Sunday, October 23, 2016

Zine scene finds a home at a Highland Park book shop

Zine makers at work at Highland Park workshop/Nathan Solis

By Nathan Solis

At the Highland Park zine-making workshop at Pop-Hop Books and Prints, all I could think about was kindergarten, when as a child I had an endless thread of creativity. A few minutes before I was stuck in L.A. traffic, nudging along the streets. Now the sound of cars is replaced with scissors, the smell of glue sticks, markers, and paper. There are eight of us, huddled around a crafting table, working on this collaborative summer zine. Ribbons of magazines, notebook sketches litter the table and someone has brought a bottle of sun block for inspiration.

Pop-Hop favors the self-publishing model, boasting workshops like this, the DIY generation represented front and center.

“When I think of Pop-Hop, I think of zines,” says Bianca Barragan from LA Zine Fest, one of the organizers at the workshop.

When someone walks off York Boulevard into Pop-Hop, a rack of the colorful personal miniature magazines  sits next to the register. Compared to larger chain book stores, Pop-Hop could be considered sparse – there’s one main wall lined with used books, classic literature, science and biographies. A children’s section sits off to one corner, and in the center of the room are locally published magazines, anthologies and yes, more zines.

“The bookstores that have tons of books are almost like clearing houses. I like to think we take some of the work out of having to search for stuff,” says Robey Clark, co-owner at Pop-Hop.

When Pop-Hop opened in May 2012, Clark knew that he wanted a place that was part studio, part retail, a middle ground that had a cultural edge. Sarah Balcomb, his business partner, provides more of the literary edge while Clark hopes to get a lucrative screen printing shop going in the coming months, as plenty of the tote bags can attest to his talent as a screen printer.

“We not only want to carry original content, we also want to generate as much as possible, be it through worships or artists in residence. We’re still in year one, things might be moving a bit slowly,” says Clark, who along with two other employees, are feeling their way through the quickly-evolving York Boulevard scene outside their door. Criticisms and comments that Pop-Hop receives range from a too-exclusive selection of books to a few customers complaining of poor customer service.

But at the zine workshop people seem to relish the opportunity to create in such an environment. Some have driven from as far as Toluca Lake for the workshop, which costs ten bucks and all supplies are provided.

Barragan, along with the rest of the group, have different reasons for making and reading zines  – they’re experimental, edgy, unique or act as personal calling cards for artists looking for work.

Also mistakes are encouraged.

“Don’t you fix that typo,” someone shouts.

Someone adds too much glue or their picture isn’t right. It’s all part of the process. I arrived late and the magazine clippings I brought along don’t remind of summer, but more of migration. I draw a bird. It’s not perfect.

Daisy Noemi, a natural at zines, writes out stanzas and draws a tree, free hand. and it’s all particular, like a personal note from a friend in class.

“I don’t even think this is what I had in mind for this one,” Noemi says.

Someone photocopied their personal sketches, another person has a detailed drawing of a hiking trail. At the end of the workshop all of the pages are laid out and it’s a mosaic of shapes, colors and mantras, all of it created at home, or at least a home-like environment.

“I’d love to build it out to a place that people can walk in off the street and just create,” Clark says. “We’ll get there in time.”

NEXT EVENT: Drawing Club for Writers, June 19

Photo by Nathan Solis

Nathan Solis is a Highland Park resident who writes about and photographs the L.A. music scene. You can find more of Solis stories, reviews and photos at Smashed Chair.

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One comment

  1. LA Zine Fest is such an asset to Los Angeles.

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