PAINT PENS COLLECTIVE x ISSUU
ONE PAGE AT A TIME CONTEMPORARY BAY AREA PRINT & ZINE MAKERS
When issuu invited us to create a zine showcasing local creators I was excited to take on the challenge. Before this point, I was a bit of a traditionalist, believing zines belonged only on paper. But the digital platform meant that this zine could potentially reach a wider community while eliminating the cost issues created by printing. Could this be a way to make a zine where I could make as many pages as I wanted, with all the full-color glorious images I wanted? Yes, please. Historically, zines have been a low-cost way to get across a political message, share collections of short stories, photographs, lyrics, artwork, general ramblings, and collaged together words and imagery. The timeless format has been adapted many times over. If the zine’s message and heart are still there, print or digital, I’d consider the zine an effective medium for communication. It’s all about what the creator puts into it. Within this zine I’ve highlighted contemporary Bay Area artists, all with a shared interest in small press production and independent publishing. These artists are united loosely by their ties to the San Francisco Bay Area, although people move—it’s the Bay Area after all! So furthermore, these artists have been chosen because they have a unifying quality about them: a clear dedication to their craft. And, simply put, artwork I adore. I’ve worked with these artists on a number of occasions and I sense that no matter their location, or whether there are things that need to get done, or opportunities to make piles of money, these artists won’t stop creating in a style that’s true to them. It’s an admirable quality, to say the least. Please enjoy, Shayna Yasuhara (Founder of Paint Pens Collective)
PEARL SHEN Pearl Shen is an illustrator originally from Santa Barbara, California. She has experimented with painting, photography, and music from an early age, and continues to do so. Pearl now focuses much of her creative practice on illustration and printmaking, using digital tools such as Adobe Illustrator to create her work. She specializes in screen printing her images using bright colors and bold shapes. Pearl currently lives in Oakland in a household of three other artists. What's it like being an artist in the Bay Area? I love the art community in the Bay Area. So many people I meet here are receptive and open to exchanging ideas and collaborating. There is a lot of opportunity here, but it is also competitive. Living in Oakland, I feel like Iâ€™m right where I need to be. What are some of your earliest art memories? My dad would bring home rolls of butcher paper from work for me and my sister to doodle on. I don't know how old I was, but I was so small and the paper seemed to stretch out across the carpet endlessly. What originally attracted you to screenprinting? I have always been drawn to color, shape, and minimal lines, but I kept rendering in detail and I was afraid of using color. It made me really unhappy with the work I was producing for a long time, but I couldn't figure a way out. When I took a screen printing course my entire art-making process was flipped and something finally clicked. The process is lengthy and restricting, but it forces me to be creative in certain ways I would have otherwise not discovered. I finally feel like I am making work I am proud of. Are there particular subjects or colors you find yourself naturally drawn to when creating your work? I like to play with transparent inks to overlap colors, so I usually stick to two or three that mix well. I find myself drawn to using clean geometric shapes and patterns.
MEG FRANSEE FLOSS EDITIONS What are some of your earliest art-related memories? I remember always saying that when I wanted to grow up I wanted to be in the [Womenâ€™s National Basketball Association] WNBA. I was obsessed with the WNBA. I also wanted to be an astronomer (because I was obsessed with the movie Contact)...or an artist. What's the biggest challenge to being an artist for you? Some combination of time and psychic energy. I am a social worker for students in Oakland, and being able to end a particularly stressful day with a few hours of drawing, painting, or printing has therapeutic value. It helps me unpack what I might have dealt with on that particular day. More specifically, a combination of playing reality TV on my laptop while working on a project seems to help me turn my brain off. Then there are some days where I might have deadlines for something on the art side of my life, so days like that can be a bit more challenging. I love the Riso prints that you are making! Could you touch on how your artwork has changed once you got the Risograph printer. Were you making other types of prints before that? I have always liked print making, and am particularly drawn to flatness in images. I sort of focused on block printing for a few years because I was limited with space but developed some ways of outfitting my bedroom for carving and printing. My partner, Aaron Gonzalez, is a much more technical and process-oriented thinker than I am. I tend to work more intuitively; making mistakes and correct them as I go. Aaron was interested in the Risograph as something he can tinker with and manipulate, so he bought himself an old one for his birthday. It took this last year, but Aaron has been figuring out the technical perspective to the machine and Iâ€™ve been troubleshooting through what operations on the machine give me the qualities I am looking for in my prints. I think we are starting to find the sweet spot.
