London College of Fashion Special Collections has an ever expanding fashion zine collection that encompasses gender, body politics, sociology of clothes, hair & makeup, queer theory and more. Following on from last month’s zinester interview, we’re delighted to introduce our second interview. Janell Hoong, whose work Hairstylist, Snazzy Accessories and Sneakers Zine can be found in our collection, discusses her work and inspirations.
Name and Location: Janell Hoong, Singapore
How long have you been making zines for? Officially since 2008, when I was in my 2nd year at university. Unofficially, when I was 6 and folded papers and glued them down the spine and filled them with copied text and drawings from my encyclopaedias.
What do you like to create zines about? I’ve dabbled in both art and literary zines the past 8 years. One of my favourite things to do is create coloring book zines like “Snazzy Accessories” and the “Sneakers Zine”. I think of a topic and then start drawing 16 variations of it in a quarter-sized zine.
What is your favourite zine/comic/book? It’s hard to choose just one. I’ve always loved reading perzines due to their intimacy. Many articulate the rawness of life and how people struggle to find their identities in this world we live in – things I connect with. I have three perzines which have consistently been in my top 3: “aubade” by Katie Ash, “Scribble Faster” by Meg Gerrity, and “Volthair For Voltaire” by Kathy Tran.
Tell us a bit more about your creative process…I have a knack of coming up with zine ideas right before I fall asleep. After a long day at school or work, I retire to my bed at night and suddenly am hit with a zine idea – “I should make a sneakers zine!” Then, I get so excited as I brainstorm the different kinds of sneakers I can include in the zine, how the cover will look like and start jotting down the details in my phone. Unless I have school or work the following day, I will spend the next few days working full-time on that zine.
Sometimes, when I’m on the train home from work for example, I start questioning why life has to revolve around a 9-6 job and if only I could spend my life doing the things I truly love. Such internal questioning often become seeds for zine ideas too, such as my first compilation zine ‘The Perfect Day’, where I got 22 people from around the world to share how their ideal days would be like.
What does it feel like to have your zine/s in the London College of Fashion Library’s Special Collections? I am honoured that my work is appreciated enough to be included as part of a university’s collection for the education and inspiration of others. I myself have always drawn inspiration from all the zinesters before me. In 2013, my compilation zine ‘Dear You: Letters To Lost Friends (Vol. 1)’ was included in Tokyo’s Booklet Library, but this is the first time my zines are featured in a university.
What influenced “Hairstylist”? As indicated in the Introduction of this zine, when I was in school I’ve always doodled hair for the people in my textbooks. I especially loved the bald ones as they gave me more room for creativity! When I ran out of heads to draw, I started to draw my own heads – side view, front view, just so I could doodle hair on them.
I’ve also always been taken in by the idea of many people coming up with their own variations of an idea that has been given to them and in Hairstylist’s case, a bald head. That is why I’ve included 8 bald heads in the zine for readers to doodle on.
What one piece of advice would you give UAL students about zine making? Keep working on an idea even though the details are still hazy at first. As you immerse deeper into the idea, you will be able to draw inspiration from the most unexpected of places and these will enrich and evolve your work.