The Manqué (podcast) Episode 18: Making Zines with Ali Mullins

This week, we are joined by Charlotte-based artist Ali Mullins to discuss what, why and how she has found herself producing zines. Excerpts from Ali’s first (public) zine are now on the site, www.manquemagazine.com, and full copies are available for print and download via her Gumroad account.

While on The Manqué, Ali and Monica lament the creative process: why is it so hard to make art, even when all you want to *do* is make art? How do you decide what your art is worth? What happens when you put it out into the world and attach that art to your identity? This and more in this week’s episode.

Support us on Patreon for a newsletter + bonus podcast episodes: www.patreon.com/manque
InstagramFacebookTwitter are also good ways to find us.


A ROUGH AND NOT REALLY EDITED TRANSCRIPT:

Monica
Hey, guys, welcome back to the Manqué It’s me, your host, Monica Busch, founder and editor in chief of Manqué magazine. This episode is going to be a little bit different than anything we’ve done before, instead of Mary and I digging deep into a subject and kind of shooting the shit or me just sort of shooting the shit by myself. This interview, this interview. Wow, what’s really put the cart before the horse there. This podcast episode is an interview with a dear friend of mine, someone whom I have known since high school. Back when my family moved to South Carolina, I was new to school and I didn’t really have a lot of friends. But of the few people that I had started hanging out with, this person was tangentially in the same group, and we basically bumped into each other in the hallway and she was like, Hey, we should hang out sometime and I was like, You seem cool. I like your vibe. I like your style, which is how we judge people when we are 17 and I was like, Yeah, let’s do that. And so we spent an afternoon clomping quite literally through the woods because I’m from New England and what we do for fun after school is go hang out in the woods. And so I was like, What do you do when you make a new friend in high school in South Carolina? In my mind, the answer to that question was clop around in the woods. Turns out that’s not what teenagers really do in South Carolina, at least not in the part where we were living. But I took her into the woods, be muddied up her shoes. I think she had to, like, wash her pants, Hitman grandparent’s house where I was hanging out. And, uh, well, you know what it’s been. Wow, It’s been least 10 years since that happened, and she stuck around. So we have on the podcast this week. My dear friend Allie Melons. She is a Charlotte based artist by night and a an elementary school teacher by day. Now we will talk a little bit about how those interests kind of overlap in her creative and professional life. But if you’ve looked at the website it all this week, this may not come as a total surprise to you because we have been featuring some of her work on the instagram and on the website. She has created a scene, and it’s something that she’s talked about doing for quite a while. It’s a hobby she’s picked up maybe more actively in recent months. And so I brought her onto the podcast to talk about that, to talk about creating a Zeon. What goes into creating a scene? What is it like to be, you know, creative while we’re all in quarantine in her house and, uh, you know, I know you guys are going to enjoy it. She’s an absolute pleasure. She’s a light. She’s one of those people where, you know, she walks into a room and people are just drawn to her, and she’s gonna totally kill me for saying this on the podcast. But it’s true, and anyone who has met her can attest to that fact. So, without further ado, I will let her take over and tell her story in her own words. You guys, this is Allie Mullins, but so, like, let’s start off by talking a little bit about like your art. So, like when I first met you you were doing cartoons and you’re taking all these art classes, but like, I don’t know how you actually got into making
Ali
visual art. Yeah, Um, I don’t really know either. That has grown and continued happening all throughout my life. E can’t really pinpoint a moment where I was like, Yes, I like to illustrate. And this is what I do, you know? Yeah, like something that happens to me a lot. I end up sitting down with a pencil or something and then something it’s created, but we’re having sort of official art class or anything like that outside of high school. So it’s all just been doodles on my own and, mmm, trying things out at home by myself.
Monica
I remember when we were in high school, you talked about wanting to illustrate Children’s books as being your dream job. Is that still your dream job?
Ali
That is my dream job. And it’s one of those things that, like you say all the time when people ask you what’s your dream job? If you could do anything, what would you d’oh like? Oh, yeah, I would illustrate a Children’s book, and then I go home and I don’t do that for some reason.
Monica
Do you like think about that when you’re at home just like sitting there? Are you like I should make a Children’s book? Or does it just, like, leave your brain completely?
