Xerox and Destroy: The Photocopy Club

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DIY culture is running strong in today's age and is the backbone of this very site. The Do-It-Yourself mentality is reaching to photographs, film makers, publishers, authors and anyone with a desire for their work to get out into the big world. Though it can be overlooked by mainstream media and kept under the surface, The Photocopy Club are out to bring the best art and photography to the people and not break the bank doing so. We spoke to the founder Matt Martin about his ideas and DIY culture.

How did The Photocopy Club get started?

The idea for photocopy club was to make an exhibition project that was affordable, not just for the photographers but for people to also be able to buy one off amazing works at low cost. I wanted it to be like a giant zine that everyone could take a page from. I started the project in 2011 and since then we have done around 30 exhibitions in the UK and abroad. 

I just wanted to make a fun way for all the photographers I knew to get their work off the internet and into the hands of public. 

What was it about xerox zines that drew you in?

I grew up on punk show posters and flyers and that style of design and high contrast printing is something that has stayed with me. The years 2009 and 2010 was such a great time in terms of zine making. It was such an exciting hub of photographers from all over the world showing their work on flickr and tumblr and it was this great DIY scene of people coming together and making zines, travelling to each others countries and taking photos. It was that whole community that really got me hyped on making zines. 

Do you remember the first zine you published?

It was called Time for Hero's and was photographs of small town graffiti writers. I made it when I was 16 on the college copier. I made one copy and I still have it. The staples have rusted. That was about 2003 or 2004. I then got a job in a photo lab and just made loads of mini 6x4 zines. My first main zine was called "Because My Name's Casper" and I made 50 copies and sent them out to photo magazines and blogs and photographers I liked. That's still one of my favourites that I have done. 

It’s been a rocky road for print publications, but it seems as though that is ending and we are stepping into the light of having more print based art, photos and magazines. Did you ever have any doubt in print staying alive or in competition with digital media?

Print will always stay alive within DIY culture. Things get popular and then die out in the mainstream press but zines will always be made by the underground. I feel it's the best way to get your art out into the world. I never thought print would die. I just love printing my work. I want to start putting on more exhibitions next year that have no online press, all word of mouth and flyers. The issue is we are so reliant of Instagram and Facebook telling us what's coming up that people don't look anywhere else, I think everyone is getting bored of social media but also bored of there being so many publications now that content is just getting re-used. Sites post so much a day that we are not even taking it in anymore. Zines give you that time to take in more information. I learn so much more from zines and books I buy than how many times I look at Instagram in a day. 

What’s so important about DIY culture to you?

Everything. It's grass roots. It's people making stuff for themselves and the community. Putting on shows, making venues, printing zines, making t-shirts. It gives a voice to all that need it. A platform for the underdogs. DIY culture has so many different pockets of scenes but they all work and fit together and that's why it will always last. 

Talk to us about the process of your exhibition curations. What’s the process behind them? Is it similar to releasing a zine?

Pretty much. I come up with a theme, call out for submissions, curate the submissions and then design how they look on the wall. It's just like making a zine but really big. I love doing submission projects. The work I have received over the last 7 years has been amazing and just grown and grown with quality. 

You guys organise talks and run workshops, is it important for you to get the ideas of The Photocopy Club to the public in the means of hands on workshops and interactions?

Yeah for sure! I try and do workshops that are designed for all ages, not just photographers but just fun interesting ways to create stories and images into small publications to share with friends and family. All the workshops we do are without computers, just cut, paste and xerox.

What’s been your favourite zine The Photocopy Club have released?

The work of Michael Jang. The exhibition and zine we made for him was great. It was so amazing to be given such freedom with such an amazing body of work. He is also the nicest dude!

Any exciting plans for the future?

More zine making and more exhibitions. I hope to hit the road in 2018 and get more exhibitions and workshops going around the UK. Get more things happening out of London. Also, work on more personal projects and just to keep taking photos and making stuff - Xerox and Destroy. 

Check out the photocopy club online here to get your hands on some great zines and start xeroxing your work!