So many things are happening simultaneously that it’s hard to feel the feelings, see the things that need to be seen, and make the decisions, or watch them happen.
So I understand, from ambiently and osmosis-ically?, I like making up words sometimes, haha, so I understand from being here and observing, day after day, morning after morning, the churn and whirr of the routines in this neighborhood. District 3, in HCMC. I’m in Vietnam. This is turning into the [deleted]. But many, I’m sure, are doing this same thing.
Not sure what’s going to come, and not being able to plan are things people are sharing with each other. I know. It’s not like I’m really eavesdropping but I can kinda tell. Maybe it’s the 27 countries I’ve visited and spent bunches of time in, including the seven years and counting in Southeast Asia, to date. Um. Long story I could launch into here, but that’s not really pertinent.
Uncertainty is like… being a fish on the chopping board.
Start liking seafood and fish sauce… is what someone on the /vietnam subreddit wrote. I. Think. That’s. Good advice.
More to share, but not now. I want to give our new acquaintance time to find the way back to emailing with me about the things ahead. I am thinking about starting an inbound tourism company, too, by the way. I can. I have some ideas. I even have some osmosis-experience.
Lol. I’m just trying to cheer you up, O.
I met O. over a conversation that started with a thing about me having to fork over USD 990.
Good thing I have… a job? Wait. I don’t have one of those. I have DK. DK is where I am. Existing.
Here’s a quick update with some more information that we gathered via email in a conversation with Beck, one of the three coordinators of the Festival of the Photocopier. The three coordinators and twelve volunteers together make this program. Beck told us about the history with the festival and the way it grew. ‘I started visiting Sticky in high school, back in 2002, and when I hit university there was an opening in the volunteer line-up, so I’ve been with Sticky for about 12 years, since 2008!’
New opportunities in a virtual setting..
A. Spaice talks with Beck, one of the organizers of Sticky Institute’s Festival of the Photocopier..
A. Spaice: What’s cool about the festival, to you?
Beck: The cool thing about FotP is that the growth has been very organic. Every year we offer the same thing – a free table to sell your zines on – and people come and they sell their zines and make some friends and have a nice time. So the next year when the fair rolls around again, those seasoned individuals want to come back which means we have to add on some new tables for people who have never been a part of the fair before. The community has really made the event what it is, 2020 was our 10th FotP, if no one wanted to come to the zine fair it wouldn’t be a two-day event held across two huge rooms. 2021 FotP will be our first online zine fair so it will be a different kind of fair, but we’re hoping people are as into it as the IRL fair.
A. Spaice: Any opportunities you foresee?
Beck: I think being able to open up the fair to zinesters globally, in a realistic way, has been a really nice side-effect. Normally we’re happy to take applications from people from outside of Melbourne if they’re happy to travel, but travelling from Adelaide or Perth to Melbourne is way more affordable than traveling from New Zealand or Japan.
The further away you are from Melbourne the more expensive that trip gets, so it’s unrealistic to expect people to spend thousands of dollars to attend a two-day event to sell a $2 zine. If they want to, and can afford to make that trip, then we’re extremely happy to have them, but it’s not feasible for a lot of people.
We’re seeing a couple of names we don’t recognise submit applications, so I think we might be getting a few more international entries.
A. Spaice: Yes! That was our situation, exactly! When we applied from Cambodia. I seriously thought about going there [in February 2020] but ike you said, a $2 zine doesn’t cover the cost of flights, and staying there.
Beck: We were glad to hear that you were able to find someone to table for you…! But yeah, we totally get the financial side of it. We get invites from interstate fairs and often it’s a matter of who is available to go and also can afford to? We’re all really aware that you aren’t really making money with zines, you make zines for the love of it, not to turn a huge profit.
So sometimes you can make a go of an out of town zine fair and sometimes you can’t, the good news for Australians is that there are more and more zine fairs popping up all over.