Ali
It kind of leaves my brain completely, but I think it is one of these things. I have this trust in the divine that one day I’m gonna sit down and I’m just gonna make a Children’s book and it’ll be great. I don’t know. I really think that there’s going to be one random taking off moment for me.
Monica
You’re just waiting for it to come. No, I totally get that. I feel the same way with, like, writing a novel. I’m like, someday because I have, like, started little, many projects or started outline things and then there the energy dies and I’m like, This isn’t the right one. But someday it yeah,
Ali
like I’m getting closer.
Monica
Do you think that’s because you work with Children during the day?
Ali
Yeah, I have been exposed to a lot more Children’s literature over the past three years, and with my, um, I had that I got I’ve just been experimenting more with what it takes to draw things again and again and again. Which is kind of what it’s like. Toe actually create a book.
Monica
Is that I don’t know anything about that about illustrating.
Ali
Well, I mean, from front to back, it kind of has the same style. The same ideas flow from page to page actually hard for me because I’m really kind of just like a one piece kind of person. Like, I like to draw one thing one way and be done with it and then move on to the next thing. Um, but yeah, I think that I’m gaining the power in the knowledge home together.
Monica
Is that why zines appeal to you? Because you can make them in these different segments. And it doesn’t have to be like one story.
Ali
Yeah, it’s more of like a collection of my random nous.
Monica
So is that is the social distancing And is that your first scene you’ve actually seen through from start to
Ali
finish? I made a very small scene, actually, over Christmas, um, for my coworkers or Christmas gifts or whatever. Let the past few years, I’ve bought, like, random objects for everyone at my school. One thing I did not know when I got into teaching is that teachers air very 50 people and every holiday on the calendar. No kidding. That’s did that You, like, come to school with a tray of cookies because it’s boss day, you know, Like what? They’re very big on Christmas gifts to everyone gets everyone a Christmas gift. Is
Monica
that like every other teacher and like the principal or however the school set
Ali
up? Yeah, okay. And this year I really just didn’t know what to get everyone else tired of buying, laying things. And I was like, I’m gonna make a scene about Montessori, and I’m gonna just distribute that to everybody so everyone gets the same thing and hitting fold to me, it has a lot of value to me. And so I made a very short scene where I used, like, Montessori quotes and drawings of monastery materials and stuff, and that was my gift to everybody. And that was kind of like my first scene
Monica
that is so cool. Were you terrified to distribute that
Ali
a little bit? Because it wasn’t the best quality. Like I did it kind of fast. Although I was really happy with the drawings and everything. The paper that I used wasn’t very good. I just stapled it as the budding and so it was, like, kind of quick. Um, And I was also a little nervous because I was like, Well, what are they gonna do with these?
Monica
Like, put them on their bookshelves or?
Ali
Well, there’s only nine of us in school, but most of them have Children, and some of them have Children at our school. So I was like, Okay, they’re gonna take this home, and the kids in my class are going to see this. You
Monica
did have, like, one page where
Ali
it had jokes about, like, what? Montessori teacher’s wish they didn’t have to see. And it was like Children picking their nose and then drawings of corny comic book characters over and over again. Or you know it. Mind pressed, e. I don’t know if I want the kids at my school to see that. Oh,
Monica
yes, I guess the upshot of that is that it probably applies to most schools and not just that one Montessori
Ali
school. Yeah. Yeah. Like
Monica
teachers air kind of uniquely track through the same things over and over again.
Ali
Yeah, well, it’s kind of sad, I think, like focusing on the drawing like my half characters feel like some kids can’t produce their own art because they just redraw all the things that they see in, like video games and stuff like that.
Monica
Yeah, it’s like that with photography, too. I feel like with, like, Instagram and like the photo bucket days like people just recreate the same photos over and over again, like whether it’s a selfie or opposed friend, photo or whatever. I think about that a lot, with everyone having phones on their cameras and like just taking the same picture a 1,000,000 times. Yeah, there’s an instagram count devoted to that. Have you ever seen it? It’s I don’t forget. I couldn’t have to look at what it’s called it. I follow it, but it’s like similar pictures, and they just post these like giant grids and some people posting the exact same photo, like the way that you might Google image Search something. It’s like almost like they do that on Instagram, and it’s just like it’ll be like 20 photos of the sexing.