Who is Floss Editions and how does this differ from your personal work? Floss Editions is a printing/publishing operation that my partner, Aaron, and I run out of our garage. We originally started putting out our own projects, and as we became more comfortable with the process, we started putting out books for friends whose work we admire. The vision of it was really about providing resources to friends who were interested in a lower investment printing method that we could help facilitate. It differs from my personal work by pushing me to be more deliberate and process-oriented, which is different than my approach with drawing and painting. Can you tell us about the zines and books you've put together? One that I am really proud of is the book Our Prophet Helios, that we compiled for Jeff Graupner, a friend in Chicago. He did these daily drawings a few years ago that were so bizarre. They were about this fictional character named Helios who gave life advice. I think he had a Tumblr for the drawings, but I thought it would be really cool for them to exist as a physical book compilation. I talked to him and he was down, so we put together a spiral bound book of over 50 of the drawings. I think itâ€™s a really great final project, but it was also the first thing we did where we felt like we were truly doing the type of project we were envisioning when buying the Risograph.
What are some of your earliest art-related memories? I remember drawing myself and my friends, and putting way more detail into these portraits than my friends did. I would get lost in drawing their freckles or their hair. I also remember drawing dolphins and rainbows. Funny thing is, I drew a dolphin the other day and I still can't draw one of those fuckers without it looking like a dick with a fin. What's the biggest challenge to being an artist for you? This will sound so ridiculous but the biggest challenge I face is decision making. I struggle so much when it comes down to, ‘what should this character’s pose be in this scene?’ or ‘where should I place this flower?’ I have an extreme sense of self-doubt that nothing I do will ever be good enough. And, so when I do create, it's because I've either been drinking or I'm high, and I can revert back to being a kid—where playing and making mistakes feels like I'm making progress and having fun, rather than like I’m wasting precious time. There are times where I sit down and just start drawing and force myself to keep going and not stop. Eventually, something comes out of it, or I spend the day dwelling on how much I hate what I made. The only relationship I have that's in such constant turmoil is the one with my art.
I know that you have experience doing design work, can you speak to that a bit? I work in fashion, which is kind of funny because I would not consider myself a fashionable or even fashion-interested person. I applied to this job out of desperation and it magically worked out that I knew how to use Photoshop and Illustrator. At the time I felt like a total hack because I thought everyone knew these programs and that their knowledge would be far more extensive than mine. I was worried that my boss would see that I was not as proficient as I claimed to be, considering this was also my first time using these programs for production design and not just an illustration assignment.
But Iâ€™ve grown here and, as I am able to practice my skills and become more efficient, I can also make time to play and discover new things to create. This has helped allow me to be more versatile with clients outside of work too. I enjoy design as it helps me to think in ways I normally wouldn't on my own. Can you tell us about the zine/s you made? Herman was my first zine/comic and I haven't made anything since then. I have so many InDesign files with half-finished books and zines but I never finish them. I should.
JOSH HERBOLSHEIMER What are some of your earliest art-related memories? I remember having a book when I was really young called How to Draw Cars...or something like that. I used to love drawing fancy cars, and even mad a Lamborghini t-shirt using puff-paints. I know I drew other things, and liked to fill in coloring books, but that t-shirt really stands out in my mind. It was pretty solid. What's the biggest challenge to being an artist for you? Honestly the biggest challenge is time. There are so many ideas for projects to do, but only so many hours in the day. Iâ€™m really fortunate to have a creative day job that I enjoy, so I get to do a lot of fun and interesting things there. Outside of that I try to find some balance between keeping busy and living life. It's not always easy to keep the momentum up on a long-term project. What do you like most about being an artist? The best thing about being an artist is that there are no rules. Ultimately, I can make anything I can think ofâ€”the only limit is my creativity. I really enjoy pushing the boundaries of my own imagination.
