Getting to Know Caitlin Metz

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Getting to Know Caitlin Metz

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Tell us a little about yourselves; what makes you tick and what makes your publications tick?
I'm a letterpress printer, educator graphic designer and self proclaimed illustrator. My main mediums are paper + emotions. What makes me tick? Tea, lots of it. Nature. The sky. Whiskey. Drawing. Vomiting my emotions out onto a page. Sending thing into the world that will hopefully bring ease and tenderness. My one liner that I've been using for a while is "a tender queer, early morning art making human that wants to fuck shit up with empathy." All I want to do is disrupt limiting and oppressive forms of being. Questions everything. And love as fiercely as I can. My wish is to hug every person I see, and tell them they are not alone. 
 

What drewyou to creating, publishing, editing and presenting your projects?
Wanting to do everything myself. I love all parts of the process. The conceptualizing and creating content, the designing and printing and binding. I love that I can have an idea and a finished piece (or at least a good prototype) within a day. Honestly, I'm a control freak and must do it all. All the things always. 


What do you think of the relationship between publishing (what you do) and reaching an audience of readers?
All I want to do is make people feel safe and loved. Unfortunately my arms only reach so far, and my own anxious introverted heart prefers to mostly stay tucked away in my studio. So I make books and zines and prints. I put things into the world that will make us feel a little less lonely. Everything I make feels like a love letter to my audience and myself. 

Can you tell us about your creative, editorial, and collaborative process?

I love collaborative projects, I thrive on the exchange of energy. I usually am working on both solo and collaborative projects at any given time. I'm currently eyeballs deep in a project called On Being in Your Body: A Guide to Writing Yourself with my friend Victoria Emanuela. It's a series of publications and workshops/classes about being in your body + writing manifestos. 


My process begins with needing / wanting / feeling something, and making a drawing or mind map about it. I'm forever thinking about mental health, identity, relationships, sexuality, intimacy and self care. Most my work revolves around these concepts. These concepts are framed within the lens of healing and tenderness for those around me, and for myself. Nearly everything I create is something I needed or was looking for, I created a winter survival guide to get me through last winter, and a tiny book with things todo when I was feeling anxious to carry in my pocket. When I found myself crying all the time, I started documenting where I cried, and then turned it into a zine about the power of tears. 


What advice would you give to someone starting a small press or publishing project?
Make the thing you are looking for. Need a book on winter survival? Write it. You don't have to have all the answers. It's better to ask questions than to bullshit perfect answers, in my opinion. Answers are one-sided, limiting and often exist within a strict binary. Questions are beautiful wondrous things that hold space for conversation and different ideas. Ask them all! 

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What would you have told your younger self about what you are doing? and What do you hope your older self might tell the you of today?

Dear little Caitlin, it's okay to feel a lot. To feel too much. There is no right way to feel or experience the world. There is more than one way of being. I love you, fiercely. 

Dear Caitlin, the only one holding you back is you. Let go of fear + comparison. It's all just a form of procrastination, and we don't have time for it. I'm proud of you. Love, your future self.
 

Other than your own projects, what are some other presses and publications that inspire you to keep reading and supporting the small press community?
Kate Bingaman Burt! My queen and constant inspiration. I want to be her when I grow up.
Marlee Grace just self published a poignant and powerful book about her practice of dancing everyday. She also creates zines about addiction + how to not always be working. 
Adam JK, everything he touches is pure gold. I get so much inspiration from him, his work ethic and depressing humor. 