Ali
It gets you the likes.
Monica
Yeah, I guess so, Yeah, that’s the currency. Um, uh, So with the scene that you made during quarantine, obviously it was inspired by being in quarantine and not working. Currently was there anything else behind it or you? Like, I need an outlet or
Ali
leg? Well, I mean, I’ve been seeing so many like funny names, and, um, that was inspiring. And then just reading a lot of that the news really ridiculous. Some of it could be, And just thinking of, like, funny changes you could make to these stories. I don’t know. I was just having so many like thoughts, I guess to kind of saved myself, like, get myself out. The sadness of it. Yeah, really fun. You two just put this down on paper and make something of it.
Monica
Yeah. No, I totally know, though I know how that goes in the sense that, like creating, like, pulls me out of a funk a lot like, even when I’m feeling lazy and I don’t want to do anything if I like, I find that if I didn’t like, I feel like crap and I can’t focus on anything, and I just make myself, like, sit down and do like one thing for Manqué. I’m like, Oh, okay. My mood just so much more limited. Um, So Okay, so what I want to ask you about also is seems air kind of like off the beaten path. I don’t think that even though I think there’s been a resurgence of them, they’re still not very mainstream. And they’re kind of old fashioned that we’ve talked about. I didn’t really know about jeans, and I took a class on them. I thought I was taking it for a weight class. And it turns out that there’s
Ali
this whole
Monica
history of behind scenes and all of these different ways to do them. How did you get introduced to them and learn about them and get to the point where, like, I want to
Ali
make one? Oh, we’ll see. I guess it goes back to when we met. Sort of.
Monica
Yeah, which is high school
Ali
in the like punk scene, the kind of like D i Y people group Essentially, um, I was exposed to a few of them during that time. Like when I was maybe 17 or 18. Um and I just thought they really need, and then I just continued to see them around. And I think because I knew that they existed, I kind of salt them out in ways. Um, And then I’ve just met a few people in my life, make them and have been followers of them and really enjoyed reading their work. So you don’t just takes a little bit of exposure here in their overtime. Mmm. I know, really.
Monica
And how did you learn to make them? Because there’s a craft to that. It’s not just folding paper. Kind of. Some people would say that it is. But I mean, you talk about binding and stuff, and that’s like, to me, that indicates that you’re like, for real doing it
Ali
Well, there’s a lot of different ways that you can make a scene like they could be so many different sizes. So many different kinds of paper. You can have so many strange parts to them like cloths sewn onto pages. Or, you know, like it could be so different, which is awesome. And I like that you can really make it unique to your style. Um, my binding is just sewing through the paper on the sewing machine. No, it’s not like a fancy binding, Really? But it’s better than just stapling, um, or folding paper that the crease of the whole being finding?
Monica
Yeah. Yeah, something. I feel like it’s so cool, though, because it brings the texture to it. I like when zines have texture. Then they’re not necessarily like printed leg just printed,
Ali
unfolded or whatever glued. Yeah, I felt very official the other day when I went office, didn’t know, um, and was legitimately looking for, like, special paper questions about the different weights of the paper. You know, I was very high quality paper for these scenes, and I’m excited.
Monica
Do you have plans to print and mail if you have them yet?
Ali
I do. I ran into an issue.
Monica
Oh, no,
Ali
we’re all right. You know me. I can borrow, like, 1000 miles per hour or zero miles per hour. And whenever I got really excited about this, Izzy and I shared it with you, and then I shared it with a few other people. I was like, I’m just gonna set up my gun road and let people just donate, and I’m gonna see if they will donate, and then I’ll make the scenes decision. Well, I realized that the format that my scenes were in on my iPad not compatible with printing, and now I’m having to completely reform at all of it and in design. Um, So once I get all of that done, which should be tonight, then Al friend. And so then and then I’ll send them out. Hopefully tomorrow.
Monica
Oh, my God. Do you know how to use adobe and everything? Or is that also what you have to learn?
Ali
No, but luckily and gaining a graphic
Monica
that’s very lucky. Married as graphic designing. So anything that looks remotely cool on monkey is Calder. Well, house,
Ali
those programs are so complex. I I Wow.