For your work with Super7 you touch on a lot of nerd culture favorites like Masters of the Universe, and Aliens, but when you are drawing or working on your own projects what sort of themes excite you the most? I think a lot about the connection and overlap of humans and the natural world—and how that evolves over time. Sometimes that goes in the direction of some weird mutant caveman frozen in ice, sometimes a cyborg hobo struggling to get by in some far out alternate super-future. Sometimes I just like to paint a tree stump covered with moss. Can you tell us about the zines you've made? The most recent zines I've made have been collections of paintings, sort of a ‘best of’ compilation. I've also done some comic zines, mostly goofy stuff. I did a whole series about this group of talking vegetables way back when. I had a job working the grill at a gyro vending cart, and, in the story, I made characters out of all the ingredients. The main characters were a tomato, onion, sliced kebab meat, and a feta guy who would always crumble and leave a trail of little bits. They would go on dates for Valentine's Day, or give each other Christmas presents—stuff like that. Any upcoming/current projects you want to share with the people? The next zine project I'm working on is a group of characters that can have their parts swapped out by turning parts of the pages separately. It looks really cool in my imagination, now I just need to make it!
EMMA MUNGER What are some of your earliest art-related memories? Drooling over Pentel sets and using my mom's Rapidograph to draw old, wrinkly ladies in thong bikinis while smoking. This was just after I read Mad Magazine for the first time. What's the biggest challenge to being an artist for you? Keeping the momentum flowing! Letting yourself fall into a drawing rut is lethal! What do you get most excited about drawing? My favorite drawing subject is ‘people,’ so when I get that one thing that makes a portrait look exactly right, then I am the most elated. You have some great TV and movie-related artwork. Do you ever put the TV on or watch these movies while you're drawing? ALL THE TIME. Mostly it's the early seasons of Frasier on in the background with me reciting every punchline—thank god I'm the only one home for that. I must be insufferable! Other favorites are Romancing the Stone and Scream.
Can you tell us about the zines you've made? Like mentioned previously, I love the show Frasier. Recently, I made a fan zine for it from all the notes I've taken down of all the things I'm inspired to draw while re-watching the episodes a million times. There will be a whole chapter devoted to every time they mention muffins. My Muni Moments zine is a collection of all my experiences on the buses of SF, both weird and mundane. That one is constantly being added to because on every single bus ride there is a story. I also really do love the single-page folded zine format. I've made quite a few different ones, mostly for mini collections of my pin-ups. I made ones for Friends, Jurassic Park, the Golden State Warriors, and the Spice Girls. I’ve also used this format for more personal scribbles—outside of pop-culture references. Any upcoming/current projects you want to share with the people? I'm currently and constantly updating the Frasier and Muni comics, but as far as upcoming projects, I’m working on an anti-love Valentine’s Day published book project...I think I can mention it without jinxing myself! I’m stressed but excited about that one!
MEGAN LYNN KOTT I saw that you have a couple items released through Chronicle Books. Can you tell us a bit about what you're doing with them? Yay! Thank you for asking. I'm so happy to be working with Chronicle! They are amazing! I wrote/illustrated two projects coming out with them later this summer: Claws For Celebration, and Cat Lady Old Maid. Both are currently available for pre-order on Amazon. The first is a set of 20 ‘cat-tastic’ greeting cards. There are 10 hand-painted designs that repeat twice, saying a variety of different things from ‘I Can't Even,’ ‘Hello Ladies,’ and ‘You Can Do It!’ The second is a modern take on the classic Old Maid card game—but instead of getting the ‘old maid’ card & losing the game, you get the ‘cat lady’ card and win! We are trying to break down the stereotype of the crazy cat lady. These are my second & third projects they produced for me. My first was a book of temporary cat tattoos I designed called Cattoos! It's pretty silly—and I love it! What is it like participating in zine/tabling events versus the more cat-centric events? Who's crazier? Haha! I don't know that I can rightly answer that, as I am a huge zine and cat nerd myself! Maybe I'm the crazy one?
What are some of your earliest art-related memories? My mom would tape pieces of paper to my high chair when I was a baby, and I would draw for (what seemed like) hours. There are some early Megan Lynn Kott drawings floating around that are on melamine plates at my parent's house. What's the biggest challenge to being an artist for you? The inevitable comparison you do to other artists. I look around Instagram sometimes and think ‘Ugh! This person is so much better than I am—why even bother!?’ But I keep reminding myself that no one is going to have my unique take or style on a certain subject. I think this is a pretty common thing for artists to think about. Even folks who are much fancier than I am. What do you love most about being an artist? Oh wow, I mean, I love creating things that make me laugh. There was a painting I did recently for the ‘Memes’ show at Gallery 1988 in LA. It was influenced by ‘Kittens Inspired By Kittens.’ I seriously giggled the whole time I was painting it. What are some of your art goals now that you've moved from the Bay Area to Detroit? My husband, Justin Devine (who is also an artist) and I moved about a year ago from the Bay Area to Detroit. I grew up in the Detroit area and it always had a vibrant art community. I'm excited to slowly integrate myself back in. It's hard though. I lived on the West Coast for a long time, and we are basically starting from square one. We are participating in some local shows now, including a few art shows at a really great space called Our Detroit that only shows woman-identifying artists.
