Innovation School Master of Research

Kilian McCann (he/him)

I’m a freelance arts and culture journalist based in Cork, on the south coast of Ireland. I’m interested in countercultural art and music, the DIY culture behind its dissemination, and the types of publications that write about them. Amongst them, through time, are literary magazines, art and design magazines, and more recently, zines. I’m interested in how social media and digitisation has changed how these publications are consumed, and how art is consumed in the modern age.

For my Master of Research, I wrote a thesis titled ‘The Adaptation of Countercultural Magazines to the Digital Age’. Countercultural magazines generally give a voice to lesser known and less established artists. The works of visual theorists and critics are studied in this research to understand how the media has transmitted art to consumers previously.
Zine making and independent publishing are also analysed, to provide their perspective and to understand their values.
The impact that digitisation and social media has had on media consumption is discussed, along with the impact of algorithms, to understand how the media has changed since digitisation.
It explores how artists, writers, and editors themselves adapt to the digital age by conducting workshops which discuss the challenges posed by the internet and how this affects them.

The research sought to understand what importance online spaces hold, and whether there are ways in which publications can counter prevailing trends, use more considered methods to display work online, and allow works to be fully appreciated in the same manner as the physical. The internet presents a large opportunity for countercultural movements and publications to network and reach areas that may not have been possible before, and therefore use the platforms provided by digital platforms to their advantage.

The Initial Idea
What Counterculture Is
The Impact of Digitisation and Social Media
Clickbait and Algorithms
Key Research Findings
The Artists’ View
Concluding Findings



The Initial Idea

Here’s a video of a younger, more fresh faced, shorter-haired version of myself, being filmed by my friend Seán O’Mahony, explaining my idea to my classmates and what I planned on researching for the following two years. Little did I know what lay ahead!

What Counterculture Is

Historically, there has been a disconnect between what is newly created and what is considered ‘good art’ – there has been a tendency to emulate classics and brush over alternative or new art (Wagner 1849, Simmel 1997, Bourdieu 1993). Sociologists have also identified a hierarchisation of the art world. (Weber 1958, Adorno 1970, Bourdieu 1993). The art critic John Berger wrote in 1960 that it is particularly difficult to be a good artist due to this (1960).

Fin-de-siècle publications formed a pre-modern vanguard which left an imprint on the nature of periodical publishing, and inspired newsprint and type to act as “weapons in the war against complacency” (Heller 2003, p. 31). Fin-de-siècle movements such as art-nouveau were short -lived and exuberant, its practitioners aligned themselves with natural objects, ancient icons and contemporary meanings, rejected traditional publishing mannerisms, and chose instead to use quirky, ornamental typefaces which would be intertwined with images (Heller 2003). This emphasised the artists’ work and offered the reader a greater sense of what the work was about. They also emphasised a rejection of mainstream literary culture and placed an emphasis on the moral basis of art, believing that they were providing a basis for initiating a new era in art (Knight 1996).

However, the existence of counterculture or contraculture in opposition to elements of mass culture only began to become noticeable in the 1960s and 1970s. The writer Raymond Williams believed that there was clearly something that could be called alternative to dominant culture, and that its’ degree of existence is a matter of variation, dependent on the society and its’ degree of openness (Williams 2014). Stuart Hall identified that youth subcultures could be identified by their possessions and objects (1996).

Underground and countercultural magazines go against the curve as they can represent minority groups more freely and with less pressure from the status quo, and a 1976 study found that, at the time, ‘dominant’ cultural magazines do not change their views or values significantly whereas underground countercultural publications do (Spates 1976). In the 1980s, the term ‘culture jamming’ began to emerge, which involves radical artists who adopt socio-political issues as their primary focus, and directly confront the rigidity and hierarchical superiority of art instutions (Darts 2004). Feminist writings and magazines have also made an impact in countering dominant, then-mainstream ideas about gender and hierarchy, allowing new interpretations of feminism to emerge and demonstrating that magazines were reflecting a mood of enquiry, re-establishing the position of the woman (Forster 2010).

