Get to Know Your Zinester: Awkward Ladies Club

What was your first zine about and when was it made?

My first zine was one of two for San Francisco Zinefest in 2012 called “Never Date Dudes From the Internet.” I was going through an old yahoo mail account and found a folder labeled “craigslist” – I thought it was from when I was looking for apartments when I first moved to California but it turned out to be every email I received when I put out a dating ad in 2005. I put it all together with the original ad I posted – it’s sort of a history of a slightly more innocent period of internet dating.

Describe your most recent zine.

My background is in the biological sciences and I worked in labs for 10 years, mostly with bacteria. The new book I’ll be bringing to LAZF is called “My Favorite Microbes” and is about the (mostly) friendly bugs that live in the world around us: soil bacteria, bacteria that live in volcanoes, bacteria that live inside other bacteria, bacteria in clouds that make ice form.

Of all the things you’ve ever made, zine-related or otherwise, what’s your one favorite?

I’ve made art based on of some of my dad’s tweets. He’s a twitter genius and a lot funnier than I am.

Name three of your influences and how they affected your work.

Emily Alden Foster – Her zines are clever and unique and have this universal, all-ages appeal. We met through zines and recently collaborated on a video project. With her I was able to work in a medium I had never tried before, and our results were great … the zine community is so wonderful.

Jessica Lewis – She and her fellow editors run Static Zine in Toronto, which is the first collaborative zine I’ve contributed to (Issue #8, Mental Health). That was my first opportunity to get really honest about a topic – my experiences with antidepressants – that I wanted to talk about but didn’t know where to start. Jessica writes some very thoughtful zines of her own and is a lovely pen pal.

David Murray – David runs the t-shirt and design company SEIBEI as well as Telegraph Gallery in Virginia with his wife Kate DeNeveu. I’ve known David since college, and I’ve watched him build his artistic empire from scratch. We made our first zines together and shared a table at our first zine event. His approach to art is “what can I do next that will make my friends laugh?” and I try to think about that too every time I start a new book.

What do you do when you’re not creating and how does it help or harm what you do artistically?

Shortly after San Francisco Zinefest this past September, my husband was in a bicycle accident. He’s doing great now, but he needed surgery and physical therapy and only started walking again in December. That took over our lives for the last few months, but he’s getting back to work now and I am too. If you haven’t seen me or heard from me since SFZF, please find me and say hi and tell me what you’ve been up to! I can’t wait to see everyone again!

For more from Amy Burek, check out Awkward Ladies Club online!

Get to Know Your Zinester: Mend My Dress Press

Describe your work in two sentences or less.

We run a small press, publishing zine anthologies, and also a distro. We carry a lot of per-zines, because we love to read stories about the experiences of others.

Where are your favorite places (in your neighborhood or online) to find new zines?

Mostly live events, tablings, etc. – there’s usually so much to find in person that isn’t easily found online (which is not to say that we don’t love a whole bunch of online distros too, but its fun to look through stuff in person and meet people).

What are you working on for the Fest this year?

We’ve got a few new books that we’ll have out in time for the fest, and we’ll also likely be bringing some new zines that we’re individually working on.

How did you get involved in making zines?

Colleen made a zine in 2005 about her grandmother and has been making one shots ever since because there’s just too many ideas to make a regularly occurring serial. Neely started writing Mend My Dress years ago, when she was a messy college student. She will be writing until she is a messy fairy godmother to all of the lost bunnies.

What’s your favorite part of LA Zine Fest?

Its so wonderfully organized and it’s just a really great place to see friends from all over we hardly ever get to see, and a great place to find new zines to read. Not to mention the occasional celeb sighting! Plus, it seems appropriate to bust out the gold pants in LA, and any excuse for gold pants is a favorite.

Check out Mend My Dress Press online!

Get to Know Your Zinester: Viva Vox Press

What was your first zine about and when was it made?

My first zine was a bi-monthly based out of the south bay (Torrance) called, Ad Infinitum Magazine, created in December 2001. It means ‘without end or limits,’ there was no end to how long or short a story was and there was no limits to what topics were included in the zine. Me and my friend Crystal Lafata put it together freshman year of college as a response to our high school journalism teacher who would tell us that our stories were too ‘political’ or ‘outlandish’ for a high school newspaper. We wanted a medium that wasn’t going to be censored, a medium where people could count on getting their stories, beliefs, artwork or ideas published, indefinitely, no matter how crazy they were! We made lots of friends, got to meet people we loved and did lots of cool stuff for the community. Ad Infinitum had a long run…7 years, to be exact. It died in the spring of 2007, along with my heart.

Describe your most recent zine.

I have two new zines out. Both first issues. One is called B-Sides (and other rarities) which is an AZ scene magazine that features local artists and musicians that add life to the vast, thirsty desert that is Tempe, Phoenix and the East valley. There are a lot of talented and colorful people who reside here and I want to tell every single one of their stories!