A. Spaice: And… Covid?
Beck: There was no resistance to making the FotP digital in 2021 because of the pandemic situation. As I’m sure you would have seen in the news, Melbourne has been through a pretty intense lockdown this year because of COVID-19, so for us it wasn’t really something that needed to be debated.
Our top priority is the health and safety of our community, so moving the fair online seemed like the best way to keep FotP alive and not have to cancel it or push it back to an undetermined point in the future.
Moving the fair online will also make it more accessible to people who might not have been able to make it down to the physical fair, so in a way it’s allowed us to open up applications to people= who wouldn’t otherwise have been able to participate.
We start planning FotP around September normally, so this year we were doing that while we were still in the hard lockdown here in Melbourne.
With the way things were changing for us at that time, we weren’t sure if we could legally have a 500-person indoor event in February. Even if we could have it, we didn’t know if our state borders would be open, or if the transmission in the community would still be in such a way that no one would want to risk the chance of exposure to come. The good news is that the lockdown worked and Melbourne is well on the way back to regular programming. But we know this isn’t the case everywhere, and that we could hit a third wave and go back into heavy restrictions if something were to go wrong.
It also means that people with physical or health restrictions are able to attend as well as people who are located interstate or overseas who can’t travel.
FotP is the largest zine fair in the southern hemisphere, and while it’s always free to table at the fair we know that if you’re traveling to Melbourne you’ve got those associated costs to cover while you’re in town. fotp.online is removing those costs for a lot of people so they can attend without having to worry about travel and accommodation and everything that goes with it.
Success, for us, would be to see people excited about the digital fair, come to the virtual events we have planned, and return to the site throughout the year to keep checking back in on artists they were interested in!
A. Spaice: Does it cost ?
Beck: The online nature of the event means that it’s literally cost-free for people to sign up from other locations now, so we’re hoping to see a few applications from people a little further out than usual.
A. Spaice: Thank you for the time you’ve taken to help us learn more. Is there anything else you’d like to add before we close?
Beck: How do we pay for the fair? We get funding from the City of Melbourne! We were just approved for a two year grant, starting 2021, via the City of Melbourne’s Arts Creative Investment Partnerships so we are both appreciative and grateful to them for their support of us and zine culture!!
A. Spaice: Great! Thanks !!
A virtual zine fair..
We just got this really cool piece of news. The Festival of the Photocopier, which is run by the Melbourne group Sticky Institute, will be online in 2021.
Now, we just learned, Festival of the Photocopier 2021, will be virtual.
So I wanted to let you know about this, because anyone anywhere can join for next time. Very excited about this.
I just submitted my application–sent!
Here’s my idea, for if we are accepted. I am going to angle the next few issues of S P A C E’s December collection, ‘Trust’, to an international audience. Of course they will be co-created with our friends and guests in Atelier S P A C E popups here in HCMC, so look out for some cool new bilingual issues to share in real life here, and also, hopefully, on the virtual international stage at FOTP 2021.
So, our agenda for December is this..
Discover new voices here in Vietnam to make S P A C E with
Design and publish 4 new issues of S P A C E in Vietnamese & English
Tell the world about our S P A C E programs in Vietnam if we get selected to participate in Festival of the Photocopier in 2021’s virtual event
On the same day as the festival, we’ll host a real life event. A reading. It will be from the issues we make here in HCMC this month. We’ll have an Atelier S P A C E // HCMC launch party. It’ll be a chance to share our printed zines with the friends here who are creative, imaginative, able to think out of the box, and ready to try new things who have helped us so far to make some cool and fun issues already. I have a good feeling about the series to come.
I’m excited about the potential to launch the Atelier S P A C E // HCMC creations at the Festival of the Photocopier in Melbourne next year. Hopefully we’ll get ‘in’ and get to put on a great exhibit for people to see just how unique a hyperlocal perspective on ‘art from Vietnam’ can really look. [Aside: Ask us about ‘decolonization sometime!’. No, wait, ask AD! A zine about that, being art directed by AD, a member of ‘Papers‘.]