Stuart Hall

Raymond Williams


From the 1960s onwards, counterculture and grassroots movements generated alternative, ‘not for profit’ print and publications produced by amateurs using basic technologies, consciously infused with notions of autonomy and anti-specialism. They recorded the history of the music scene ignored by the mainstream (Robinson 2018). Forms of alternative, D.I.Y publishing also exist within subcultures; zine making is assumed to have originated in England amongst punks, through the use of photocopiers (Baines et al. 2018).

Zines are small, short, and usually alternative magazines. They are generally hand-made, or hand drawn, can have an ‘unprofessional’ appearance, tend to be quirky, and individualised (Piepmaier 2008). Zines bore influence within their own cultural milieux, tracing an alternative cultural dialogue while being hidden from the mainstream media’s coverage of pop and youth culture (Worley 2018). The D.I.Y sentiment of the punk movement and the belief in self-expression were important factors in their proliferation, and anyone who wanted to make one could do so. They also played an integral part in the emergence of the indie pop subculture of the mid-1980s, which was eventually picked up on by the mainstream music press of the day (Dale 2018).

Zines also follow a countercultural narrative and speak to, and for, an underground culture. They are independent and localised, based on the ethics of D.I.Y and making your own culture, countering an era marked by rapid centralisation (Dunscombe 2008). Emerging from 1960s England, they are not-for-profit and frequently produced by amateurs using basic technologies (Baines et al. 2018), made by “extremely creative people taking control of their work and putting it out there for the world to see”, with short press runs, made from materials not designed to withstand heavy use (Weddle 2018, p. 2).

The D.I.Y sentiment of the punk movement and the belief in self-expression were important factors in their proliferation, and anyone who wanted to make one could do so (Martin 2016). They also played an integral part in the emergence of the indie pop subculture of the mid-1980s, which was eventually picked up on by the mainstream music press of the day (Dale 2018). In this pre-internet era, it was also a way for aspiring journalists to make a name for themselves, and many future journalists were in the fanzine network, ending up in NME and Sounds (Martin 2016). In Ireland, social media and websites now fulfil the role that they would have held (Ryan 2021). Zines were therefore an integral part in maintaining alternative cultures, while also aiding the emergence in popularity of certain genres and creating a new generation of writers despite very much being countercultural and localised, and they continue to do so.

Punk Zines

Zines from Kingston-upon-Hull

Zines in Cork

The Impact of Digitisation and Social Media

According to Caroline Ann O’Sullivan, the digital age has changed how younger musicians interact with scenes and venues. In Dublin, for example, she observed that younger people do not put the same importance on ‘scenes’, venues and gigging, rather the emphasis was placed on connection. Their breakout performances were placed on being in the right place at the right time and bypassing established club nights through contacting venue owners directly, and access to gatekeepers could be arranged digitally (O’Sullivan 2022). Ciarán Ryan argues 21st century zines tend to be somewhat niche and underground within the overall music scene, as social media and websites now fulfil the role that they would have held (Ryan 2021) through the popularity of their shows and writing about talent from both areas (Ward 2022).

The internet is also prompting the development of commercial websites orientated towards music scenes, as well as even smaller-scale and narrowly orientated ‘micro’ or DIY media. The internet has transformed the DIY media landscape and allowed easier communication between grassroots movements. Social media has also changed the way communities communicate with one another, with diary-style blogs and journals becoming more prolific and the social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram allowing users to interact on their own terms with a hand-picked set of friends (Hodkinson 2011, 2016). 91% of art galleries actively use social media as a promotional tool for their business (Hiscox 2017). Cultural media can pick up on this and allow for greater interaction between grassroots movements and the public, while also allowing greater proliferation of grassroots movements in a way that is honest to the craft of the artist and allows them to maintain their identity. Not much research has been done into the topic of art and social media as it is a relatively new and current phenomenon (Belanche et al. 2021, Suess 2020).

