What was your first zine about and when was it made?
My first zine was made in 2008, around the time our president was beginning to run for office. The title of my zine was “Life is fleeting…Lets Talk About” and then underneath that, I made a list with little boxes beside it (you know, like little letters you’d get in elementary school that read “Do you like me? Check yes or no”).
“Life is fleeting…Lets Talk About Dreams / Friendship / Art / Fashion / Music / The Bay Area” Then underneath that I wrote: This zine is sponsored by the Lionel Di Giacomo Residency Program & Obama. I’m glad Obama won after that cause I would have been pretty embarrassed. As for the “residency program”…that was an inside joke between some dear friends of mine. I was inspired to make a zine after visiting my best friend who, at the time, had just moved to San Francisco. I took a lot of polaroids then, and I had some other friends who were already long time residents, so I would visit them a lot -sometimes over staying my welcome. I never wanted to leave!
Describe your most recent zine.
Right now, I’m working on a zine inspired by Kate Bush. Last year, I made some work for the late, great Synchronicity Space’s annual Kate Bush Fest, with the help of my friend, Stefani Greenwood. That work will go into this zine. I basically want to be Kate Bush when I grow up. Growing up, my mom had “Hounds of Love” on cassette tape and I remember dancing to Running Up That Hill in our living room. She doesn’t remember owning this tape, and now I don’t know what to believe. My childhood fantasies blurred into reality.
Of all the things you’ve ever made, zine-related or otherwise, what’s your one favorite?
The third zine I ever made was a break up zine. At the time, it was my favorite because it was so cathartic to make. I was feeling rejected and angry, so I let it out on paper. It’s strange to look at it now, and some of the things I wrote about, or illustrated, makes me cringe. I don’t think I’ll reprint this one. If I do, I would love to make some slight changes. Looking back, it all seems so silly now. I was a mess!
Name three of your influences and how they affected your work.
I love William Eggleston. I remember seeing his photographs for the first time in college and they blew me away because the things I wanted to photograph were everyday objects and people, but never in a traditional sense. He could make an oven look like magic. I love details, strange angles, and soft, natural light. His dye transfer process gave the photographs the most vivid color I had ever seen. It’s as if the whole world was in technicolor. I dream about technicolor.
I also love honest stories. Stories about everyday life and real things that happen. Non-fiction. I grew up writing in my diary a lot and I’m intrigued by the everyday. Not too long ago, I read the book, “Please Kill Me: The Uncensored Oral History of Punk Rock”. The conversations in that book were so raw, so candid. It was refreshing. I like to tell my own stories in that vein, using diary entries. I love the mix of text and photographs, or text and illustration. I got really into Charles Bukowski’s poetry through my ex boyfriend. The book, “Burning in Water, Drowning in Flame” has some amazing poems. There are many things about Bukowski that turns me off as a woman and fellow human being, but I can appreciate his honesty. He truly had a way with words. His stuff also makes me nostalgic for Los Angeles, where I am from. I’d love to take the Bukowski tour of LA. This city gives me so much inspiration.
There are some modern collectives out there producing zines that are so simplistic in their approach (minimal white pages / photographs / very little text. My favorite collective that I’ve come across is called Sunday Mornings at the River. I aspire to create photos this dreamy. They also have inspired me to travel more. In September, I went on a trip to the Pacific North West (Seattle / Portland). I plan on making a zine about my travels – I hope in time for zine fest! Here are some images from Portland that I took with my trusty twin lens.
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 like to go for walks around my neighborhood. I think it’s good to take some time off from art, not an excessive amount of time because then that would get depressing (writing from experience). It’s healthy to take just enough time off to recharge and think about things. I like to take my time with projects… Sip some tea, think about life, enjoy the weather, then I feel happy to create. I want to make work that speaks on a personal level. When I was studying photography at CalArts, I use to make a lot of “tongue and cheek” work. Lots of photographs of weird billboards / murals, or gaudy holiday decorations. I wanted to be funny, and at the same time, I really enjoyed that kind of stuff. I get a kick out of American kitsch. As I’ve gotten older, I gravitate more towards the natural world. Plants, and the relationships I have with others. I love taking portraits now. I use to shy away from that, and now I embrace it. It still makes me nervous to come up to strangers (still working on it), so I’ve been photographing my friends. Practice makes perfect!
For more from Ava, check out her website!