Second, is a zine called, American Puta. It is a magazine created by women, for women, and about women. It deals with mostly women in power and women empowerment, building sustainable healthy, loving communities and ‘of the earth’ topics. It will also feature women in the arts, basically women who just pretty much KICK MAJOR ASS!

Of all the things you’ve ever made, zine-related or otherwise, what’s your one favorite?

My one favorite thing I’ve ever made is the one I’m working on at the time! Whether it’s making a zine, a photo book, cooking dinner, baking cupcakes, or making bling; when I start a project, I get so extremely excited about it! When it’s done, there is still excitement but not quite like when I’m in the process of creating it.

Name three of your influences and how they affected your work.

John Waters. Every time I work on something I always think to myself ‘What would John Waters do?’ and ‘Would he read this?’
Charles Bukowski…..I’ve got major daddy issues.
The public. If the public don’t like my stuff, who will?!
Oh, and number 3b is Vice Magazine. It rocks.

What do you do when you’re not creating and how does it help or harm what you do artistically?

I live. I breathe. I try to experience life to it’s fullest. I try not to miss a beat. It helps what I do artistically because I am able to take what I see and feel and turn it into something I can create. It harms what I do artistically cause the more I live, the more of a chance I’ll get kidnapped, go to jail, be a victim of a freak accident…or worse.

Get to Know Your Zinester: Kelli Callis

Describe your work in two sentences or less.

I take life-changing events and try and make sense of them through my writing.

Where are your favorite places in your city to look for new zines?

I want to see more zines at Meltdown, the Last Bookstore, and Skylight Books.

What are you working on for the Fest this year?

My last zine was about my traumatic pregnancy, hospitalization, and birth of my son, so this time around, I figured I’d keep the narrative going. It’s about raising my son and the highs and lows of dealing with autism and sensory processing disorder in a semi-judgy suburban environment.

How did you get involved in making zines?

When I first moved to San Francisco in the early 90s, I wanted a way to introduce myself to people, and this was when zines were a medium for communication. My first issue was 5 cents because I didn’t want to just give them out for free (because if people said ‘no,’ that would be a real bummer, but if it was too much, then they wouldn’t buy it). I met a ton of people through zines, actually, in town, and all over the world, so I have to say that the experiment was incredibly successful.

What’s your favorite part of LA Zine Fest?

Undoubtedly, when a grown woman stands in front of my table, flips through one of my issues, and then says, “I used to read this zine when I was a teenager,” and then I get all proud and pretend my words may have led these women to become interesting, beautiful artists.

Check out Kelli’s zines in her Etsy shop!

Get to Know Your Zinester: kkotku arcade

What was your first zine about and when was it made?

My first was an expressionistic urban rendition of the Persephone myth. I was too embarrassed to turn it into the local comic shop, Comic Relief in Berkeley, so it ended up getting submitted and published in a POC poetry anthology called “smell this”.

Describe your most recent zine.

It’s the beginning of a series, somewhere between an urban fable and speculative fiction. Travelling in Asia or even within my own hoods I’ve heard the most remarkable personal mythologies, I wanted to open a space to retell these stories: slightly recognizable, a tad dystopian, yet with potential for an otherworldly subversion. Right now it’s more visually surreal but I’m hoping for it to gain a stronger narrative boost as the series grows.

Of all the things you’ve ever made, zine-related or otherwise, what’s your one favorite?

The first, always.

Name three of your influences and how they affected your work.

Before mass social media, when it was hard to find the resources, Comic Relief kept a decent stash of European and alternative comics which inspired me to spend time getting the classic drawing rules down. However, these days when I willfully attempt my earlier expressionistic beginnings, for better or worse, it’s a struggle.

At the same time I’m drawn towards experimental theater and the spoken word subculture, from Marc Bamuthi Joseph’s Living Word Project to Theater Artaud and site specific performances. The kinesthetic quality of these events nudge me towards a poetic visual and the desire to make zines the physically pleasurable experience book art can become. There you have it, both a need to make a solid story and yet something dissected and ephemeral.

What do you do when you’re not creating and how does it help or harm what you do artistically

Haitian folkloric, scavenger hunts and sketch crawls. All the former involve playing on your feet and extroversion while reading zines can be an introverted experience which is why I’m striving for that experience which could fuse the two.

For more from Kara check out her website!

Get to Know Your Zinester: Gaby & Co

What was your first zine about and when was it made?

My first zine was a series of photographs I took of old beat up freights. I printed them and sewed the sides of the small 4 w”x3.25h” zines in 2011.

Describe your most recent zine.

The most recent zine has my drawings of run down urban and industrial buildings I come across while traveling in different cities, mainly of Los Angeles.

