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  • August 2014
  • Selling Art on the Venice Boardwalk

    It was six in the morning and I had just finished hauling a box of my artwork on the grass of the Venice Beach boardwalk when I defiantly declared: “These shits are gonna sell like hotcakes.”

    First Day Selling Art at Venice Beach

    I was naive — to put it lightly.

    Somewhere in between watching vendors awkwardly fist fight for their spots — (10′ x10′ spots are first come, first serve) and trying to convince a dumpster truck driver to move his truck out of my space, I realized how little I knew about selling art.

    DumpsterinmySpot

    Being a vendor on the Venice boardwalk is not for the faint of heart as it is a crash course in sales/marketing/business/customer relations/economics…all with the beautiful backdrop of the Pacific Ocean.

    I do not mean to scare anyone away from becoming a vendor on the Venice boardwalk because it’s an amazing place for artists to sell their work directly to customer. Plus, Venice gets great foot traffic especially in the summer months.

    All in all, I met some really amazing (and strange) vendors and customers. Interfacing with people is a great way learn about how people think and it’s particularly interesting as a vendor to observe how people relate to their money. Most people don’t want to spend more than $10 on art FYI.

    Harmonograph Art Demonstration at Venice Beach

    I brought my harmonograph with me during the spring months and demonstrated how my drawing machine works to curious kids and strung out junkies alike.

    For anyone who wants to make a quick buck: if you sell at Venice, you’ll leave with more stories and experience than dollars in your pocket. If you have art to sell and you’re in the LA area, then sell at Venice! It’s strange and interesting and you’ll learn a lot.

    Do it!

  • Website Woes

    It’s Saturday night and I’m lying on my bed. On hold. This is my life as a computer neophyte, struggling to build a website.

    I’m in front of my laptop, listening to some pseudo Latin soundtrack with a soulless saxophone drone as I wait for a customer service representative to take my call about installing an SSL certificate on my website.  I’m making sure I install it at a time when no one is really online because it’ll shut down my site for a few hours.

    Luckily, a per-recorded woman with a girlish voice chirps about the virtues of their live chat option. A piano chimes mechanically in the background.

    Holy shit, I can’t wait to get my website running smoothly.

    I’m excited for the end of my current job this week and exciting September to come — going to Portland, selling at ODD Market LA, picking up some freelance work and finishing up some large projects.

    But for now, I’m on hold.

    Lots of good news and material ahead.

    Site will be dark for the next ~8 hours. Thanks for your patience (and good luck with your insomnia).

    See you tomorrow.

  • Interview with the Founders of Come Find Out

    I’ve published some of my comics and artwork in the fanastic zine, Come Find Out. Read my previous post to learn more about the nature of zines.

    Kelsey Westphal and Anjelica Colliard were kind enough to answer some of my questions about the history of their zine and their vision for the future. So what are you waiting for and COME FIND OUT!

    Kelsey on the left and Anjelica on the right.

    Kelsey on the left and Anjelica on the right.

    I love the name of your zine, ‘Come Find Out.’ Can you tell me about the history of Come Find Out? How did the idea come about to start a zine that showcased your friends’ work?

    KW: HAHA! Well, our friend Sam Gerhard who we were living with at the time had made these amazing blockprints with mysterious statements like Come Find Out on them, and we put that one on the bathroom door, which I always found really funny. When we were putting together our zine for the first time, we had noooo idea what to call it, and that print seemed like the obvious thing to put as the cover. We didn’t intend for that to be the title at first but once we had made a few we realized it fit the spirit and the nature of the works we included really well.

    Anjelica and I had the idea to make a zine when we were studying in France together (where we met)—we were getting into so many funny antics and collecting all these doodads and weird lil scraps so it seemed only natural to put them together into a zine, which we called Franzine. There are only about 10 of those in the world, and I “bound” them so shittily with this weird twine, god…haha but it has some great stuff in it all the same. When we got back, I know I was inspired by our friend Hannah Hoffman’s collaborative zine that she and her friends at their house called “Santa Rita” would put out during their amazing open mics, and by having made one zine already. This time was very fruitful—we were living with three art major dudes who made these insane sculptures and music and illustration that we couldn’t help ourselves! We had all these people around us and our friends in France that were making art and writing poetry so we asked around and made a lot of pages ourselves and Come Find Out was born!

    AC: COME FIND OUT started when Kelsey and I moved into a magical house with 4 amazing art boys after having traveled in France. We wanted to make another zine (we had made our first one in France, barely) and we used Sam Gerhard’s really cool woodblock print “COME FIND OUT” as the cover. I am not sure what inspired him to make the piece but I think it’s all connected to his mystical creative ways, and it turned out that CFO was the perfect way to explain what our zine came to be: a magical treasure trove!

    J_Sayuri_Zines_Comics_Come_Find_Out_3

    How has your zine evolved since you started?

    KW: Production value has skyrocketed—we had no idea how to reproduce or paginate a damn thing when we started and now we can do it in a day! There have been a number of phases—in the beginning everything was done by hand—I would type out the text parts on my grandpa’s old typewriter (which I would love to go back to doing actually, that was a nice touch) and collage most of the pieces together into a master zine that we would then photocopy. Then we realized we could use indesign, and our friend Pat Xu helped us out a lot in the beginning. Then Anjelicore took over and she does a really good job with that, so now it is much cleaner and we can include more stuff because we can accept digital submissions more easily—which now comprise most of our submissions anyway! We also started choosing themes for each issue and we learned how to bind them ourselves really easily with a long arm stapler or an awl and string. We also started choosing themes around the 6th issue or so, because people submit more readily to a themed thing than just a “SEND US YR ART” plea, which always made me kind of feel like a “Nigerian Prince” internet scam artist or something.

