Editor’s note: As of May 2023, Peach Fuzz was renamed to Prickly Pear. The title of this article has been updated to reflect that change.
The zine’s first volume can be viewed for free online (via the website link above). Readers can also buy a physical copy, which can be picked up in Portland or shipped in the U.S.
***Content warning: this zine discusses rape, sexual assault and abuse.
Prickly Pear, an artful zine created by two Western alumnae, Bailey Stewart and Nanni Richardson, is accepting submissions for the publication’s second volume until Wednesday, March 15.
The zine’s first edition, published last July, included diverse work from 30 distinct contributors that filled 48 pages. About 200 copies of the print edition have been sold thus far.
For the new edition, Richardson and Stewart, who have relocated to Portland, are encouraging creative submissions from a range of perspectives.
Entries can include essays, doodles, poems, paintings, digital art, photography and more, spanning topics as diverse as love, sex, abuse, vulnerability, and relationships.
“Prickly Pear documents the full spectrum of experience so we can create dialogue with each other, learn from one another, be heard by one another and uplift one another,” reads the publication’s online description. “[The zine] is a space for healing by letting our creative soul run wild.”
The work of self-publishing the zine meshes well with Stewart’s art platform, Always Angsty, where she works largely in the realm of digital art.
“I love painting, doodling, and trying to utilize angst as a catalyst for passionate design,” says Stewart, who is open for commissions, particularly with small businesses.
A zine is born
The initial idea for the zine came out of a discussion about the ubiquity of sexual assault, and the deep anger that spurred in Richardson and Stewart. Working from there, they set out to create a platform to openly discuss sexual violence — and the full spectrum of human relationships.
“One day we realized that almost all of our friends had experienced sexual assault and it pissed us off. So many of us go through our day or go to work carrying this weight, [so] we decided there needed to be a place to be open about it, and we attempted to create that space,” write the duo.
“We also wanted to include positive experiences of pleasure, and come together to offer stories where consent and bodily autonomy was respected.”
Out of that shared vision came Prickly Pear, where contributors can “talk openly and honestly about sex, relationships, abuse and human intimacy.”
Stewart and Richardson say they purposely keep the definition of human intimacy broad, so that readers can share personal stories which fit their own unique understanding of intimacy.
Upon its publication in July 2022, many readers devoured the first edition and began clamoring for more Prickly Pear, asking if they could submit personal works for a second edition.
That enthusiasm led to the push for a second volume.
The transformative power of zines
For Stewart and Richardson, compiling and printing a zine stands out as special in an increasingly digital world.
“We love [Prickly Pear] because it’s print, it’s physical, you can take it to a coffee shop or cut it up and hang pieces on your wall,” write Stewart and Richardson, who encourage would-be contributors to be bold.
“If you’re nervous or [have] never submitted art or words before, this is a great place to start.”
During the first go-round, self-publishing the zine involved binging YouTube videos and undertaking a chaotic process of collaging and formatting, constituting a crash course in Adobe Creative Suite, to craft the final product.
But all that hard work paid off when the responses rolled in — Prickly Pear was connecting with readers and sparking honest conversations around tough, often taboo topics.
“Reading your zine last year was transformative for me. I had been feeling very alone for a very long time in a toxic relationship. [Prickly Pear] helped me to feel that I am truly not alone. It was one of the many tools I used to help me get out of that relationship and make my health and well-being a priority,” wrote one reader in response to the first edition.
Publishing the zine proved equally impactful for Stewart and Richardson, who were overwhelmed by the positive feedback they received.
“This zine has led us to make some unbelievably powerful connection with our community,” the pair say. “The spice of life is human connection.”
If all goes well with the second zine (coming soon!), you’ll likely hear more from Prickly Pear in the future. For now, you can follow along on the zine’s Instagram.