Monica
Yeah, I know people who are like, Oh, I just tutorial that on YouTube. I’m like, Wow. Okay, I don’t have that attention span
Ali
now, and that keeps telling me, like, just your I’ll show you and then you do it and then I’ll show me. And then I sit down and I’m like, you just clicked off on the right side and it made all of this high English. So I don’t know what you’re doing to make it work.
Monica
So has has that been the hardest part of this whole process?
Ali
Yes. Very
Monica
dead. Yeah. So how long did it take you to put this thing together?
Ali
Uh, less than a week. Okay. Wow. I would sit down for hours and hours. I kind of treated it like my job for me. Um, it was really fun. And it most of it was really me. Just looking through old vintage magazines for inspiration. And then once you have found something, I’d be like, Oh, I know exactly what I’m gonna do now. And then I turn it out in, like, an hour. So I think if I had a process, I could make them quicker. But I I do once a slow down make looking really high quality cuisine that takes longer than, like, a week too.
Monica
Yeah. Yeah. Well, this one has a lot of content, though, for a week. Like you have a lot of different blips in there. I mean, like, I was so impressed. I mean, from the patents to the quietness article ridges on Manqué just crashed me
Ali
was inspired by a science and mechanics magazine. Really? Oh, yeah.
Monica
Oh, okay. So I have a couple of vintage magazines that I bought a few months ago, and I’ve been sort of like, saving them for whenever I finally will sit down and go through them. This is inspiring me there like a 19 fifties like good Housekeeping and, like maybe an
Ali
old 70. Then where did it lost with the old advertisements and how like they would illustrate things like how to build a table? I don’t have all the measurements and clear explanations of these things. I don’t know. It’s so different from magazines today.
Monica
Yeah, Yeah, that’s definitely true. Plus, I’m you just like the aesthetics of it all. It’s so fun to play around with, Like everyone’s modern and everyone’s minimalist in its own ice did to me to see something that isn’t like as sparse is humanly possible.
Ali
This feels warm to open up one of those magazines.
Monica
Yeah, that’s a good way to put it. I like that. So you’re gonna make another one? Do you think you’re gonna make another one while you’re in quarantine?
Ali
Yeah, I have to In my head I do, because I’m just trying to finish getting use made right now, but yeah, to that, I’m gonna D’oh!
Monica
Are they also about being socially distance?
Ali
Yeah. Okay. Well, my goal. I was like, Well, if I can do this in a week, maybe I can do a weekly or bi weekly warrant easy just to keep people.
Monica
Yeah, That’s a big endeavor, though, As you probably realized. I think about that all the time, too. When I start like new little projects, I’m like, Oh, I could do this all the time And I could just like that out about another, and then I’m like, Oh, wait, I need to, like, make dinner. Like, go to
Ali
work. I want to do next but is going to happen is we’re gonna It’s gonna be a photography Z. Who? This one, Um, Elizabeth Johnson. Um, she has a husband that does cross space inspections. And he has all of these, um, called Zytec suits. Mentor like the full body. Oh, wow. Hood. It leads to protect you from dangerous stuff. Yeah, and she can get as many as she wants from his company. So we’re going to put those on and face mask on and do like lifestyle. I was in the suits.
Monica
I’m so excited for this
Ali
so I think it replays we’re gonna do, like grilling in them and
Monica
Oh, my God. I love that. I am so excited for that. You’ll have to share some of those photos with us. Oh, my God. I can certainly see it. Like I just picture you like drinking like an aesthetic lot. You, But like, it has Matt
Ali
suit. You have really lovely close up pictures of, like, the person wearing the suits. But you still see the person’s humanity.
Monica
No, no, I love that
Ali
this is a hot across the street or, you know, like, yeah,
Monica
yeah. No, I totally d’oh. I guess maybe one way to do that, it’s still, like, start posing the normal photo. And then just for that, I love that. Oh, my God. I’m so excited. Do you think that maybe this is gonna be like the momentum you need to, like, make them more? After all of the silver, it never ends.
