Shelf Life

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MONIKER PRESS

author
Clara Dubber
photography
Evan Buggle
illustration
David Wakeham

Moniker Press is a Vancouver-based risograph print shop started by Erica Wilk in 2014. Wilk uses it to print both her own work and collaborative projects with local and international artists. Moniker’s first project was a book called Duality, in collaboration with photographer Shannyn Higgins. Since then, Moniker has grown to develop a mandate that emphasizes print as a collaborative and experimental platform. Wilk is constantly looking for ways to bring out new and interesting risograph aesthetic from what has once been considered to be a limiting process. With her project, Mobile Moniker, Wilk has travelled to Eastern Canada, Europe and Mexico to meet, collaborate and experiment with risograph printers around the world.

Wilk is a self-proclaimed problem-solver, which drives her experimentation with risograph: “One thing I enjoy is pushing the limits within the restrictions of risograph printing and bookmaking.”

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Erica Wilk || Photography by Evan Buggle for Discorder Magazine

What also excites her is the interactivity between projects. Moniker’s latest release, 100 Days of Bulimia, is a book based off Janet Ford’s Instagram series by the same name, combining online and print media. Another innovative project is the poster, i. ii. iii.: Trio, a collaboration between Wilk and the artist Sylvie Ringer, which invites the viewer to cut out shapes to create a three-dimensional piece. Wilk also likes to invite collaborators who aren’t familiar with print: “I’m interested in working with artists and writers, and whoever wants to make a book but maybe hasn’t made books before.”

Mobile Moniker began in 2016 as a way to continue printing with risograph while travelling, and for Wilk to make her own work again after “feeling very disconnected from creating art.” Wilk explains, “[I was] aiming to find a more clear direction for Moniker’s mandate.” At first, Wilk didn’t know if the presses she had contacted would be receptive to her ideas. Their responsiveness and hospitality has given the project an air of excited uncertainty. Wilk explains, “Some of the collaborations we did, they’re very playful, and we did them in an hour. You meet a stranger and then all of a sudden you have to make something together.”

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Illustration by David Wakeham for Discorder Magazine

Seeing how other presses work around the same restrictions has taught Wilk different ways of using risograph, not to mention troubleshooting: a large aspect of printing riso is learning to fix machines, working around paper jams, printer errors, etc. Wilk has seen how other presses operate as businesses. Through Mobile Moniker, she discovered what she did and did not want to do with her platform. “I’m not interested in publishing mass quantities of prints or, for example, paperback novels. There’s so much to be explored with risograph techniques that I would rather focus on smaller editions and experimentation,” she says.

Keeping Moniker’s publishing practice non-commercial is emblematic of Wilk’s broader push towards a more politically conscious mandate. In Mexico, Wilk was around presses that print riso “less for the actual medium and more as a method to distribute ideas, often relating to resistance [or] counter-information,” including Gato Negro Ediciones, Casa de El Hijo del Ahuizote and Red de Reproducción y Distribución. They inspired her to produce political content here in Vancouver: “While I want to continue experimenting and pushing the medium of riso and collaboration with everything that I’m printing, I am also starting to intentionally focus on work that might have a more political and inclusive nature such as 100 Days of Bulimia.”

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Erica Wilk || Photography by Evan Buggle for Discorder Magazine

Wilk feels that print is for “getting ideas to a larger audience, creating discussions and community.” She says, “I would be amiss as a publisher if I wasn’t striving to contribute to those movements.” By inserting herself into each project, Wilk brings her passion for strong aesthetics to collaborative work, explaining that she is “interested in connecting the content with the format.”

Moniker also seeks to grow a community around print by hosting open studios every few months. Wilk hopes that future workshops will make risograph a more accessible medium. “I love collaborating with people, so wherever I can do that is ideal. And if people want to learn from me and then do their own collaborations, that’s even better.”

Moniker Press is a platform founded in experimentation and collaboration that is moving towards the collective and political. Wilk is expanding not only Moniker’s mandate, but its facilities as well, with a new printer and ink colour on the way. If you want to see Moniker’s work, look forward to their upcoming release, Suburbanatomy by Adi Hadzismajlovic, a collection of short stories.

 

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Illustration by David Wakeham for Discorder Magazine

For more information on Moniker Press, visit monikerpress.ca and keep an eye out for the Moniker table at your next art book fair.

