Project: Turn an old t-shirt into a journal cover

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This happens to me all the time: I find myself with an old t-shirt that has far too many holes in it or has shrunk after one too many trips through the dryer, but I can't quite bring myself to part with it. It may not be in decent enough shape for the thrift stores, or I just dig the logo and want to hold on to it a little while longer. Over at Instructables, user emilygraceking has a neat and simple solution for those torn-up old t-shirts: turn them into journal covers.

She's posted her instructions, using Mod Podge to attach the t-shirt to cardstock and then stitching the binding. I wonder if a long-armed stapler would work, or if the staples would have trouble piercing the fabric neatly. Has anyone given this project a try?

Recycled T-Shirt Journal [Instructables] 

Makeshift Society Offers All the Perks of Working in an Office (Without the Terrible Boss)

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It's nice not to have to go into an office for 40 hours every week, but the work-from-anywhere lifestyle has its drawbacks. Sure, you never have to change out of your pajamas, but the lack of human contact provides a quick path to insanity. The Bay Area has plenty of coffee shops, but despite all the Macbooks you'll see open at your local purveyor of Blue Bottle, they aren't always the best places to work. And sometimes, you just want to have a conversation with a co-worker, maybe to bounce ideas off of them, maybe to vent about a problem, maybe just to complain about the weather.

Increasingly, subscription-based shared workspaces are popping up around the Bay Area, offering freelancers, entrepreneurs, and other office-less nomads a place to plug in their laptops and chat with their fellow members. What sets Hayes Valley's Makeshift Society apart from other shared workspaces is its emphasis on encouraging creative work and collaboration.

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Nestled on Gough Street between Oak and Fell, Makeshift Society is a cozy space. Members can channel their inner feline and curl up in the cushioned window seats, enjoy the interactivity of the long table at the front, meet in the private conference room, or quietly work on the couches or at one of the smaller tables. If you're a dog owner, you can even bring your well behaved pooch. But Makeshift offers more than just a place to work; a lending library of books on art and design fill the shelves. Bikes are available for members running local errands. A rotating pop-up shop highlights the wares of various local makers (and is open to the public.) And there is a full slate of lectures, lunches, and mixers designed to help you get to know your coworkers.

"It's for people who are craving that camaraderie that you don't get at a coffee shop," says team member Christina Bohn. Bohn says that Makeshift attracts a variety of professionals, including graphic designers, interior designers, visual artists, entrepreneurs, programmers, and frequently members will collaborate on projects. People with specific expertise will hold office hours to answer questions about everything from design to how to license your artwork. Members at all levels also get access to the Makeshift Society's Google Group, where members can throw out questions to the entire membership, post job listings, or just promote themselves and their latest works. Even if members opt not to come into the "office," they can still enjoy the resources that come with being part of a diverse group of people with a diverse knowledge base.

 

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Even if you aren't a member of the Makeshift Society, you can enjoy much of what Makeshift has to offer. You can peruse the pop-up shop, attend office hours, or take their classes—ranging from crafty crash courses on knitting and collage to business-focused classes on managing your finances and writing snazzy copy. If you have a special project in mind, you can also apply for three months of free access through Makeshift's residency program. Last quarter, Makeshift offered a residency to Hunter Franks, who used it to launch the SF Postcard Project, in which he asks residents of neighborhoods like Bayview and the Tenderloin to write postcards about the things they love about their neighborhoods and then mails them to random occupants of the city.

Supporting memberships to the Makeshift Society start at $60 per year and grant members the Makeshift newsletter, access to the directory and Google Group, 15% off sponsored courses and events. If you'd like to work at the Makeshift space on a regular basis, access memberships start at $90 per month for one day a week and top out at $350 per month for fives days a week. Makeshift also offers salon memberships and day pass options. Be sure to check out the event schedule for upcoming classes and events, many of which are open to the public.

Featured Artist for SFZF 2013: Justin Hall

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We are pleased to announce that the multifaceted Justin Hall, will be a featured artist for SFZF 2013. Justin's work includes True Travel Tales, Hard to Swallow, and Glamazonia The Uncanny Super Tranny. He is also the editor of No Straight Lines: Four Decades of Queer Comics, an anthology of LGBTQ comics that happens to highlight history and culture. Justin just won the 2013 Lambda Literary Foundation Award for Best Anthology, and has been nominated for and Eisner Award. Justin has been a pillar for SF Bay Area cartoonists for the past decade. It's an honor to have him as our guest. 

Zinester Spotlight: Ben Costa

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Ben Costa is a Xeric Award winning comic writer and artist who currently lives in San Jose.  His ongoing project is a historical fiction comic called Pang, The Wandering Shaolin Monk, which he updates twice a week on his website.

Where do you get your ideas?

Even though that's normally a ridiculous question, for Pang, which is historical fiction, I actually have an answer. I get a lot of ideas from reading about Chinese history. Either some factoid or story will immediately jump out at me, or I'll need to look something up for accuracy, and then I'll be inspired by another thing completely unrelated while I was looking for the first thing.

I've seen you at SF Zine Fest for the last 4 or 5 years.  What do you like about that show that keeps you coming back?

Zine Fest is a good, low key, low overhead show for me where I don't have to worry too much about anything. I just need to show up with some stuff and try to sell it. I like the fact that people can just walk in off the street. My stuff probably doesn't fit in that well with everyone else's stuff, but maybe that's a good thing.

You have a website and attend yearly shows.  What other ways have you found to advertise your work and get your books out to the public?

When I put my first book out in 2010, it got distributed to comic shops through Diamond. That helped a bit, but it wasn't like I was putting huge numbers with them by any stretch of the imagination. The webcomic is probably the best way to get my comics in front of people. In 2011, I went to around 15 conventions all over the country. I've attended way less since then so I could focus more on finishing Pang Vol. 2, but I'll be doing the gamut of conventions again when the book is out this summer.

