Ahead of the launch of Reyt Proud zine on 2 March, we caught up with designer Jazyra Christou to find out about their work and inspirations and what brings them pride!
Reyt Proud zine is a new zine that shines a light on stories from LGBTQ+ people in Doncaster sharing what makes them proud. It’s part of a longer term project we’re working on with Right Up Our Street for LGBTQ+ people in Doncaster, with the creation of artwork which will debut at Doncaster Pride which is this years’ UK Pride.
Jazyra is a Leeds based graphic designer whose practice revolves around playing with typography and lettering. Their work lies at an intersection between graphic design and illustration, often combining analogue with digital processes as well as exploring image making techniques.
Can you tell us about your previous projects / work?
Ooooooo a really fun recent personal project was this publication called Joyful. It’s basically a queer community cookbook. I really love cooking for people and hosting dinner parties. They’ve been a way to show my love and appreciation to friends as well as getting to know people better and deepen connections. So I wanted to capture this energy and encourage other people to try new recipes, to bring people together and maybe they’ll discover a passion for cooking too! The cookbook consists of people sharing family recipes, culture, comforts, cravings, culinary creations as well as poetry. All the contributions are so so lovely so I’m excited for its existence in the world.
What inspires you as a creative / graphic designer?
Typography is a big source of inspiration like when I get to explore a new city one of my fave things to do is roaming around on the lookout for fun type. We’re surrounded by so much type it can be easy to not notice it but discovering a whacky shop sign or an unusual, super extravagant letter gets me real excited. Just walking down the street you’ll probably pass loads of things that use typography.
Seeing the work other creatives are making inspires me a lot. I need to give a shout out to Wooshy World, they are constantly pushing boundaries creating mind blowing work from fashion pieces to collage to exhibitions. Also Soft and Prickly is such a talented artist who does really cool stuff with natural dyes (and an amazing nail artist too!) I try to look outside of the realm my work lies in because I think that gives you new ideas and encourages you to create work outside your comfort zone.
What do you like about zines and how did you get into them?
Zines are just the best! They can capture an idea, research, stories, and explore very niche topics. And they bring people together who are into the same things that help to build these underground subcultures and connect with people. Then it’s something you kinda get obsessed with and fall in love with so you’ll be telling your friends about the latest zine you’ve discovered and it just grows from there.
One of my fave zines at the moment is called Filler, it dives into how food links with our mental health and explores community care, supper clubs, culture, colonialism, food ecosystems and nutrition. These are just a few topics, there’s so much good stuff packed into it! It’s really great, I’d recommend grabbing a copy. I also love when creatives use zines experimentally to explore more abstract work and play with a theme or even to showcase sketches / unfinished work that might not otherwise be seen. I could easily go on and on talking about my fave zines but I’ll leave it at that for now haha!
What’s your experience of being a queer creative in Yorkshire?
There’s so many queer creatives doing really exciting things. I don’t know where all the energy comes from but queers are relentless, they’ll find a way to make it happen even when the budget is super tight. And it’s a very DIY led creative scene. If someone wants to put on a club night, an exhibition, an art market and so on they do. It’s encouraging to see that. And Leeds is very close knit so once you start meeting people and going to their events you’ll find them rocking up at your workshops, buying your tote and supporting your work. It’s very loving.
What are you excited about with Reyt Proud zine?
To see everyone’s contributions! I don’t know Doncaster super well so it will be fun to get to know the people and hear their experiences. And the intergenerational aspect is great too. I feel like I am surrounded by people in their 20s and 30s so this is an opportunity to connect to the slightly older folks. They’ve really paved the way for us and I feel it’s good to have conversations about our experiences. And I think the zine will really encourage this.
What makes you proud to be you? Or what brings you pride and joy?
I haven’t thought about this much before (I’ll probably do a journal entry after writing this). I guess self expression brings me pride. The last few years I’ve really come into my queer identity. There’s still plenty I’m exploring with what my queerness means to me as well as my identity and gender. But I’m getting more and more comfortable with my queerness and feeling closer to my authentic self.
In terms of my design practice, creating work for projects I believe in, for people who are doing what they love – which might be running a record label for example – that brings me a lot of joy. I’ve got to work for independent venues and DIY spaces, and people running their own club nights or events and that’s super special for me to be part of and feel connected with the local community. I’m also proud of hanging in doing what I love because freelancing isn’t easy and I’m working side jobs to keep me afloat. I feel like most creatives I know are in similar positions but being able to do freelance design work is a privilege and it’s still crazy that people approach me with their projects and put their trust in me. It’s a really lovely feeling and a pleasure to work with them.
If this has sparked your curiosity, come along to the launch of Reyt Proud zine on Saturday 2 March in Doncaster city centre. Join us for an afternoon of free tea, cake and creative activities! Plus get your free copy of Reyt Proud zine. Find out more via Right Up Our Street.