Portland Zine Symposium


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Portland Zine Symposium / Exhibitor Interviews  / PZS Exhibitor: Eileen Chavez

PZS Exhibitor: Eileen Chavez

Where do you live?

I currently live in the land of ports (Portland, OR) but I’m originally from and grew up in Oakland, California.
If this is your first time tabling at Portland Zine Symposium, what excites you most about Portland and its zine community?
This is actually my second time tabling at PZS – my first time tabling ever was last year at PZS. Last year’s experience was incredibly inspiring – I remember drooling at the wide range and selection of lovingly crafted zines by so many independent local and out of town creators and humbled by the incredible support I got in return. I love a lot about the community that surrounds zine culture and how it intentionally aims to open up a dialogue between things in my life that I am most passionate about including interactive art, musings on identity, radical theory and practice, community building, sharing of passions/interests/self-help all while focusing on self-publishing and increasing agency in that process. In particular, as a queer person of color I am drawn to other queer poc artists and writers as it is incredibly powerful and inspiring to find honest and open art by those whose voices have so often been silenced and pushed to the margins.
Share with us an image of you creating and/or your creative space. What is your zine-making process?
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I usually draw on a decent amount of caffeine in communal spaces, on the couch in my living room with furry friends in my lap or alone at work during spooky graveyard hours. Spooky hours are when I’m most productive as time seems to crunch best there and I am able to access parts of my brain that are hard to tap into during the normal daily grind. I usually have something rumbling around in my head but I rarely sit down knowing exactly what is going to come out of the blank paper. I like to channel ideas and scribbles as they come out and create a dialogue on the page itself. The rest of the production process is a chaotic blur of scanning, photoshop editing, shuffle of thumbnails to figure out order and more photoshop, then praying that I did the print settings correctly and staple, fold and massage wrists/body for a week.
How do you keep inspired?
My friends are the foremost muses in my life. I am surrounded by some amazingly talented, magical creatures and they seriously blow my mind every day with the new projects that they are working on. I feel like artists are often seen as mysterious elusive geniuses and observing my friends all create in different ways has helped me realize that creating art is a process that you have to find your own way into – and that we can all tap into creative energy in different ways. When I feel stuck in a rut I usually listen to music that they have made or paw through their printed scribbles. I also really love to go to the local library and scavenge through the graphic novel/comix/zine collections with a special attention on queer/poc authors. I love that the selection there is large and diverse and that you can almost always find local gems and learn about a wide range of things-including the local zine community itself.
If you could give your 16th year old teen self a zine, which one would it be?
Oh man. It’s extremely hard to chose just one but maybe Yumi Sakugawa’s “There is no right way to meditate”. I discovered Yumi on tumblr a few years back and her art was incredibly influential and therapeutic. I think my younger self could definitely benefit from having a woc artist -who directly addresses mental health, to look up to. Also I think it would be powerful to give myself a guide on how to self-soothe at that age, as well as introduce myself to seeing art as a form of therapy. 

What are you working on for this year’s Portland Zine Symposium? Share with us some photos of your new work!

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One zine I’m very excited about is an anthology of my good friends from the ‘Sound Grounds Wreckin Cru’ about important cats in our lives. I’m also in the newest WOC zine who’s theme is about woc zinesters and very meta but also very important. For my own projects I’m working on a new (fourth) “leen zine” as I call most of my zines. Mostly they are loosely structured bundles of paper with winding narratives and themes depending on what space I was in mentally while creating (over a few months) and involve drawings and subsequent thought meditations that have crawled out of me when I let my lizard brain take over. I also am trying to get together a zine with a few short stories that I have written in the last year that are more structured narratives (which is rare for me).