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So many inkers and so many drinkers with Ink and Drink Comics

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So many inkers and so many drinkers with Ink and Drink Comics

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Tell us a little about yourselves; what makes you tick and what makes your publications tick?
Steve Higgins, Editor: Ink and Drink Comics is a collective of comic creators based in the STL area. We have monthly meetings on the third Tuesday of every month in the back room of Cicero’s on the Loop. These meetings are open to the public, and anyone in the area who is interested in making comics is welcome to come and just hang out if they want. It’s really about the socialization of meeting like-minded people, first and foremost. But we also produce two comics anthologies a year, one in the spring and one in the fall, that are themed around a particular genre and are open submission. Jason Green, Editor: our main goal is better art through community. Publishing short story anthologies as a group started as a lark, but we’ve seen how the sense of working together as a community--both in terms of encouraging each other and bouncing ideas off each other, and in the friendly competition that it fosters--has resulted in everyone in the group stepping up their game. It’s amazing to see how much writers and artists’ craft has improved by leaps and bounds in just a short amount of time.

Carlos Gabriel Ruiz, Creative Director: We have ink running through our veins. We love comics, love making comics, and love giving people an opportunity to pursue their dreams and get published.

What drew you to creating, publishing, editing and presenting your projects?
Carlos: necessity, which is the mother of invention and the father of circumstance. We had to make comics, and since it’s hard to get published, we just started publishing them ourselves.

Steve: Speaking for myself, I was writing and publishing my own mini-comics, trying desperately to find artists willing to work with me and working hard at putting the books together on my own. When I first heard about Ink and Drink having meetings and putting out a book, I realized how much easier it would be to produce comics if I had a pool of talented folk working alongside me.

What do you think of the relationship between publishing (what you do) and reaching an
audience of readers?

Jason: view it as a major part of our job. As the ones who shepherd the completed books into reality and help them around to conventions, we work hard to get the books into people’s hands so our creators can concentrate on creating.

Carlos: love going to conventions and meeting people, striking up a conversation with them, and seeing what they’re into. At this point, Ink and Drink has a book for everyone, and it’s our job as publishers to point the audience in the right direction. We couldn’t do what we do without the support of our audience, so going to cons, meeting our audience, and connecting with them is all a major part of what we do.

Can you tell us about your creative, editorial, and collaborative process?
Carlos: It all starts over a few beers...

Jason: Most of the collaborations happen at our “ink and drinks,” where we get together at Cicero’s in the U. City Loop to discuss what we’re working as well as just generally hang out and talk comics. One of the nice things about our group is that it’s as collaborative as people want it to be. Some people ask for feedback at every step in the process. Others just drop a finished story in our lap every six months. We are happy to be as unobtrusive as people want us to be.

Steve: As a creator, the degree of collaboration I have on the stories I do for Ink and Drink really runs the gamut. Sometimes I find a willing artist and hand them a completely finished script. Sometimes the artist and I bounce ideas back and forth, developing the story outline together before they go off and draw it and then I script dialogue in at the end. And sometimes an artist comes to me with a concept that I just kind of say “Uh, yeah sure, I’ll see what I can come up with.”

Jason: Editorially, our role is to make sure that the finished product looks professional, is readable and typo-free, flows well from story to story, and just generally meets our high quality standards. It’s a job we take very seriously.

Carlos: We are as involved in a story as the creators want us to be. Sometimes we pair the talent with each other, sometimes we help out with the production and lettering of a story, and sometimes we just sit back and watch the magic happen. We also pitch cover and back cover ideas to our artists or work with them to fully realize their ideas. Collaborating with all of the contributors is the best part (the fun thing) about the job. Our “real” work starts as soon as we have all of our submissions for a book in hand -- then we can design the logo, pick out the story order, and actually create the book.

How did you get into working with small press publishing?
Jason: As Carlos said, at first it was necessity. No one else wanted us so we just did itourselves. After a few years of that, we invited some friends to do a single group book together just for the heck of it, it outsold anything we had ever done individually, and our current incarnation as Ink and Drink Comics was born.

Carlos: It really was a no-brainer. We already made the comics, so if no one else wanted to publish them, then we’d just do it ourselves. Once you have a comic book made, putting a book out is easy. Pitching the idea for a horror anthology to all of my friends and friends-of-friends and having everyone say “Yes” was the real start.

