Zine Scene: Craic Mag

Next up in our Zine Scene series, we take a look at Northern Irish identity and culture publication Craic Magazine, ahead of their upcoming issue two launch party on 17 April at our new shop/gallery space in Peckham.

Rob Smith chatted to the publication’s creator James Robinson to learn more about zine, and its connections to electronic music and find out.. well.. the craic!

When did you first come into contact with photography and printmaking, and why did you decide to start your own publication?

It first came to mind at University, I studied a Fashion Communication course in Bristol which enabled me to explore different mediums of expressing my ideas. I decided to start Craic as a print project as I felt there wasn’t really anything out there doing that at the time, nor any representation of Northern Ireland in the magazine world.

From 70/80s Punks to Shine, Ulster Sports Club and AVA, Belfast and Northern Ireland has a rich recent music history. How has music affected your process, practice and journey towards sharing Craic with the world?

There is so much rich music coming out of Northern Ireland. When I was coming out of school I started going out to a nightclub called Kellys in Portrush, for me it was my first time really hearing electronic, techno and other kinds of club music. Sadly it’s shut down now. I have fond memories of clambering in through toilets to get in when I was underage so it’s a shame to see it gone.

AVA is making great strides for the Northern Irish music scene, the Belfast crowds are electric and you can feel that the organisers know how to put on a good show. Ulster Sports Club is a former working men’s club that has been converted into one of the best spots in Belfast. The recent come up of these establishments and festivals encourages people to get together and create things, and I’m definitely a part of that in sharing this through Craic.

What makes you proud to be a culchie? What do you feel people overlook about Rural Northern Irish culture?

Hahaha cracker question! I’m not even a culchie but everyone from Belfast says I am. Essentially it’s a common term used to describe an accent not from Belfast. I believe there’s so much happening in rural parts of Northern Ireland. Particularly in the north, in towns such as Ballymoney, Coleraine, Portrush, Lisburn – there’s a vast amount of creatives who come from there. It’s possibly overlooked as everything does feel Belfast-focused as it’s the only big city.

What phase of the zine-making process do you enjoy the most?

I love the image sequencing the most, I enjoy seeing how things sit next to each other and how they tell the stories between pages, I’m a natural storyteller so I find a lot of joy in it. The final days before sending it to the print are always the best, adding the crop marks, the bleed lines and so forth, I can be quite methodical in a way when it comes to down to the crunch time to get final edits done. The front cover is a fun part too and sometimes the hardest part.

What can our readers expect from your launch event at Velocity’s new shop space on 17 April?

Expect a few Irish accents floating about, a few tins of beer and plenty of Tayto crisps!

Craic VelocityThe National Library acquired a copy of Craic for their records, how did that come about?

That was madness! I got an email one day from their acquisitions team saying that they came across ‘Craic’ in a bookshop in Dublin called The Library Project and that they wanted to acquire one for their Northern Ireland collections. Their support is so massive for me and keeps pushing me to develop further work.

Any artists/labels you want to mention here?

Shout out to all the artists everyone in this issue: Billie-Jane Stringer, Jack Farrar, Joel Seawright, Gareth Sweeney, Shannon Ritchie, Brian Lincoln. This issue wouldn’t be happening without them. Music wise there’s Holly Kester, KEM, Small Crab, Or:la, Jordan Nocturne, G town records and Spray, to name a few!

Any other zines/blogs/publications/bookshops, music-related or otherwise, you’re into at the minute?

Loving Council mag ran by artist Spicebag, his work is filled with humour and comments a lot on Irish culture and politics. Bookshops wise, I love Village Books in Manchester/Leeds, it’s got a nicely curated selection of titles and photobooks.

In Belfast, there’s a great record store and listening room called Sound Advice by DJ Marion Hawkes, would recommend anyone visiting there to check it out! Steppin Out Zine is another one that I love, run by my friend Jake who explores club culture through photography and is accompanied with artist interviews.

Any other collabs or events in the pipeline?

Belfast is in my sights for a Craic event and hopefully, one in Dublin after. Would be a dream to collaborate with Robyn Lynch or Rory Mullen, really admire the work that they’re doing at the minute.

Favourite Taytos?

Cheese & Onion, the ultimate classic. Closely followed by Smokey bacon!

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