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SHELF LIFE | DDOOGG

author
Dora Dubber
illustration
DDOOGG

If you’ve never been to Lucky’s Comics, it’s on Main Street just north of King Edward, snug between a midwifery and a grocery store. Inside, it’s long and narrow with more comics and books stuffed onto its shelves than you think that there could be. They recently announced a collaboration with Vancouver Comic Art Fair to create Lucky’s Lounge in a room at the Roundhouse Community Centre. The room will be converted into a space where burgeoning artists and DIY presses can show their work, curated by Lucky’s members Tom Whalen and Juli Majer. DDOOGG, a small, experimental press lead by Majer, Cristian Hernandez and Tylor MacMillan, is one of the groups participating.

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Illustration by Worm Pores for Discorder Magazine

I first encountered DDOOGG at the 2016 Vancouver Art Book Fair. I remember because I was struck by their tote design: an upright dog in a top hat and bowtie, smoking a cigarette, and carrying a skull while flipping off something to their right.

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DDOOGG started in 2015 when Majer, Hernandez and MacMillan took a class together at Emily Carr University of Art + Design on artist collectives. The three discovered a mutual interest in publication and published their first zine by the end of the semester. It was launched at Lucky’s in a reading room that featured work from other local publications, visual art and hot dogs.

DDOOGG’s publications take on a flexible definition of what comics can be. Hernandez describes the press as “cheap, sustainable, occasionally collaborative, with minimal, playful and amateurish design,” and Majer elaborates on its role as a local bridge between fine art, critical thinking and comics: “Comics are a very traditional and old form of storytelling. You can use certain formal aspects as a guide to jump off of and create tension in other areas. Create a new system of reading with images.”

Majer’s fascination with the medium is reflected in DDOOGG’s roster. To name a few, artists like Hayley Dawn Muir, Will Dereume and Chandra Melting Tallow have published under the press. And while they all have unique bodies of work, there is a distinct other-wordly sense to all their styles. Hernandez attributes the press’ overall cohesion to the artists’ collective approaches to comics as “multi-layered matrices of literary culture and visual communication, and thus brimming with potential for experimentation and development.”

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Illustration by Julie Majer for Discorder Magazine

But I don’t think that quite captures the singular element of DDOOGG. There’s just something about Muir’s shadowed blobs and Majer’s sensual teletubbies that makes so much sense, and whether that’s a similar method or an indescribable energy, I’m fully on board.

Collectively, the press started out non-political. For the initial class DDOOGG took together, they had to produce a manifesto and they went about it cheekily. “We weren’t really looking to advance any political agendas at the time, so we just plagiarized a bunch of intriguing and dramatic quotes from other sources and replaced the subject with ‘dog,’” says Hernandez. But in light of Vancouver’s housing crisis, their priorities are shifting.

Hernandez explains,“I believe artists realize this, and are beginning to lend more of their time, energy, and whatever resources they can afford to solidarity-building with anti-displacement struggles and housing movements in the city — not merely as individual art workers nor members of creative collectives, but also as common political agents — integrated into the cooperative mobilization of communities that strive against a city run by mercenary sociopaths (developers and landlords) and cowardly sycophants (politicians and bureaucrats).” DDOOGG has begun to open their studio to other DIY presses and artists to publish explicitly political releases. Some of these include Chinatown and the Persistence of Anti-Asian Racism by Jannie Leung and Nate Crompton released in 2017, and the forthcoming Art Worker’s Guide to Post-Olympic DTES and Chinatown by the 2016 N.O.P.E. research cluster at 221A.

Their social consciousness is manifest in DDOOGG’s dedication to making space through publication. “It is the best thing,” Majer explains, “to help someone make their ideas into a physical object and then to distribute it.” Since its conception, the press’ initiatives have provided space for artists and community members online and in print, and their hopes for the future show no signs of wavering from that ethos.

 

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DDOOGG will be participating in the Vancouver Comic Books Fair and Lucky’s Lounge. Throughout 2018, they will be publishing issue 2 of Moogie Mag in collaboration with Claire Newton, the 5th edition of Freaker UNLTD, and William Dereume’s newest comics titled EggShell 2. More at shop.ddoogg.ca.