What advice would you give to someone starting a small press or publishing project?
Carlos: he only reason to get into small press publishing is because of love. If you don’t love the medium, if you don’t love creating things, if you don’t love connecting with audiences and bringing something new into the world to life, then small press publishing isn’t for you. Because at the end of the day the margins are so thin, you have to love doing it because sometimes that’s the only reward you’re going to get out of it.

Steve: I tell people all the time that we don’t make any money making these books. But we do usually break even. And as time has gone on, it has gotten easier for us to break even. That’s about the level of success most people ever have with self-publishing, and personally, I’m pretty ok with that.

How long have you been at it (by "it" I mean publishing)?
Carlos: Non officially since 2003. We’ve all been creating zines and minicomics to sell at stores and give away at cons since then. Officially, since 2009. Our parent publisher, Brain Cloud Comics, was set up in 2009 to publish independent comic books. Ink and Drink Comics was set up the following year to publish the genre anthologies put together by the sketch group turned comics collective, Ink and Drink Comics.

Stev: The first book we did, Spirits of St. Louis, debuted in September/October of 2010. Carlos and Jason worked alongside the original third member of their editorial triumverate, Bryan Hollerbach, to ensure that this horror book came together. And once it came out, and we all enjoyed working together so much, and the book sold so well, they decided to do another book the following spring. And it kind of snowballed from there. Hollerbach moved from the area in 2012, and they asked me to then step up and fill his role as an editor starting with our fifth book, Hammered.

Carlo: Six years later we have 14 books and 5 mini-comics to our name, with more coming on the way...

What would you have told your younger self about what you are doing? and What do you
hope your older self might tell the you of today?

Jason: Don’t overreach. It’s a common for creators just starting out to want to do their 10,000 chapter magnum opus, but of course being a young person collaborating with other young people where you all suffer from fluctuating levels of motivation, something that big is hopeless. Of course, plenty of actual people gave Young Jason that advice and he didn’t listen so I’m not sure me telling him would have saved him the agony of those oh-so-many projects that never quite took off. And I hope my older self tells me that what I’ve done has had impact. It’s certainly amazing looking back at the sheer volume of comics that we’ve helped shepherd into the world--1200 pages and counting, none of which likely would have existed had Ink and Drink never existed. But we’re still just trying to get from book to book. It’s hard to read what our ultimate impact will be.

Carlos: If I had told my younger self that I’d be making comics as an adult, I think young me would have been over the moon (I would casually leave out the fact that the majority of those comics were not superhero comics because why ruin it, right?).

Stev: The advice I’d give a younger version of myself is the same I give to any budding writer, be it the new creators who come to our meetings or the students whose English papers I assess in my day job: just keep writing. The more you do it, the better you will get at it, until it almost comes naturally. You will make mistakes along the way, and that’s ok as long as you learn from them. There’s a reason why little league starts with tee-ball; you’ve got to learn the fundamentals of the swing before you can ever knock it out of the park. But you will get better if you just keep at it.

Other than your own projects, what are some other presses and publications that inspire you
to keep reading and supporting the small press community?

Jason: We just returned from the Small Press Expo in Bethesda, Maryland, and you can’t help but feel inspired when you see the sheer breadth of material available in the comics world...everything from hand-stapled self-published minicomics to the literary-minded graphic novels published by companies like Top Shelf and Drawn & Quarterly to the doorstop-sized objets d’art that Fantagraphics publishes. And as someone who likes working in quote-unquote “genre” stories, the success of Image shows that there is a sizable audience out there for quality material that isn’t just superheroes. Looking at the entire comics landscape, it’s clear that if you’re passionate about your art and have something to say, there is an audience out there for it. It’s our inspiration to keep doing what we’re doing and find that audience.

Steve: I’m also very inspired when I look around St. Louis at the amazing comics work coming out of here at present. You have people working in the mainstream producing some great work, like Matt Kindt, Cullen Bunn, and Brian Hurtt. You have people working on their own brilliant independent projects for smaller publishers like Dan Zettwoch, Kevin Huizenga, and Sacha Mardou. You have people self-publishing or doing webcomics like Ray Nadine and Rori, phenomenally talented folk. Even amongst our group, there are a slew of people working on trying to get their own solo projects off the ground. They’ll show off their work at meetings and I can’t help but be in awe. We at Ink and Drink are truly blessed to be a small part of such a thriving and talented artistic community in this city.