However, several examples of the role that the internet plays can be seen put into practice in different places. Some areas use a creative directory for artists, such is the case with Tottenham, and Made by Tottenham has profiles of local creative people on its platform (Made by Tottenham 2022). Bristol has the DIY Arts Network, which is an independent gathering of arts organisations and freelance creatives (Theatre Bristol 2022). In Brighton, local publication Off Licence Magazine hosts events and is an online platform for underground music, photography and culture across the UK (Tye 2019), and have managed to bridge the gap between the Brighton and South London hip hop scenes.

In 2016, Instagram announced that feeds would be reordered suggesting that algorithmic ranking would be introduced to the platform’s main feed. Algorithms play a large part in news media, and they are friendlier to large publishers than it is to small publishers, especially on Facebook (Peterson-Salahuddin and Diakopoulos, 2020), who own Instagram. The social capital gained from the platform is sometimes used to gain access to financial resources (Cotter 2018) It has become an important site for the sale of artworks themselves (Fleming 2014) and artists are now using the platform to sell their art to collectors directly (Goetzmann 2018). Instagram has developed a sense of celebrity culture which revolves around flattening out coverage of celebrities’ personal lives and making them public matters (Gronlund 2014) and digital influencers and micro-celebrities now represent a new category of ‘opinion leaders’ and can be described as a type of microcelebrity (Belanche et al. 2021). This style of social media has also infiltrated the art world. ‘Infinity rooms’ exist where people queue to capture selfies, (Martin 2021), and so-called ‘selfie-factories’ are becoming more common. It is debated whether, in these places, the photos taken are a souvenir of the experience, or its’ raison d’être (Kwun 2018), as the selfie-led nature of the art leads people to ponder whether it is the spectator’s desire to fit into the practices endorsed by social media (Martin 2021). There are cases of some pop-up events that have been widely successful in their digital reach, generating 840 million total social media interactions (Kwun 2018).
Instagram has been used by many young people around the world to display their photography and share their ideas and experiences (Manovich 2017).

Many street artists have embraced the interconnected practice that social media brings and use it to document their processes and share their work (Martin 2021). There are examples where UNESCO related initiatives have used digital reproductions as a way of sharing collections to in a digital format (Aguerre 2020). On Instagram, a curator can also be virtually accompanied as though their followers are with them, as they can use social media to share behind-the-scenes content from their institutions, or sharing talks, panels, screenings and performances. Live streaming is another method used by artists to engage with their followers in real time (Fisher 2018). Instagram has also been seen to be useful for galleries in aiding their visitors achieve a deeper meaning of artworks through extending the dialogue between them on social media, leading the galleries to create a type of re-curated visual journal which promotes an exhibition to an audience (Suess 2020) This has affected visitor numbers, as in the UK, a study found that 55% of people travel to a gallery based on images seen on Instagram (Wright in Suess 2020).

Social media has transformed how creative work can be shared and has also been considered an effective mechanism for cultural diffusion and is used to convey styles and trends. A study on Instagram by Kang et al. (2019) found that:

  • Instagram is the most popular social media format amongst artists, with 94% of artists using the medium.
  • The main motivation for using social media is to share and sell artworks and to connect with artists.
  • Engagement with other artists is a positive that artists find with social media, which can open new opportunities and creative development.
  • Social media has democratised the art experience and has made citizen curation possible, eliminating the didactic relationship between museums and audiences.
  • Social media also allows for an interactivity and playfulness that is rare in conservative institutions.
  • However, Instagram also allows for quick, superficial interaction where people make judgements based on intuition, with these bite size images only acting as an entry point to the art experience.

Instagram can be an extremely useful medium that may not be getting exploited enough. However, it’s increasingly algorithmic nature may be making it more difficult to use. Artists and countercultural publications need to understand and work around this or to work it to their advantage.


Yayoi Kusama Infinity Rooms

Off Licence Magazine

Clickbait and Algorithms

Another issue which has become prevalent in the past few years, that of ‘clickbait’, particularly when discussing news stories. This term of derision has come to be used for attention getting, deceiving, and disappointing online content of an inferior quality which uses headlines as a means of collecting clicks (Molyneux and Coddington 2020). These forward-referring headlines are primarily used for soft news content and postpone what a story is about with the purpose of creating curiosity and response (Nygaard Blom and Reinecke Hansen, 2015). Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is another issue which faces websites and online spaces.

