An East Sussex College graduate tells the story of how an interest in medicine, art and a quirky sense of humour created an unusual start to her career. By Charlotte Rose

Love at First Sight End Pages

How it all began
I started my career studying on the Illustration degree at East Sussex College. While I was there, I took part in a book binding workshop where we discovered not only how to make handmade books, but also the art of the ‘zine’. This idea of being able to put all your thoughts and ideas into a small, concealed package sparked something in me. I began making zines about things that interested me, such as science and medicine – my first was for a university project about World War 1 surgery, with a sequel on World War 2 surgery. Since leaving university in June 2018, I’ve  printed and sold zines across the UK and America. I began by making them myself, but as sales increased, I needed to find a way to have them printed professionally. I started a Kickstarter campaign to help raise the money for the printing and all contributors received a copy of the zines and various other rewards.

Beautiful Beasts Cover

How I‘m developing my self-publishing
I was incredibly lucky to be contacted by a small company called Zine-O-Matic, a zine subscription company based in California that stumbled across my Etsy shop and bought 250 copies of my anatomy zine. It proved popular with their customers and they have now bought copies of all my zines so far, which have been sent out to their subscribers. As well as Etsy, I attend illustration fairs when I can, and also sell my zines out of various comic and record shops across the UK. I’m very pleased to say that I’ve now sold over 3,000 zines. I am currently creating my own website and shop to give myself a more professional online presence. Alongside Etsy I run an Instagram page specifically for my illustration work, and this really helped  my Kickstarter campaign. Self-publishing can be daunting, and it can sometimes feel like a slow process, but for me it’s been absolutely worth the hard work and, personally, it has given me a greater attachment to my work. Support from all the tutors and my peers at East Sussex College certainly helped me believe that it could be done and made me believe that I deserve it as much as all the illustrators I admire, and that’s the same for anyone willing to put in the hard work. 

Dr McIndoe Cover 

Dr McIndoe Centre Page

Posh zines – my creative process
Traditionally zines are very crude with a cut and paste aesthetic, often created using photocopiers. I’ve taken the idea of creating a personal, self-published item and using my preferred techniques and professional printers to create a more refined product, which some of my friends refer to as ‘posh zines’! My process of working is usually half manual drawing, half digital; I get my ideas down in a sketchbook and then go over them in Fineliner/brush pen, sometimes spread over a few pages. These pages are then scanned and opened in Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop where I edit them and bring them together to make one page for my zine. It doesn’t take a huge amount of time to create each page or each illustration, and I suppose that’s one of the reasons I enjoy doing them so much. I treat each page almost like a segment, each one is a different idea and once it’s complete, I can move onto the next idea – until I have enough to create a substantial zine.

The whole process of creating my zines, and indeed anything else I may be working on, is documented on Instagram. I like posting about the process and not just each finished piece. For example, when creating my zines I may post pictures of my ideas in the sketchbook, then I might publish a time lapse video of me editing the page in Photoshop and then I’ll post the finished page. 

• You can check out my Instagram to see my latest projects!
Instagram: @charlotterosesometimes

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