we recently spoke with edmund farmer about the upcoming sixth issue of his zine, pound shop. here's what he had to say.
pound shop is a zine that responds to our commodification of ourselves through social media, and the idea that, 'when you don’t pay for the product, you are the product.' it’s not an attempt to explain or counter the way we present ourselves favourably with pack shots and close ups, tag lines and small print, but it’s a response. if you’ve ever felt sexually attracted to a cartoon character, or have memories from childhood that may have been an advert for a he-man toy, there will be something in the zine to make your antennae twitch.
the title of the zine leapt into me after i came back from a trip to asia. i’d been living on seven sisters road in finsbury park in 2008, noticing lots of pound or 99p shops popping up on this same road, seeing the trade spill out on to the streets in a cascade of disposable vacuum-formed plastic items like buckets and spatulas and trays, and then in india i saw the reverse; trade was moving behind glass, air-conditioned and guarded by men with rifles at the door, as shops and malls slowly encroached on the traditional street markets selling that exact same marbled plastic detritus next to pyramids of spices and holi paint powders. at the same time as this i was on more than a few sex apps and sites and noticing how all of us were marketing ourselves for sex. 4 years later i had 20 or so portraits in a folder, and started to consider ways to share them in a way that wasn’t as disposable and unengaged as a facebook album. i didn’t need likes, i needed income… so i took inspiration from friends like sina sparrow (art fag) and adrian lourie (meat), and started editing the first issue of a zine. it’s limited to 200 editions; so it’s an artwork that exists in 200 sites around the world. i’ve always loved books and their design, and always felt excited by the formulae of cover design in series of books. the restriction of formula can bring out the most exciting ideas or at least frame them in such a way that encourages consideration of visual design decisions, because there is a range of responses to compare to.
all of my work is a response to imagery, which through the process of working into, avoiding, resolving and interpreting, i eventually discover meaning in. i wish i had ideas for pictures but i don’t – all my ideas are for stories, which i hope to turn into sequential art soon – the next project after pound shop will be narrative-led. the picture always starts with a photo because i can’t create something new without deforming and defacing something that already exists.
i have a hunger for beauty like everybody else, and anything that fascinates me, i want to cut it in half like an avocado and touch its slippery, stony heart. but i don’t want to make ironic things, retro things, violent things, ephemeral pop-culture things, i want that aching thing of beauty like when you see a photo on tumblr and you know everything would be alright if only it was yours; you’d love it like nobody else ever could and it will always satisfy and reward you like it does right there in that uncredited photo on that pretentious hipster porn blog. but I want that beauty to be convulsive. that grace jones album cover with the open mouth – jean paul goude was inspired by the agonized scream grace made whilst delivering their son. He amplified and intensified it and made something unforgettable and stylish from it. I suppose there’s a precedent there in francis bacon’s popes, which also have echoing repeated lines and a howling mouth, and an icon of power showing vulnerability.
when i started out i intended to hide behind this pseudonym, typ0, so I could be free to create without any embarrassment or persecution… but i gradually realized i’ve got nothing to hide and I’m not really looking to offend anyone. i still sign off the zines with it; i suppose consistency is a more significant virtue to me than comprehension.
pound shop issue 6 is available for purchase here.