Similarly, algorithms shape what gets viewed and how. Instagram shares few details about how its algorithm works, but usually function with many users unaware of their presence, while structuring online experiences (Cotter 2018). In particular, algorithmic ranking determines who and what gains visibility on social media. By establishing the conditions by which social media users are seen, algorithms serve to prescribe participatory norms by using disciplinary apparatuses (Cotter 2018). Marketing researchers believe the Instagram algorithm offers opportunities for businesses is to increase audiences, which means increasing prospective customers while also detecting market conditions, so that online marketers can respond directly to strategies and reach a larger audience (Sri Darma 2019). The algorithm, therefore, creates frustrations for those who seek out artworks without distraction, while those involved in business and marketing see opportunity.

Social Media Apps

I HEART Street Art

Key Research Findings

As part of the research, workshops took place on Zoom and included participants in fields related to the research from various locations around Ireland and Britain. The participants included:

  • ‘Belfast Journalist’, a cultural journalist from Belfast working for a Dublin-based arts and culture magazine.
  • ‘Leeds Journalist’, a cultural journalist from Leeds with experience, trained in Manchester, with an extensive knowledge of cultural and music journalism in England, to contrast with Ireland.
  • ‘Zine Library curator’, a curator at a Scottish zine library with an extensive knowledge of zines and the publishing scene in Scotland.
  • ‘Leeds Creative’, a Glasgow-based musician and artist, from Leeds, who has been involved with arts collectives in Liverpool, with an extensive knowledge of countercultural art and music across Britain.
  • ‘Glasgow Journalist’, a Glasgow-based cultural journalist and zinemaker, with a knowledge on zine making, experience as a cultural journalist, and knowledge on the zine making and countercultural arts scene in Scotland.
  • ‘Dublin Journalist’, a Dublin-based features journalist who, at the time of enquiry, wrote for a mainstream cultural magazine but now writes for an Irish national newspaper. Has a knowledge on how more mainstream publications operate, to contrast with countercultural ones.
  • ‘Cork Artist’, a Cork-based artist, trained in Edinburgh, who specialises in Internet culture, with a strong knowledge on internet culture and the arts scene in Ireland and Scotland.
  • Three members of a Glasgow-based zine collective:
    ‘Berlin Writer’, a Berlin-based artist, writer and zinemaker, previously based in Glasgow; ‘Glasgow Poet’, a Glasgow-based writer, poet and zinemaker; and ‘Glasgow Writer’, a Glasgow-based writer and zinemaker.

The first important point that the research points towards to answer this research question is the seeming disconnect between the values of the internet and the values held by DIY zinemakers. The online and zines are two completely different spaces, with very different values. Glasgow poet mentions that since the 2010s, the internet favoured “‘clean’-ness and minimalism”, and a blog culture emerged which became a form of “regurgitated press releases”, about quoting and tweeting rather than involving any actual analysis. Dublin journalist and Glasgow poet point out that there is a ‘clean’-ness which also comes through on social media campaigning with the emergence of Instagram infographics as the modern form of protest, aimed towards shareability, as font-heavy infographics are how people disseminate information, although they do tend to simplify complex topics. Dublin journalist mentions how magazines use grid highlights which are highly shareable on social media, catering to the reader who observes at a glance, usually on Instagram.

The research subsequently finds that physical objects are still hugely important for artist’s income and legitimacy, offered by zines and countercultural magazines. Leeds creative finds that while a website is to be purely digital, it does not offer the romantic side which you receive from a physical copy. However, according to Dublin journalist, there are often differences between the offering from the online version of a magazine and the physical version: they may have a differing style or be aimed at different readers, they will always have something done differently, the fact is that some work does better online, while other work does better in the physical copy, echoed by Glasgow journalist. According to Belfast journalist, those who have the physical copy of a publication have the intention of reading it, whereas online, having it on your screen gives it less permanence – you can click away, and it will be gone forever. This favours more passive reading and Glasgow journalist finds that online publications do not offer the same editorial experience as a physical publication, although she adds the proliferation of online work having emerged and becoming easily accessible has led to magazines becoming a luxury object. Another crucial point which Cork artist makes is that there needs to be a frank conversation about how work is paid for, there is access to so much work for free, but different platforms use different strategies for payment, through Patreon or subscriptions. Berlin writer believes that physical objects are a key driver in getting people to pay.