Of all the things you’ve ever made, zine-related or otherwise, what’s your one favorite?

I’ve turned my illustrations of urban sites and street objects into zip pouches as well, which I’ve been pretty proud of.

Name three of your influences and how they affected your work.

Many artists and things inspire & influence me every day. Street photography and exploring the city influence my work. Zines by other artists such as Nate Orton have influenced me to create my own. Artist, Designer and Photographer Evan Hecox’s illustrations have also inspired my work. Artwork from Artist David Choong Lee, especially a corrugated visual journal I have with 35 of his collage postcards. These artists are only a few of a long list that inspire me. I usually end up buying zines when I visit book stores or book fairs because I love the DIY style and how they’re printed, whether its xeroxed or silkscreened. Their hand-drawn illustrations and hands-on approach is the reason I have always been attracted to zines.

What do you do when you’re not creating and how does it help or harm what you do artistically?

I love going out to art shows or other events and drinking a craft beer. Both help me artistically.

To find out more from Gabriela at Gaby & Co

Get to Know Your Zinester: Melt Brianna

What was your first zine about and when was it made?

My first zine was my “make it yourself-crochet”; a visual guide. I made it for a workshop I was doing at o.c. diy fest in 2009. I still distribute that zine to this day, and i also made the o.c. diy fest zine that was distributed at the fest. I think that was my first experience of mass produced and distributed zines. shout out to santa ana fnb! r.i.p.; many fond memories there.

Describe your most recent zine.

I have two most recent zines that I am going to introduce at LA Zine Fest this year. They are both follow ups to zines I have made in the past. I am making a second edition of “things my friends say”, and i am excited about this one because I have made some new friends that are going to be included, and my old friends are going to reappear. The second zine is going to be a follow up issue to my most recent semi-comical, semi-autobigraphical “Jam Slam” series. It’s going to recap the end of 2013 and introduce 2014 through my world lens.

Of all the things you’ve ever made, zine-related or otherwise, what’s your one favorite?

Oh wow, this is tough. I’d have to say I don’t have a favorite. Every project I work on deals with a different aspect of life, and touches upon a different emotion/idea that is all encompassing to me. I’d say that all my projects together and all the learning, experiences, and conclusions that it has brought me, and continues to bring me will forever by my favorite. Boom!

Name three of your influences and how they affected your work.

1. my direct environment- most of my influences come from direct environments that I’m in, and the things/places that are currently there. I love to people watch, and i love to be inspired by random things people do/say; especially things that are subconscious, and a part of a natural emotional response. These behaviors usually inspire me to collect different views and ways of living that is seen in my work, whether it being displayed as fact or fiction.

2. MAGIK- The idea of creating something artificial, and putting value/relevance behind it has always been a huge influence to me. I love to entertain myself. I love to make myself laugh. Sitting at a table with my own random ideas and just plainly deciding that they are true in another world i create is so blissful for me.

3. Das Outside- I also crave and rely on quiet lonely spaces. I am heavily influenced by organic forms occurring in nature, and it influences my line work seen in how i illustrate. The outside solitude also helps me balance out my love for people, and my ability to keep a lighthearted attitude about aspects of the world that i hate. But i guess anyone could agree with that, right? “Yo, we all need a break!” – The Werld

What do you do when you’re not creating and how does it help or harm what you do artistically?

When I’m not creating, I am creating! Sounds weird, but my full time job is co-owning my company, Road Runner Bags. We do 100% of the manufacturing, designing, and promoting of cycling and traveling specific bags and accessories. At times, this can harm me artistically because I become creatively exhausted. I have learned to dedicate time away from my business, so i can continue to grow outside of it.

Check out more from Brianna at Melt Brianna!

Get to Know Your Zinester: Eyeball Burp

Describe your zine style. What can we expect to find at your table?

Eyeball Burp Press publishes art we like, the weirder the better. One of the rules we have is if we ask someone to submit artwork, we won’t censor out the art even if it pushes our visual aesthetic limits. So Eyeball Burp ends up with some gnarly images at times! Sometimes we reach out internationally to artists that we dig, and other times the art will come from friends we grew up with.

The newest zine project is with Line & Pixel, a collective that experiments with digital manipulation, glitch art and digital degradation. Artist Emily Rabinowitz will be co-curating this collection of images, as well as tabling alongside Eyeball Burp at the fest. Stoked about this!

Where do you work on your zines?

Because Eyeball Burp Press is a collaboration between Alex and A’misa Chiu, tons of conversations have to happen before we go to print. Zine making happens in our apartment studio or at the kitchen table. But drawing and writing happen anywhere!

What are your three favorite small-press/DIY publications?

