Making the Swankest Lit Mag
Black Clock, a lit mag from Cal Arts, has posted an interview on their blog with the editors and designer of Birkensnake, which they call “one of the swankest journals out there.” I couldn’t agree more (and have said so in the past). The interview—”Birkensnake: The Mutant Left-Behind Cousin You Always Wanted“—was conducted by Elizabeth Hall.
Both Birkensnakes were easy to design because the writing in them is so visually rich. The designs are somewhat literal collages of images present in the text. Birkensnake One has the beefhead from Sam Roberts story and Birkensnake Two is a mash of different things- Blake Butler’s hive, Caren Gusoff’s semiconductors and capacitors, Matthew Pendleton’s cone, etc. Both issues were made under a lot of time pressure, especially the second issue, in which I traveled to Providence from Alabama, with 5 days for both the designing and printing. So we didn’t really have a lot of time for fiddling around- on both issues we used the first design I came up with. The construction is collaborative. I came up with the general structures (I study Book Arts- the first is a simple double pamphlet with wraparound covers, and the second is a long stitch style) but both Joanna and Brian have a good intuition for how materials work and a willingness to get into new things and figure them out, so we all worked on it together.
Providence has this awesome place where you can get left over industrial materials for 10 cents a pound, so we went there and found the radiology folders. They were too good to pass up so we decided to use them not knowing how they would react to the ink or fold or tear or wear over time. For the second issue Brian got very excited about branding or burning elements of the design, and then he found the flocked paper (at the above place). He and Joanna did a couple of test burns and mailed them to me so I could think about it, but we still really had no idea how the burning would interact with the ink until we took the printed covers to the park and blow torched them.