Get to Know Your Zinester: Kelli Callis

Describe your zine style. What can we expect to find at your table?
I’ve been writing personal zines for twenty years now. I mostly focus on life-changing events– break-ups, relocating, travel, etc. The latest issue I’m working on is about my son’s premature birth and hospitalization. I also like to write satire and social commentary. I used to do a zine about public transportation and one about Kurt Cobain being lactose intolerant.

What are your three favorite small-press/DIY publications?
I’ve been out of the loop for many years, focusing more on the crafting aspect of DIY than the writing, but I’m still a fan of old friends like Carrie McNinch. I did meet some very cool people at last year’s LA Zine Fest like Scoop zine.

What advice would you give to a first-time zinester or to an aspiring zinemaker?
Make sure you write for yourself. I know I started my zine as an attempt to connect to other people. I had just moved to San Francisco from suburban LA, so I used my zine as a means to try to talk to people and make friends. (The first issue was a nickle, so I was hoping no one could say “No thanks” when I offered them a zine because it was so cheap.) A lot of the things I wrote I was catering to what I wanted my target audience to be, but once I started using my zine as a vehicle to talk about my frustrations and my aspirations, I really connected with my writing more and the zine got (in my opinion) a hell of a lot better and more meaningful. I like zines with a lot of heart and soul in them.

What’s the best thing that ever happened to you because of zines?
In the 90’s zines were a huge part of my social life– including my love life. But the coolest thing that ever happened to me was I met Josh Barnett at last year’s zine fest! I’m a huge MMA fan, so that was exciting for me to see the Baby-Faced Assassin erhm, the War Master, walking around among a bunch of zinester types. I gave him my zine but I think he probably squeezed it between his humungous thighs instead of reading it…

Check out Kelli’s DIY endeavors over at her Etsy!


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