Get to Know Your Zinester: Dave Van Patten

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

Dark, absurdist humor sets the tone for all my zines. The two types of zines are usually 1) children’s books for grown ups, which tell crazy, surrealist fables in modern settings, and 2) humor comic strip compilations with themes ranging from unicorns to social commentary to spirituality to nonsense.

Where do you work on your zines?

90% of the time I get my work done, tweeked out on espresso, in the corner of a dingy coffeehouse.

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

1) “Blind Piano Contour,” a poem chapbook by my favorite poet, Raul Ruiz. Printed by Ku De Ta Press.

2) Anything done by Yumi Sakugawa! “There is No Right Way to Meditate” is my fave.

3) LA Record. Although it’s starting to cross the line from small press to bigger scale, it is still as DIY as it gets. The music articles and album reviews are great and the art is amazing. Most importantly, this mag highlights local, up and coming musicians, artists, zine makers, etc.

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

If you’re going to all the trouble of printing something and passing it out or selling it all over, it better be worth it. Therefore, be honest with yourself and humble, and make sure the content is actually worth sharing with the world and putting all the necessary work forth. Make sure the content is original, funny-weird-or-whatever, and TRUE. Don’t just put out a zine because you want attention and your cool crusty friends are doing it. Once you believe that the content is worth sharing with the world, make your shit look nice! Take your time with edits and format. Don’t put out another amateur punk zine that’s gonna end up adding to the grand pile of throw-away art.

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

Obviously recognition and compliments are confidence boosters that make me feel great, but one event has been particularly meaningful to me: I used to work at coffeehouse that homeless people went to all the time. I made friends with an old, gaunt shoeshiner guy and gave him one of my zines. He still tells me when I run into him on the street that if he’s having an extremely hard day and needs a laugh he pulls out my zine, “Black Candy,” and it gives him the humor meds he needs to make it through the day. When your art and humor actually helps people’s lives, it makes you feel meaningful which is the best gift you can receive.

Check out more of Dave Van Patten’s work on his website!

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