Why The Kazoo! Print Expo Rules by Dan Evans (2016)

 In Why This Rules

Photo by Vanessa Tignanelli

It’s important to me to be at least a tourist in underground culture. It provides a type of nourishment not available from the mainstream — the vitamins of Uncommon Opinion, and minerals of Dispatches from the Margins of Human Life. Small Press and Print fairs are my favourite nodes of the underground, where writers, silkscreeners, printmakers, comic artists, and other do-it-yourself tinkerers lay their handmade and unique items out on tables, boldly and shyly inviting a hunt through their documents of experimentation. And the artists themselves are on offer for engagement, too — a smile that leads to a comment that leads to a longer chat about their work and the special agonies and epiphanies they’ve manifest by making things by hand.

As a Browser (“onlooker, goer, customer…”):
Last year at Kazoo! Print Expo, I stood too long at the All Sorts Press table, running my fingertips over the inky letterpress grooves and embossed paper items (postcards, booklets, bookmarks, posters…). I asked dumb questions, and said “wow!” at each new item, envious and inspired. Also, for an excitingly small amount of money, I brown-bagged a handful of new zines (one about urban herbalism that taught me to grow mint in a container, one about home remedies that I use every time I get sick); a few issues of a comic about love and drugs; a couple mailings-worth of beautiful, screen-printed Get Well and Hot For You greeting cards. Then I had a chat with a Dad+Daughter team of letterpress enthusiasts (Stubbs!) who had just published their new book of hilarious poems, still ink wet.

As a Tabler (“sitter, artist, seller…”):
You might know this: the 3’ x 6’ table is a daunting container for experimental art. Curating a table’s worth of stuff so it’s attractive, is a puzzling, teasing type of distillation. When it works, it’s thrilling for vendor and browser both. Last year at Kazoo! Print Expo, I spent my 15 min. break from the table browsing and buying other people’s amazing stuff, but then I happily tucked back behind our table to talk to you about our hand-bound books. You were uninterested; you nodded along to pleasantries and the awkward noises of trying to make a connection; and then, sometimes, you lit up with curiosity: you were intrigued by the Gothic novel from a lost corner of history; you loved hearing about the group of artists who were archiving a year’s worth of conversations about what people were learning; and you bought the A-B-C of notes from an improvisational percussionist. It made me feel like a hero to introduce a healthy secret into your life.

Dan Evans, printophile, works with the Guelph Neighbourhood Support Coalition, and with Publication Studio Guelph.

Kazoo! Print Expo

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