Anything else you want to say?
Carlos: Every day that I get to wake up and make comics is a great day! I love making comics and am thankful and a little blown away at how big Ink and Drink Comics has gotten. It started with about 5 people drinking beer and drawing at an Applebees in 2008, and today we’ve had over 100 contributors who have participated in at least one of our books. The best part about it is every book has better than the previous book!

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The Need for Absurdity and One of those Long Staplers: Lathe Zine

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The Need for Absurdity and One of those Long Staplers: Lathe Zine

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Tell us a little about yourselves; what makes you tick and what makes your publications
tick?

We are Architecture students that like absurd things and anarchist spirits. Our publication stems from frustration over the twice-baked potatoes of over developed architecture. We needed a new creative and intuitive outlet for our angst, and something that wasn’t so goddamn intentional it starts to blister.


What drew you to creating, publishing, editing and presenting your projects?
There was a need among architecture and design students to make things with no rules or standards that could be elevated regardless of standards and rules. People needed a prompt and an outlet where they could feel creative and that their creativity was appreciated.


Can you tell us about your creative, editorial, and collaborative process?
We decide on a prompt by listing several absurd and relevant/irreverent prompts, then discussing them. Then we call for submissions by yelling aggressively, digitally and literally, at unwitting passersby. We then continue to extend the deadlines with more yelling until we have about 50 pages of material, a good 25% of which is our own.

How did you get into working with small press publishing?
Eve said one day “Hey Fin, you wanna make a zine”, and Fin said, “I’ve always wanted to make a zine!”


What advice would you give to someone starting a small press or publishing project?
Make it 2 to 5 drafts. Don’t underestimate the importance of other people’s feedback. Get one of those long staplers.

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What would you have told your younger self about what you are doing? and What do you
hope your older self might tell the you of today?

You’re clearly a lesbian, and it’s ok, calm down—was this not the question?

Publishing can be one of the most fulfilling things you ever do, even if you do it with other people’s stolen printing allowances in your school library.


Other than your own projects, what are some other presses and publications that inspire you
to keep reading and supporting the small press community?

Sam Alden
Lauren Cardenas- Pie Crust
Lauren R. Weinstein
Operations Manual
Shitty River Comics
Suehiro Maruo
Little Lit
Pioneers press (sell us, plz)
Printed Matter, Inc. (sell us, plz)

Anything else you want to say?
We are truly honored to be a part of this!

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Alex Nall: Keep on Creating.

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Alex Nall: Keep on Creating.

STL-SPEx participant Alex Nall talks to us about the creative process. You can view his work at alexnall.tumblr.com andalexnall.com.

Tell us a little about yourselves; what makes you tick and what makes your publications tick?

My book ‘Teaching Comics: Volume One’ is a collection of comics focusing on my experiences as a first-year teaching artist working in Chicago Public Schools. The comics range from conversations with students, scenes from inside the classroom, and discussions with other teachers.

What drew you to creating, publishing, editing and presenting your projects?

I enjoy creating these comics because I get the opportunity to explore my relationship with my students and ask myself what it means to be a teacher.

What do you think of the relationship between publishing (what you do) and reaching an audience of readers?

I’m proud to be a self-publisher. I enjoy the freedom and range of decisions I have control of when I put out a book or a zine. Self-publishers are allowed to voice their stories to a world without fear of being censored. As someone who wrote about working in a public school, I realized that not many teachers are afforded the opportunity to speak earnestly about their experiences working with children and the pros of cons of educational administrations. My book allowed me the chance to speak from my experiences and learn from them as I was reflecting on them. Publishing the book hopefully will allow others the same opportunity.