Ali
I think that this is it. Especially because I’ve never really shared my interest in scenes with people on social media. Yeah, some drawings and things. It felt really good to post and say, like I made a scene and make a little space where people could donate and where my bio says Hi. Um, Ali and I make scenes Just putting that out in the world made me feel like Okay, now I kind of have an accountability. Like I it’s a tied to my identity, like it’s more riel and expected, whereas before it was like this is like a secret. I
Monica
know exactly what you mean. That is like Ben the entire experience with Mom, OK, because I like thought forever. I was like, I really want to start like a magazine. I really want to start like an online magazine. And then, like when I started posting to my instagram stories, like slowly like, Hey, I think I’m gonna do this. I was like, Oh, my God. Oh, I think I said a launch date and I was like, Oh, we are doing this.
Ali
It’s terrifying for you because then people think of you like, Oh, yeah, here, Monica, you do this thing, get you Do you have, like, these days were like, I don’t think I want to do this or like, maybe I’ll just take a break. You can’t really do that anymore. because there’s that expect. I mean, you can. But there’s a guy that was scary to get started and have that expectation.
Monica
Yeah. Yeah, it is. It is scary and a little intimidating, but also nice to have accountability. Like you said, Like to be like. Okay, well, I’m doing this now, right? What was it like, deciding that you were gonna sell them? I feel like monetizing your art is like a really big step. Especially if you do it from the beginning.
Ali
That was the weirdest and scariest part for me. Um, but I just asked some of my friends who also sell art and like, that is their way of making money. How do you do it? What kind of language do you use and what? What do you expect of people? What do you expect of yourself? Like, what does it look like to sell your art? And I got a lot of good guidance from so my artist friends so that that helps me make that move. But yeah, it was really scary, and I didn’t really like it. It was so surprising that people were actually willing to do it.
Monica
What was some of the advice. You got anything that’s worth Jerry?
Ali
Um well, kind of just like what you would expect, almost like, How much time did you put into it? How meaningful is it to you? Like you can kind of create your own price. But also look at the market for people who are just making paper zines. Yeah, doing anything very fancy. So, you know, you just have to factor in all these different things for different pieces.
Monica
Was there any part of it where you had Thio? You know, like, get passed a roadblock of, like, realizing away? I’m doing all of this work like this is worth something. Potentially.
Ali
Yeah. I just love sharing my art. And I don’t ever want to hold it back from people. I wanted to just send a link to everyone I knew. Yeah, this is my zine, Curtis for free. Take it right. And I would never have someone asked me like you have one. I don’t have enough money for it. I would never see no right. No, it was weird from you to to go into it, asking for money first. Although I did send it’s like control over myself. Well,
Monica
it’s good to have that feedback, though. I mean, like, I think there’s something to be said for sending it to a core group of people in sharing your art with, like, family and friends to, like, close friends who won you want to share it with. But also, like, they’re probably more likely to give you some, like advice or feedback Or like to get a temperature check. Lake, Is this working that sort of thing?
Ali
Yeah. Yeah,
Monica
I think that’s important. So do you still do other types of art, though, Like outside of this? I think you’ve been doing a lot of, like, illustrating right since you got your tablet.
Ali
Yeah. Um I’m mainly just draw on where I found now, um, which was a game changer for me because I do love drawing paper and some like, That’s my favorite thing to Dio who just love the texture of pencils and paper and having a really life eraser that I work with, I don’t know, but my issue waas I could never find a way to get a paper work toe look nice online. So I just started doing it on the iPad. Kizza one of my flaws as a person is that if there’s any Smiler inconvenience, I’ll just give up. I’m sure there’s a way to get my drawings on paper to be on the Internet, but know it. Let’s figure that out later. Uh, e
Monica
relatable, though
Ali
I want just illustrating on paper, I don’t really do much of the hard work.
Monica
Okay, All right. And so but is it a lot of, you know, I’ve seen the scene, and I know that you used to do a lot of people like you have certain subjects that you go back to or is it just sort of like, whatever
Ali
good question, like, what are the topics that I usually
Monica
topics or even like? Do you prefer people or, you know,
Ali
I do like drawing. If I Yeah, do a drawing. It’s usually of a person or a scene with a person. And I did do a really fun group of drawings a few years ago where the main characters were cockroaches.
Monica
Oh, I think I remember saying that
Ali
Cockroaches on dirt bikes. We’ll bring that back. I focused on it really well, and I got really great at drawing, um, averages from different angles.
