A review: THIS IS issue 1 launch party!

On the 7th of September, I had the pleasure of attending the 8496collective launch party of their first ever issue of their zine. Not only was I an attendee, but a contributor, which is still a bizarre thing to say and something I haven’t adequately wrapped my head around. When I was asked to be a part of this, I could not believe it. It was the first time someone had properly validated me as a writer, as an 'artist'. I only started putting myself out there regarding my writing a couple of years ago, and often when you’re starting out it can feel like you’re talking to a brick wall, so to be approached like that was a significant and lovely moment for me.

I take one-second videos of my day, every day, and am slowly curating a folder of snapshots from my night. The video I made of this evening I feel sums it up well. I took it far away from the massive group of people (a very impressive turnout), and all you can see is outlines of people, the sparkling fairy lights, and all you hear is this buzzing sound of chatter. When I play the video back, it really takes me back to the night and how everyone seemed so inspired and excited to be there. I’ve never been around so many creative people, which was an amazing but overwhelming feeling.  I had contributed to the zine itself and yet I had an inkling of feeling mediocre. Shortly after this fleeting moment of insecurity, I grounded myself back into the conversations but also looked around at what Mia and Janaki (the co-founders of this collective) had achieved. As I mentioned, you could really see how excited everyone was to be there, trading zines and sharing their favourite pages. I went to a bog standard school with little creative funding, so to be engaged in this environment of people was quite touching. Young people aren’t given enough of a platform, or at least a safe and encouraging one to explore art, their emotions and thoughts. So to flick through this zine and see how these words could spill out of a person, or how someone could draw that with their bare hands, make a seemingly ordinary photo look incredible was beautiful. 

I’ve spoken to Mia, one of the co-founders of the collective and other friends interested in art about the pressure to be always pushing out new ideas and pieces. People are always asking ‘So what are you working on?’, and how working full time, or going to university or whatever it may be that keeps you busy isn’t quite enough. There’s this notion that if you are passionate about something, it must engulf you, define every waking moment for it to be worthwhile, for it to be accepted. Yet, on this lovely end of the summer night, it wasn’t the case. People sat, had a laugh and I forgot why I was even there. At first, I felt conscious being a contributor, but by the end of it, I realised this divide I thought would occur wasn’t even there. It was just people with something to say, people who wanted to listen, and people who recognise the need for this community feeling in this very pretentious, judgemental artsy world. 

I left that night a little drunk, devastated about hearing of Mac Miller’s passing (but that’s a post for another time), but overall proud of myself and my friends. I’m not the most confident when it comes to my work, but the 8496 believed in me, pushed me to write new material, which is now one of my favourite poems I’ve ever done. I love looking through the zine and reminding myself of how many talented young people there are there. Not only gifted but switched on, and gives me comfort in that somehow things will work out. Brexit may be happening, the Tories still in power, but as corny as it sounds, we always have our art. And thank god 8496collective are there to give us that platform!

Isabelle Gray