Can you tell us about your creative, editorial, and collaborative process?

Most of the comics are created the day of or shortly after an experience has happened. I’ll usually know in the moment that something is happening that it is going to be a comic. I try to work as quickly as I can so that the memory of the moment stays fresh and is untainted by time or overthinking how it should be depicted. The best comics are usually the most honest ones, written in the moment without hesitation or fear of stepping over boundaries.

How didyou get into working with small press publishing?

I got into small press publishing through countless efforts to see my work published by others and failing to achieve that. The only route was to publish it myself- online and in print form. I’ve had a lot of fun seeing my work change since creating zines, mini-comics, and other work. I’ve started publishing my students’ comics in an effort to share their work with a wider audience and show them that even if one person enjoys your work, it’s worth creating.

What advice would you give to someone starting a small press or publishing project?

Don’t be afraid to publish it. Whatever “it" is. A short story, an 8 page mini-comic, a zine about your favorite pair of underwear. Whatever it is that you have created, someone will find it and read it. Will they always enjoy it? Maybe. Either way, your first step to finding some foot traffic with your work starts by making stuff and putting it out there for the community to see. You’ll only grow in your work quality and quantity by the amount of work you’re willing to give life to.

How long have you been at it (by "it" I mean publishing)?

I moved to Chicago in 2011 to pursue creating and publishing comics and have been doing so ever since.

What would you have told your younger self about what you are doing? and What do you hope your older self might tell the you of today?

Don’t ignore your old work. You may look at it is as lazy and unfulfilled now, but it’s that work that led you to creating the stories you’re making today- no matter how radically different it may read, appear, or be presented. The moment you doubt your past accomplishments is the moment you start letting yourself be suckered into thinking ‘I’m no good at this’ or ‘Why bother doing this?’ There is no valid answer to these questions. You either make the work because it fulfills you, or you don’t.

Other than your own projects, what are some other presses and publications that inspire you to keep reading and supporting the small press community?

There are almost too many creators and small press publishers that I admire and hope to work with some day. I’d have to say that I’m always floored by the amount of creators, publishers, and distros that showcase their work at Chicago Zine Fest, as well as other zine fests and small press expos around the country. The fact that there are zine fests happening in places like Omaha, Nebraska, Boise, Idaho, and Iowa City makes me feel that the community is growing larger and faster than ever before. I think the shift is happening because many creators and artists are being told to for-go traditional publishing and try the self-publishing route. While I honestly don’t think there’s much of a difference to the financial success of either option, I do believe that the self-publishing community places an emphasis on fostering one another through words, outreach, and opportunities to connect. Hopefully it continues to grow.

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The Moon Zine's Wheelhouse of Collaboration

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The Moon Zine's Wheelhouse of Collaboration

The Moon Zine editors: Julie Davis, Allison Sissom, Wes Harbison, Josh Saboorizadeh, and Lauren Kellett

The Moon Zine editors: Julie Davis, Allison Sissom, Wes Harbison, Josh Saboorizadeh, and Lauren Kellett

Tell us a little about yourselves; what makes you tick and what makes your publications tick?

All five of the editors of The Moon Zine graduated from Truman State University in Kirksville, Missouri where we were all involved in various DIY organizations. When we moved back to St. Louis, we wanted a creative outlet--something that would give us a voice in our community and would be accessible to as many people as possible.

What do you think of the relationship between publishing (what you do) and reaching an audience of readers?

As a submission-based zine, our content is a direct reflection of our audience. We wouldn’t have much to publish without contributors! And although we have this core team of editors, we like to include our readers in the creative process; we have a “collage party” and encourage readers to collage each issue. For readers outside of St. Louis, we put the issue on Issuu and Tumblr for online reading. We also put each issue in a public Google Drive folder so that people may print their own Moon Zine. You can find the printable version on our How To Submit page on Tumblr.

Friends and supports at a collage event.

Friends and supports at a collage event.

Can you tell us about your creative, editorial, and collaborative process?

