When I started primary school one of my favourite classes was computer class: as you would expect the main purpose was to teach 6 year olds how to use a computer correctly and/or have them learn subjects such as math and english via educational software.
While Im not sure if this was true at all schools (especially now) but the one I went to would allow us to play educational games on the computes if work got finshed early and one of my favourite of these games was kids pixs.
Ok Kids Pixs wasn’t a game, it was a piece of art software but it was piece of art software that was extreamly fun to play with.
Which brings me to Electric Zine Maker by alienmelon/Nathalie Lawhead (which from here on forth I will refer to as EZM for short)
EZM is a “Zine” making program: A Zine is a magazine independently made by either one person or a small group, they are often produced via consumer copying machines and circulated between small communities/fandoms.
Now I could go into detail about how the tools within EZM work, if they surpass the tools found in other art programs and question why you would choose EZM over just using gimp with some kind of premade paper folding tamplate but that would be missing the point: it’s a software toy, you make art with it in a way that’s fun and that stimulates the mind, the UI is colourful and engadging and there is a range of tools to digitally manipulate and “degrade” images.
This is why I brought up Kids Pixs earlier: Kids Pixs wasn’t designed to teach and introduce children to the design techniques behind “high art” it was created to allow kids to express themselves digitally the same way they would with crayons and/or wacky stickers that came in a bag of candy that your perents bought from a bargin store.
All of that is why I like EZM: the tools are presented in a way thats fun and inviting, it has a distinctly alternative-punk look that I really like and it’s collection of image degretation tools are great, fun to use and bring me back to making weird strange stuff in microsoft paint, powerpoint and (you guessed it) KidsPixs.
Thats not to say that there aren’t any tools in EZM that you wouldn’t find in more “professional” programs; there’s a tool that warps the image on the page as if its water being agitated by the mouse, a brush that places down asci symbals and other cool stuff; all of that comes together thats fun and encourages you to express youself wheres other programs would simply give you the tools then leave.
It wasn’t designed to commercialize the process of making a zine: EZM was made to create another way to make zines digitally.
Thats why I like Electric Zine Maker.
Before I end this post here are some links that I links that I reckon you should give a look at.
An article where Nathalie lawhead discusses UI as an artform.
A collection of zines made with EZM
A zine from that collection that I really like called “Death: Of the Caquetio”