The Lim family, Rubbish FAMzıne
Regular readers of the Journal will know the Lim family and their occasional publication Rubbish FAMzine. As they publish a book celebrating 10 years of the zine, we catch up with them at home in Singapore.
Pann, Claire and their (now teenage) children Renn and Aira make Rubbish FAMzine together, collaborating on all stages of production and using it to record their lives and relationship as a family. Produced in very limited quantities, every issue is a beautifully designed, unique celebration of physical print. Search the Journal for our reviews of individual issues.
Today, we hear about the family’s home life, their influences, and some personal favourite stories from the 10 zines to date.
What are you up to this Monday morning?
Pann: Most Mondays are pretty standard. Claire will send Aira to school at about 6:45am (above) and since Renn is having his term holidays now, he is still fast asleep (below)! I’m definitely an early riser too and since we live in the East side of Singapore and we are approximately just 3km away from the beach, (loads of fresh air) I will be out for my morning walk before I catch up with Claire later. Our typical mornings does not start with coffee but with gardening.
We started gardening even more intensely because we were also inspired by Lukas Nelson and Promise of the Real. Their poignant song ‘Turn Off the News (Build a Garden)’ really struck a chord with us and it came at a time when the world was coming under siege and we were bombarded and felt sickened with all the horrible fake news from certain right wing conservative media before and during the Covid19 pandemic.
Claire: I guess you can say that for the last 13 years or so, my Mondays have been spent waking up at the crack of dawn to prepare breakfast (though mostly the kids just want a cup of Milo) and then sending them to school.
Right now I only send Aira because Renn won’t be caught dead being sent to school by his mom! And when Pann is back from his walk we will do some gardening together before breakfast and catching up on our family projects before Pann heads off to work.
Describe your desk and your work space.
Claire: Gosh I think I will literally let this picture speak the thousand words. When I am not typing at the computer, my floor is actually my ‘desk and work space’ and it has been this way for years. I would like to boast that I am a master of ‘organised mess’ but deep down inside I know that I have insidiously turned into a shambolic monster over the past couple of years.
I can barely see the floor and my Christmas wrappings from 2019 are still at the same spot. We might be in March already but I am ready to get my floor back and everything shipshape come Christmas 2022.
Pann: My home office is a 6ft by 9ft multipurpose space. I am surrounded by all things that matters to me. It can be anything from toys, notes from friends and family, books, vinyls and turntable, guitars, amplifiers, effect pedals and my lo-fi home recording studio for my music project PrayTellHearSay.
Which magazine do you first remember?
Pann: Both Claire and I met in Temasek Polytechnic School of Design so it’s natural that we love visual culture and design. And back then one of the more influential magazines was Raygun®.
We love Raygun® very much for a couple of reasons. Firstly I was very heavily involved in the Singapore music scene and a magazine that features music plus design was a huge plus for me. Moreover the typography and art direction by Chris Ashworth was mind-blowing to me as a student. Looking back at our priceless collection of Raygun® now, the typography and art direction is still pretty timeless!!!
Thank you Chris for inspiring us till now!
Which magazine matters to you the most this morning?
Claire: I love looking at interiors, homes and especially the personalities behind these homes so spending time reading or even just flipping (when you don't have much time) through Apartamento is an easy go-to for both visual and intellectual inspiration. The home is where the heart is and I get a lot of heart from this zine.
Pann: I am feeling nolstagic this Monday morning! Looking at The Gourmand issue zero by David Lane and Marina Tweed. Always meticulous with their content, typography and art direction. Its simplicity with depth is what makes this magazine my go to till today.
Describe Rubbish Famzine in three words.
Pann: Unconditional. Family. Love
Claire: Renn. Aira. Pann
Renn: Tough. Fun. Heartwarming.
Aira: Amazing. Crazy. Demanding.
The new book is more than just another issue of the zine… what is its scope, and what’s the story behind it?
Claire: ‘Blood Sweat & Tears’ truly stems from the simplest of reasons, absolutely no rocket science behind it. Pann and I just want to look back on and celebrate the ten years since we started Holycrap with Renn and Aira. Ten years does not seem very long but neither is it very short.
We are only human and we might forget things if we are not reminded of them every now and then. We are just a family but we also came together purposefully as Holycrap to further forge more memories and create new adventures. So in this book, we are re-sharing every single thing we have done together. And when Pann and I are dead and long gone, hopefully this book will be a sweet reminder for Renn and Aira.
After ten issues of Rubbish Famzine, this book feels we may be witnessing a full stop… the end! Is that so?
Pann: Actually we have already started work on Rubbish 11 even before ‘Blood Sweat & Tears’ hit the printers. And you can see that we have deliberately designed the ‘Blood Sweat and Tears’ book without an actual back-cover. The last page has the message ‘There Won’t Be A Back Cover To This Book Because Our Story Continues’ to simply hint that this is not the end and there will more coming (above)!
What one thing do you hope the reader takes away from the book?
Claire: To answer this question, could I please once again share this little anecdote of what Aira said to us when we were embarking on our very first issue of Rubbish. ‘Mom, who would even read a magazine about our family holiday?’
Her innocent query was at once both sensible and brutal. And our honest answer was that the zine was first and foremost made for Renn and Aira. But if strangers were to read our zine and even if only just one person was to feel moved or inspired by our stories then it would be a sweet bonus.
Can each of you select one favourite page/section/element from the book?
Claire: It is never easy to choose but I do go way back to almost the beginning of why Holycrap came about and so ‘bLAh bLAh bLAh’ would surely have to be one of my most treasured moments in our ten years of ‘Blood Sweat & Tears’.
Renn’s innate love of art kickstarted everything and when Aira who idolised her big brother (ok this was like over ten years ago cus she's gonna deny this with every fibre of her being) wanted to paint and draw with Renn, it just meant everything to me.
Renn: My favorite section of this book is from issue eight, ‘A Return To Forever 80s’. This was the first time that I had played and made music with my family and it was such a new exciting experience for me. Although it was difficult at first to ‘make up’ a song but after a few rounds of figuring out, we had a better idea of what to do and it was really enjoyable after that.
Aira: Creating ‘Kaijuman’ together is definitely one of my favourite sections. I remember having the best time coming up with all the different parts to construct the figurine and later on creating the stories and everyday life of this character. Kaijuman was also very fun to draw and paint. And the final Kaijuman also came in a multitude of crazy colours which I loved. Overall I just had a lot of fun with it.
Pann: My favourite element from the book will be the inclusion of the audio cassette tape with our latest single ‘Blood Sweat and Tears’. That feeling of teamwork while making that single is really a reflection of what I hope our family can continue to work towards for as long as possible.
Please share one piece of advice for somebody wanting to launch their
Pann: There are plenty of indie magazines out there that covers a wide magnitude of news, passions and cultures. So finding an unique point of view and content direction is just as if not more important than the design identity and art direction of the publication.
What are you most looking forward to this coming week?
Pann: I am deeply hurt and disturbed by the invasion of Ukraine. I really look forward to the news that the war has stopped. I am checking the news every other hour and I pray for the best outcome. #standwithUkraine
Claire: Indeed it is hard to be in this current climate and not be affected by the horrors unfolding in front of us. So with prayers in our hearts for the affected we carry on with our daily lives. But always remembering to keep our family and friends close with love and gratitude.
If you are wondering what you can do to help the people of Ukraine, this list of contacts is a useful guide: how-to-help-ukraine-now.super.site
The magCulture Shop will be stocking the book ‘Blood Sweat and Tears’. Keep an eye on Instagram for news. All ten issues of Rubbish FAMzine are sold out.