The Moon Zine has five editors, with specific jobs. We divide the tasks by interest and workload. We also change jobs from time to time and give input/feedback on most tasks. Working together flexibly has helped make our zine successful. Also we are constantly communicating. We typically have 2-3 meetings a month to discuss submissions, upcoming projects, and to collage the zine. We typically communicate about our zine every other day. The Moon Zine is even more collaborative in that we work together to create one product, and the majority of our content is made up of submissions from people all over--friends and strangers. Collaboration is our wheelhouse.

What advice would you give to someone starting a small press or publishing project?

Our advice is to try to find a way to make it FUN and free (look into printing at your local library!). Many people make light work and a variety of talents, personalities, and perspectives will make it a better product.

How long have you been at it (by "it" I mean publishing)?

The Moon Zine at Central Library's zine collection.

The Moon Zine at Central Library's zine collection.

We have been working on The Moon Zine for two years! 25 issues and counting. Some of our editors worked on small publications in college including The Gadfly, The Monitor, and Windfall at Truman State University.

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You don't need a run of 250: Lauren Cardenas assures you.

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You don't need a run of 250: Lauren Cardenas assures you.

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Tell us a little about yourselves; what makes you tick and what makes your publications tick?

Hello SPEX Team, I am Lauren Cardenas, publisher/printer of Saturday Press and PIECRUST Magazine. To answer the question what makes me tick, I am an artist who has a love for print ephemera. I started out as a printer and branched out with a small press independent magazine called PIECRUST, which later evolved into Saturday Press, which is Limited Artist Editions project that focuses on books and prints. I have always loved artist books and zines, the tactility and the level of intimacy that one has within the palm of their hands. The goal for these projects was to give artists/writers a platform to explore a medium they were unfamiliar with and create something that could be afforded by everyone.

What drew you to creating, publishing, editing and presenting your projects?

When I first started I felt a responsibility to the artists and writers I had invited to participate in PIECRUST to exhibit their work to people. I started with conferences and then moved to small press expos, but then it became about the community that was developed with other Small Press Publishers, learning about them and what they did and how we could support each other. 

What do you think of the relationship between publishing (what you do) and reaching an audience of readers?

I think it is an interesting and valuable relationship to develop. Its the audience that really gets to bond with finished product, but its the publisher who is the facilitator of sorts, nurturing that relationship is really important I think for both the reader and the publisher. 

Can you tell us about your creative, editorial, and collaborative process?

This process differs from project to project, if it is an artist book that I creating, most of the time it relates back to specific themes in my work and I get inspired. When it comes to collaboration, I prefer that these processes happen organically between myself and whoever I am collaborating with.

How did you get into working with small press publishing?

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It started when I was in graduate school, my best friend and I decided to start an art and literary magazine (PIECRUST) that would have a craft element to it. It was a real learning process for the both of us, but it was so much fun and rewarding.

What advice would you give to someone starting a small press or publishing project?

Be patient and ask for help. You don’t have to do it by yourself and there are plenty of people out there that are willing to mentor or answer questions.

How long have you been at it (by "it" I mean publishing)?

In 2011 PIECRUST magazine launched, so I guess about 6 years. 

What would you have told your younger self about what you are doing? and What do you hope your older self might tell the you of today?

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I probably would have told my younger self “You really don’t need to do a run of 250 for your first issue. Also good choice of not doing a quarterly.” I think my future older self would tell me “ You still have time to do whatever you want, don’t think there is a limit."

Other than your own projects, what are some other presses and publications that inspire you to keep reading and supporting the small press community?

So I have a strong bias for the STL SPEX team publishers, I think they all make incredibly beautiful poignant work that inspires me daily. Other presses that I love: ViceVersa Press, Pioneer Press, Work/Play, The Fort Gondo Poetry Series, Skin and Bone, Vagina Magazine. 

Anything else you want to say?

Thanks for letting me ramble, I look forward to going to the this years STL SPEX Expo. 

 

 

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