PCA Zine club was first started in 2017 by Keiji Ishida (Communication Design class of ’21.) Both students and faculty alike can publish their work in this periodic, hand-made magazine.
The magazine was designed as a way to bring the PCA community together around a theme to inspire us to create work that goes beyond the classroom.
What is Join the Dots Zine, and what inspired the collective to create it?
Join the Dots is an anglophone collective that aims to connect people through creativity. We publish a quarterly zine and donate 100% of the proceeds to a charity for the homeless in Paris.
The zine was born first and foremost from a desire to contribute in some way to helping the homeless. Homelessness is a big problem in Paris, but many people – especially in the expat community – feel like they can’t do anything about the issue, either due to the language barrier or not knowing exactly what can be done or where to start.
So we decided to focus on what we are able to do: write, draw, paint, take photographs, concoct recipes, tell stories and create a zine that could be sold to raise money. We then donate the money to the Abbe Pierre Foundation, who have been working to tackle homelessness for years and have the relevant expertise to make a real difference. What has emerged is an inclusive, collaborative and highly creative community of expats and Parisians alike.
How long have you guys been doing it?
We launched our first zine in October 2017 and are now working on our sixth issue.
Why is design/art/creative expression important?
I think honest creative expression is a way of feeling some kind of connection to other people and making sense of your environment. Nowadays though, a lot of people feel that their art has to be tailored to generate clicks, or that making art is a waste of time if it’s not marketable.
I think a lot of people end up feeling frustrated because of this and questioning the authenticity of their art. Join the Dots aims to give people the opportunity to share whatever they have been inspired to create, without having to worry whether they will get enough likes to be invited back.
What are some of the challenges you’ve faced managing a zine?
Impostor syndrome, putting in a lot of hours and not knowing whether the project would ever come to anything, trying to balance paid work with the zine (our whole team is made up of volunteers), trying to figure out how to make a 40-page zine without any prior experience… there have been many challenges!
How do you keep motivated when things get tough?
Mostly we’ve been super happy and feel very lucky with the way things have turned out. But I do remember one time in particular in the beginning when we put quite a lot of time into organizing a fundraising event and not a single person came! It was just me and our Features Editor, Eve, looking sadly into our pints on a rainy November night and wondering what had gone wrong. At times like that it’s hard to get up the next day and say to yourself, “now it’s time to create, on to the next thing!”
But for us, the process of creating the zine (or doing any creative project) is an end in itself. If you’re starting something because you want success or recognition, you set yourself up for failure because there will inevitably be times when you’re not doing as well – you can’t expect any project to enjoy never-ending exponential growth and success.
It’s great when we see that the zine is selling well or our events are a success because of course that means we’re making more funds to support our charity. But even without that side of things, getting together to paint or draw with a glass of wine, starting a new collaboration with an artist whose work you admire or opening the Join the Dots inbox in the morning and reading a beautiful poem someone has written just because they felt like it is more than enough motivation to carry on.
Have you collaborated with other organizations/schools before?
We always wanted this project to be about collaborating and connecting with other creatives (hence our name). We’ve now worked with hundreds of different artists and teamed up with other zines/organizations whose aims are aligned with our own.
Our collaboration with PCA was the first time we’ve ever worked with a school and it was a great experience!
The PCA zine club has a totally different approach to zine making and it helped us think about exciting new ways of creating and what it means to make a zine.
The people at PCA who organized the collaboration (PCA zine club Founder, Keiji Ishida, and Head of Foundation, Chloe Briggs) are both really talented and inspiring people so we were able to learn a lot from them.
Where can we find your zines?
We hold a launch party for every issue at Point Ephémère and the zines are also available from Shakespeare and Co. All of our zines are also available in eBook (pdf) format from our website. No matter where you buy our zines, we always donate the proceeds to our charity, the Abbe Pierre Foundation.
What advice would you give students who are thinking of starting their own artistic projects?
Just do it! I know it’s hardly groundbreaking advice, but we had been thinking and talking about starting Join the Dots for a long time, worrying, procrastinating, envisaging every possible outcome and what could go wrong.
At some point, someone told us: “it’s a great idea, but now you need to do it”. Also, as I said before, if you’re doing a project because you care about it and it’s meaningful to you, then there’s no chance of it “failing” because the process is an end in itself and anything else is a bonus.
Any upcoming events you’d like to share?
Yes! Every fourth Sunday of the month, we collaborate with a different artist and put on a workshop at Shakespeare and Co. We’ve already done a stop motion video workshop and will be doing collage, illustration and even improv over the next few months.
We also have a pub quiz coming up on May 12th 2019 at Corcoran’s at Sacre Coeur.
Finally, our 6th issue is set to come out in June and we’ll be holding the launch party as usual at Point Ephémère. You can follow us on Facebook for updates!