The quality of arts journalism was discussed with participants. The constant need to feed audiences discussed in the previous section also appears to be feeding into journalism, and the research finds that artists and journalists are a small bit overwhelmed by the constant need for new content, which affects quality and leads to too much work being done. Glasgow journalist finds that it can be difficult to identify your tribe these days as there is so much stuff online, and Belfast journalist makes a similar point, due to an “oversaturation of shit”. This means it can be difficult to come across in depth, well written work as work is driven by what does well on algorithms and what is more shareable. The most common reasons for this, according to participants, seems to be a change in attention spans and lack of payment for journalistic work.
Belfast journalist believes that attention spans are shorter, and this makes work more constant, while similarly Berlin writer finds that social media doesn’t give people enough time with work and it isn’t appreciated to the same extent. Dublin journalist points out that shelf life is much shorter now, and articles lose their relevance quickly, leading to some cases of articles being written in advance, while Belfast journalist has a generally unfavourable view of how work gets done now, making the point that success stems from working and posting constantly. He also believes that it also means that lowest-common-denominator work does well.

Research although physical spaces still play an important role in maintaining a scene, online spaces have also played a role in maintaining them. DIY scenes have used them in the absence of a physical space and have also used them to connect with similarly minded people. With the Covid-19 pandemic and social distancing, bigger and more mainstream publications have also taken this approach. However, the lack of distance that online spaces put between the follower and the artist makes audience engagement more difficult for the artist, with PR being very much necessary on social media, and there is a constant need to feed the audience when using online spaces, leading to a more challenging audience engagement landscape to navigate,

Participant Locations


vicepost (2)

The Artists’ View

To verify the findings mentioned above, an evaluative process took place in which the researcher engaged with artists to validate the findings and whether they fitted with their experiences. These were done using interviews with three artists from Cork who have experience using social media. The artist community in Cork is quite tight knit, with a good arts infrastructure and solid connections between education and the artistic scene (see figure 16). It cohabitates the city alongside the music scene, sometimes collaborating through the creation of band merchandise, gig posters and album covers.The participants were:

  • Artist A, a graphic designer and illustrator with a degree in Visual Communications from Munster Technological University. She was previously involved with an arts collective of Cork-based musicians and artists, and does lots of designs for local band merchandise.
  • Artist B has a BA in Fine Art and an MA in Art and Process from the local art school, the Crawford College of Art and Design. She is also involved in curation and has put on exhibitions featuring local artists.
  • Artist C, who had taken part in the workshops as Cork artist. She has a BA from Edinburgh College of Art and specialises in internet and meme culture. She also has an artist’s residency in the Uilinn Arts Centre in Skibbereen, County Cork.

Some key findings from this process were:

  • While social media and website may appear more democratic, if a page does not have an editor, it has a content creator who adds a lens or opinion that you view the content through. [Artist B]
  • Physical objects are still important for art, while social media is good for word of mouth. [Artist C]
    This could mean that print publications remain favourable in terms of analysis, as online content could be easier to manipulate, maintaining and strengthening the finding that print publications maintain importance despite the proliferation of online content.
  • Zines still hold importance and prominence, re-emerging in a big way in recent years, and that those who are interested in them always will be. [Artists A and B]
  • Social media has a partial effect on this, as smaller print presses use Instagram to share themselves, while artists use zines to collaborate. [Artist A]
  • Zinemakers use social media to improve reach, while zines can be made on a computer and uploaded to a website, maintaining a nostalgic value despite the use of technology. [Artist B]
  • Zines are doing well and many artists make zines and use them as physical rewards to Patreon subscribers [Artist C]

This strengthens the importance of the physical document, which adds legitimacy to work, and strengthens the finding that payment is more likely when a physical object is involved in the transaction.

