Whether it be out of frustration with being force fed content on a daily basis, wanting to create something away from a screen or otherwise, making zines and independently-run publications is in right now. On the mainstream, Kanye West released his Season zine this year, Tyler The Creator is starting Golf Media and Frank Ocean recently teased an image of what seemed to be a magazine accompanying his forthcoming album, Boys Don't Cry. It doesn't feel like an annoying trend, though; every zine I encounter feels different and because they're physical, more effort can be put into how they distinguish themselves from others (size, color, paper texture, etc.)
3 Dot Zine, created by Baltimore-bred, Brooklyn-based artist Devin Morris, while in its early development, revels in the endless possibilities of presentation. Morris' first issue, which dropped last Summer, was a colorful interpretation of New York City from a non New Yorker. With collages being made from out-of-context conversations from dating apps, takes on race relations and his friends cut out to appear as divine beings strolling through urban paradises, it was both visually pleasing and open-ended enough for you to piece together your own narrative. Since 3 Dot's first release, Morris traveled to Brazil for a artist residency where he says he found himself as an artist, returned to NYC, took printmaking classes at the Art Students League of New York and began working on his recently released second issue, Gray Areas. We caught up to talk about his motivation for collaging, his new issue and what can be expected from 3 Dot moving forward.
Why are you moved to present your work in print?
Devin Morris: I think it has something to do with my disinterest in the internet. I use the computer just as much as the next, I just don’t like to see imagery or consume news media there. There wasn’t any option for me but to print my work. Especially seeing as I also write and coordinate with contributors. Online publications get the side eye from me because I rarely feel the need to engage in content shown online. I also die for objects so I think having the opportunity to print my work is an honor and I hope that anyone who happens upon a copy sees it as a gift because that’s what I’m thinking of the zine as when I create it.
You were accepted for an artist residency in Brazil. What did that do for you personally and artistically?
Brazil was a reset for my life, really. Personally, it helped me identify what the idea of being an artist meant to me. I concluded that all I need to do is to do my work and don’t think about any assertions following that. I call the Brazil trip a harvest and a funeral because I left so many hardships there, I literally buried them in a hole and prayed over them. It was a harvest because I came back full of a new sense of my place in the world with a new appreciation for how thankfully small I am. Brazil gave me the key I had been looking for. It is a very blessed land.
Your zine, 3 Dot, is collage-based. When do you know a scene, object or person will fit into a collage? Is it a random or impulsive selection?
My selection of people to shoot, or characters as I like to think of them in my head, is mostly planned and decided. Sometimes when I am instantly inspired by someone and I have a camera and some clothing around, I’ll ask can I take a picture at that moment. Locations are always random and rarely play a big role in how my finished collage will look. I use my backyard a lot when shooting and sometimes my kitchen. A lot of times I have not one idea of what I want to shoot but I will have a notion I want to address so I keep repeating that to myself and then come up with an obstacle course of arrangements to shoot the subject in or on.
The majority of publications feature people "known", "of note" or with some level of influence but you tend to feature people close to you. Speak on that decision.
It is not a decision: the people around me are individuals of note. I’m not sure who’s supposed to select for me whom I would consider to be of note. Everyone around me is magnificent so of course I ask them if I can do the honor of imagining them.
Your first issue was popping with colors and patterns and was a fairly small book. You're going bigger and without color this time. Is that how you want 3 Dot to continue? Switching form and function each time?
Yeah, I’m not tied down to any aesthetic approach. The book will always be printed within my creative whims. I think that only makes sense because each book tells a different story.
Would you say the zine is more about the people featured or is it how you present these people and atmospheres?
The zine is a wandering, a troupe through a garden patch, a city block, a long walk through an unfamiliar terrain for miles and every few feet you are thankful for the way this terrain is exposed for you. The zine is a culmination of varying ideas smashed together and in the end I’m not sure who or what speaks loudest. I like it that way; static. I mention to all of the artists and collaborators what my initial feeling is. For the current issue I am dealing with gray areas or issues that arise literally and figuratively in between black and white while growing as a society, person, or individual. I first addressed that by printing in black and white and from there I asked for contributions based off of conversations had with the artists. The zine is about everything and nothing.
What's been inspiring you most lately?
Bike rides, Brooklyn at night, running water, square shapes, James Baldwin, Truman Capote, empty lots in the middle of a city street, torn down buildings and gentrification.
When people open 3dot, what would you like them to gain from it?
They will tell me what they gained or subtracted from their viewing it. I hope that 3 dot inspires conversation because that’s what 3 Dot Zine is hopefully, a cacophonous eloquent conversation.
How did it feel to have people come out to support your work at the Gray Areas release and art exhibition? It was your first showing of art, how does that push you moving forward?
I felt visible and exposed and I felt humbled by that. I felt personal and close to everyone who viewed the new assemblage and video works. I spent so much time working on all the aspects of the show and it was relieving to finally put it out. Moving forward, I feel empowered to continue to create, continue to share with others, and I know that is happening now with everyone who picks up a copy of the zine. That continuation of sharing is happening and when we meet next we’ll speak about that part of the process and the assemblage works as well. I am inspired to continue to remark upon the world around me and have conversations still.
For more on Devin and 3 Dot, go to 3dotzine.com