DO IT YOURSELF. This attitude is inseparably connected to the Ward Zwart universe. Punk—in the broadest sense of the word—and the D.I.Y. principle go hand in hand. This world opened up to Ward early on in his life. Before, during and after musical performances, everyone was always looking for creative solutions. Making things on a tight budget and selling them: he was quick to understand and perfect this practice. Ward's zines, often a combination of photocopy and manual labour, tended to be printed in small runs and sold at a democratic price. Publications such as 'Fire Wood' (30), '15 Seas' (31), 'Mars Ice Cream' (32), 'No Hope' (33), 'Moervos' (‘Vixen’) (34) or 'The Eating of the Wolves' (35) were often distributed free of charge to a select group of friends, or exchanged for other books or mix tapes. Typical for Ward was that he did not keep a strict archive of his own production. Luckily, zines that he forgot to hold onto can be found all over the world.
Ward also published a newspaper for a while, following the Finnish example of 'Kuti' (36) and 'Smoke Signal' (37) from New York. 'Sans Soleil' ('Without Sun') (38) was a collection of work by artist friends in three issues: the 'Belgium Issue', 'Death Issue' and 'Folk Art / Outsider Art Issue'. This newspaper connected the network of illustrators around Ward, and transferred their images from the internet—where many of them had met him—onto paper (see: Internet). In this way, Ward also emerged as a curator/editor, representing a certain alternative subgenre within contemporary comics. Thanks to the decision to use cheap newspaper, and to disseminate the publication for free, the initiative embodies Ward’s ultimate D.I.Y. attitude.
The artist-run project Crying Space (17) started out from the same mind-set: offering fascinating experimental projects and artists the space to try something out, with limited resources but lots of energy. From making and distributing flyers to cooking pancakes for all the visitors on the last day of each exhibition: Crying Space was more than a philosophy of life.
Ward’s D.I.Y. output wasn’t limited to paper publications. In between his zines and books, he also regularly produced caps, pins, t-shirts, stickers, etc. Despite their popularity and the great demand for these products, he deliberately kept the production runs small. For the French translation of Wolven (23), for instance, a limited edition set of socks was created.
FUN FACT: Much of this merchandise concealed sometimes subtle, but often more obvious, references to Ward’s aversion to the police and the System: A.C.A.B., the three-point motif, and Eat the Police are a few of the slogans and details he hid on the inside of caps or in their designs. Even the notorious 'De Blauwe Chiro' stickers—a mash-up of the name of a Christian youth organisation and the blue Belgian police logo—which he distributed with his partner Tessy, will continue to roam the streets for a long time to come.
- (17) Crying Space, experimental project space by Ignace Cami and Ward Zwart in Antwerp: 2017-present.
- (23) Wolven ('Wolves') - Enzo Smits and Ward Zwart. Bries: Antwerp, 2016. Second print run, 2020. Translated into French as Wolven - Même Pas Mal: Marseille, 2018.
- (30) Fire Wood — Ward Zwart. Self-published: Antwerp, 2009, number of copies unknown, photocopy on pale-yellow paper.
- (31) 15 Seas — Ward Zwart. Self-published: Antwerp, 2009, number of copies unknown, technique unknown.
- (32) Mars Ice Cream — Ward Zwart. Self-published: Antwerp, 2017, number of copies unknown, photocopy.
- (33) No Hope — Ward Zwart. Self-published: Antwerp, 2015, number of copies unknown, photocopy with cover on pale-yellow paper.
- (34) Moervos (‘Vixen’) — Ward Zwart. Self-published: Antwerp, 2017, number of copies unknown, photocopy.
- (35) The Eating of the Wolves — Ward Zwart. Self-published: Antwerp, 2016, number of copies unknown, technique: colour photocopy.
- (36) Kuti, four issues per year. Kutikuti: Helsinki, 2006-present.
- (37) Smoke Signal — ed. Gabe Fowler. Desert Island: Brooklyn, 2009-2019.
- (38) Sans Soleil ('Without Sun')— ed. Ward Zwart, graphic design by Vincent Vrints. Self-published: Antwerp, 2012-2013, number of copies unknown, technique: newspaper. The first issue was financed by Flanders Literature and distributed at Helsinki Comics Festival to promote Belgian comics, the second by Grafixx in parallel with the exhibition at the festival that year.