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.

Lcardenas Hey Gurl.jpg

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?

logo_piecrust.jpg

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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Dmitri Jackson wants you to do you.

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Dmitri Jackson wants you to do you.

Dmitri Jackson of Blackwax Boulevard on craft, fans, and washing hands. We're excited to see his new work at STL-SPEx.

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

My name is Dmitri Jackson. Been living in St. Louis for most of my life. I'm an illustrator, designer and cartoonist. My primary project now is Blackwax Boulevard, a comic that satirizes indie music culture. Well, things can make me tick in a good way and a bad way. First the bad: it can be little stuff like people not washing their hands after using a public restroom. Or driving on a cloudy, foggy morning and seeing all the cars on the road with their headlights on, except for that one gray/silver car that no one can see on cloudy, foggy morning. That drives me nuts! In a way that leads into what makes me tick in a good way: noticing those little ironies in life that can inspire a really funny story. Also, discovering a great film or record I'd never heard of before. Or running into fans of my work in person. What mainly makes my publications tick is the desire to make sense of the world we live in, to dig into the complexities of life and the emotional, psychological undercurrents that create them.

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

I'm pretty much a hands-on, do-it-myself kind of person. I'm ashamed to say I don't really trust others well with the vision for my work, because a lot of art, especially comics, can thrive greatly from collaboration. Also in the beginning, nobody else would do it for me initially. So, self-publishing came from necessity.


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

The great thing about that relationship is the constant interaction I get with the readers. Whether it's publishing a page at a time online and getting instant feedback, or readers finding my books in store then following me on social media. There's some kind of steady engagement between publisher and audience. It wasn't like that even a decade ago. It's great to see that relationship continuing to evolve.

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

I write, sketch, rewrite, re-sketch, print, print and print some more. All at the same time. While I'm drawing comics, I'm writing for future ones. The creating and editing stages tend to run parallel to each other.

How did you get into working with small press publishing?

I just jumped into it and figured it out as I went. I'm still trying to figure it out.

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

Do "you". Draw what you like. Write what you like. Explore themes that interest you the most. You'll be surprised how many readers might connect with what you're making.

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

Since college. Been almost a decade now.

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?

Me to my younger self: perseverance is crucial. Keep pushing. Keep drawing. Your style and content will take care of themselves. Focus on the craft, not the cash. My older self to me: Aren't you happy you listened to me?

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

The Mixed Feelings anthologies by local artists in St. Louis. It's awesome to see so much talent in the city.

Anything else you want to say?

It's really wonderful we artists have something like STLSPEx. It allows us to get more connected into the creative community here in St. Louis. Speaking of connected, follow me on Instagram, @frotooncomics.

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To his childself, Greg McCrays tells of the awesome nature of flying cars.

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To his childself, Greg McCrays tells of the awesome nature of flying cars.

Greg McCray, writer and illustrator of Laser Dog returns to STL-SPEx to show us what the next adventure.

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

Yours Truly (Greg McCrary) entered into existence knowing that if I had to choose between life without drawing and death it was off to the guillotine! I grew up with early influences from Cartoon Network favorites: Samurai Jack and Dexter’s Laboratory, all imagined by my artist idol, Genndy Tartakovsky. As a child I would draw through reams of paper, driving my mom batty with weekly trips to the store. If there was no paper in sight, I would go batty myself from all the monsters and superheroes that were collecting in my brain, like a creative constipation. Growing up multiracial had its complications as well and eventually served as inspiration for my art.  As the youngest of four interracial brothers, the son of a White mother and a Black father, a resident of North County, and a student in the Kirkwood School District, I constantly felt pressure from my peers to choose a racial identity. It was confusing, but my art and my writing allowed me to channel those frustrations into something cool and exciting: comic illustration. Through the duality of this medium, the ability to write and draw my characters into existence, I could represent the duality I encounter in everyday life and share that cool imaginative stuff with others.

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

As I said previously, I've had stories cluttering my brain as long as I remember and at a point and time in my adult age, I felt the need to share this madness with the world. Drawing and writing comics seemed like the most reasonable choice to reach a audience seeing as it doesn't take as long, as is a bit cheaper than other mediums, not to mention it's pretty darn rad!

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

I don't stress too much on the fine art of publishing/reaching readers. I worry on how to pour my best efforts into what I draw and write in each issue of my comics. What I publish speaks for itself and if it's good enough the audience will come to me.

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

My process of writing begins with inspiration from other artists, genres, or history and science. When flirting with the idea of a story, along with what characters are involved, I give myself plenty of time to write and edit the idea. Really nurturing the story as organically as possible, not rushing and making sure it's grounded in dialog. I believe the writing should read like real conversations, despite if the setting is further from the truth.

How did you get into working with small press publishing?

I got into self publication from the need of showing off a portfolio for clients. There were no opportunities to grow my body of work so I figured Small Press Publications was a great way to create my own opportunities.

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

DO IT! No need to worry about the Pros and Cons, just commit. If you talk to any successful person in any profession they will admit that the key to success is learning from failure. So get out there and become a huge failure! But don't forget to learn what you can do better.

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

I've been publishing for four 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?

My younger self I would of told to start working and refining your skills as early as possible. I think some people at a young age believe they will start learning your craft when they are older, but in today's day and age, your education and career starts as soon as you choose it. And I'm sure my future self will tell me to have patience, there is no rush to being successful. And flying cars are awesome!

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

I'm very impress with my buddies that created, Ruff and Tumble Comic (Writers- Jim Ousley & Oscar Pineda-Madrid. Artist- Ben Sawyer). Also Brian Moncey's comic, Ghost Town (Artist- Jessie Kwe).

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Trade zines with Nathan Pearce of Same Coin Press

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Trade zines with Nathan Pearce of Same Coin Press

Where excited to see the work of photographer and zinester Nathan Pearce of Same Coin Press at this year's STL-SPEx.

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

I love seeing my photographs in print and also love sharing the work of other photographers and artists. 

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

I'm a photographer and these days a lot of photographers make work that only lives online. I wanted to take some of my work off the internet and put it onto paper. 

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

Making zines and photobooks has brought my work to audiences who would have never seen it. I'm blown away at how many times I have shipped zines out of the country.

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

Do it. 

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

About three years now. I have loved zines for a long time but had never made one. 

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

I work a lot with some other zine makers. Specifically Rachael Banks, Jake Reinhart, Claire Cushing and Matthew David Crowther. 

Anything else you want to say?

Everyone reading this should trade me a zine. 

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