Created by former Dazed & Confused editor Roderick Stanley, activist arts platform Good Trouble has been publishing weekly stories online about the intersection between politics and culture since November 2016. Now the project has launched its first printed zine, designed by none other than Richard Turley, a broadsheet-sized, 12-page newspaper about the merge between creativity and protest. The cover was shot for Good Trouble by Matt Lambert, featuring a naked MJ Harper; while the lead interview is with Peter Kennard, a renowned political artist best-known for his photo collage of Tony Blair taking a selfie in front of a burning Iraqi oil well. The zine also features artwork by Jamie Reid, Lara Ogel, Mark Titchner, Gareth Pugh, Catherine Opie and AA Bronson.
To mark the release, we asked Rod and Richard to discuss the project between themselves, and below we publish their conversation.
Rod: A couple of months ago, Good Trouble was asked to collaborate on a panel discussion and event in New York about protest and art, and I casually offered to produce a zine for it. Of course, I then had to follow through… I was just planning to bung together something extremely lo-fi on my own, but then I asked you if you wanted to collaborate on it, and was excited when you said yes. Of course, it swiftly spiralled out of control and became much bigger than planned. So, Richard – why did you agree to get involved in this project? I take it it wasn’t the promise of untold riches…
Richard: Well Rod, as a great, great man once said “wealth is a means not an end”. We’ve both been lucky enough in our careers and that luck extends to being able to do excursions like this without needing to worry about billable hours. Plus I hadn’t designed a newspaper in ages and ages – it’s where I learnt my trade, I miss it. Plus working with you. Plus fuck Trump. In any and all ways. No matter how small – specifically in this case fuck him in artisanal newsprint.
It was funny doing this, seeing some echoes of the time we grew up in. I was reminded of that with the Matt Smith piece (an archive of 90s British rave and protest imagery). I used to work at a dance music magazine and we’d send Matt to trance clubs and full on raves in the west of England. I remember so clearly the transparencies that came back, the colours, faces, and energy in his work. It was amazing to be reacquainted with it, his archive must be insane. Does this era remind you of living through that time?
Rod: Ah, the Rave and Resist article. Um, so I guess I was probably a bit more “rave” than “resist”, so my memories are a bit hazy… I didn’t really think of myself as massively political in the early 90s, although I did go along to a couple of big anti-Criminal Justice Bill protests, a few Reclaim the Streets and Spiral Tribe parties, and all that stuff. I like Matt’s point that youth simply choosing to exist in that way was in itself to resist – I think that is really true and interesting. But I wasn’t chaining myself to road diggers and living in trees, like a few of my friends were. But this time feels different to me.
There was optimism then, where much of today feels far more nihilistic and violent and unpredictable. And the spectre of climate change feels much more like the creeping dread of nuclear annihilation I felt as a kid in the 80s. So, to me, I think those of us who work now in art, design and culture and so forth need to be finding new ways to engage with this new world, and hopefully maybe even change it a little bit for the better. How did you feel when I told you about this project and how did you approach working on it from a design point of view?
Richard: SPIRAL TRIBE! Sorry. Got excited for a moment. I agree about the doom. I don’t honestly know if a newspaper is going to change much, but it’s nice to provide a platform, to feel engaged, and nice to use an old media tool (newsprint) to do that. We talked a bit when we started making it about this odd tension in using newsprint, which up until recently was a medium associated with fast news and information distribution. Clearly that’s been superseded, so newsprint now has a new sense of permanence to it which makes it feel quite alien. And the size of the format too – we’re used to peering in tiny screens, so to have that scale felt refreshing. Design-wise, it’s a grid-based newspaper made from memory without using any grids. I started at the front page and jigsawed the content together over a few nights after work. Couldn’t really think of any fonts to use so used this condensed Helvetica I’ve been using a bit of recently and Times. Will there be an issue 24? What should we do?
Rod: Ha! Oh god. I originally decided this would be Issue 23 as a way of insulating us from any expectation or pressure to do an Issue two… kind of like the only issue of Good Trouble to ever exist would be this one, and somehow all the ones before and after had been lost to the mists of time. But I did really enjoy doing this and working with you, so perhaps there should be some sort of follow-up, though maybe in a different format. A touring musical? If anyone wants to get involved or contribute to the next Good Trouble project, whatever it turns out to be, they should get in touch.
Good Trouble is on sale now, with all proceeds going to War Child.