|THE OPENING is all about delving into the fascinating, quirky and wonderful visual arts in Vancouver. Each week we’ll feature an artist, cover an exhibition, discuss a lecture and everything else in-between to delve deep into who and what makes art happen!|
Last weekend, local artists Michael Lachman and Nathan Jones hosted a one-night zine show titled Print Ready at Dynamo Arts Association. Dynamo is a non-profit studio and project space located in the Main Street area that accommodates artists working across a diverse range of media. Shared studio space in the back and gallery in the front, Dynamo typically holds one to four week-long exhibitions curated by both the board and artists in the studio. Artists Michael and Nathan’s January 18th exhibition included endeavours into independant art publishing by Amiel Gonzales, Doug Wideen, Josef Carhoun, Justin Gradin, Linton Murphy, Michel Groat, Phadra Harder, Sarah Davidson, Stephine McDonell, Tylor MacMillan, and more. I paid Mike and Nathan a visit at the studio prior to the opening to talk about the show.
Elliat Albrecht: How did you select the artists for this exhibition?
Michael Lachman: They’re friends of ours mostly; people we know.
EA: Were they making zines before, or are they making them specifically for the show?
ML: Typically the artists have made zines before, but a few of them are also making them for the occasion. It’s open, as far as what people want to do.
EA: Did you have an idea of what the artists might produce before you asked them to contribute?
ML: No, there was definitely a lot of trust.
Nathan Jones: We didn’t spend a lot of time focusing on that. We picked artists that we’re currently associating with or that are making work that we feel is important.
EA: Why zines? What interested you about them?
ML: Nathan and I actually became friends through zine-making when we both participated in the Canzine event. Anyone can submit work to Canzine, so there’s a very wide variety of material but I was really interested in what Nathan’s doing.
EA: [to Nathan] What are you doing?
NJ: I’m making little art books and illustrations, trying to explore the whole process of zines. Which is similar to what Michael is doing as well.
EA: Do you photocopy them? Are they cheap to reproduce?
NJ: Yeah, they’re mostly photocopied and some are assembled with staples or thread.
ML: I sew mine with a machine, but a lot of people staple theirs. They’re fairly cheap to make, and I think that’s what draws artists to the medium; they’re so easy to reproduce and circulate in large amounts.
EA: How are you going to display them at the show?
NJ: We’ll display reading copies hanging from string, and there’ll be a table where people can purchase copies if they want. or walk around and meet the artists, hang out and talk. All of the money from the sales go directly to the artists. That was something that was important to us: have an event where people could walk in for free, mingle and enjoy the books at their leisure and all the proceeds would go to the artists.
EA: How would an artist typically distribute their zines outside of a gallery? Are they normally sold or given away for free?
NJ: They’re generally sold for a fairly inexpensive price. I feel like few people can afford the luxury of taking an artwork home and having a hands-on, personal experience with it. That’s what drew me to making books. I used to make a lot of large paintings, and I feel there’s a lot in the experience of standing in a gallery; walking into the painting or experiencing an exhibition in a similar sense. I felt a at a loss that I couldn’t get my work to all the people that I wanted to in a physical way due to their size.
EA: Three things that make a good zine for you.
NJ: Making use of the small, intimate format,
ML: I like to see weird experimentation with the photocopying. It’s such a basic thing: either image, text or drawings and then you just have the copy machine to work with, essentially. Or some people use computer software like InDesign, and that can be used to their advantage in an interesting way.
NJ: I like to see experimentation in content or actual material or concept of the zine. I feel that as a media, it exists in a grey area where it can allow itself to be textual, illustrative or collage-based. It can transcend those spaces as well. I like that: when you can’t pigeonhole them as a collage book or comic book or revolutionary statement.
EA: When it comes to creating printed matter in large quantities, there can be a substantial investment in terms of paper, ink, labour etc. It makes me think of political groups with a cause, handing out booklets and flyers to the public in hopes of a return that can’t really be gauged.
NJ: Yeah, people put a lot of time into printed matter, and you’re never going to make back anything that you can measure. In this case, you would have to sell a lot of zines.
EA: What’s the average price range?
ML: Maybe three to twenty dollars maximum.
EA: How many copies will each artist provide?
ML: It’s up to them; probably anywhere between five and twenty-five.
NL: Someone told me they want to make fifty and someone told me last night they want to make one.
ML: The artist Michael Groat is submitting two things; he typically only makes three copies of something. But he makes a lot of different editions of his work, which is interesting. Slightly different content within each one, but a really limited amount. They’re fantastic. There’s something to be said about that as well.
EA: Making a small amount?
ML: Yeah, I always make too many and then they’re just lying around.
EA: You could always leave them in different places. You should leave them in a library, in between books.
ML: I actually had some in READ bookstore at Emily Carr. You can submit books there. I had some at Solder and Sons down on Main. Even at Antisocial they have a little zine space where I’ve left copies .
NJ: I like to give mine away when I’m travelling; to people that I meet, or if I stay with them or go to a gallery or a bookstore or something like that. What we’re trying to do is give the artists in our show a venue where they can get their stuff out there. It’s great that we have Canzine here now, which is a once-a-year big event, but there are a lot of people making things in this city, and I hope that giving artists a smaller venue to display their work is something that will happen recurring throughout the year.