Mixed Messages Zine Interview

My first exposure to collage art was seeing the covers for The Beatles albums, Revolver, and Sgt Peppers, in my mom’s record collection. What was your introduction to collage art?
Before the term, ‘collage art’ was even a thought in my mind, when I was 4 or 5 I was cutting and taping pictures onto construction paper. The first few ‘collages’ looked more like hieroglyphic ransom notes but my mother loved them so they would hang in the kitchen until they were sun-bleached and thin. The first time I saw true collage art was in the first grade when I took a school trip to the art museum where there was a showcase of local collage artists. I felt warm and welcomed more than anything had done to me at that point in my life and I haven’t stopped cutting things out since.

Who are some of your favourite past and current collage/mixed media artists?
I can remember seeing Richard Hamilton’s ‘Just what is it that makes today’s home so different, so appealing?’ when I was 7 or 8 and completely blown away. I believe that collage art should create a person/place/thing/situation that would never occur naturally. Collage is a dream world that our brains should always be living in and my favorite artists are those creating universes with scissors and paper. Ken Topham, Katana Lippart, Ryan Parker and Fon Borrello are just to name a few.

What other forms of art act as inspiration for your collage work?
Music is absolutely a huge form of inspiration. When I’m cutting I love to listen to bands like Giraffes? Giraffes, Hella and Lightning Bolt – mostly instrumental Math Rock. The crazy time signatures and tempo changes keep my brain active which makes it easier for me to make zines with more content. I am also heavily influenced by street art. My current hometown of Rochester, New York has a very rich arts culture and the city devotes the entire summer every year to inviting artist from around the world to paint murals on our buildings. Just taking a walk downtown can be so inspiring, seeing new and organic color combinations I would have never considered before.

How long have you been making zines and podcasts? What are some of the advantages or disadvantages of these formats? Are there any areas of overlap between them?
I have been making zines since 2009. I had just graduated collage and this was before everyone was constantly connected to the internet, so I made snail-mailing a priority. I’ve been helping to keep the US postal service in business ever since! The podcast just aired its 91st show today. I’ve been consistently doing one show a week and I’ve covered every theme from zines to insects to continuity errors on syndicated television shows. I would say the only true overlap between Radio and Zines is the ‘Mixed Messages’ brand. I try and play music that stimulates creative minds, or reaches way back into your psyche to pull out old memories you thought you forgot. The only downside to being passionate about both formats is that there are hardcore fans for each, but not always both. Some days I’ll receive raving e-mails about one of my zine someone just found , but then I’ll only clock in at two listeners on the radio show. Just as there is in everything in life, there is an ebb and flow to Mixed Messages.

Can you briefly walk us through your process? For example: How long does it take to assemble a typical piece, and how many different places will you source images from?
Collecting material for the zine truly starts by making new friends. Whether it be at a used bookstore or at a zine festival, I love when my zines end up in loving hands. After that, it’s all up to the folks that send in material as to how long it takes for me to create one. Once I’ve received enough submissions (about 10-20 envelopes worth) I’ll spread all of the contents on my studio floor and start laying pieces on top of each other to see what fits – what was meant to be put together? When I have a good ‘theme’ and pieces are starting to tell their own story, I’ll get out the rubber cement and start gluing to paper. Overall, it takes about 3 cups of coffee, 5 albums on the record player and 3 hours to put a zine together. Finding somewhere to make color copies is a whole other adventure!

Mixed Messages Zine is 100% submission based. It’s a unique zine, yet it reminds us a bit of Ashley Parker Owen’s Mail Art, or Sean Tejaratchi’s Craphound. Can you explain how the zine works? What goes into producing a typical issue?
There are plenty of ways to get your hands on a Mixed Messages Zine, but once you hold one in your hands your job as a reader is to enjoy the art. Once you’re read through it once or twice, then you make the transition to submitter. See, each issue has a self-addressed and stamped envelope that’s stapled to the zine. I encourage everyone who comes across a zine to send me pieces of who they are. I’ve received everything from prom photos, to grocery receipts to a human tooth (that’s only happened once but I wouldn’t be mad if it happened again, to be honest) and it’s with those submissions that a zine is created. The idea is that putting pieces of ourselves together makes us whole. My scraps can be glued to your scraps and together we’re making this cohesive work of art. To me, it’s the truest form of collaboration and respect. Now, if you put your return address on the envelope you sent back, you get an even better perk from Mixed Messages. Each return address gets put on a mailing list and every time I make a new zine, I’ll just mail it to you. Welcome to the Mixed Messages Club, I’ve been waiting to meet you.

Are there any zines you are currently reading, or have read recently that you loved, and our readers should know about?
I recently met Jonathan, the creator of ‘Mixed Messages’, a zine about mixtapes from the early – mid 2000s. I had been wanting to meet him for years because I had done research on the ‘Mixed Messages’ name and his zine kept popping up. I finally was able to get my hands on a copy of a back-issue of Mixed Messages and I loved it! The content was so smart and fun and it was clear his love for music transcended many mediums for him. I’m proud he and I share the name Mixed Messages, and most importantly, he’s planning a reboot of his zine and calling it ‘More Mixed Messages’!

What’s next for Mixed Messages Zine and podcast?
Travel. I’ve been from Los Angeles, California to New York, New York this summer because of collage art. I’m planning to see many more US states and head to Australia within the year to share zines overseas. The podcast I can do from anywhere, so let’s go everywhere! Anybody having a zine fest somewhere tropical? E-mail me.

To learn more about the zine or to submit to the next issue click here.  You can also order copies here. Check out the podcast here.

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