Photos: No Guts, no Glory
Recession has been a big problem to all kind of businesses in The U.k. On the other hand, it has also being the opportunity to the local shops and young entrepreneurs being in the spotlight. Obviously, it will depend on how creative and interesting your products are. That’s the case of the independent shop No Guts, no Glory, from Exeter.
A mix of courage and good ideas that became reality in 2009 from the mind of the photographer Nathan Blaker, No guts, No glory is today a strong D.I.Y. project that is successfully recycling the entrepreneurism in the country. We talked to Nathan, t hat I met at the Supersonic Festival, to know more about NGNG itself and all his projects.
Ma: Tell me about your work with NGNG. How was the initial idea behind it? And who are the people behind this idea?
Nathan Blaker: I started No Guts No Glory back in 2009. It was a global recession; I had just graduated and was finding it really difficult to find work in the photography industry. Many other artists I knew were also struggling, so I decided to open up a shop that would be able to provide an outlet for their work. I had a total budget of £300, and no idea what I was doing at all, but the ideal little shop space became available and I took the plunge. Although I'm the sole proprietor of NGNG, I'd definitely say that it is owned by the people that helped to bring it into existence, and those that have made it possible for the project to continue over the last two years.
Ma: NGNG used the D.I.Y ethics at its products. What does it mean in practice?
Nathan Blaker: With such a small start-up budget, No Guts No Glory has relied upon the people that surround the project and a strong D.I.Y ethic right from its conception. With such a small start-up budget, I had to do almost everything for myself, including making all the fittings for the shop out of scrap materials, and teach myself the basics of running a business.
I think that D.I.Y culture and community go hand in hand, and the shared values really bring people together to create something, especially at a time when it seems like all else is “closing down”.
Two years on, I still fit the shop from recycled materials, and have taught myself a lot about accounting, PR and how to run a business. A D.I.Y ethic, while it can mean spending much more time and energy doing things, means that you also become so much closer to what you are working on, and as a result it has been amazing to see the project being built around my personal values.
Ma: Besides the t-shirts, tote bags and all other products available at NGNG you also display prints and fanzines in general. What is your relation with fanzine culture and what kind of fanzines can we find at NGNG?
Nathan Blaker: Zines, being self-published works full of whatever content the publisher desires, are a perfect example of D.I.Y ethics and community. Rather than waiting for a publisher, people just make their own publications and then network throughout the country/world to spread the word of them.
There are Zine Fairs every where all over the world and people come from far and wide to attend them, display their zines, and spend some time meeting and catching up with other zinesters. I'm very fond of analogue techniques such as 35mm photography and screen printing, and combined with values of doing things for enjoyment and not for profit, zines have become of great interest to me.
Ma: Talking about fanzines. The D.I.Y Times is already in the fourth issue? How is this work doing until now?
Nathan Blaker: I love working on The D.I.Y Times. The project started really when I first contacted Get A Grip about screen printing the T-Shirts for No Guts No Glory in 2009.
Our projects started at almost exactly the same time, and we quickly became business pen-pals, emailing each other daily with updates on the worries and excitements of becoming self-employed.
Although we had never met, and lived around 200 miles apart, we quickly realised that we had many mutual friends around the UK; punk rock bands, artists, publications, zinesters, bloggers. We happened to know of all of these people for one common reason - D.I.Y ethics.
So, we decided that as a side project to our ventures, we'd make a zine to spread the word of these inspiring people. It's great to be on the 4th issue, and we're nowhere near being stuck for things to write about. Each Zine is limited to 200 copies, Get A Grip screen print the covers, and I print the insides on a printer that I salvaged from an office clear out. We split everything down the middle.
Ma: How was the experience of being at Supersonic Festival spreading your work during the three days of festival? Were you there in partnership with Get a Grip?
Nathan Blaker: Supersonic was great. I really enjoy the chance to take NGNG on the road, and to go and meet new people and friends that I have made on previous visits to the Birmingham Zine Fair. Issue Four of The D.I.Y Times includes a five page interview with the guys that run the festival, and Kay and Sam at Get A Grip invited me up to help out in their shop as well as to help them make some new shop fittings, after seeing some t-shirt rails I made out of shipping pallets over the summer. It was a pleasure to spend some time helping them and catching up.
Ma: 2011 is already saying goodbye. What are reserved for NgNg in 2012?
Nathan Blaker: Tell me about it, I have no idea where this year has gone! NGNG turns two years old on the 2nd November - it's very humbling to still be here after two years, and to look back on the journey that the shop has taken. Going into 2012, we have plans to create a whole range of community inspired projects - from movie nights and creative sessions in the local area, to bigger projects and collaborations with the friends and community around the country. It's really exciting to see where this project takes itself, I try not to give myself any fixed goals to reach and that keeps the whole thing constantly refreshing and open to new ideas.
Come and say Hi at www.ngngdesign.com :)