  • Social media has been beneficial to all forms of art, even short story writing, as it gives a preview of work. [Artist A]
  • Social media is particularly beneficial to photography, but less so for other art forms, and anything that depends on the experience of being in the space has not benefited from the internet, such as painting. Showing them on social media can be difficult, as with their transmission depending on photo quality and lighting in the studio, this can make it difficult to get across on social media, while the same issue arises for sculptors or any artist who depends on the physical space and getting a visceral, physical reaction. [Artist B]
  • 3D galleries haven’t managed to capture the sense of the space online [Artist C]
  • Re-curated spaces are mentioned with an anecdotal case of an art gallery in Cork which, during the pandemic, curated an exhibition to look good online, but needed to change once
    visitors were coming back. [Artist B]
  • The internet is not as democratic as it appears, because it makes it very difficult to make work, trends are constantly coming and going, and while you might be on top of them today you might not be on top of them tomorrow. [Artist C]

This shows that while the online spaces can be good for some types of art, a proper, well-curated space is not possible online in the same way as a physical space.
While Artist A praises the opportunities offered by social media, Artists B and C see flaws and find it to be imperfect.

  • Artist A finds that the internet and social media has allowed her to connect with others abroad in a way that would not have been possible had she not had an Instagram page, without the need for an agent or an introduction.
  • Because it is such a large platform, it gives artists a chance to connect with bigger, successful artists and makes it possible to keep an artistic record and get seen, which has changed the game for smaller artists. [Artist A]
  • Meeting artists through Instagram happens organically; one will usually follow an artist or a gallery or an artist through seeing an exhibition, and the artist will follow them back, and it begins a dialogue.
  • Artist B also made connections through her Instagram, and you can go without meeting them and eventually collaborate with them. However, it is now based around follows and going on Zoom, and there is a level of human connection that is now missing.

This iterates the previous point that physical connection is still an important aspect that is impossible for the internet to provide. However, there is still a lot more connectivity possible, and collaborations and connections are easily established through the use of social media, despite the loss of some in-person connection. This strengthens the finding that online spaces can act as a substitute with the disappearance of a physical space.

  • The quality of journalism depends on where you look, there are publications that treat art properly. [Artist A]
    Some publications share art well, however lots of artists go towards the click-bait, PR genre of work. An artist is more likely to delve into work than someone in the wider circle of art, but art criticism is generally considered to be quite stuffy. [Artist B] Other publications that are only posting press releases and are responding to the algorithm, while there is also the question of payment: it is in the journalist’s best interest, if they are freelance, to churn out as much work as possible because they are not paid enough. [Artist C]
  • Click-bait’ makes making art more difficult, as artists are now focused on being shared on a website, going viral, or getting caught up in the quickness of the internet because it may bring traffic to their page. [Artist A]
  • There are publications doing both click-bait and thoughtful work, such as the Vice Media group, which own Dazed and i-D and use their collective ad revenue from one to fund thoughtful work on the other. Click-bait, however, exacerbates the idea that a piece of art can be easily digested and doesn’t need thought to go into it, or that all thoughts on a piece can be written in 300 words. [Artist C]
  • Many artists are using click bait to bring attention to their work, with the hope that they will appeal to a wider audience, and if work doesn’t appear interesting, people won’t click into it. However, this isn’t good for artists and people in the art world who actually want to hear about work, and click-bait tries to break it down to an audience who more than likely aren’t needed. [Artist B]
    The quickness of social media more than likely stunts an artist’s growth, because they may be getting likes, shares and commissions from very simple work, and they’ll keep doing that because it makes them money. [Artist B].
  • The internet moves very quickly, but artists are aware that their work is short-lived on the internet, therefore the goal is to get the word out there and lead people to the physical work. However, the algorithm has affected smaller artists and some work isn’t being seen as much due to changes in it. [Artist A]
  • Throwing money at promotable content such as reels on Instagram or necessarily going to make you go viral online, however, those with more financial resources are able to spend more time with their work and will have the resources to support themselves, others who do not have this time are at a disadvantage. [Artist C]
  • The algorithm can be treated like a “mythical creature that can magically bless you with views”, but nobody knows how it really works. If a magazine or an artist has the clout, they’ll get the views and shares regardless. [Artist C]
  • Larger artists will portray themselves as celebrities or influencers online – this celebrity status has almost become as important as the artistic work. This adds pressure which can favour the more financially capable artists, who have the money to promote posts and fight the algorithm. Contrarily, a smaller artist must fight this algorithm and can start second guessing themselves, and although they advertise themselves in a way that would not have been possible before, they cannot compete with more established artists, while the viewer has become greedier and has become used to seeing more artists. [Artist B]
  • The algorithm favours certain types of content, specifically video content – this started with Facebook comes through with the Instagram reels feature and Tik Tok. [Artist C]
  • If a website were to look more visually appealing, people would be drawn in more, and when things are more visual, they are more likely to be read and shared. A good example of this is Spotify wrapped, which people share widely. In general, however, websites get updated, and things generally have a shorter shelf life, although at the moment, there is a happy medium between Instagram and print – not the best, but not the worst either. [Artist A]
  • Better design may not lead to more people appreciating work, as it will always be the same people who appreciate artwork, but it would lead to more considered work being made as there would be less focus on the content creation side of art. [Artist B]
  • Websites are a lot more difficult to make than print magazines, however online publications which use good design do exist. [Artist B]
  • The problem is not to slow things down but to pay people adequately for their time. For a freelance journalist, it is in their interest to write quickly and write more pieces, and to get paid for them, as opposed to writing more slowly and better. The issue is not to do with social media, it’s to do with payment. [Artist C]
  • Recreating a print publication on the internet doesn’t always work, the 3D space offers different tools, and physical magazines always do and always will display art well. Money is the mitigating factor, PR and sponsored posts pay; the other stuff is good core values. [Artist C]

