Soggy Toes is a Really Good Zine
Soggy Toes is a surf zine created by Mount Maunganui based photographer/ designer, Guy Thompson. Guy recently released Issue 4. It blew me socks off.
It’s much better than:
-Property Press, the old tenants mail, New World’s specials for the week and other pieces of unsolicited junk.
-Stepping on a Stonefish (just you wait...).
-Half dead birds dragged inside by your cat.
-Dead birds dragged inside by your cat.
-Trawling through interweb crap on your phone.
The photos are juicy, the design is spicy and Guy writes personalised messages on each zine that makes you feel special. We chatted to Guy about Soggy Toes in the hope that maybe we would learn something about print? And other tidbits about his glorious publication.
Congrats on issue 4, it's fucking sweet
Thanks mate! Congrats on getting your first issue out the door too. I loved it.
Thanks man! So Soggy Toes zine, where do we start?
Well, it started as a shitty black and white photocopy paper publication that I was making at uni. If an order came through I’d run off to the printer, print it, staple it, trim it and send it off. Nothing flash, even the photos were pretty lame. I just thought that my mates were real good at surfing and deserved to be put in print, however not so good that we could send it into the real magazines.
Love the hustle. So you're from the Mount and you study in Wellys?
Nah man, I'm from Auckland and studied in Wellington. When I started uni in 2013, I had never surfed in my life, but by second year I was living with the legendary Broadhurst twins (Velvet Grip co now). So they taught me to surf at the start of 2014 and it all started there. I would come to the Mount every holidays to visit them and surf. I couldn't get enough of the place. When I finished uni I couldn't bare the idea of going back to auckland so I moved to the Mount with my girlfriend Westney. It’s paradise.
Ahhh congrats on the move. I'm from Auckland as well, it's good to get out.
I don't think I could ever move back after living here, this is the best place in the world.
It looks warm. How are the waves?
Yeah its stinkin hot in summer. Yes very small and very fun, as soon as I moved here I quickly sold my thruster and put in my order with Griffo who shaped me an absolute beauty of a log.
Yeah man his boards look super pretty. It looks fun, warm, small waves, real good for the alt retro sleds. Down here, it's big and cold and pretty much everyone is on thrusters.
I guess everyone's just riding the best board for the waves on that day, maximise the fun. At least you guys catch all the swell. Crazy scenic down there too.
Come down, it’s unreal. Soggy Toes Issue 5.
Yeah defiantly on the cards, it would be amazing to get down there for issue 5. I came down to Dunners last winter with the idea of chasing some waves in the Catlins with Rapley, we ended up watching like 4 seasons of of some Netflixs show in a week. We got soo skunked, the weather was horrible the whole time. Fingers crossed for next time.
Ahhh shit. If the Southern Ocean gets all pissed off you can get skunked pretty hard. So Soggy Toes. Was photographing the bros surfing in Wellys your first hoorah with photography?
Nah man, I really liked photography in high school. So I thought I would go and study it at uni. When I got there it was torched, it almost ruined photography for me, it was just strange. So I put down the camera and swapped to study graphic design. I’m so glad I did because it meant I would eventually come back around to get into photography again, through shooting my friends surfing in Welly. So shooting the boys wasn't my first hoorah but it was what gave me my second wind. These days I split my time between freelance graphic design & photography, the best possible outcome for me because it keeps both of them fresh and fun.
The whole studying art thing sounds like it could get a bit weird for motivation, passion and everything. So you got your freelance work and then Soggy Toes as a wee side hustle?
Yeah exactly, side projects keep you from going insane I reckon. Everyone should have one, even if it's just growing a garden, that can be a side project.
For sure, it keeps you sane, especially if you're working full time. Has the development of Soggy Toes been pretty organic? The old ones look super lo-fi. Black and white, staples, minimal design. Now it's colour, full gloss, busy, looking gorgeous.
Yeah I just take it as it comes. At the moment it's only been coming out once a year but I'm keen to step that up. The problem is it takes so long for me to get enough shots to make a zine because I just want to go surf with the boys! The transition from BW to colour happened at issue three. The boys just killed it and BW wouldn't have done them justice. It was a much bigger expense to take on as opposed to printing them out myself at uni but it's definitely been worth it. The old ones crack me up looking back on them now.
By the time I finish an issue some of the pages were designed so long ago, and everything is made so quick to keep it kinda DIY and raw, that I literally think it looks so shit but I'll just print it anyway just because at the time I thought it was all real cool.
A one man operation! Kinda good because you don't have to put up with people's shit, but it's so much work putting these things together.
Yeah just a one man band ha, it's a bit of work but I love it. I get people sending me amazing photos and cartoons or offering to write stories and definitely feel like a dick turning them down but it just works out easiest keeping it solo, soggy toes is my little baby you know?