A’misa
1) Portland-based Tim Root/Hambrgr House/Crappy Comics. He draws the body in weird anatomically strange positions, with tons of drips, stale beer, snot, slime, and barf. It’s hypnotizing to look at his art.

2) Moonroot Collective. This group of self-identified womyn, trans* and/or genderqueer persons of Asian descent rule! It’s a thoughtful zine full of musings & thoughts on reclaiming one’s identity (thru race, gender and bodies). Found them through the POC Zine Project tour and Women of Color Zine Workshop in Portland!

3) Gridlords is publishing some rad comics lately. I especially love Long Legs by Julianna Green. Her line work is whimsically creepy and totally takes me to dimensions I didn’t know existed! I’m a big fan of fantasy gone weird.

Alex
1) Snake Bomb Comix are rad. I really like the new work of Patrick Keck. Jack Hayden curates some strange and delicious stuff.

2) Social Discipline by Ian Sundahl. I describe them as a collection life clips.

3) Keep Fresh by Zejian Shen. Beautifully drawn, stylish, eerie, fun.

What advice would you give to a first-time zinester or to an aspiring zinemaker?

Just do it. Don’t think too hard about it, or you’ll kill the initial spirit of it. No zine was made by just thinking. You got to get down and dirty with it. You got to cut into the paper, get ink on your hands, paste your mock up together. You got to learn everything the hard way, because zines are all about experimentation and understanding the process for yourself. And everyone is different, so you got to learn how it works for you.

What’s the best thing that ever happened to you because of zines?

A wonderful wacky world of artists that we love and appreciate so much. Zines are amazing because of the folks who make zines. Zinesters are colorful, down to earth, & creative people trying to change the world. Plus, zines are raw. And so the politics, the art, and creative process are going to be raw. And I love that because it’s honest.

For more from Alex & A’misa Chiu check out Eyeball Burp!

Get to Know Your Zinester: Draw D.V.L. Productions

Describe your work in two sentences or less.

Whether I am creating a comic, a zine, a handmade card, or an illustration, I always aim for what I do to tell a story– with words, with words and pictures, or images alone. Some of my stories are sadder and darker (but with a message), while the silly ones generally have jokes and puns.

Where are your favorite places (in your neighborhood or online) to find new zines?

Well, I teach the Comics for Kids class at Meltdown Comics Store in West Hollywood, and they always have great comics and zines! Other stores I really love are Pop Hop in Highland Park, Stories in Echo Park, and Skylight Books in Los Feliz. I live near to it, and I have heard about the Eastside Zine Market [organized by Adam and Denice of Seite Books], but not gotten the chance to get over there quite yet. I hope to soon!

Online, my Twitter feed and Instagram feeds will often pop up and direct me towards artists whose work I like, and who often make zines of it. Etsy and Tumblr are good sources, too. And the LAZF website itself is a very strong resource for people who hope to be directed towards new and exciting things being made in the world of zines.

What are you working on for the Fest this year?

This year, I’m working on a few new zines/minicomics. My main comic is the “Matters of the Harp” series, which about two clams– Bob, who is an angel, and Samantha, who is a devil, and they work as consciences. There’s also drama with a very emotional T-Rex that they know, in the second issue. Puns are a big part of those stories (and in many things that I make).

At the show, I will have a little comic zine called “Colonel Koala and the Mechanical Marsupial.” It’s a short Steampunk story about a toy koala (not a stretch, if you at all know me personally or have heard of Fuzzles the Koala, who interested parties can find on Facebook) who is a lonely teddy-bear, secretly being followed by a “real” koala who may or may not have nefarious intentions.

I will also be displaying several educational zines related to comics-making. Since I work at after school programs teaching elementary school age through middle school aged children how to write and draw cartoons, I always give the students a paper lesson plan to take home that we work with during the class, and I’ve been self-publishing those recently as zines that I sell at conventions and fairs.

Lastly, I will have a few zines of the art and illustration I’ve done, (some of which focus on black and white art, and another which focuses on faces and portraits with hidden images in the hair), and some anthologies I’ve participated in that published my comic work. The few non-zine items on my table will be prints, handmade greeting “cardtoons” (which are captioned with puns), and perhaps one or two handmade Sculpey prototypes of the characters from my stories.

How did you get involved in making zines?

I’ve been writing and drawing my own minicomics since college, and I’ve just kept up with that, done a few things for publications, and added illustration zines and/or educational zines to that repetoire (having been inspired and learned much over the past couple of years, where zines have really exploded!)

What’s your favorite part of LA Zine Fest?

I love getting to see all of the amazing work people are coming up with, to meet attendees who are really passionate about art, comics, and writing, and that the L.A. community (as well as the overall Zine community, since so many people come from out of state to do this event– and hello to everyone who I have met at the PDX Zine Symposium, who will be coming down to California for this one)!

Check out more from Donna Letterese at her website!