Monica
Where do you come up with an idea like that?
Ali
There were a ton of cockroaches in my apartment. 23 Looks like they have been doing the craziest, most extreme sports because they would end up on weird ledges and, like, upside down and stop this homeless funny thought of, like, the cockroaches in the middle of the night riding around on tiny dirt bikes and crashing. Um, so that’s where that came from.
Monica
That’s, like, the visual art version of Write what? You know, you know, and cockroaches under bikes. Oh, my God. I love that so much. So do you see yourself just doing scenes? Do you think that those will, perhaps include, you know, other cartoon? Siri’s like that?
Ali
I hope so. I don’t really need to D’oh. Um, almost like a graphic novel type thing. Okay,
Monica
well, this has been really great. Do you have any advice for people who may be like you were thinking about starting a Zeon or a similar project and are like in that before stage?
Ali
Still just keep creating. I mean, if you have trouble, like creating one entire piece yours, Ian can just be all of your random artwork compiled on paper. And once you’ve created that and you see what it looks like and you see that like Oh, yeah, it’s possible that I could do this, That that can really change your life in your life life like. But just if you want to do scenes, just do it. It doesn’t matter what it looks like. It doesn’t matter what the content it is. It could be extremely small, extremely large. It could be really bright. Or it could be black and white. Everyone’s gonna love it. So just try
Monica
from the mouth of an elementary school teacher. This’ll was Allie melons on zines. All right, you guys. That was my dear friend, Allie Mullins, just like I told you. She is a light. She is one of the most sincere people I’ve probably ever met. But in any event, I think that she probably just demonstrated that for herself. So I will stop singing her praises. I just left my friends so much. Um, anyways, thanks for tuning. And I hope you guys like this. I would love to do more interviews. I’ve wanted to do interviews for quite a while now, but You know, we’re still pretty in the early stages of this project, and, you know, it’s just been on the long list of things we’d like to do. But if you enjoy this, you know, drop a note and let me know, and I will try to arrange more interviews, you know, with my creative friends and also, you know, with other subjects that I can reach out to. I suppose I Bennett for fit benefit from the fact that everybody is more or less just at home right now. But that’s all I’ve got for you other than, uh, asking you to please follow us on social media if you don’t already. So we are on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook under Monk, a magazine that’s m a N Q. U E magazine. Also, that is, URL, manquemagazine dot com. We did launch up a tree on in the last several weeks, and we’re very excited about it. If you would support us on patri on you, do you get extra content? We are launching our bonus podcast episodes this week. We’re going to put out to a month, and how many you get will depend on your tear. And we also have what is sort of becoming the flagship side project here, which is our weekly newsletter that at this point, I’m putting together and it’s rather lengthy, and it’s it includes various segments each week. There’s always some out takes from my camera roll, usually some sort of miniature essay of reflections on what we’re reading and watching. And I’ve gotten really into sharing recipes. I’ve been cooking and writing about those recipes, but from the perspective, more of why I’m making them and why they’re good and why they’re bad, etcetera, etcetera. Uh, so that is available. That’s the lowest here in our patriotic and that is $5. We’re going to keep beefing up that content in the future. And, uh, you know, as of this moment, um, you know, it’s not fun to ask people to support your production financially as we just discussed the alley, but at this point, all proceeds go into supporting monkey as a project. We are covering our expenses literally just keeping the lights on. And the next goal after that is to pay our contributors. I don’t know if we will, ever or when we might make enough money to begin, you know, paying ourselves for the work that we do here. Uh, that is probably a long way down the road, but I just like to be completely transparent that this is why we’re asking for money. It’s literally literally for operations for maintaining and growing the website. And, you know, if you can throw us a couple dollars a month, you know, it’s $5 the lowest here goes up to $12. To get two extra podcast episodes, we would super appreciate it. But we know that, you know, everyone’s purse strings are tight right now. The world is an uncertain place. But you know, if you do have the resource is and if you believe in what we do, we so appreciate it. Um but yeah, other than that, that’s we’ve got going on right now. A gentle reminder that this month we are reading perks of being a wallflower, and we’re looking for ways to grow the book club to make it more conducive to a discussion. And I’m open to any suggestions on that. Other than that, I think that’s it. And we are out

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s