‘If one person buys my zine, it was a success!’: A creative lockdown for a South Wales artist

Photographer Gavin Smith discusses how he turned the lull of lockdown into a creative project

Gavin Smith proudly presenting his two lockdown picture zines that were released on 29 September 2020
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A typical schedule for a touring photographer is a busy back-to-back day, not like your usual nine to five. Gavin Smith, Cardiff’s well-known man behind the camera says his lifestyle is built on friendship and trust with the band members he works for and lives with. A lifestyle that changed suddenly in March 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Having worked in the media industry snapping images of bands for six years, Gavin started at the merchandise desk, followed by working as a tour manager. The 36-year-old admits his passion for the music industry led to his desire to work as a professional photographer for rock bands.

Gavin said, “I wanted to be involved, I wanted to be in a band.” Eager to work in music but feeling like he didn’t have the talent, Gavin’s lack of confidence didn’t stop him chasing his dreams. “I found a way that allowed me to still be involved in the industry without having to learn an instrument,” he laughed. 

Gavin’s love of photography is rooted in his childhood. “I have fond memories of my father taking pictures” smiled Gavin. Following in the footsteps of his father, a semi-professional photographer, Gavin developed his interest into a career. A successful career before the coronavirus sent the world into lockdown and Gavin returned to his hometown of Saint Nicholas.

“It blew up while I was on tour”

In contrast to Gavin’s on-the-road single lifestyle, being confined to Cardiff has been a mental shock. “It blew up while I was on tour,” he said. Within the hour Gavin and his fellow travellers were sent home for the next nine months in lockdown. 

Without work, without an income and without routine, Gavin revealed the struggles of losing the lifestyle he knew and loved. “I’m used to travelling, to being up late and working strange hours,” he said. Gavin struggled with keeping his mind active and felt he lacked a purpose through the tiresome, never-ending 2020. 

Taking control of his own income

Using the time to get creative, Gavin designed a collection of his images with an aim to produce his very own zines. “It was a good, fun project for me, it filled my time,” said Gavin. The project presented his life’s work and the images he is proud to have captured. 

“I had this idea for a while, I want to show them off!” smiled Gavin. The first of the two zines is “landscape based”. Electronic Dust is a collection of places Gavin has visited on tour, many of the images in the zine are taken in Canada.

The second zine Seven Days in Kingston is an album of “candid images” of the band ‘The Glorious Sons’, taken during a rehearsal in Canada. The beauty of the images is found in capturing the band “off-guard” Gavin said. “Fans get to see [them] as real people; seeing the band in a way they’d never normally.” 

The titles for the zines were inspired by the 2017 movie Kodachrome. There’s a quote in the movie that describes how images disappear on social media within seconds, that hit me, I felt that.”

Both zines are on Gavin’s very own website, Electronic Dust can be purchased for £12 and Seven Days in Kingston can be purchased for £20. The zines are an added income for Gavin who has been working as a freelance artist through lockdown.

“I’d never put a book together before!” he laughed. A proud accomplishment for Gavin, who struggled to choose what images to include in the zines.

He concluded, “If one person buys my zine, it was a success!” 

The first 32 page, A5 picture zine, Electronic Dust and the second 66 page, A5 picture zine, Seven Days in Kingston

Want to get creative?

Gavin Smith’s recommendations on turning lockdown into a positive experience

  • Be creative
  • Find yourself a purpose
  • Find a new way to explore your niche 
  • Don’t feel bad if you aren’t learning each day! You don’t have to.
  • Find a project you can give your time to, one you can be proud of