Creator Q+A | The CAliCO Umbrella Collective

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 Megan Quinn and Liz Brent CAliCO Umbrella Collective. Stay tuned for more!

Q. What inspired you to get into small-press/DIY publishing?
MQ: Ten years ago, I saw my first-ever zine at a record store in CO. I thought, "I could do this! This is awesome!"
LB: My BFF and co-exhibitor, Megan Quinn, introduced me to zines when we were both at the University of Colorado at Boulder. My first zine festival was the '07 Denver Zine Fest, and when I saw all the ways people zine, that was it for me - I was hooked!

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?
LB: My first zine was a single poem that I spread across several pages using abstract illustrations. I still like the poem, and actually think it was a decent first project, but I would totally do it differently now!
MQ: When I was 15, I had much different priorities for my zines and was still figuring out my voice. Today, I'm happy I started self-publishing at all!

Q. What is your all-time favorite zine/comic/etc (by someone other than you)? Who is your DIY hero?
MQ: Kelly Shortandqueer really inspired me. His zines about his life as a trans author taught me more than school ever did. He is a brave, honest and visceral writer.
LB: Besides MQ here, my DIY comic hero is Amy Martin, who I met at SFZF last year and has become a great friend and continues to inspire me.

Q. If you have been to the SF Zine Fest before, do you have a favorite/exciting/cringe-worthy memory?
LB: Last year was our first year at SFZF, and our neighbors (Amy Martin & Ingrid Keir) were my favorite part of it because they are still my friends today! SFZF also was a major reason why I decided to move to San Francisco!
MQ: It was my first-ever trip to SF, and my face hurt from smiling and meeting new people!

Q. What would you like to see more of in the small-press world?
MQ: In Denver, I'd like to see more resources for small press authors. That's part of why we created CAliCO Umbrella.
LB: In the arts in general, I would like to see more USA inter-state and international, cross communication/collaboration. The internet is a great medium for that, but there's a lot to be said for physical presence (especially with zines!), artists getting to take their work other places.

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?
MQ: I wrote lots of handwritten letters to zinesters I admired. I never met another real-life zine writer until I was in college. Now I'm a journalist, and I 100% value asking questions and putting yourself out there. I am so glad I made those connections! You never know who's out there until you ask.
LB: Mine would be pretty simple: Have no fear! Just go for it! Try it! It's way easier than you think. But I definitely second what MQ said. I had her to guide me in my first zines, but I think asking others for help - and now it's so easy with the Internet to find folks - is a great idea!

Q. What communities do you wish there were more zines/comics/etc for?
LB: A comic/zine I've had in mind for awhile to make, and a project I'm hoping to get started ASAP, is for dancers. It would be interesting to see zines for performers, actors, athletes... people in the physical arts.
MQ: I don't necessarily want to suggest a certain "shape" to the landscape of zine topics-- I just want to hear about what is important to the creative people in the small press community!

Q. What do you think the general public knows or thinks about small-press? How can the zine/comics community reach a greater segment of the public? Or is it better to keep the small-press scene more tightly knit?
MQ: When I first started, zines were much more common. They have since faded somewhat in Denver. Nowadays, the scene here is quite a bit smaller but very supportive of each other. I'd love to let people know how easy and liberating zine writing is, and I know Denver zinesters do too!
LB: I'm honestly not sure what the "general public" knows... I think film, like the recent premiere of "Handmade Nation," is a strong way to reach people. Also, I find the Internet as a networking tool to be a powerful way to inform others.

Q. In addition to the kind of work you will be showing at Zine Fest, what other creative pursuits do you have? Hobbies? Passions?
LB: LIFE is a creative pursuit! My life is all about dance, drawing, painting, sewing, crafts, exploring San Francisco, biking, hiking, yoga, rock climbing... and my amazing family and friends.
MQ: I love sewing things (badly) on my sewing machine. I'm not really religious, but I love my job as a religion columnist and blogger about all the zany weird connections between religion and pop culture.

Q. What are you working on now? What are you gonna do next?
LB: I'm working on taking my various art and projects I've put on the backburner for a long time to a whole new, professional level. I'm revamping my website with and I just set up an Etsy account to sell various things I make. I have a part-time job, but these days I think of my main career as a freelance/professional multidisciplinary artist. Gotta make it happen!
MQ: I hope to continue writing for as many mediums as possible, though I consider zines to be the most creative and heartfelt means I have of expressing myself. Here's to more ideas and more photocopies!