Tuesday, March 3, 2015

interview with Luke Wood from HEAD FULL OF SNAKES

Just in: HEAD FULL OF SNAKES #3, an annual motorcycle fanzine from New Zealand. It includes a flexidisc and is printed with a risograph. Like ESSES from the UK, Head Full of Snakes is an independent motorcycle magazine. We had a few questions for editor Luke Wood.

Why did you start HFOS? Is it your full-time job? How big is the team?

We started it for fun really. I had already been running a blog called Head Full of Snakes, and when I suggested turning that into a ‘zine of sorts Stuart Geddes was keen to get on board too. Stuart and I did postgraduate study together in Melbourne and had been wanting to make something together for a while. It’s just the two of us who make it. We edit it, design it, and print it all ourselves. And while it takes up a lot of time, we don’t make any money at all from it. Each issue simply funds the next one. We both have ‘real’ jobs doing design and teaching mostly. We do get a lot of help from contributors (who don’t get paid!), and then also from friends who come and help with the fairly hideous task of collating each issue before it goes to the binders.

Were you involved in publishing before you started HFOS?

Yes, I had spent a few years publishing a small graphic design journal called The National Grid, which I’d ended up doing after having been involved in designing books for artists and galleries here in New Zealand. Stuart, as a graphic designer, focuses on publication design and has worked on a lot of different things from books, to literary journals, to architecture magazines. He’s really prolific, always busy, but still manages to somehow be a really nice guy.

What is the most exciting thing about publishing a printed magazine?

In the past I would have said it was meeting people, which is still true, but with this one I actually think the designing and printing is the most exciting part. This last issue (#3) we actually designed as we printed it. Which was sort of nerve-wrecking at the start, but once we realised it was going ok and that it might work out it was really fun. Having the ability to print it ourselves (on a risograph) was a large part of the attraction for us to actually do it. In fact I think I could say the printing even beats the designing for fun here.

What are your favourite magazines and which ones inspired you?

Between us both there’d be a broad range of things that influenced Head Full of Snakes. When we were studying together we were both very into a small sort-of-design/literary journal called Dot Dot Dot. Despite being very different to that I think the attitude of that still runs into, or through, HFoS. Mainly in the sense that we don’t feel to tied to any sort of particular content or format in regard to a supposed audience or field of interest. Other more obvious influences would be older motorcycle magazines, especially Colors Motorcycle Magazine (1970–71), in terms of texture and form, but also in the sense that it was essentially made by the people who were involved in the scene.

Do you feel part of a magazine scene in NZ?

Not really! I don’t know if there is a magazine scene here? New Zealand’s too small to really support marginal activities like this, so most publishing here is very droll and commercial. There are zine fairs and stuff like that, but while I dig what they do, I don’t really relate to that scene too specifically.

What are your plans for the future?

We’ll be starting work on issue #4 soon, for which I’m actually going to go ride around the West Coast USA and down into Mexico and see who I meet! I’m also currently working on a couple of books. One is about DIY band posters, focusing on posters made by band-members here in NZ over the last decade or so, and looking at the effects of ‘bill-sticking’ laws, venue changes, and printing technologies. The other is a book about graphic design education that I’m working on with Brad Haylock, from Surpllus (Melbourne).

What kind of bike do you ride?

A Norton 850 Commando that’s the same age as me, a highly modified Triumph Thruxton, and a sweet lil’ Honda XL185.

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