Who are you and what is your background?
I'm Elisa, an illustrator and graphic designer based in Paris. I founded with other friends LÖK ZINE: a group of authors that love DIY, to publish and produce illustration and comics. We used to study comics and illustration at the Academy of Fine Arts of Bologna and we travel a lot.
In what city?
The project was born in Bologna in 2011, but now lives between France and Italy.
Can you tell about us, about your magazine?
In the beginning, we needed a place to experiment and practice what we learned at university. LÖK ZINE was born in the student's apartment we lived in all together: mixing our styles in a magazine was a natural reflex. In time we got really attached to the project (sometimes we call it "our child"). Then we continued to use the project to unleash our creativity.
LÖK ZINE is the reflex of our artistic taste and curiosity.
We are looking for innovative, beautiful and inspiring comics and illustrations. We make an open-call with themes that always have many different interpretations in order to stimulate creativity. I think our mission is not to settle in old and boring visual arts and to amaze the reader with different points of view.
Print: Why choose print? What kind of paper you use and why? Typography?
We are paper lovers, we love to produce books and sometimes we do fanzine and small projects by ourselves. I also do silkscreen and I think that taking care of the practical side of art after the "planning phase" is really important. This year we also opened a Digital shop to allow everyone to get old issues of the magazine that are sold out. I think this is the best compromise. We print the magazine on Uncoated paper 100gr now in full colors. We also did projects in silkscreen and risograph.
How's the public response?
With the contest, we meet a lot of authors all over the world. We were a little bit scared by changing our magazine but we had a really good response and compliments, and we are glad about it because we needed to grow up and to turn the magazine into something more "adult".
Can you give us a tour of your local media scene?
We are between France and Italy so our media scene is really heterogeneous. In Italy comics are only starting to become acceptable reading material as part of the reevaluation of anything “nerdy”, indie illustration or illustration for adults is following a similar path but on different platforms. Whereas in France we all know how important these media are to anyone.
Self-publishing areas at cons are blooming and getting bigger and bigger, with more professional looking stuff and a very diverse scene.
Business: Good print mags get a lot of love, but is not always translated to sales or advertising. How're the sales? Advertising-wise, is it a normal approach of selling an ad page or more a brand ad approach?
We tried to look for sponsors with the deal that we make the design of the brand, to have uniformity within the magazine. But in the end, we decided to be independent because we want to concentrate our energies on the realization of a good product, without too much interference.
What is your online strategy?
We try to be as present as we can, to show our personality without compromising our privacy. We try to be funny but professional. We offer some contents for free but to keep the project alive we need to sell our products.
About design, what does your brand represent/reflect?
LÖK ZINE is the projection of our artistic path. The logo represents an upside-down ö, to suggest that there is something “off” and unusual about what we do.
What inspires you and motivates you to go to work every day?
The feeling that I'm going to see, discover, try something new. I'm really excited about the adventure and new experiences. In freelance life, you can organize your time and that is a good way to take responsibility and do your best.
What were your biggest challenges as an entrepreneur?
We are not earning anything from this project and we are not back covered by companies or rich families, and we are still here improving our project after 8 years. I think it's something to be proud of and it makes you think that if you trust in your skills you can do whatever you want.
What advice would you give someone who wants to start a magazine?
My advice is to do it and follow your taste end your willingness, maybe at the beginning try to print a few copies and go to every festival and event where you can to have a direct approach with the public. Then you balance the critics and your creative path, you grow up as an artist and you understand if it's the right way for you. Being idle brings you nothing.
Our new open call for the 11th issue of the magazine is online. The theme is RESISTANCE, and this is really important for us because we think that in this historical period resisting is the only way to change something.