I Don’t Need To Be Reminded of Life’s Impermanence
— Alick Shiu
Heavy Letters 2018 ︎ Connect on Social Media
Interview by Hannah Coleman
with Alick Shiu
with Alick Shiu
HC: What went into making I Don’t Need to Be Reminded of Life’s Impermanence? How did this zine come about?
AS: Mostly I had to fill table space for a zinefest I was about to table at and I had some ideas brewing in my head and kinda just stringed a bunch of things together to try to make something seem “coherent.” Looking back at it, it’s really just a collage of ideas I had at the time.
HC: I love this zine’s relationship to poetry and nonsense literature. The playfully literal writing (such as the alphabet-book-like text, “picture of a grapefruit,” paired with a rectangular field of purple instead of the expected fruit illustration) seems so ideal for children. Can you talk about the writing style and your points of inspiration?
AS: I can’t remember exactly what I was reading or looking at at the time but I’m always thinking about poetry and Cy Twombly and once in a while John Baldessari will pop in my head and maybe when I was making this, he was there in the room with me. There’s also this thing Philip Guston talked about at some point where he was like, what’s the difference between a picture of an apple or a red shape that makes you think of an apple when you’re looking at a painting, so maybe that was subconsciously with me then, hahaha. I like to try to make things as silly and goofy as I can and this was part of it while making this zine.
HC: In the picturebook world the age old question is always: did the pictures come first or the words? How did you think about the relationship between the two here?
AS: In this case, the words definitely came first. There were just random iPhone notes of thoughts and ideas I had written down over whatever time period that I finally found some way to utilize in this form. I think my goal was, and maybe still is, to always try to give words within a pictorial space as much weight as something that might be a figurative representation or abstraction of a shape or idea and not as something that’s just a compliment to those things.
HC: Can you talk about choosing to make the title text backwards? It reminds me how children who are learning the alphabet often reverse their letters, especially since it is hand written.
AS: Having a traditional printmaking background and being surrounded by printmakers all the time who have to be conscious about how a plate gets printed, I thought it’d be funny to intentionally write text backwards. Also, I think I was just trying to be goofy and make things harder to read for everyone else.
HC: When and how did you get into artist book making? Tell us a bit about Heavy Letter Press? How and when did this get started?
AS: I did a lot of printmaking in college and I think bookmaking comes with that territory. Some of the people I know made xerox zines or would make small editions of zines made from etchings, etc., so making something in book form has always been in the back of my mind. My first exposure with risograph was in NY when Paul John and Anthony Tino first acquired a riso and did the first edition of SPRTS. By chance, I happened to be around then and was super intrigued, so when I was back in the Bay and had a chance to get a riso with a friend, we were like fuck it, let’s get this machine and make dumb shit.
HC: What was your exposure like to zines or independent publishing as a kid, if any?
AS: Um, I don’t think I had any really exposure, but I did grow up next to this really small bookstore run by this one old dude and I think he just sold really old books and comics and stuff. It was like a small, poorly lit, musty bookstore. I kinda hung out there everyday. I don’t think they ever got any new freshly published books and looking back I can’t imagine them ever making any money.
HC: Do you imagine children when you think of your audience? What do you think a child might say about this book?
AS: I don’t really think of children or like any audience actively when I’m making things, especially since I mostly just make things for fun-but I do love looking at kids’ drawings and watching them make art and play and stuff. I think they’d think the zine/ book/ whatever is dumb and silly, hahaha.
HC: Is there anything else you would want to share with us? About your work, upcoming projects, cool happenings in the zine world, your favorite video game of late?
AS: Ummm! That everyone should support Childish Books because they’re doing cool things :)
Copies of I Don’t Need To Be Reminded of Life’s Impermanence will be available for purchase during the 2021 Printed Matter Art Book Fair on the Childish Books webpage!
© All Copyrights to the artist, Alick Shiu
No visible ISBN
5.5 x 8.5 inches