I had the idea of making a zine after watching The Punk Singer – a documentary about musician and activist Kathleen Hanna. I have a friend who made zines when we were younger, too, so I knew that it was a ‘thing’. I also know that it’s ok to make them even if you have no idea what you are doing. That’s kinda the point.
So when I started, I thought about all the things that inspired my album, all the women I admire, and all the stuff I’d love to know more about – and it went from there.
The zine includes the continuation of a serial social media post I have been doing called The History Grrrls. This series features one female musician/artist per week, and the impact she has had upon music and popular culture. For the ‘A Suitable Girl’ zine, I thought it would be cool to expand the scope of The History Grrrls and to include women in other fields (i.e. scientists, writers, athletes, artists and politicians). This way, I learn about the great things they did, their struggles and their impact.
I’m also interviewing and showcasing work by my female contemporaries who are doing cool shit. For example, over the last 4 years, I have been working with the photographer Hannah Markoff. We’ve collaborated together on the cover images for my album, and I wanted somewhere to show off all her wonderful photographs from this series. Lily Gloria, too, is an old friend and a tattooist; I love hearing about her personal exploration of the tattoo scene, and the zine has given me an opportunity to profile her. I also review the books that I love, and talk about music, films, guitar pedals and other fun stuff. It’s a chance for me to share the things that inspire me and the things that inspired my album. And finally, it’s a continuation of the theme of my album; ‘A Suitable Girl’ is about me finding my place and discovering what it means to be an artist, a lover, a friend, a feminist and a woman.
It’s been a really fun process and I think more people should investigate their passions this way. I’d love to hear about what makes other people tick. I’d also love to get feedback from readers, their inspirations, and more ideas for The History Grrrls.
Lily Gloria – Tattooist
Lily is one of my oldest friends. She started doing tattoos around 4 years ago after exhibiting and creating art as a graphic designer, photographer and illustrator. She tattooed the Hindi word for ‘marigold’ on my wrist one night in her bedroom. You can watch the video on my blog. My mate Lily is ALL TIME.
What led you to start doing tattoos?
I’ve always known art is my thing. Since I can remember I’ve been drawing.
Growing up I was very into graffiti, as a kid it was my main source of inspiration, I was obsessed with every part of it, the lifestyle, the rebellion, the people, the anonymity, the crews, the adrenalin and all the different reasons people choose do it. Graffiti is a way of telling people that you are here and you have something to say. When art is put on things other than a canvas by people not necessarily deemed by themselves or others as ‘artists’, then that’s where raw expression emerges and my interest lies. Tattooing creates the same conversation, it’s self-expression and I don’t consider myself a ‘tattoo artist’.
What inspires your tattoos?
I like ignorant and naive looking tattoos, the more ghetto the better. Prison and convict tattoos are a big one for me. Not just the designs, but the meanings behind them. People use them for protection, hope and a way to express themselves when they are in a position where self-expression is incredibly difficult. Being repressed is a place where we can find ourselves most able to flourish artistically.
I studied graphic design so naturally my designs are minimal. I love words, inanimate objects and film. If someone comes to me with a dope idea I will tattoo it on them, I’m open to anything as long as it’s not born from negativity. I love seeing other artists doing their own thing and creating a style that is their own. Being un-afraid to do it all differently and not getting on their fucking high horse about this wonderful and historic art form that belongs to all of us. If someone wants to tattoo then I’ll give them ink and needles and tell them everything I know. It’s something I do often because if we love something then we should share it, not hold it tightly to our chest and bark at anyone that wants to get involved who isn’t deemed gangster enough to participate. Fuck that. This artform needs to be more inclusive, as does the entire world.
You are an Aussie who lives in London and spends her time in the US. How do these places influence your tattoos?
Melbourne is my home; I know it back to front. I feel a sense of safety and comfort there. This to me is not a place where a huge amount of growth can occur. Living in a new and unfamiliar environment goes hand in hand with my tattooing. I’m self taught, I’m relying on the good nature of others and trusting in my own abilities, this is what living in a different country is, an exercise in trust that everything will be ok. I need to be uncomfortable and tattooing for me, is uncomfortable.
America is where I spend a lot of time because people there are not afraid to be different which in turn gives you permission to be whoever the fuck you want to be. People are also way more down to get weird and be completely in the moment which is my favourite way to tattoo. When a tattoo is spontaneous and organic it keeps me on my toes and is also a good reminder to not take this life too seriously. Taking life too seriously is incredibly unsexy.
A Suitable Girl Zine series is available on Ali Barter’s website for pre-order. The first issue, ‘Cigarette’ is free to those who pre-order her album, ‘A Suitable Girl’ out through Inertia, March 24.