ZINE FEATURE AND REVIEW: THE PURPLIZER BY JOHN CATES

FFO:  VERY DIY MEMORABLE SNAPSHOTS OF BANDS TAKEN ON TOUR + SNIPPETS OF THE AMERICAN LANDSCAPE!

 

CONTEXT BEHIND THE ZINE (USING THE PHOTOGRAPHERS WORDS):

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THE TITLE AND THE CONTENT:

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The title of the zine ‘The Purplizer’ fittingly refers back to the app that John Cates (the photographer) and the touring bands used to listen to songs repetitively on their long journeys travelling down the west coast of America on the bands last two weeks of tour. The viewer isn’t able to learn the context behind the zine until they first examine all of the photographs, which usually encourages the reader to make their own interpretation of the images; however, as the title of the zine is so intriguing, especially to people like myself who have no clue to what the ‘Purplizer’ is.

(John later updated me that The Purplizer is a phone app that allows you to chop and screw songs played on your Iphone and followed by saying that “By the end of the tour it was the only way we listened to music”)

I was naturally curious and rather impatient as the reader and I instantly skipped the images to seek the zine for supporting text that would help me contextualise the zine further. However, it was rather obvious to guess some of the certain themes behind the zine, particularly via the front cover raw snapshot image of a guy stomping out of the van that hinted the zine would feature the journey of a touring band.

The front cover image is a stand out from the series, the immersive viewpoint makes me feel as if I’m standing in the tour van desperate to get out into the beaming sunshine. This document of a moment seems to  expresses that eureka feeling when you arrive in a new place after a tedious long drive; a section of time that was importantly captured and repetitively experienced by the photographer and the band.

I also like the slight tinge of bold purple seen within the top right of the photograph which i’m unsure if it’s naturally occurring or edited within Photoshop, but either way the images aesthetics nicely and fittingly match the title.

 

US: What was the process behind choosing your front cover image? Why did you decide to use this image in comparison to any other image from the series?

JOHN CATES: I went with this image for a couple of different reasons. When I was starting the process of developing the film and putting the zine together it had been a couple of months since we gotten back from the tour, so it wasn’t as fresh in my mind. One thing I remembered from tour was that the some of the drives were insane, like 10 -14 hours in mid july, so they were very hot and boring. It felt like at every stop for gas or food everyone couldn’t wait to get out of the van to stretch their legs and walk around. Another reason is that it felt like a good starting point because the van is basically one of the few constant things while on tour. Load In, Load out, new city, new hotel etc… I wanted the viewer to think that they were being dropped in the middle of the tour, no beginning or end, only that they were hopping out of the van and into a new spot.

 

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US: What camera did you use shoot this project?

JOHN CATES: Everything from The Purplizer was shot with a Nikon L35 AF on Fuji Superia Film. A friend of mine was moving to Chicago and traded the camera to me for a beer.

 

US: Was the final outcome of this project always intended to be a zine? If so, why?

JOHN CATES: It was my intension that I would to so something with the photos but I wasn’t sure what. I got invited to tour when the bands were half-way through it. I had less than a week to get everything together. I bought a few rolls of film and started shooting when I got off the plane before meeting with everyone in Portland and figured out the rest when I got back.

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THE IMAGES, PRESENTATION AND DESIGN OF THE ZINE

The 60 page zine preserves the memories of the tour by including a whopping 87 images is designed by Cates and somehow surprisingly staple-bound. The Purplizer is sized to a nice portable format similar to A5 but it’s a bit taller and thinner; with the exact measurements being at 140mm x 220mm. It’s quite a thick zine due to the amount of pages of images it holds and it’s protected by a rather thick card cover that adds a lovely shine to the front cover.

 

US: Do you ever feel as if you used too many images within the publication?

JOHN CATES: Yes it’s crossed my mind a few times haha. I also edited a bunch of images out too as I shot over 20 rolls of film in a two week time period.

 

Cates creatively switched around the layout of the images, playfully switching between the amount of images he includes on one page as well as with the amount of white space he uses to border them. Some layouts seem to be sequenced by colour and they work amazingly well together doing so, as seen below:

 

 

 

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Other edits such as the one shown below are more experimental and demonstrate a more unique and chaotic design layout…

 

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All of the images are snapshots taken by the photographer on the tour, in which cates used the camera to handpick and freeze and certain moments, making the decision to eternalise these memories and house them within a zine. The Purplizer therefore acts as a precious testament to the tour and all the interactions that were made.

 

US: Since you had so many images why did you choose to make a 60-page zine from the series in oppose to creating a photo-book for instance?

JOHN CATES: I’m in my senior year of school right now and one of my classes last semester was an independent study on making photozine’s. I had an archive of random images I had shot over the last four years and I approached a teacher about doing this study in the spring of my junior year. When I came back in the fall as a senior she asked about the tour and suggested that I take the images from it and make a zine with them.

Side note: Im putting the finishing touches on a photobook that I made from my senior thesis and I’ve just sent it off to print. The photobook features photographs taken from a range of noise show’s I went to around Michigan and the Midwest.

 

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US: If there’s one thing you could add / change in relation to the publication/project, what would it be? Or would you not change anything at all?

JOHN CATES: I’m happy with it and I wouldn’t change anything. It’s also the first zine I made using nice paper and full color images, opposed to using a black and white photocopier documenting a road trip/tour with a bunch of really good friends.

 

FEEDBACK – KEY STRENGTHS AND CONSTRUCTIVE CRITICISM

There’s a huge range of images included in the zine (87 images to be exact) from jokey portraits of mates having a laugh to live shots taken from the band playing, as well as short snippets of unknown locations along the American road- some being very Stephen Shore/William Eggleston-esque in ways. Though I could say that’s there’s probably too many images included in the zine and it could’ve benefitted from a smaller edit, as there’s a wide range of high quality that I would’ve liked to see printed bigger (possibly at full bleed) and there’s a range of lower quality images that personally I would’ve edited out – though despite this, I have to naturally respect that all of these 87 photographs included are personal and probably each preserve a special memory shared by the photographer and the bands.

The concept of the zine and the title of the project is incredibly simplistic but works incredibly well, so I couldn’t fault that!

On the design front I actually quite liked how Cates experimented playfully with the layout of the images and the sequencing, which most often than not worked! However due to the experimentation you could obviously critique the design for it’s lack of consistency, however I think the lack of consistency makes the 60 page zine a bit more of an exciting and surprising read.

 

 

OVERALL – IT’S A RATHER QUIRKY PHOTO-ZINE JAM PACKED WITH A LOT OF ACTION!

 

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YOU CAN BUY THE PURPLIZER ZINE HERE!

YOU CAN ALSO KEEP UP TO DATE WITH JOHN’S WORK VIA HIS WEBSITE AND HIS INSTAGRAM!

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