – a misprint here or a wonky staple there – and handmade feel to zines that Side Project doesn’t have because of its production.

That’s by no means at all a bad thing – please don’t take me wrong in that. And I certainly don’t mean to say that all zines have misprints or wonky staples. I only mean to say that Side Project is certainly different to my usual zine read.

In many ways the magazine-like qualities work very much in its favour. The combination of the aesthetic with pieces about creatives who live in Australia and sell on Etsy was really inspiring. It made me feel like homegrown creators can get the real recognition they deserve. I loved reading about talented people I could identify with as a creator and enjoyed articles on subjects I give a damn about.

On that note, my favourite piece of the entire zine was definitely the piece on Imposter Syndrome. I didn’t know that the feelings I hold all the time actually had a name and that other people feel them, too. I like that they didn’t just write about it but also added on some tips for making your imposter feelings work in your favour.

All up, this zine is gorgeous to look at and enjoyable to read. I can think of a few DIY friends I’d like to get copies for. DIY, Etsy sellers, and other creatives will enjoy it.

It’s Etsy’s Fault

I’ve been debating a bit whether to post today. Not because I don’t want to but because, well, I’m just so grumpy – and it’s only Tuesday.

Nothing has been catastrophic, but it’s one of those times when it wouldn’t take a lot of convincing to believe that the world really does just like messing with me. Things have been that way for a while, but this week started with an email from Etsy…

We’re writing to let you know that Australia has introduced new goods and services tax (GST) rules that will apply to cross-border supplies of digital products and other services to Australian consumers beginning 1 July 2017. You can learn more about the new Australian regulations here.

What this means for your shop

Beginning 1 July, Etsy will begin charging GST on seller service fees and Etsy Payments processing fees (“Seller Fees”) for Australian sellers unless they are registered for GST and have submitted an Australian Business Number (ABN) to Etsy.

Do you sell digital items?

In addition to the changes above, if you sell digital items in your shop, Etsy will be responsible for collecting and remitting the GST on those items. Etsy will automatically include applicable GST in the purchase price, and you do not need to collect GST on those items separately. If you’re wondering what this means for your business, we encourage you to contact a professional advisor.

I like Etsy, but by my research so far, it was already the most expensive way to keep a shop front with listing fees (that expire and need renewing), transaction fees, processing fees, so on and so forth. Now this? Now it’s even more expensive.

On top of that, they’re automatically increasing prices on my digital items, which pisses me off.

It’s not just me bearing greater fees – it’s people who want to buy my zines.

Thanks, Etsy. Thanks a lot.

“It says you can register for GST, Nyx. Don’t be grumpy.”

Yep, I could register for GST, be spared the fees and ignore the fact that people have to pay more for digital products. That’s business, right?

Here’s the thing, though: GST registration is a requirement for businesses that have a $75,000 turnover. I have absolutely no doubt that there are Australian sellers making that much, but I am far away from being one of them.

So what’s the big deal? That I don’t know if it’s a big deal. That I need to make an appointment and pay $80 to someone who knows whether it’s a big deal. If I do register for GST, it could mean quarterly reporting, which means paying someone $80 four times a year to deal with the whole GST thing.

This all when I’m operating at a loss as it is.

The big deal is that Etsy is popular and it knows it, so it doesn’t give a damn about the small sellers who are hoping to better their lives and get out of their current financial situations by offering something to the world.

There is a culture of non-profit and trade within the zine community, and I’m okay with that. What I’m not okay with is being stuck with more – not new, not the first – fees on a website that touts itself as being so wonderful and helpful to creators.

Oh, I know the response I’ll get about how it costs money to run a website, have staff, so on and so forth, but that is no comfort when there were already listing fees (that expire), transaction fees, and processing fees. They’re piling on fees with absolutely no thought as to the ramifications of people who were hoping to be granted the promise that Etsy so temptingly waves in the faces of those who are able to do little more than make their handmade creations in an economy and a society that doesn’t value them or what they do anywhere else.

That, my friends, is why I am grumpy today. I’m tired of forever ‘surviving’ and then being told to ‘just do better’ when I stop being okay with merely existing.