If you’re an east coaster, there’s a good chance you’re mourning the passing of Summer. With the blink of an eye, Fall has descended upon us, with misty, crisp evenings and a transition to hot coffee over colder orders. With that, I bring you one last burst of warmth- Christine Huang and Dwight Armstrong’s latest passion and culture project, Summerzine. The idea arrived in my inbox in early August entitled, “friends with skills: please contribute to my summer zine” – I’ve been hooked ever since and eagerly awaiting tonight’s release! Check out today’s Q&A with Christine and Dwight to see how they’ve channeled sweat and memories into a beautiful publication.
1. PP: First off, congrats on the completion of your first zine! What inspired you and Dwight in the editorial mission and does any of it reflect what you do in your day jobs?
CH & DA: Thanks, Shayna! I can’t put my finger on the exact moment and/or point of inspiration for the zine, but it definitely grew out of our (probably a little unhealthy) obsession with summer, and the desire to capture and honor it in some creative way. Dwight and I grew up together in Orange County, CA, where it was sunny 360 days out of the year and there was no such thing as winter. That was reality to us – which seems very bizarre now. So the experience of true seasons, of real changes in clothes, activities, attitudes, moods – that’s something that a lot of people probably don’t think twice about – but that we’ve grown to embrace and love over the last several years of living in NYC. During the day, I’m a sort of professional “culture vulture ” and strategist @ MTV Networks, and Dwight a graphic designer – so we saw this as a way for us to grow our skills while celebrating our and our friends’ love for the season.
2. PP: I know the release of Summerzine isn’t until this evening, but what can we expect to find in it’s pages? Any predominant themes other than the obvious?
CH & DA: Our call for submissions was intentionally vague (“share your summer with us!”)- partly because we wanted to encourage people to be imaginative and experimental, but mostly because we didn’t know what the hell we were doing, so we were just waiting to see what happened. We received photographs, non-fiction essays, poetry, photoshopped ad type things, short stories, illustrations, songs, even a play -and we tried to include everything we possibly could given our fiscal constraints and the fact that we were printing a physical zine, and not an interactive mag. The result is a sort of mish-mashed retrospective on summer, from the point of view of friends of Dwight and mine from around the world – Bangkok, Amsterdam, Austin, New York, and beyond. The pieces are about the many dimensions of summer and our experiences of them – the smells, bright moments, colors and temperatures, outdoor adventures, water and sand, sublime or insufferable encounters with people and sweat and memories. I can’t really think of any other themes than that – summerzine is really just a sort of ‘season yearbook’ we hope our friends will hold on to and find warmth in during the colder months.
3. PP: Any new-found skills acquired or advice you’re willing to share?
CH & DA: Oh man! I used to be the managing editor for a blog (PSFK.com) – which was a really intense and demanding job. But there’s a whole added layer of stress that comes with producing a physical product that is truly a labor of love, something that you (and your friends) have put your free time and energy into, and that is unalterable once it’s gone to print. I found a lot of satisfaction in paying attention to details, design, the look and feel of the actual paper and flow of the magazine. I learned how to truly appreciate print again. There is something really special about physically holding and flipping through something you created, filled with original stuff from people you know and love. Especially without any ads or other bs.
4. PP: Final words & goals for the future?
CH & DA: Dwight and I are planning on releasing zines for every season of the year – a quarterly series we’re calling Seasonzine. We love summer, but fall, winter, and spring are beautiful and wondrous, too. We’re looking for submissions for Fall now – so if any pattern pulp readers want in – just holler!