Here is a pic of our Phnom Penh reading from issues of S P A C E. I hosted this on the same day as our debut at the Festival of the Photocopier 2020:
And here’s the bit about how you can apply to be in the Festival of the Photocopier in 2021…..
If you make zines
Apply for the Festival of the Photocopier! It’s free to apply, so I just wanted to share this with those out there who might be wondering if they qualify. If you make zines, you qualify, is my understanding. Here, I’ll just paste in what I got in the email from Sticky Institute earlier this week…
Our digital fair will be hosted at http://www.fotp.online and applications are currently open for stallholders … facilitated by Sticky Institute!!!
As this is a digital fair, applications are open to zinesters located anywhere in the world. If you have a pen pal located outside of Australia, feel free to forward them the link so they can apply! There is no cost to have a digital stall on fotp.online and the website will be live for at least a year.
This has been a bit of a spiel but we’d really love for you to check out fotp.online and submit an application to be a stallholder or join FotP-Swap!. Applications will close on the 10th of January, 2021 and we don’t want anyone to miss out!
We know this is going to be a very different kind of zine fair but we’re hoping you’ll be there with us, on the other side of the screen!
DK wrote about startup culture a few months ago, when we got to Ho Chi Minh City, after five months hiding out in Dalat wondering, ‘when this is going to be over.’ Well! [deleted] Then, DK decided it. We’d try to make a go of something, in HCMC.
The thinking went like this: perhaps some of us could build something new in HCMC. A big city. A lot of opportunity. Plenty of inquisitive young people. (It’s been a mixed bag, to be honest. More about that, in today’s email for members of Atelier S P A C E. Membership info is here.)
It’s inspired by something I found today…
I read today in the Vietnamese Express News this headline: ‘Startups need partnerships to participate in bigger ecosystems.’
Writes Dat Nguyen:
Vietnamese startups need to expand their partnership network with domestic and regional firms for functioning deeper in big firms’ ecosystems, industry insiders say.
More in the email I’ll send today at 7AM USEST, for members of Atelier S P A C E. Membership info is at our crowdfunding page, here’s a link. Thanks.
Atelier S P A C E // HCMC is an Autumn 2020 project of DK’s that is co-created by photographer Van Tran and DK Creative Director Dipika Kohli.
‘Studio Day’ by Van Tran / Ho Chi Minh City, Oct. 2020
.. this page used to be a notebook for a grant application that I was going to apply for…
There are so many important questions that pop up when someone who knows how to ask you if the thing you’re making is deserving of wider attention can ask.
Atelier S P A C E // HCMC’s collaborating team is loose and changes, and the people who come bring what they like to the tables. We started to share more there about ideas, mostly philosophical things related to space, time, distance. A-ha!, that’s it. Questing.
Something cool happened. This was at the virtual event, SF Zine Festival. This was on Tuesday.
Michael Bridgett, Jr., aka ‘Mike Dynamo,’ talked about making S P A C E. And what it is. And why we do it.
I loved watching it live-streaming and ‘being there’, ambiently, to admire his wittiness and eloquence. Cool that we could do this, from our distant perches in Southeast Asia’s Cambodia and Vietnam. Yeah. Quite neat. Seeing Mike sharing about S P A C E—and especially the Book of Feelings project, something that he, me and a few others I’m working with are exploring together now, was cool. I love working with Mike in S P A C E. I feel lucky that I get to. Check out one of his written pieces, it’s called ‘Continuous Partial Attention’, and it’s over at this page.
Below is the segment of the recording where you can hear him.
Some things that friends of S P A C E both near and far have said about the above…
Awesome! he did a great presentation of S P A C E 🙂 —CS
Thanks for sharing Michael’s presentation. I love the way he talked about your process in the development of mak[ing] S P A C E. This is wonderful. —DM
This is great! Definitely put a smile on my face. —ND
About Michael Bridgett, Jr.