Concluding Findings

How has digitisation and social media affected countercultural arts media and movements?
Digitisation and social media has affected countercultural media in general by catering for multiple mediums on its platform and reproducing other mediums in a manner which was not possible before, which means that there is now a greater range of reproducibility possible. However, it also affects what work gets more reaction through the existence of an algorithm and leads to more quickly made content with a shorter shelf life. Content which uses more audience interaction has greater success. Work gets churned out at a very quick pace as the current online infrastructure rewards that. However, artists generally find that the internet and social media has had a positive influence and allows them to display their work and reach an audience without the need for an outside facilitator.

What opportunities have counter-cultural publications like zines offered artists and what are their key characteristics?
The fact that the internet caters for so many different mediums means that there is a large opportunity for reproducibility of methods which may have been lost with time. The internet generally favours shorter pieces of work that cater to lower attention spans. However, through looking at mediums which existed in the past, participants also found that unique design elements, such as a wider use of fonts and unique borders/breakers would also enhance online publications. More selective use of imagery and colour and being considerate of the reader by not using too much data on the site, are elements which are not common on the internet and their reintroduction would be a radical and refreshing development. Some arts forms haven’t survived the transition to digital as well as others, some believe this to be the case sculpting, however there is still an audience for them. Some artists believe that recreating old styles may be pointless and that we should work with what we have, as that is financially viable, others believe that trying something new and having different styles would be welcome, though not as tangible as a print publication. Though some methods and considered designs could be beneficial and some artists would like that, coding and web design might make this difficult and it could just be a case of using what infrastructure exists and trying to use that as effectively as possible.

How can grassroots arts movements and countercultural publications take advantage of the move to digitisation?
Although some grassroots movements are gatekept and prefer a smaller audience, others operate as a group to allow artists to collectively reach a larger audience despite a lack of financial power. The internet caters for multiple mediums on its platform and allows artists to network and communicate in a manner which was not possible before, which means that countercultural movements can use it to their advantage as it is a more democratic medium than those which came before it. There are now opportunities to share work in places where it may not have been possible before, and connections are now more easily made between people and places. This allows for new social networks to emerge and connections to be made. It also allows for arts collectives, zine makers, artists etc. to share their work independently and without the need for an outside facilitator.