Zine Scene — Photographer and graphic designer Sam Roberts captures a cycling and skating adventure through Belgium.

Sam Roberts began putting together zines to document the skate scene in his native Hastings, a small town “in the middle of nowhere” on the UK’s south coast.

He’s come along way since those early days when he put out No Skateboarding and now edits the crisp analogue skate zine Florecast, but with BE13 he wanted to go back to his cut and paste roots.

For his lo fi zine BE13, Sam and a group of mates strapped their boards to their bikes, jumped on the ferry and spent six days cycling around Belgium looking for dope spots to skate.

When and why did you start making zines?
Around 2000 I started a graphic design course at Hastings College, and decided to do a skate zine for my final piece. I’m not sure where the inspiration came from at the time – probably just reading Thrasher and seeing all the old scene zine reviews in there, and also wanting to document the Hastings scene which never really gets any coverage being in the middle of nowhere. It was called No Skateboarding and was just a black and white, cut and paste with pritt stick sort of affair – which sort of flew in the face of what I was being taught at the time, but I guess I wanted to keep it as raw as possible.

From then, I continued with the same zine, bringing out an issue every 6 months or so, documenting skate trips we went on as a crew, and doing little features on events, spots etc. I kept it as light and comedic as possible, with photography from myself and a couple of others.

I stopped when I hit full time work and didn’t have access to a photocopier for free. But over the last couple of years I’ve got right back into producing skate media and started Florecast which is very design orientated with great photography from loads of fantastic contributors. The thing is, as it’s very clean cut, it’s made me want to do some quicker, more cut and paste zines like my original attempts – hence BE13.

What do you like about the medium?
I think it allows you to actually get something tangible out of an experience you were stoked on – in a way that just having the photos developed, or posting a Facebook album will never do. I especially enjoy writing about the trips, as it actually helps concrete all the stupid little anecdotal incidents which would normally be lost in the abyss of our memories into writing – and acts as a great way of remembering the things we’ve done and places we’ve been. You can spend hours mulling over the design of one, or you can just bash one out in a matter of hours, either way it’s a fun process that I highly recommend!

What’s BE13 all about?
Last summer a crew of 10 or so took a bunch of bikes, boards and tents to Belgium on the ferry and cycled about for 6 days hitting as many spots and parks as we could between cycling and camping. It was hilarious as the cycling experience levels went from 0 to relatively good, and the equipment definitely showed that too – one on a fixie, and another on their sister’s Apollo mountain bike.

The zine itself is basically a collaborative effort between Matt Ransom, who wrote it as a recipe of how to get a trip like that done, and myself who put it all together with my photos from the trip. It was initially made just for the crew – but I ended up with a few spare so I thought I’d stick them on the Iklect store…

When were the photos shot and how did you decide to present them together in this way?
All the shots were from the trip – mostly unplanned, unstaged, quick shots on my SLR that I hoped would sum up the highs and lows of the trip. I also wanted to show everyone’s rigs – and how they’d fastened their boards/equipment to their bikes which in many cases was quite bizarre. I guess I didn’t look too hard at how I compiled them, but I wanted to link them vaguely to Matt’s writing, and also include some more traditional skate shots so it wasn’t all about our bromance!

What do you do for a living and how does zinemaking fit into your life?
I’m a graphic designer by trade – so yeah that obviously helps to be able to put everything together relatively easily – and the fact I do something completely different design wise at work thankfully keeps me motivated enough to come home and spend another few hours at the computer. It also helps pay for everything as I never get back what I put into them – such a loss maker financially, but I think the benefits are way more than a few quid down the drain.

Have you swapped BE13 for any other good zines?
Not really – I haven’t gone to any zine fairs so haven’t had the opportunity, but I got a sick one from Sergej Vutuc which I guess was a kind of swap – and then he did a little review of mine in Confusion Magazine which was unexpectedly rad!

What are your favourite zines?
Anything by Sergej (especially one entitled ‘Spines‘). Roadkill by Questions and Dan Singer (do another one you lazy bastards). Radulthood was pretty good! Plenty of respect for the skate zine makers like Tom Quigley of Varial (Nottingham), Taufek Asmarak of Waxfeather (Singapore), Graham Tait of North (Scotland) and Allen Ying of 43 (NY), Jonathan Hay of Confusion (Germany). Anything and everything else that’s rad!

Check out Sam’s work at the Iklect group show in Brighton, Friday July 25 – Sunday 27 at the Circus Street Old Market space.

You can also grab yourself a copy of BE13 at the Iklect online store.

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