Amelia’s Magazine | Mark Judges: Zine extraordinaire.

After last weeks feature on Café Royal I felt inspired to search out some illustrators who make zines regularly as part of their practice. Mark Judges is a friend of a friend and other than the fact that he’s a great illustrator the only other thing that I know about him is that he likes socks. Clearly this isn’t enough of a basis for a profile piece so I sent some questions over quick sharp to find out more about the talented Mr Judges.

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Tell us a bit about yourself Mark?
I like to make things, and at the moment I’m making things at Brighton University.

I get the impression that illustration students from Brighton are really prolific and good at getting themselves out there. Is there any truth in this assumption?
It’s a domino effect of unspoken competitiveness. Someone does something to promote themselves and everyone else thinks ‘yeah i’ll do that and something better’ and in turn that has to be topped and so on. That makes it sound depressing, but it’s really the best way to be. The course is structured with some commercial ethics, basically ‘do what you want and we’ll try and help you sell it’. I guess it’s art meets business studies. That sounds even more depressing.

How is it being out of the capital, do you think it affects your practice? Is there lots of art stuff happening in Brighton?
I’m scared of London. Everything in Brighton is walking distance, but living here means we don’t get to see as much good art stuff. Then again I really like living by the sea because it makes people want to visit you. I guess its swings and roundabouts.

How long have you been making zines for? Can you remember why you made the first one?
I first started buying fanzines at punk shows when I was about 13 and I just liked to have them at the time. I mostly didn’t understand them, because they were reviews of bands I hadn’t heard of, being compared to other bands that I hadn’t heard of. I just liked that they existed. The first time I saw an art zine a few years later I thought, ‘wow these don’t have words in’. I think that might have been when I realised I was allowed to make art instead of just admire it.

Of all the ones you’ve made which is your favourite?
The first one I did after starting art school. It was called Based loosely on true events and being a full month or so into an art foundation course in Maidstone Kent I thought I was a ‘real artist’. I got it printed in colour on 180gsm card so you couldn’t see the previous page through the paper which was a first. I think getting interviewed about art to get on the course had gone to my head.

How is the process of making a zine with someone else as oppose to just making one on your own?
I only ever really collaborated on zines with Tom Edwards all the other were multiple contributor zines I’ve been in. I just sent the work off and waited for a copy. Working with Tom is like helping your dad with DIY, he knows what he’s doing and he can do it faster than you but he lets you help anyway.

This might seem like a stupid question, but why zines? Why not just frame your work?
I like zines loads it’s really the only way I buy art. It’s nice to collate work in some way and I like to think they inspire participation.

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There seems to be a lot of hands and Nazi’s in the work i’ve seen of yours, what’s that about?
Yeah the hands is a problem, it started in New York last year when I wanted to draw people on the subway, but was too scared to look them in the eyes and now they’re my favorite thing to draw. I have a screen print of a ‘sexy nazi’ that I was going to show at the London zine symposium. The people working our stall didn’t want to put up as there were a lot of left wing and anarchist zine writers with stalls all around ours. When I finally got there I had a tantrum until they agreed to put it up; I sold one before I even finished blue tacking it to the wall. I was totally vindicated.

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What kind of mediums do you work with in your drawings?
I used to live really far away from my studio so I started using a lot of pencil because they don’t weigh a lot. I try to be flexible but I never learnt how to use oils. I once heard Wolf Howard say he never thinned his paint because no one told him you could thin it. Whereas I knew there was some kind of thinning involved, but that was all I knew and that scared me enough never to try.

Humour is a big feature in your work, particularly humour with a dark edge like with your S.TD package. How important is a piece being funny to you?
Not important at all. I’m usually not trying to be funny but the world is usually quite funny so its hard to avoid.

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Is the aim of your zines for someone to see them and then hire you? Is the ultimate aim to become a commercial illustrator or would you want to continue to do your own self motivated/funded things and hope you can make a living through that?
I like drawing and I like money, but I often don’t know what to do with it. I usually just try to at least break even with printing costs with the work I sell. I don’t think I could mastermind any kind of living from self-publishing at the moment. I have been asked to contribute on a few things off the back of my zines, but I never really intended them to create any kind of response. I am always interested in working on projects.

Who are your favourite artists?
I like Billy Childish, Picasso’s pencil drawings and Edvard Munch and all the contempory stuff that everybody loves. Luke Best, Paul Davis, Café Royal. Paul burgess just lent me a book about Bob and Roberta Smith, which is very good.

What inspires you?
The over active imagination that has made everything else so hard.

What music are you into?
Again everything Billy Childish. I come from the ‘Medway delta’ which is a little unpleasant and Billy is one of a handful of people from the area who defiantly shits gold (except I just got a split 7” with Sexton Ming that wasn’t so good). Lots of garage, punk, rock&roll, blues, r&b and skiffle that no one seems to care about. Several years of working in many infamous high street shops means I never need to hear any more funky house or Christmas songs. Oh and Zeegen Youth.

Tell me a bit about Illustrators Elbow.
Illustrators Elbow was Kaye Blegvad’s idea I think it’s because she makes so much work her blog couldn’t handle it and she kindly asked me and a few others to contribute to a collective website and blog. A bunch of us ended up getting involved with other projects from people seeing the site.

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Where can we buy your things from?
You can buy a small selection of very limited edition prints from ink-d
excuse the dingy photos there much brighter in the flesh and Illustrators Elbow is updated with art and zine fairs we will have work for sale at.

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Categories ,Billy Childish, ,Cafe Royal, ,Illustration, ,Mark Judges, ,Punk, ,Zines

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