When Josh Jones and James-Lee Duffy sit down to put together Pavement Licker they know it’ll be black & white and have 52 pages, but everything else is up for grabs.
The pair founded the anarchic art zine in 2003 as a place to help young writers and artists overcome the creative industry’s great Catch 22: if you haven’t had your work published anywhere, you can’t get anything published.
Over the last decade, they’ve been sent tons of material from unknowns to stars like Banksy, Eine and Inkie, which they periodically sift through and throw together into something that often takes on a life of its own.
Josh and James explained to Huck that their latest issue ended up with a 70s punk vibe and more than its fair share of nudity.
When and why did you start making zines?
We started back in 2003 before everyone had a blog and broadband and the most common obstacle we were finding was people not being published unless they’d been published somewhere else. Pavement Licker aims to provide a platform for artists and writers without pushing a particular agenda or manifesto. It has featured work from established and famous artists such as the stencil/graffiti artist Banksy, Tank Girl creator and Gorillaz co-founder Jamie Hewlett, Inkie, Kelsey Brookes, Antony Micallef, David Shrigley, Anthony Lister, GILF and Eine, as well as from newer and aspiring artists and writers.
What do you like about the medium?
The fact you’ve got something tactile right there in your hands. The smell is important too. Every time we give someone a new Pavement Licker they hold it to their face and say they love the smell of ink and paper. I’m yet to see anyone smash an iPad in their face out of sheer joy. You also get a much better sense of achievement and well-being when you finish something physical than you do with a website.
What’s Pavement Licker all about?
We have no manifesto. That’s something we consciously have always ensured with each issue. Weirdly though, each time we do one the submissions have generated their own theme organically. The latest issue has a 70s punk vibe and more nakedness than we thought. It’s its own beast really – we just seem to tame it once in a while.
Who produced the artwork, copy and photos and why did you decide to present them together in this way?
We have contributors from all over the world. We regularly get stuff from the US, Australia, all over Europe, a few from Russia, and South America is repped pretty well too. We go through all the submissions and choose ones we definitely like, then we work through which ones flow together best. We quite often get to the end, think we’re done then nix a bunch of pages and come up with something better. If delaying print by a month means we can get one more piece from someone then we will. That’s kinda the beauty of ‘zines isn’t it? James then lays it all out while Josh sits in the corner making smart arse comments.
What do you do for a living and how does zinemaking fit into your life?
Josh is a freelance editor/journalist and has a raft of various positions including music editor for Red Bull, UK editor for ‘SUP Magazine, deputy editor The Special Request and founder of Strokeface.co.uk James is a freelance art director, D&AD judge and artist under the name We Are Shadows.
As mentioned before, the beauty of ‘zines is that you don’t have to stick to rigid deadlines so Pavement Licker fits in pretty well into our lives. We live close to each other in North London so we have meetings in the pub and after 10 years doing it we’ve got a pretty good system.
Have you swapped Pavement Licker for any other good zines?
We’ve always been open to swapsies. It’s an essential part of the ‘zine culture. We’ve been at various ‘zine fairs and more recently the Real Dill sent us a bunch of copies of his new stuff.
What are your favourite zines?
Shoreditch Twat is an obvious choice, but it was a pretty big deal when we were just starting out. Also, the satirical feminist ‘zine KnockBack is absolutely excellent. It’s funny and is what women want to read as opposed to the drivel Cosmo etc. churn out.
If you knew the world would end tomorrow, what kind of zine would you make today?
One A4 sheet folded in half saying ‘OH SHIT’. Or an instruction manual for the interstellar spaceship we just bought.
Grab a copy of Pavement Licker Issue 9 out now.