There is proud history of Queer publications from the independent press in Aotearoa. This Fresh From The Field celebrates one of the newest ‘Our Selves’ which launched to coincide with the 8th annual Auckland Pride Festival. The publication is a tangible record of the festival and captures critical voices from the community, beautifully designed the design aesthetic is “a bit sexy, a bit weird, a bit fabulous.”
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The Auckland Pride Festival runs annually in the first two weeks of February! Moving into its eighth year, it is New Zealand’s largest and loudest social and cultural programme of events for people identifying as gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, intersex, takatāpui, whakawāhine, tangata ira tāne, fa’afafine, fakaleiti, akava’ine, māhū, vaka sa lewa lewa, rae rae, fiafifine, fakafifine, palopa, kathoey, hijra, baklâ, genderfluid, genderqueer, pansexual, asexual, queer and questioning – as well as our whānau, family and friends.
Every year, the Festival strives to highlight the diversity and complexity of queer voices. To help facilitate this the board of the Auckland Pride Festival wanted to create a publication that would hold a place for the stories that make up the fabric of queer culture in Aotearoa. This publication would act as a tangible record of the festival and capture some of the voices of the community. The aim was to build something to inspire, inform and take the reader into the lives of some of the artists, activists, community workers and writers whose invaluable contributions help keep the queer community visible.
As this was to be the inaugural issue, the brief was to set the foundations for the publication. This would require designing something that would capture the spirit of queer communities, understanding and responding to queer aesthetics and influences. It would need to create a structure to work with for potential future issues and volumes. And it needed to feel like a collectable, something you would want to keep on your bookshelf for years to come.
To achieve this the Auckland Pride Board engaged Sarah Gladwell as designer and Jeremy Hansen as editor.
Our Selves was born.
Our Selves is a collaborative journal that chronicles and celebrates the incredible vibrancy of the queer experience, and documents the intersections of marginalised identities and communities. Interweaving poetry, interviews, short stories and art, Our Selves is a fresh representation for narratives that are otherwise invisible, misrepresented or hidden; allowing queer voices to shine through unfiltered.
The lo-fi look and feel of Butt Magazine and DIY queer zines gave Sarah the inspiration to capture the grass-roots sentiment that queer history is so strongly founded on. She took cues from publications like The Gentlewoman (and other magazines with $35 price-tags stocked at Mag Nation) that are recognisable for their polished, elevated design. Sarah, Jeremy and the Pride board wanted the convergence of these aesthetics to give queer culture a platform that is accessible to a wider audience without denying its spirit. “We want Our Selves to belong anywhere – from a rainbow-stickered-Denizen-reviewed cafe on K Road to a school library in a small town.”
The display typeface is Toy by Out of the Dark. It was giving me an 80s erotic novel vibe, which I thought was appropriate – a bit sexy, a bit weird, a bit fabulous. The body copy is Styrene by Commercial, I like that it sort of looks monospaced (but isn’t) – a nod to the DIY zine reference.
Shout out to Our Selves editor, the incomparable Jeremy Hansen, for leading the mammoth task of bringing this project to life and curating the boundary-breaking, gut-wrenching and affirming pieces from each of the contributors. Also to Michael Lett and the Auckland Pride Board for conceiving this idea and giving it to the community.