In response to the recent news that the SkyMall catalogue, the single greatest consolation for flying budget airlines in the United States, may soon be no more, I decided to revisit the premise of an art project proposal I wrote a few years ago that never really took off.
The basic idea is that the primary virtue of the SkyMall catalogue is its incredible inflight entertainment value, which is based on the ridiculous capitalist ventures it presents. These so-bad-they’re-goods perfectly illustrate the notion that commercial products don’t have to be necessary or useful in order to succeed; they just have to be profitable. But, despite the dubious nature of products designed to appeal to a captive consumer, who may or may not have medicated themselves with Bloody Marys and sleeping pills prior to cracking open the catalogue, a lot of the products featured in SkyMall are also fantastic examples of the limitless potential of human ingenuity.
So, rather than simply getting rid of SkyMall, I propose that those who oppose the kind of capitalist culture that SkyMall represents should combat the catalogue’s influence by simply shopdropping (reverse shoplifting) their own DIY zines, featuring tutorials for making homemade SkyMall-esque products, into the pages of SkyMall catalogues before placing them back in the airplane seat pockets for the next budget airline patron to stumble upon. This way we can take some of the needless consumerism out of our domestic travel experience, while preserving the much-needed levity provided by this infamous catalogue.
This tutorial takes you through the process of making your own "DiyMall" zine, which is what my first zine is also about!
Step 1: Select Your Zine's Subject
Zines are just meant to be entertaining, so you can either come up with a SkyMall-esque project and describe how to make it, or just make up something fun!
When you make your one-page zine layout you will only have 8 little rectangles, including the front and back covers, in which to describe your tutorial. Make sure that you can fit your entire project into that space.
(There are tons of other tutorials out there for making a one page zine, but it's basically a piece of copy paper folded in to 8ths, with a slit cut halfway down the middle of the page to allow the 8 segments to be folded out into an 8 page book.)
Step 3: Distribute Your Zine on Airplanes
Here's the real point of this tutorial: Leaving your zine where a captive audience of airborne travelers can stumble upon it.
Practically all airlines have an inflight magazine, whether they carry SkyMall or not. Most of these magazines are free to take, so they are replaced between flights, but it it is obvious by the condition of some of the inflight magazines that I've encountered that these magazines will stay in the airplane's seat pockets as long as passengers continue to put them back. This means that you can simply slip your zine between the pages of whatever magazine is in the seat pocket for the amusement of next traveler to happen onto it.
Just in case the airline's cleaner crew is doing a thorough job that day, you may even want to use a little scotch tape to secure your little zine between the pages of the magazine!
Step 4: Share Your Zines!
Keep sharing your zines with other people and maybe we will all have some great DIY reading materials waiting for us whenever we fly!