Rick Klotz (above) wants you to know what the fuck is really going on in the world. He knows he can't reach out to a curious audience via mainstream publishing outlets, so Klotz, founder of Freshjive, went to USC for Shelf Life 2: A Big Day for Small Press to sell his latest zine — those little pamphlet-sized magazines made from scratch that you can find in independent bookstores.
The event, a celebration of independent art and publishing curated by the USC Roski School of Fine Arts and by Visions and Voices, featured nearly 100 independent artists, writers and publishers who promoted and sold their work.
Other artists and publishers in attendance included L'Oie De Craven from France, Mear One, Never Press, Punk Hostage Press, Robbie Conal, Space Camp and Super Secret Pow Wow. They and many others hustled, bartered and joked around with attendees in a lively bazaar complete with a DJ and complimentary lunch for all starving artists and fans.
Also on hand was music critic Byron Coley (of Spin, Wired and Arthur fame), who moderated separate presentations by artist, cartoonist and Emmy Award winner Gary Panter and Chip Kidd, artist, book designer and lover of all things related to Batman.
Artist Monster Kat, who asked to be part of Shelf Life 2 after attending the first event in 2009, sold her monster- and robot-related art, crafts and zines in one of the courtyards. She's been creating zines for years and loves the personal nature of the small, independent press as opposed to a large corporate press or magazine.
“Zines are beautiful because they're personal,” she explained. “They're a piece of beauty that you can't get in major bookstores. It's something rare and beautiful.” Her latest zine is The 10 Deadly Sins, which features illustrations of monsters partaking in the seven deadly sins plus 3 more: vainglory, despair and extravagance.
“[Zines] are an insight into somebody,” she continued. “You get to see their handiwork and it's not like a lifestyle magazine, which is telling you this or telling you that. This is somebody's work that they feel passionate about.”
Amir H. Fallah, founder and creator of Beautiful/Decay, echoed similar sentiments. He created Beautiful/Decay in 1996 while still in high school. It began as a black-and-white punk rock zine, grew into a magazine when he entered college and slowly evolved into what it is today: a themed book series about independent art in all genres, which one can subscribe to.
Each issue is limited to 2,000 copies because Fallah and co. “go through a lot of effort to make these things collectable,” he explained. “[It's] something you want to come back to year after year after year. It's like a source of inspiration. We want it to be an art object on its own.”
The original run of Beautiful/Decay also featured advertising within its pages. Fallah removed the ads from the magazine when he changed to the new format. “It's completely, 100 percent supported by our readers,” he said, “so when our readers stop supporting us, we'll stop printing it.” Fallah sold most of his stock by the end of the day.