All zines under the Ugly Pineapple banner are themeless, and I’ll tell you why.
1. We’re a tad different, and that’s alright
Ugly Pineapple doesn’t give themes with each new publication because we want to offer a different service than other publications. Some literary journals have themes in each edition, some zines are based entirely around a theme (like the widely successful Filmme Fatales).
The benefits for these zines is that you, as a consumer, 100% know what you are buying. Feel like diving headfirst into the theme of isolation? Maybe the next Lifted Brow is for you. Wanna dive fist-first into punk culture? Pick up some vintage Sniffin’ Glue, friend. (If you can, mwahahah) You’ll probably finish reading these little gems with a bigger understanding around a particular theme. You’d probably feel inspired to move into a new city and then stab your eyebrow with a paper clip in that order. You’ll probably right great art in those themes. You’ll probably become a pretty cool person.
Like, rock on. But when you have something without a theme, you don’t know what you’re gonna get. It’s the proverbial box of chocolates from Forrest Gump. There are probably things you really love and some things you really don’t. But how will you know if you stick to just buying the same things over and over? How can you learn to love poetry by a Salamander if you’ve never picked up a copy of Love in the time of Salamanders and Other Amphibians? For the writers, we offer the opportunity to write/draw/stamp/cry over whatever you want. We won’t typecast you. If you write a poem in one issue you can draw in the next, it’s okay.
Themes are great, but not every publication needs a theme. Ugly Pineapple and other zines being themeless give more variety for both creators and readers alike.
2. Less themes, more snapshots
The number one question I got when I first had contributors for Ugly Pineapple was, ‘what’s the theme’? I told them there was none, and said ‘But the title is Ugly Pineapple, so there is that’. Some people wrote literal pineapples, some took spirit in ugly fruit. Some just wrote whatever they were going to anyway. In the end, us editors were looking down on tiny snapshots of people’s lives in poetry and prose and art. And what it said had nothing to do so much with pineapples as it did their place in life, what they were up to, 2016 as a whole and LOADS of angst (the good kind).
Sure, it might be a little unusual to not have a zine with a theme. But what I wanted it to be was more of an expression of who my friends are or were in those moments, and all of the little bad things, and all of the little good things that made them artists in the first place.
I’m sure when reading Ugly Pineapple now, a couple of themes come into mind. Existentialism…or pop culture, maybe. This just makes it easier to digest, or talk about later when someone asks what your zine is about. And that brings me (finally) to my point – themes are marketing tools. They help you sell a thing. They help you sound impressive at parties.
3. Keeping up theme-based brands is exhausting
Oh, my goodness gracious. Whoever said keeping up a brand is easy is deluded. Especially if it’s creatively owned by a number of people.
I’m a graphic designer by trade so I know brands are important, style guides are important, brand ethos and management are super important. But if you add a random, constrictive theme onto all of that, you will be tearing your hair out of every follicle on your body. Could you imagine Ugly Pineapple, but every post was entirely written in emoji to fit the call of the zeitgeist through a modern lense? ( woah, what a SENTENCE).
Big brands do themes well because themes sell but guess what, I’m in this zine buiz to show that I have super cool friends who make super cool shit. And that’s it. I don’t want to sell the concept of Ugly Pineapple to you. I shouldn’t have to. The content speaks for itself, totally, completely, as it is – theme free.