Michael “Mike Dynamo” Bridgett is a vocalist/emcee and charismatic currently performing with live hip hop band, Hypnotic Fist Technique and 90’s cover project 99 Boyz in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Mike also writes about media and cultural analysis for fun as well as playing and connecting over video games. Read more, including links to his works in music and writing, at this post.
About SF Zine Festival
‘Cyber Fest will run for three weeks in September, from the 6th through the 26th. We have selected 150 exhibitors for Cyber Fest who represent diverse communities, perspectives, genres, skills, and experiences. Learn more about exhibitors here. You’ll be able to watch live broadcasts of festival programs on our YouTube and Facebook pages. Check out our full schedule!’ –Organizers of SF Zine Festival
My first book, The Elopement, was about running off to Ireland to get married. Kind of. I didn’t mean to run off, and I didn’t mean to get married. Lots of things happen in the course of, well, youth.
Reflecting. Writing. Sharing. Namely, about the 20-year journey in the time since the events of The Elopement . Putting the final touches on to my new book, End of the Rainbow. It’ll be published next week.
Time. Sure. Flies.
The writeup about this book is at my writing website, Kismuth. Here’s a link to the page about End.
S P A C E | Đà Lạt • ‘Tìm Mình Trong Thế Giới’ is the next in our weekly e-zine series. It is set to release on Tuesday.
DK Director Dipika Kohli made the drawing on the cover this week. The drawing’s title is: Chúc Ngủ Ngon & Chào Buổi Sáng / Good Night & Good Morning.
A line artist for many years, Kohli has rekindled her old style of drawing by putting pencil to page again. This [cover] drawing is part of a series of more than fifty new pencil and colored pencil works. These were created in quiet moments, on the spot, in several cafes and brightly lit atelier spaces she discovered while in ‘The Great Lockdown’ (so far) in Đà Lạt, Việt Nam. Kohli had plenty of time alone to write, draw, and reflect, whilst also working on a new book, End of the Rainbow (Kismuth Books / forthcoming 2020).
Thiseffort has come out of the slowing down, a natural outcomeresulting from the first and second waves of covid19-related measures to maintain social distancing, and self-isolating, in the era of this, the Great Lockdown, so far. Kohli has been in the Central Highlands since April—and continues to discover and make. In bursts, that is. And only when inspired by the chance encounter and surprisingly enriching dialogues with the people in the places where she goes. S P A C E is a weekly zine. It is created by Design Kompany, which was started in 2004 in Seattle and today is based in Phnom Penh. DK are intrigued about how to design the space for an aesthetic moment to happen, on the spot, for unexpected and random connexion, with the people, objects, and places where they go, in S P A C E.
After about seven years of not doing any graphic design work-for-hire, something changed.
Someone asked me to make a thing.
I started it, and as I went, I realized, it’s time to bring this service back and offer it again, to those who might run across this site and say, ‘I like that! I want to hire these people. Who are these people, anyway? And what is S P A C E?’
Glad you asked.
We are a team of people who collaborate in the cloud: Dipika Kohli is the creative director. Akira Morita is a cofounder working on design thinking and innovation consulting. Jas Plac does our outreach and communications. And A. Spaice does research & development. These days we make a weekly e-mag, called S P A C E. it’s about design and discovery.
The people we meet in the places where we go (mostly Southeast Asia and Northern Europe, since 2014), share stories, sometimes, and when they get to a place where they feel like they’re becoming something substantial, we shape these into ‘zines.’
They’re 16 pages, each, designed to be read in a single sitting, say over coffee. At times, we make black & white issues so they’re easy on printers, so you can download, print, fold and assemble your own, by adding your own creative flair.
Got into a bit of a discussion about this with someone yesterday who is 24.
