Sketches of Light - NICK MAYO

For those of you that don’t know, it was actually partly Nick Mayo from Nick Exposed that inspired me to create this website. I saw how he served the community through his YouTube channel and Instagram feed, and felt encouraged to contribute to this community myself. Even though I have followed Nick and his work for a while, I am yet to own any of his works; until now.

As you may have read from my previous A LOOK AT:s, I am looking to produce my first zine in the near future. As part of my research, I have purchased a number of zines; Nick Mayo’s Sketches of Light being one of the most recent ones. Strictly speaking, I’d like to keep YOUR EXHIBITION exclusively for film, and this zine features iPhone images, but I think there are many great things worth sharing regarding this zine; so this article is an exception. Sketches of Light is different to most of the zines I have already looked at, though it does share something with Jacob Murphy’s New City, New Life.: the portability. 

Sketches of Light is a smaller than the average zine. It measures 3.5 x 5.5 inches, so it is easily pocketable. The benefit of this is that it is not an inconvenience to carry it around with you. Why might one do this? If, like myself, you’re serious about learning the medium of zines, having the opportunity to reflect on the printed medium whilst you’re out-and-about is great. So whilst  waiting for a train, chilling in the park, or at a local café, I’ve been able to pull this out of my back pocket and study it more. I’ve even made notes on my phone as I do so (that’s where this article is coming from!).

Now obviously, there’s not much point of having a conveniently pocketable zine if it’s rubbish, but obviously, as it’s Nick Mayo, it’s a real gem. There are many things that make this zine special:

Figure 1.

The first is the cover. Of course, it is very minimalistic, and the cover is repeated on the inside spread, but it is obvious that Nick has considered how he wants the zine to be enjoyed. He recognises that people like myself may pocket it, so to protect it, he has put some thicker card that wears well. It’s very well thought out.

Figure 2.

Then we consider the imagery. I’m a particular fan of Nick’s work, so I may be biased - you’ve been warned… Nick has a particular style in his imagery, and this zine is no exception. It’s full of interesting shadows, high contrast, textures and more. I personally quite enjoy variety in a project’s narrative. I feel this certainly has that. For example, there’s this double page spread which features hats and a mannequin (Fig 1). In both of these images, there is really interesting lighting accenting these subjects. And then this next double page spread that features later focuses more on texture. It keeps the imagery different and fresh. There’s an element of excitement to see how the narrative evolves as I turn over the page.

Figure 3.

Almost as good as the images themselves is the pacing of them. When I say this, I mean it’s quite obvious that Nick has considered the tempo that he wants you to experience the images at. It’s difficult to describe, but in the example (Fig 3), we have the stairs on the left side taking up the entire of the page, and then this light on the right. I find myself viewing this image on the left, then the right, then the left again, considering the placement and significance of each image; how they compliment and contrast one another. There’s an intentional rhythm that you have to experience for yourself.

And as we approach the conclusion of this article, I want to draw your attention to Nick’s address of this piece. I really enjoy when the artist invites you to understand their motive behind a project, but I also appreciate the fact that this was placed at the end of this zine. It means that you can experience the zine for yourself initially, and then consider it through the guided eyes of the creator. 

It’s obvious that I’m a supporter of Nick’s work, and this is no exception - but don’t take my word for it: you should experience it for yourself. Nick still have a handful available, so make sure to direct message him on Instagram if you’d like to pick one up. And if you’re one of the few that isn’t familiar with him and his work, check out his YouTube channel.

- MB