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Surprise Subscription #20

In a time when everything looks so flawless and shiny on our backlit screens, an imperfect, experimental and raw aesthetic is on the rise again as a counterculture. Zines have retained this character since the 60s until today. The thin booklets in simple photocopy style are the original form of self-publishing – fast, selfmade and niche. Usually monothematic and with small print runs, they print the part of culture that is absent from mainstream publications. Because profit is not the goal, but representation and participation in shaping culture. Their simple, analogue charm leaves room for experimentation with visual language. And so they are and always have been an uncut a constant source of inspiration. No wonder, then, that they are making a comeback!

So instead of the usual doom scrolling of perfected images, why not put your phone aside today and leaf through one of innen’s progressive zines.

Collaborating for each issue with one artist – from big names to yet unknown talents – the zines captivate through their homemade aesthetic. Instead of PR-perfect images with digitally enhanced colours, you get an informal glimpse into the mind of each artist. It’s precisely this intimate appeal that made us feel like we’re holding a real treasure in our hands and made us want to know more.

That is why we reached out to innen’s publisher and mastermind Aaron Fabian to ask about his process in a raw and unedited email conversation:

You founded innen in 2006. Can you tell us a bit about yourself first?
originally i am a graphic designer. i studied in budapest and geneva back in the days and ended up somehow as an editor / publisher.
i am from, if we can say, an artist family. my mom was a drawing / art history teacher. also an applied artist. she produced sculptures, paintings also designed her own leather bags and accessories. she was also into fashion etc. my father is an old school typesetter who also wrote poems. he got few books published by hungarian publishers. also he design books for others and his mom, one of my grandmothers, wrote short novels before and worked for a big publishing label in budapest. so i am just gluded in this story. i think we just got lot of books at home, all walls covered by books, like a library room or what.




What is the concept of innen and why did you decide to publish zines in the first place?
first of all it was no decision to be a publisher. i just wanted to work with nice materials and i was surrounded with creative friends and people.
so i started to make zines with my friends’ images. the concept is very simple. it is just what i like, what i feel more close to me. about zines, i did many experimental other publications before, printed as dummies, before officially started innen. so about the zine topic – it just very easy and cheaper to produce. you dont need lot of money to print and it’s also a very quick process. you can have one copy in your hands in 5 minutes.



Dash Snow – Selected Works From 2001 To 2009



How do you bring one of your zines to life? Is there a process you go through or is it different for each issue?
yes. always different. usually i have lot of digitalised works. i select and edit all and put together the pages spreads. but few times i can dig in archives and scan works, talk more with the artist – usually it is a collaboration between the artist and me sometimes i talk with galleries museums etc and request high res works. always different situation. it is really unique when i get a publication ready to print by the contributor.


Nora Halpern & Zuni Halpern – Pillow Mountain



How do you choose the artists you would like to collaborate with?
many times when i see art or visuals i say is good, i want to do something with it. it is really simple – just what i like. but for sure i check the background, how, where, which gallery activity or what is the cv etc. i am just curious. but often, by the time, i know almost everyone in person or many times it’s a friend of a friend – like our E.G.G. team aka Exploded Generation Group founded by Matt Damhave and P.A.M. aka Misha & Shauna – i wanted to publish all the team members’ projects.

(f.l.t.r.) P.A.M.02 – “INNEN” An Interpretation; Sakura Kondo – Imaginary Crows; Nora Halpern & Zuni Halpern – Pillow Mountain



There are some really big names in your collection. How do you get an artist to create a zine?
to be honest no clue but it is really an honor and thank you so much for all and to everyone who supports the innen project. really no idea. and sometimes, to work with heroes, is just magic of course. but after all, how i see it, in our big family everyone is connected almost.

(f.l.t.r.) Nobuyoshi Araki – Polanography; VIRGIL ABLOH™ – efflorescence; Yoko Ono – Franklin Summer; Richard Prince + Zach Sebastian – They started it… and we’ll finish it; Olivier Zahm – Amanda; Takuro Kuwata – Day

Do you have a favourite issue?
i dont have favourites, i love them all. all publications have different content, every zine has a different story for sure.

(f.l.t.r.) Vivienne Westwood – March 7–June 30; Francesca Gabbiani – Vague Terrains/Urban Fuckups; Jerry Hsu – The Disease of Wanting to Be Accepted


Vivienne Westwood – March 7–June 30

Francesca Gabbiani – Vague Terrains/Urban Fuckups

Jerry Hsu – The Disease of Wanting to Be Accepted

What was the most fun/challenging issue to work on?
usually it is all smooth but sometimes i have to wait like 4-5 years for a publication. few times really slow to work with artists, what is also fine, no rush.
maybe the Yellow & White Pages was super fun for sure. we – like around 15 people- were collecting all about eggs on an instagram message thread. all what we created with eggs and all everything from internet or from everywhere. i think still we have active members since 7-8 years maybe we do a new thick book with eggs.

The Yellow & White Pages by E.G.G. aka Exploded Generation Group



Would you still start a zine today, and quite frankly, can/could you make a living from it?
the market became much more bigger, what i like. more publishers, more independent publishers, more artists make self published materials, more bookshops etc. it was crazy with book fairs before pandemic times like every month you could participate 2 fairs minimum.
and i think yes i would start a new zine or book publishing house. why not. still you can make new things.
and to be honest, i do profit on the publications. for sure innen has a proper worldwide distribution line from new york to tokyo. everywhere. it is a bit more easy here in switzerland with applications and financial supports. besides i design books for museums, galleries or artists and i have a print service, too.

Since 2017, you also have a studio/exhibition space in Zurich. What happens there?
the recent space is smaller. almost 30 square meters. an experimental space / gallery for exhibitions and zine / book launches. (shout-out to mike and philipp maiburg and all the carhartt-wip team). i just wanted to have a place where people can meet in person, talk, share information, scan art works on the walls etc. it is a different form of communication compared to when you hold the publication in your hands. the first year i organized shows every month like the first installation / innen space opening was with edward fella, second agnes wyler third gig with ingo giezendanner, P.A.M. – E.G.G. show and then we had here katsu from btm crew, elodie cazes, chloe feinberg, anton bruhin, masanao hirayama, urs lüthi, francesca gabbiani, little warsaw, lola schnabel, emil risko, nick waplington, zuni halpern, and many more. (browse innen’s instagram or, Ed.)


What role did and do other independent swiss publishers like Nieves or Rollo play, to name just the most obvious?
benjamin aka nieves is given the name zine i think. so he is the zine doctor. he used first time the name zine (afaik). he is in the game since 2001, he started before me, 5 years.
and urs lehni aka rollo press was kind of the first who builded up a publishing label on riso printers. i am a big fan of urs style. he does a great job also as a graphic designer.

Any advice you wish you’d had when you started publishing zines?
i think, no. it is fun since the beginning. much love.

Thank you, Aaron, it was a pleasure!
© all images innen

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