This person was highlighting to me his past work, in something that I didn’t find too terribly intriguing but he really wanted to impress me, I guess, so we watched some clips of things that he had produced. I suppose he is an event producer, but not trained or anything, just self-designed. That’s fine, of course. I’m self-designed in design, having studied civil engineering and worked in architecture and journalism. But design is something people just ask me to do.
For example, a friend from that era, VH had asked me to make a senior t-shirt, when we were in high school, because she liked my drawings and comics, and no one else was putting forward an idea, and I was the Vice President of the Student Government at that time, so we put out a call, I think? And I don’t think anyone entered. So I made it. I don’t even know what it looks like now, thinking back, but V. had liked it and was happy. I had done t-shirts for Governor’s School East for my hall, too, and before that a lot of things like program covers and posters through elementary and middle school that had won prizes and stuff, so. I guess. That it was… destiny, haha. Or just… a knack for it. And lots of attentiveness to continuing to do it, not get sidetracked by other things, just doing the drawings when I felt like it. Helped that this was in an era where we didn’t have internet. Nice thinking about the senior t-shirt design, again. That was fun. I was 17.
Depth. I was talking about yesterday’s conversation and somehow got distracted thinking about being 17. It’s kind of related, though, right? I mean, you get good when you practice, but you have to have some kind of latent talent to start getting good, too. And encouragement. Fact. In my case yesterday, I think skipping over ‘talent’ and ‘practice’ and ‘encouragement’ was taken for granted by this young person who saw $$$ ‘I got paid for this’ $$$ as an indication of its having had value.
Not to me.
The thing I saw was just… well. Lacking in substance.
Happens. And more and more these days, when we have substitutes for real life in the form of video streams and chatboxes. What happened? Well, that’s out of scope, here.
My thing is, let’s bring some of the good stuff. Let’s open the doors here at DK again, and show people how they can arrive at… quality. I know how to do this. Why not share. Selectively, of course. Not for everyone.
I have a particular way of deciding if I will care about a project, which has everything to do with the attitude of the person asking me to work with him or her or them. Truth is, if I don’t see much thought in something, I have no interest whatsoever.
Most people I meet on the road I will know for less than three hours. I meet a hell of a lot of people, on the road. Yesterday, I just listened politely, but then, something happened.
Weirdly, it just did…
Sometimes this does this. I went into speechmaking mode.
Perhaps because we had a third guest, join us in the middle. Who. Was. Really. Attentive, and who had gone through my samples of drawings, and poetry and other stuff that I felt like sharing, with great admiration and accolades. Okay, it was flattering, but yeah, he really was curious about me, my work… my thinking. What I’ve been up to here in Vietnam. I have some stuff now that has Vietnamese language translations, too. So you can tell, if you’re the kind of person who can tell, that is.
Maybe there’s not one particular type; but there are a few people… one out of a hundred?, who resonate with DK’s style.
D: The other day, someone asked, What’s your TEDx talk about? I said ‘Death.’ Then he said, ‘Ooh!… Edgy.’ But it was 8 years ago
A: You are. DK is edgy
D: Well, once someone in Seattle said I was popular
A: You are not popular. You are edgy
D: How is this ‘edgy’! I don’t even a phone and I type on zoom chat to you and use email
Fascinating insights this week as I review all my notes, in one sitting (thank you, desk!) from a three-month period of time in one place. That is to say, DK did not move (naturally, right?) in March, April and May. Instead, we hunkered down in one point in the Central Highland of Vietnam.
Going to be sharing about the learnings, gleanings, insights and beautiful beginnings of extraordinary things, soon. In Papers.
It will be confidential, and only relevant to those who join in. That is, nothing is going to be put there if it’s not somehow part of the spheres of interest of those who join. Which is why it’s so fun. [deleted]
Papers is my online conversation space, now, pretty much exclusively.
And it’s also exclusive, just four guests at a time.
The point? A place to go to share ideas, bounce things off of others, and connect. Deeply, not trivially (as R. Pirsig put it so insistently, and endearingly, in Lila). Because we need this. We need quality conversation space and not just massive 1:many thingies.