    AC:  SO MUCH it was really bad just in terms of layout and readability for a while there since we were very inexperienced. So now we are a lot more adept at layout and such like that. However a big part of our zine’s “look” is keeping that scruffy unpolished collage-y zine aesthetic, so we still don’t do too much touching up to our images for the most part.

    The themes of your zines are great. How do you come up with them? Which have been your favorite themes and why?

    KW: Let’s see, our themes have been: 666 (for our sixth issue), Photography, Lists, True Life Stories, and Hair. Gosh, the genesis of the themes feels lost to history, but from what I can recall most of them came in an epiphanic fit, when Anjelicore and I (and other members of Squirf Nation, our ragtag collective) were doodling together and everything just fell into place at once. I know the hair theme came about because our friend Jeremy Tribby painted this amazing hair on a piece of printer paper during a Drink n Draw we were having at our house, and I was kinda drunk and just started freaking out, shouting that “THE NEXT ZINE THEME IS HAIR” and I started scanning my hair and making a call for artists that night because it felt so right! And that also happens to by my favorite theme because 1) the zine turned out BYOOTIFUL with a screen-printed cover of the original drawing and a collaborative drawing Anjelicore and I did together on the inside 2) we had a bitchin’ party with haircuts and crazy hair-themed performances by all these sweet bands 3) a hair-whipping contest and 4) really great submissions. Puts a smile on my face just thinking about it!

    AC: Themes are pretty new to CFO but I guess there just came a time when themes started and they have stuck! But they are definitely random, and I think we try to keep them really basic and open-ended. People seem to love the photo issue, but my favorite has probably been hair, the latest zine, just cause it was really wacky and not super serious, and we had a great party for it with lots of crazy hair performances!!

    J_Sayuri_Zines_Hairzine_Blog_2

    What sorts of tools or techniques do you use? For layout, printing and distribution? (I’m interested the real technical/nerdy stuff)

    KW: InDesign, baby! And we were lent a RISOGRAPH machine by our friend Pat Xu who couldn’t keep it as his squat in East Oakland because he and his friends got kicked out (fuck da police!). He taught us how to use that machine and for the last 2 issues that is how we’ve copied it (except for the screenprinted covers, which Anjelicore made at her work). The risograph is cool, and very easy once you get your mind around the spatial aspects. You print out a master copy of the whole zine and then copy it like you would in a photocopier, except the image quality is better and the machine uses less energy than a photocopier.

    As for distribution, we get the majority of our zines into the world at our release parties, and then we put zines on Etsy (we don’t sell toooo many on there but our photo zine has had moderate success) and in local bookstores that accept zines, like Pegasus, Book Zoo, Issues in Oakland and Dog Eared Books in SF. We still really need to put some in Rock Paper Scissors in Oakland and Needles and Pins in SF but we’re both really busy (and now I’m out of the country) so we keep forgetting…

    But I’m going to put some zines in the Fanzinotheque de Poitiers in France, so we will be an international sensation, FINALLY!

    AC: Collage is very important to our zine (unfortunately not my strong suit so I leave that to other CFO-ers) as well as reusing interesting paper scraps and found objects in the zine. But we actually use InDesign for the majority of our layout especially since we get a lot of digital submissions in all sizes, shapes, and colors! I kind of taught myself how to use it in the most basic way but it seems to work out. We print with our new risograph, which is basically an automated screenprinting machine. Right now we only have a black ink cartridge so the prints don’t look extremely different from a normal xerox, but hopefully we will get a colored ink cartridge, where you can really see the difference in the print quality. We distribute our zine locally at zine fests and in bookshops and such and also online through our etsy store! And we have some in zine shops across the nation as well.

    J_Sayuri_Comics_Zines_4

    What’s your vision for the future of Come Find Out?

    KW: We just got to keep making them until we croak! I will be studying comics in Angoulême, France for the next two years, but my hope is that I will expand our readership and submission base with all the people I meet, and I will help out as much as I can from afar. I mean, Anjelicore does all the important technical stuff anyway! I would love to one day make a fat anthology of everything together, kind of like Cometbus Omnibus. It would be really fun to see the evolution of content and layout all together like that—we’ve come a long way! I hope we make at least 90 more zines. I mean, we’re only 24, we have like 60 more years to go!

    AC: I have no idea! I guess to keep spreading the word and getting more people interested in our zine! It will be interesting to see how CFO keeps it up since Kelsey is the big motivator for the zine and she is currently abroad, but I think that by this point we all really want to keep making it. Especially since in the zine world getting to issue #10 means you are a serious zinster! I also have my own zine projects that I am hoping to spend more time on those too.

    What’s your advice for anyone who wants to start their own zine or loves writing and drawing comics?

    KW: The only way you can start is to start! But seriously, just DO IT!!!! Take the plunge and you will be rewarded. If you have artist friends, work with them—shared knowledge will make your path much easier, but trial and error are great teachers too! Start simple but also experiment once you get used to it—great things happen when you consistently build on what you have learned. And have fun parties to celebrate your zine, because even if your zine is a bit janky at first, celebrating having made something will re-affirm yr resolve and convince other people of your awesomeness!! So to reiterate: MAKE SOMETHING, TELL PEOPLE ABOUT IT, HAVE A PARTY, REPEAT!

    AC: Zines are the best way to start spreading comics around, besides the internet I suppose – though the cool thing about giving someone a zine is you are giving them a real physical object that they can hold in their hand and keep with them! But don’t be afraid to just go for it – there are tons of online and in print sources that can help you with layout planning, printing, and binding, but also there is really no wrong way to make a zine. The zine community is overall very welcoming, diverse, and always looking for new ways of making and doing things, so don’t hesitate to join it!