When are the BFF necklaces expected to become available? Ha! I recently did a Kickstarter for enamel best friend charms for you & your pet. I'm really excited about the idea, and now that the Kickstarter was successfully funded, I hope to have more later this summer.
JASON FURIE Aside from creating art, I know that you also are a writer. Can you describe how those two worlds have come together for you? I’m a completely indecisive person. Sometimes I wish I could just focus 100% on writing or art, but that’s just not who I am. My website Never Ending Radical Dude (.com) is an effort to combine these two passions. Here I write about movies, TV, video games, comic books, and toys featuring art on all the major reviews! They compliment each other perfectly, and over the years, the website has transformed into a many-headed beast as other writers and artists have joined up. The end result is a unique collective of both writers, artists, and sometimes both like me, which has opened up doors for art shows and art events. Never Ending Radical Dude is completely a passion project of mine and my dream job would be to run this thing full-time and make a living wage. Of course, making comics and zines makes sense too. Is pizza your favorite food and have you ever eaten pizza until you puked? My brain is in a constant battle to decide if pizza or ice cream is my favorite food. They are both very delicious. And both very nutritious. NOT. If we are grading my favorite food based on if I’ve ever thrown up from eating too much, ice cream is hands down the winner. I’ve thrown up and sharted while eating ice cream, so it’s the clear winner. What are some of your earliest art-related memories? My mom always encouraged me to make art and be creative. She’s definitely responsible for my creativity and drive to be an artist. And in elementary school, I have fond memories of creating my very first comic book called It & Abadoo, starring a pair of weird skateboarding aliens who go on adventures and get into trouble. I think they were the first characters I ever created and I still draw them every once in awhile. Making comics as a kid was definitely one of my earliest and best art memories.
What's the biggest challenge to being an artist for you? I’m a team player. I love getting people together, organizing art shows and events, and sharing other people’s art. I think my biggest challenge may sound selfish, but it’s to actually focus on my art more and to get others to share my art in return. I feel like some days I spend a lot of energy spreading the word about other artists when I could be using that time to make something myself. I hope I can find a happy medium one day. Can you tell us about the zine you made? I made a zine called Fleshy & Germaine. In a nutshell, it’s about a pizza-loving space adventurer who gets sucked through a portal after flossing out a chunk of pizza he recently ate. The pizza-bit on the floss becomes sentient after they exit the portal. Then adventure ensues. I’ve only made one #0 issue so far with plans to release another in the not too distant future. I basically wanted this #0 issue to be the origin story setting up the two as a weird duo of adventurers. It was a very fun experience to make. My goal was to make a zine without the aid of computers at all. Just ink on paper, a copy machine, and staples. I’m a really big fan of pure zines like that. There is a craft to it all that I think gets a little lost when digital art enters the scene. Don’t get me wrong, I like digital art, but there is something magical about a hand-crafted book with hand-drawn illustrations and lettering. Any upcoming/current projects you want to share with the people? My nerd-news website Never Ending Radical Dude (.com) has a new Patreon crowd-funding page (Patreon.com/NeverEndingRadicalDude) to help us get more podcast and video equipment to make better and more consistent content! We just launched an ongoing podcast and continue to shoot episodes of video shows at Mission: Comics & Art. The Patreon page is a great way to show support and give us feedback! Other than that, I’m making more art, working on a few new zines, and creating some cool enamel pins.
When did you start getting into art? I've been making art my whole life but I officially took the dive around 2006. That's when I started to really push myself out of my comfort zone and network. What would you say is the biggest challenge to being an artist for you? The biggest challenge is finding a decent work space. It's really expensive and ever since the Ghost Ship tragedy, it's even harder to find a place to work on art, especially large-format work, which I miss doing. What do you like most about being an artist? I love how therapeutic making art can be. I enjoy how I can put any sadness, fear, anger, frustration, love, or happiness into a piece and it will speak louder than any words I could ever say out loud. What was one of your earliest memories as you started to become interested in art? I remember being a kid and my grandmother would always buy me different art supplies. I remember thinking about how cool it was that I wasn't using crayons. I would see my relatives artwork on the walls and I wanted to use the same stuff they used to make my art.