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You won the Xeric Comic Book Self-Publisher Award and were able to print the first part of your comic Pang, The Wandering Shaolin Monk.  Tell me about that experience.  Were there any surprises in seeing your online pages in printed form?  Any Disappointments?

Winning the Xeric was awesome. I have nothing but gratitude for the Xeric Foundation. And I'm very pleased with how the first volume came out. The whole process of printing a book myself and selling it is still an ongoing learning experience. I'm still trying to figure out if I can make self-publishing work. So on that front there have been disappointments, mainly because I'm not at all close to making a living solely from comics!

Pang, The Wandering Shaolin Monk is your big work which you publish weekly on your website.  Tell me more about it.

From now until Vol. 2 is complete, the site updates twice a week! The story is set in 17th century China, and it's about a Shaolin monk named Pang whose temple has been destroyed by the Qing dynasty. It's very rooted in Shaolin history and legend, but the main plot of the story is that Pang thinks a couple of his brothers might have escaped his temple as well, so his goal is find them. Meanwhile, unbeknownst to Pang, a group of Qing soldiers is after one of the books from his temple. Aside from that, the meat of the story deals with Pang's trials and tribulations as a sweet, naive monk living outside of the temple for the first time in his life. It's a constant struggle for the guy. He becomes smitten with a girl, he's constantly confronted by corrupt individuals, and he's forced to beat people up all the time!

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As a DIY comic maker, you have great freedom in the content of your books and the way in which they are printed and distributed.  If you had the chance to have 'Pang' published, I assume you'd jump at it.  Am I wrong?  Any regrets you think you might have in having to compromise with the concerns of a publishing company?

I don't know if I'd jump at the chance to be published by any old publisher. I've heard enough stories about people who get a single mediocre check from a book that, from the outside looking in, appeared to be pretty successful. I'm able to make that kind of money on my own. Of course, there's the benefit of being published to lead to other opportunities down the line. But for Pang, I'd rather just do it myself at this point, unless a large book publisher was interested. But I'm fairly certain that won't happen. And that's okay, Tom. That's okay. *cries*

For more of Ben's work, and daily Pang, The Wandering Shaolin Monk adventure, visit shilongpang.com.

Bringing Art into the Community: The Oasis for Girls and The POC Zine Workshop

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Creative work shouldn’t be isolating. Sure, you might spend hours alone in your room, working throughout the night, but does it stop there? Art is about self-expression as well communicating with other people. It is a way to project, validate voices, and bring people together. And that makes a difference, which is why Roseli Ilado (of The Oasis for Girls Program) asked The POC Zine Project to lead a zine workshop for a group of teenage girls.  

The Oasis for Girls Program serves under-resourced young women ages 11-24, and it empowers women by helping them reach their potential through lifeskills, art, and career planning. The POC Zine Project validates zinesters of color by archiving their work, and bringing visibility and awareness to a multitude of artists. Together, they build on a common goal: celebrating all the intelligence, talent, and strength these young women have to offer.

Seven teenage girls sat around a table and didn’t say a word. They watched as Roseli introduced Itoro Udofu and myself as their guests. We connected the projector, trying to ignore the fact that we were being assessed. But that initial moment of tension and distrust didn’t last long. Roseli created a level of comfort that encouraged the girls to speak and established a feeling of solidarity.

The workshop started with a brief history of DIY Culture and zines. We talked about self-publishing as a way of validating our thoughts, our communities. We drew examples from work by Tomás Moniz, Mimi Thi Nguyen, and Osa Atoe. The girls learned about a father who writes to help his daughters stay strong and true to themselves, about a Professor who started off as a zinester, and a musician who broke all expectations by creating the fanzine she wanted see.

Photo credit: Itoro Udofia

Photo credit: Itoro Udofia

The second part of the workshop started and ended with a circle. The art and spirit that came out of it surprised us all.  We asked the group, “If you could write about anything, what would it be?” They response revolved around the topics we’re told to ignore: race, sex, and poverty. Each girl had her own anecdote. Everyone spoke. Everyone listened.

The girls were supposed to create two or three minis about the most inspiration women in their lives. Most of the girls wrote about their mothers, grandmothers and friends, others wrote about the things they had on their mind.  By the end of the workshop, we went around the circle again. We shared our minis with each other, and through those small folded pieces of paper, we unveiled stories, each one of them just as unique and beautiful as the individuals in that room. I felt privileged to be a part of that circle. This workshop reminded me that while art might empower, it truly reaches its potential to change things when it brings people together. Art isn’t a solitary thing.  

For more information and contact details for the Oasis for Girls program visit them online;  for tour dates, events, and news, visit The POC Zine Project's website and Facebook page.

 

2013 SF Zine Fest Registration is Open

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We're thrilled to announce that exhibitor registration has opened for the 2013 SF Zine Fest! The show will be Labor Day weekend, August 31st and September 1st at the SF County Fair Building in Golden Gate Park.  

If you are interested in registering as an exhibitor, please visit the Registration page. There you will find further instructions for submitting your registration form and paying your registration fees.

We encourage all exhibitors to register early! A few reasons why include….

1. After July 9th, 2013 the price for tables goes up for late registrants

2. Exhibitor registration closes on August 1st, 2013. 

3. Any special requests will be honored (if possible) in the order received.  So if you need any special arrangements (e.g. power outlets, desire to be near/far from a wall, etc.) it’s a smart move to let us know ahead of time.

Once we receive your application and payment you will receive a confirmation message.

Thank you all for your interest. Keep checking our website for updates about the show, and great info on the zine + DIY community. See ya at the fest!