Yeah man for sure. That's crazy people send things in and you turn them away. Tell them to get in touch with Zukeen. I've wondered if we've bit off more than we can chew going 112 pages.
Yeah I'll send them your way! I reckon it's awesome that you guys are doing a full blown mag.
Cheers. It's fun but I just feel bad for our designer having to lay that shit out. Will works full time hours as well, so it's heavy as for him hop back on the computer after work.
Yeah I feel for him. It’s such a big job designing after work. I try to just design for about half an hour or as long as it takes me to get the idea I have onto the page and then leave it until I think of the next thing to do.
So do you think much about Soggy Toes? Like exactly what you want to be and what you don't want it to be?
I think the zines a lot easier to lay out because there are no rules really, I do work off of a grid but tend to ignore it most of the time, it makes it more fun page to page. I like it looking quick and quirky. After a day of designing perfect layouts for work the last thing I want to do is get too precious with the zine.
I feel that man, the design for Soggy Toes kinda seems offhand, kinda punk, lots of layers, lot's of buzzy shit. It's cool. It holds your attention to each page for a lot longer than a photo of a guy doing a surf, you know?
Yeah, gotta keep it punk, they are the original zinesters! You've gotta be more than just a guy doing a surf.
That's what's unique about Soggy Toes. Surfing is just surfing. It doesn't change or develop that quickly and there are only so many ways you can frame a story about a surf trip, a surf comp, a new board, whatever. It can get pretty repetitive. You're design keeps things interesting.
For sure, I try to let the photos speak for themselves and leave it to the viewer's imagination. Also I'm terrible at creative writing and storytelling!
'A picture tells a thousand words' is a dirty old cliche and 'many photo, few word' is the mantra of soggy toes right?
That's the one. Maybe next issue I'll have a crack at writing a story for ya.
Or make it longer. I shed a single tear when I turned the last page of Issue 4.
Hahaha, yeah that too, they used to be much bigger. Thats sort of my goal for this summer, get in the water and shoot way more, so I have a heap of photos to work with for the next issue, hopefully get it back up to the size it was back in issue one. Always trying to make it better.
For sure man. All your water angles are so tight.
Thanks! Swimmings a nightmare but always so much more rewarding than sitting on the beach with the long lens.
Yeah for sure man, cooking in the sun, watching the sliders get wet. So why print? Haven't you heard! Print is dead. Dead!
Well if it wasn't printed these photos would be just going straight on Instagram or a website. I reckon they deserve a bit more you know. The webs amazing for things like Bitcoin haha, but for this sort of stuff there's nothing like seeing it in print. The zines only come so far because I've just always wanted to see my images on paper. I’d send them into real mags and there would always be something not quite good enough with the photo to be run. So I was like fuck it, I don't send my photos anywhere these days. I just hold on to them until I have enough and then I make another zine. I love it.
Blood sweat and tears. Premium content. After Issue four, I'd say the images in Soggy Toes are as good as any other magazine. There's the physicality side of things as well. It's relaxing, sitting down and just turning pages. It's almost meditative you know?
Thanks man. Yeah there's nothing better than it, my zine and magazine stack is crazy big but my bookmarked websites, I only have four. The nets got a lot going on, I know there's great stuff out there, but I don't want to be scrolling to find it, I wanna be flipping pages baby.
Flipping pages baby. I get so jaded with the internet. So much crap out there. So we started a website for good buggers like you.
Now I have five bookmarked sites.
Legend. I think print is kinda similar to vinyl, you could get the art in a different, faster, cheaper medium like spotify, whatever. But it's an experiential thing, a process thing, it's slow and real.
I see it even more so in photography, everyone has gone back to filmies because it's just a much more fun way to operate. Nothing better then the feeling when you get your negatives back.
Everything is too quick nowadays, too transient. This convo will come across as a big spiel for people to buy our crap haha… Hey man I’ve gotta run, absolute pleasure talking about your zine. Keep up the fine work and get to the South Island. Any final words or thank you’s?
That's the goal. Sweet as boss, good to have a chat. I’m looking forward to the next issue of Zukeen! Yeah man South Island is going to happen again real soon, penciled in. A big thank you to the Broadhurst twins for teaching me to surf haha can't imagine where I would be now if it wasn't for them, Bryce Galloway - he's a NZ zinester legend who got me started on issue 1, Crystal Cylinder for helping me get the latest issue to print, Ryan Glover for the good life advice and my girlfriend Westney for calling out my bad ideas in the zine and keeping me sane. If you don't have a side project start one today! It's the best thing you can do with your time. Stay in school grom's, don't do too many drugs and be nice to everyone. Mum and dad can have a shout out too! Thanks heaps.
Support Soggy Toes! The man's just trying to make a few dollars for beers. Buy the zine here: http://soggytoeszine.bigcartel.com/
And find the man on Instacrack: https://www.instagram.com/soggytoeszine/
Interview by Sam Fraser-Baxter