I don’t really like 1:N. Partly why I’m not doing this blog so much, these days. I used to! Wow, did I ever. I blogged every day in 2006, I think. Jeez, though. That’s just a… lot of stuff… And I don’t feel like sharing now with the big vast internet. Most of it is a mess. Rather than nondescript ‘N’, I made Specific ‘N’, as in 16N, a project on hiatus. Had thought about doing a virtual version, but that’s just… anti-thematic to ‘N’. So I’ll just wait until I feel like it. If at all.
But what is the point of Papers you ask ? To help people realize their own projects. I think a lot of people stall [deleted]…. done; at least, that’s what I’ve seen. So I like to give people structure—a scaffolding—something to build onto. A formal form. I know how to do this, because of my past life in architecture and journalism and design and moving around the world on my two feet.
And I can point to things, say, ‘Why not try…’
If it didn’t, why would anyone join, anything, ever, that I do? Yet I really love that there are 600+ people in our FB community (sorry I haven’t been putting anything there, ever), or some 300 some on Instagram (ditto). Meaning… there are people around or who used to be around who wanted to know how DK could help.. them… accomplish stuff? I think… for me, that’s it. I make Papers to keep some conversations going, sure, but also, to help people figure out how to figure things out.
So those people (and I do invite quite carefully, mind), can get places… so they can… ‘Break on Through!’…
Speaking of breakthroughs
Because I certainly have, using these methods, in my own work here at DK and at other things I’m up to, too. Yeah, and so, given all that, I’m ready to include a few more voices for July.
HT Michael Bridgett, Jr. Working with MB is a great pleasure for us, as always. And it starts with things like Papers, to get the ball rolling on getting more and more deep into these layers of connexion. We are filtering all he time, based on.. sincerity! What else matters, lol.
For those who are curious about Papers, thanks for asking. Attention, time, replies: I am happy to converse about this project to gather us for moments of remarkable connexion in the cloud. It’s a natural segue from our real-life 2-year roving project, Atelier S P A C E. From that we got to know a hell of a lot of people and have invited handfuls to connect, and meet, and converse, and make, with us, issues of our mini-magazine, S P A C E. Sometimes it’s just email, sometimes it’s a whole collaboration on a complete issue of S P A C E. See some of the things we have done in our online shop. It’s meant a lot to me to know there are some people ‘out there’ who got something out of conversations with me. We’ve come a long way since starting S P C in 2017. To our early supporters: thank you. To our recent guests and collaborators, welcome. I really appreciate all this, and I’m excited to share more, soon, with those who are interested in keeping up with us in S P C. Last week we published one of the best issues, so far. I really love it. It is Issue #75. Wrote a little bit about it here: https://designkompany.com/issue-75/
Sometimes we share messages with people in our small but growing network. Which, if you know DK, and all our things since Seattle in 2004 (gosh, really, that long!?… who is reading us from there! HT LT, JK, and EG, if you guys are reading), then you already know, our network is highly self-selecting and also rather closed-invite, too. Focusing on the people who are most interested in what I am interested in. Questing. S P A C E quests S P A C E. Can you dig it? Here’s the set of zines that came of conversations in May’s ‘Papers.’ They are a mix of digital zines, and printer-friendly ‘make it at home’ black and white versions, like the first one, below.
Next up, is June’s ‘Papers.’
On deck, is June’s edition of co-creating in the cloud. Making fresh, new and fun conversations *happen*. In S P A C E. We’re planning these, for example, in June..
‘Papers’. It’s going to be very simple this time. Email. Just email. I know. Real simple. It’s called ‘backwards innovation.’ (I did not make that up!)..
Photography by Boss. Poetry by Dipika Kohli. They are a tag-team at DK for most of our zines from Southeast Asia 2018-2020. And one, I might add, that loves to celebrate search, query, and inquiry. In other words, asking more questions than seeking answers.