What are your thoughts on zine culture? I love every format of zines. whether it be the black and white xerox style or something high gloss that has a perfect saddle-stitched binding. I respect anyone who takes the time to create zines. It's no easy feat. Well, I guess it can be. But my favorites are the ones that experiment with formatting. The Bay Area’s zine culture is RAD. With events like SF Zinefest everyone brings their "A" game. Can you fill us in on some of your zine projects? I've been releasing a zine called Scatterbrained for the past two years. It’s a compilation of my favorite drawings throughout the year. I really try to fill it with every style I work in so that each page is exciting and shows my range. I will be releasing Vol. 3 at this year’s SF Zine Fest.
I saw that you are doing some cool work with the Academy of Sciences. Can you tell us a bit about how you are collaborating with them? I am very excited to have the honor of collaborating with the Cal Academy of Sciences on an illustration and some animations for a new marketing campaign for their NightLife program at museum. It was a lot of fun to try incorporate the architecture, animals, and the party atmosphere of the event into one engaging illustration. I have been drawing live at the museum about once a month, taking requests from visitors and followers and streaming live on the Nightlife Facebook page. Any current/upcoming projects you want to share? I have lots of stuff I am working on, but look out for illustrations from me on the back cover of the upcoming July 2017 issue of Highlights for Children, and on a limited-release whiskey label from Seven Stills Distillery later this summer. Iâ€™m also doing a new mural installation in the soon-to-open Cafe Intermezzo (now called Mezzo) in Berkeley. You can still order a copy of my new self-published illustrated book, Alphabet Compendium. What are some of your earliest memories as you started to become interested in art? I am lucky to have parents that are creative and encouraged me to exercise/practice my art. As a child, they would have me create some sort of themed '3D pixel-art' style sculpture out of Legos for every holiday, and every summer I would embark on different large-scale art projects, like creating a ten-foot tall dinosaur sculpture out of scrap wood, or spray-painting murals on the side of the barn.
What's it like being a working artist in the Bay Area? The Bay Area is definitely a vibrant and inspiring place to live and make art. It is a constant hustle of finding new projects, but such is the case for any freelancer. I love the challenge of always being pushed to create something new and exciting. I would not have it any other way. It is important to always be busy. For example, I have about 12 active projects I am working on simultaneously right now, and at least 8 more proposals out for consideration. Could you tell us where we could see some of your mural work? I have painted murals all around the Bay, a lot of them are in private offices and businesses, but there are public, outdoor murals in Sather Lane near Telegraph in Berkeley or on the side of CatHead's BBQ on Folsom Street in SF. When did you start getting into art? I have always enjoyed making art and gravitated to art classes in school. I was, and still am, constantly doodling. Studying art in college felt like the only choice. I considered an architecture program, but decided on illustration, mostly because it required one less year of study and a lot less math. What's the biggest challenge to being an artist for you? The biggest issue I face on a regular basis is not having enough time to create all the projects I have ideas for! You recently became a dad. How do you hope to inspire your son's creativity as he gets a bit older? I am really excited to share my love of music and art with my son, Luka. He is almost eight months old, but I plan on getting a crayon in hand as soon as he is able. At the rate I see things going, I will need to put him to work as my studio assistant in a couple years.
Pearl Shen www.pearlshen.com, Instagram: @pearl.jpg Meg Fransee (Floss Editions) www.megfransee.com, Instagram: @meglfransee, @flosseditions Brie Spiel bspiel.blogspot.com, Instagram: @briespiel Joshua Herbolsheimer joshuajh.blogspot.com, Instagram: @jjoshuajh Emma Munger www.emmamunger.com, Instagram: @honeymungerdontcare Megan Lynn Kott www.meganlynnkott.com, Instagram: @meganlynnkott Jason Furie www.jasonfurie.com, Instagram: @jasonfurie, @neverendingradicaldude Zachary Sweet www.zacharysweet.com Instagram: @zacharysweets Nigel Sussman www.nigelsussman.com, Instagram: @nigelsussman Shayna Yasuhara www.shaynayasuhara.com, Instagram: @shaynaface
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Contemporary Bay Area Print & Zine Makers