Throughout the month leading up the the SFZF we will be running daily mini-profiles of some of the many zinesters, cartoonists, and other creative types who make the Zine Fest what it is. Today's creators are the Bay Area Artists Unite (BAAU).
Q. What inspired you to get into small-press/DIY publishing?
A. BAAU was founded in the late 1990s. A number of artists at an anime website realized they all lived in the Bay Area and decided to meet up in person. At its core BAAU has always been first a social community for artists and a network for sharing skills and ideas. The publishing started as a side project and has been continued as it's a great publicity and recruitment tool, and also helps cover the cost of attending conventions.
Q. When did you create your first zine or similar project? Can you describe it for us? When you look back, are you proud, embarrassed, both?
A. In 2002, to pool resources and publish everyone's work, BAAU produced its first anthology, BAAU Down. Back then there were few options for individual self-publishing so it made sense to compile everyone's work into one book to keep costs down. A couple hundred copies were printed and sold at anime conventions both in the Bay Area and SoCal. It had about a dozen stories in it and is kind of a collector's item these days. We've since produced an anthology every year for nine years.
Q. What is your all-time favorite zine/comic/etc (by someone other than you)? Who is your DIY hero?
We've got a couple of sister organizations that we swap ideas and publications with, notably Sacramento Comicbook Creators Group (SCCG) and Hanabi Studio in Honolulu. There's also an East Coast Artists Unite based out of New York.
Q. What would you like to see more of in the small-press world?
A. More collaboration.
Q. If you could give advice to an aspiring DIY creator, what would it be? What advice do you wish you had gotten when you were starting out?
A. I once saw a sticker that said, "Do it yourself, but do it together!"
Q. What communities do you wish there were more zines/comics/etc for?
A. It'd be great to see a "read local" movement similar to the local food movement where locally produced media about local issues becomes a bigger part of everyday life and community activity.
Q. In addition to the kind of work you will be showing at Zine Fest, what other creative pursuits do you have? Hobbies? Passions?
A. In addition to making individual zines and the group anthology, BAAU members do a wide range of things, including T-shirt design, art tutoring, magic shows, mural painting, dancing, karaoke, and working in supermarkets, video game companies, and the semiconductor industry.
Q. What are you working on now? What are you gonna do next?
A. Various members have their own projects and we'll have our 10th annual anthology coming out in May 2011.