'Creamer' Is an Art-School Mag with Trashy Ambitions

We talked to the women behind it about fun, art, and why they're not calling themselves a feminist zine.

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Oct 14 2015, 6:30pm

Photos by Holly Rae Jones styled by Malak El Sawi

Launched last week in an underground urinal in Kennington, London, Creamer magazine takes the meaning of toilet humor to a whole other level. With a "Girls on the Toilet" photoshoot and an article titled "The Devil's Lettuce Turned Me into a Shit-Slinger" you could be mistaken for thinking this a scatological fetish magazine.

In reality Creamer is a self-styled trashy mag started by seven girls tired of art-school pretentiousness. Combining a DIY aesthetic with a puerile sense of humor, they're foregoing the endless demand for justification and focusing on just having fun.

That's not to say they're unambitious. After the success of the first issue, the girls now have their sights set higher—TV, radio, and a punk band named Pussy Palace all get a mention when I ask. On the one hand it's the art-school dream we've seen shattered before, but on the other these are a genuinely talented bunch who might just have enough creativity and ambition to pull it off.

I caught up with the seven-part power-house to find out what makes them tick.

VICE: Looking at Creamer and meeting you guys in person, I'm really tempted to describe this as a feminist zine, is that cool or am I bowing to cliché?
Creamer: The way we see ourselves, feminism is actually quite tangential to what we're doing. Naturally, we're all feminists, but I don't think calling yourself a feminist zine is actually saying anything very interesting anymore. There's a certain level of clickbait associated with the word feminism and we don't want to be associated with that. It's cool that people can interpret it in that way but we don't think having fun and making art always has to be a statement—and that's all we're doing.

But at the same time some of the stuff you do is quite subversive. There's a lot of toilet humor and sex jokes that could be interpreted as challenging conventions about femininity and how women are expected to behave.
Yeah but it's not like we ever sat down and thought about it. I think we all are quite disgusting naturally and we forget that people aren't cool with that. The toilet-theme to this issue came about quite unintentionally and then we just ran with it until we decided to rent out an underground urinal for our launch night. We like to think of ourselves as a trashy toilet mag, something to read while you're doing a dump, so it's quite fitting really.

So how do you describe the style of the zine, is it something you can pin down?
We coined this term crispy to describe all those really sleek zines you see at art school. We are like the opposite of that. We're not a photocopy zine or a crispy magazine, we're a trashy mag.

The group dynamic is really important to the aesthetic of the magazine. Everyone's opinion really matters and that's what makes it creamy—for example if it was just like Malak and Hannah's magazine it would probably be pink and fluffy with like fur on the outside but because it's all of ours it makes it this really unique thing. In terms of style, we like to think it teeters on the border of looking great or really shit.

Is it anything to do with rebelling against art school?
Maybe a bit. At art school everything's super formal and academic. You get used to getting shot down if you can't justify your work. With a fine art degree especially, aesthetics isn't considered a very noble pursuit in itself. It's really liberating to do art on our own terms, for fun and because we love it—not to prove something to someone.

Also just being in London it can be really easy to become individualistic and it gets kind of nasty sometimes. There are places you go on like a night out and people aren't there to have fun and it can make you feel quite isolated. Last year we were all just a bit fed up, Malak actually wanted to leave London, and doing Creamer gave us like a new lease on life. It's so nice to do something collaborative and creative and fun just because.

Comic by Corey McCallen

So that's how the magazine started?
Yeah. We all lived together last year in the Pussy Palace and it was such a great house. Malak didn't know us all that well and I think she was a bit scared at first. She freaked out because she burst in on us all naked jumping on the bed and thought we were psychos. That's pretty much how the stage was set.

Then two of us made a zine at Uni called Shart (a mixture of shit and art) and that's where girls on the toilet came from. After that we were like let's make something for proper so then we started talking about Creamer. At first it was going to be called Moist but a band had already taken the name so we changed it to Creamer and made a Facebook page.

Where did you take it from there?
There were a few things going on in and around London that inspired us. Brainchild and DIG and Steez were all things that just completely altered our perspectives. You go to these nights or festivals or whatever and you just meet so many cool people and leave feeling so good about yourself. That's the energy we really wanted to put across in the magazine.

If you think of zines like ten or 20 years ago though they were stereotypically associated with a movement, whether that be fashion/music/politics—is that something we've lost?
I reckon it's hard to see it in the moment though. The thing is there might not be any apparent defining features, but there is an energy connecting a lot of young creative people in London, especially South London where we live. In the Pussy Palace we used to sit in our window and chat to people in the street—we called it networking. We spent a whole night getting wine-drunk on our doorstep with a woman we met that way.

The nine-to-five world is pretty shit but if you smile at people they'll smile back. There's a lot of love and independent thinking going on in London you just need to know where to look. Punk wasn't about a set garb or music anyway, it was a state of mind—I think Creamer's quite punk in a way, "Nu-Punk." [Laughs]

What's next?
What isn't! We want to branch out into as many things as possible. There's totally a band on the cards, we love the DIY punk thing of groups like Half Japanese, Riot Grrrl, and even the Shags. We were going to write a play, and radio would be cool. Our dream is to do an episode of Bargain Hunt with David Dickinson. We've got a weird thing for him.

In terms of our next issue, you'll just have to wait, but there'll be new things and old things and a launch event in January. Keep your eyes creamed.

The first issue of Creamer is SOLD OUT but you can follow them on Facebook for updates on issue 2.

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