Self-publishing: An interview with Poppy Marriott
“Self-publishing means I set my own deadlines, my own standards and I also have total creative freedom”
Poppy Marriott is a 20-year-old, non-binary, LCC BA Photography student, film photographer and visual artist based in South London who focuses on documenting women and LGBTQIA+ people in the arts. Having done work with DIY Magazine, Dork Magazine, Dr Martens amongst others, and taken photos of big artists like Bastille and Declan McKenna, Poppy is already an established indie photographer who has also had experience with self-publishing zines: “The first zine I made was a music magazine called XYST. It was born out of frustration of barely seeing any female/non-male musicians represented in music publishing. I did two issues of XYST, three issues of ‘a girl in a band’ and a bunch of other photography based ones.” says Poppy. Creating a different variety of zines, Poppy’s XYST is an editorial music magazine focusing on female bands and artists with a strong visual style, whereas It All Has to Burn is a photo-heavy “zine about girls” featuring a lot of political statements, and ‘a girl in a band’ are black and white photo zines, purely made up of photographies from the included bands’ shows. Poppy also created a zine for the band Peach Club, for them to sell as merchandise at their shows. Starting out with selling their zines in record shops, Poppy took to digital selling, putting each zine at £5 and releasing between 50 and 100 copies of each issue, all of which sold out. “Obviously printing isn’t cheap and I am very lucky to now class that as a form of income.”
When it comes to publishing independently, one big benefit is being able to have full control of your project and not having to answer to anyone: “I’m a total control freak. If I have an idea in my head, then I need to stick to it exactly. Self-publishing means I set my own deadlines, my own standards and I also have total creative freedom. And I need that. I’m the worst at working with others.” Since releasing their zines online and having them all sell out, Poppy’s seen a massive success from their projects. Starting a new publication is always going to be challenging, but doing it well and putting a focus on good design and establishing an audience are good places to start. Poppy was lucky enough to have a pre-established twitter following behind them: “I don't by any means have a 'big following' but I guess the people who follow me are interested in what I do, and the majority of the time that happens to be zines. I’m very honest about my life/practice online so maybe that helps.” Arguably, the most vital part of any publication is the printing process. Having to decide on everything from format to paper quality, it’s a process that truly matters for the final result. “I think the most important thing when creating a zine is cost-effectiveness. SO many companies will charge you hundreds and hundreds of pounds if it’s not a massive run of zines, so do your research with printers. I looked at maybe 10+ printers before I found the one I use regularly, and it ended up being a small local business that could give me the best value for money.” Poppy says. Moral of the story for any potential zine newbies out there, don’t just go into the first print shop you see, shop around and support a local business.
Balancing jobs as a photographer with a full-time degree, what does the future look like for Poppy? “I already work as a photographer and the zines come as a part of that, so I just want to carry on what I’m doing but scale it up! I hope to be able to carry on making zines after I graduate because it’s something I love to do. I really want to revive my music magazine but make it bigger and better, I’d love to have a proper publication one day. My main goal after I graduate is to be able to stay in London and live off just my photography.”
If you’re interested in following Poppy’s photography career or checking out their zines, you can do so on their website