What Is A Zine?

by Lindsay Shapka in , ,

For the final project in my non-fiction writing class in university we had to create a zine. I found the process of taking a subject I was passionate about and shrinking it down to meaningful, concise thoughts incredibly difficult, but also a really interesting process. I also found it surprising how many people don't actually know what a zine is. 

A zine is a small, self-published work of text, images and/or art that is reproduced either by hand, by photocopier, or online (though print is still the most popular form). According to the website Remezcla, "Traditionally, zines were handmade booklets/DIY magazines made by people who didn’t have access to high quality publishing. These were alternative methods for distributing new artists, ideas, contemporary influencers, political manifestos, illustrations – anything and everything outside of the mainstream publishing world."  

They usually make little-to-no profit and often deal with topics that are too niche, personal, or controversial for mainstream media. The design is usually rough, unique, and unpolished, further supporting the unconventional topics they cover.

Anyone can create a zine, and there are usually no more than 100 of them distributed. 

Ultimately, zines can be made of anything, be about anything, and be distributed just about anywhere. As long as the are communicating an idea, and someone out there is reading them, then they are doing what they were meant to. 

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Artist Chris Cran's Fascinating Paintings of Modern History

by Lindsay Shapka in , ,

House Head, 2009; Red Man/Black Cartoon, 1990; Awake, 2009

Award-winning Canadian artist Chris Cran has his work displayed in private and public collections all over the world, and it's easy to see why.

His painted work — which he has been creating prolifically for the last 40 years — takes traditional art genres and turns them on their head. Still-life, portraiture and landscape works suddenly become oversized, avant-garde works of brilliance.

The artist is clearly drawn to the Pop and Modernest movements which he uses to portray history in a pop-culture context that can be both hilarious and unsettling at the same time.  

Self-Portrait Just Two Maos Down from some Guy With a Goddamned Tea Cosy On His Head, 1985; Self-Portrait Watching a Man about to Shoot Himself In The Foot, 1985

In 1989, Cran began his Stripe Paintings series where he used a stencilling technique to draw lines on images that he had taken from magazines, art history, and advertising. He also integrated half-tone tones in the imagery as well. 

The process for each work involved blowing the images up from their half-inch scale to over nine feet in some cases. Though paintings, they look almost like pixelated photos that have become grainy because they have been enlarged larger than their resolution allowed.   

Large Orange Laughing Woman, 1991; Large Green Laughing Man, 1990; Large Pink Laughing Man, 1991; Large Green Woman, 1991

Large Orange Laughing Woman, 1991

Large Green Woman, 1991

Smoker, 1989

Hand Gesture, 1992; Hand Gesture #6 (OK), 1992 

The Mind-Blowing Paintings Of Ben Johnson

by Lindsay Shapka in ,

Mirador de Lindaraja, Ben Johnson, 2013. acrylic on canvas (image source)

British artist Ben Johnson is in no rush to get his paintings done. In fact, he has spent the equivalent of 17 years on one painting alone! 

He is best known for his works that show intricate architectural spaces, and large-scale city skylines from places like Hong Kong, London (you can see this one at the National Gallery in London), Jerusalem, and Liverpool. 

These layers of paint create incredible works, but Johnson has said that these creations are not something that he does for fun, but something he feels compelled to do. 

The BBC recently interviewed him for an upcoming exhibit. Click the link below to learn more about him and see him at work.

Nuit Blanche: When Artists Take Over A City For A Night

by Lindsay Shapka in ,

I was so excited to explore Edmonton, Alberta's first Nuit Blanche! This all-night (from 7 pm until 4 am) contemporary art event took place in the city's downtown core and was made up of more than 30 artworks, performances, and interactive exhibits. This festival began in Paris in 2002 and since then has spread to cities all over the world! 

Exhibits included an artist building a high-rise out of bouncy castles, steam-rolling various items in a makeshift hockey rink, playing soccer on uneven surfaces, and more! Here are just a few of the incredible exhibits that I got to experience. 

Half The Air In A Given Space
by Martin Creed

This work had no weight, shape or dedicated outcome. One of the city's pedways was filled with 12-inch, yellow balloons that took up half of the volume of the space. Visitors were then let inside to explore and play in the space. There were only a few people allowed in at a time. 

Gary James Joynes aka Clinker

In the heart of City Hall, this exhibit created visual representations of sound. While music, or various tones played, intricate patterns were projected on a bubble-like structure on the floor. The shapes created were meant to be "reminiscent of sacred geometric and decorative imagery from a variety of faiths and cultures." (source

Wish Tree: Imagine Peace
by Yoko Ono (yes, the Yoko Ono)

In this beautiful exhibit, 121 trees were placed in Churchill Square (the main square in front of City Hall), and participants were asked to write a wish on a tag and tie it to one of the branches of the tree. At the end of the event, the wishes were collected and sent to the Imagine Peace Tower in Iceland. The trees were planted throughout the city. 

by Sally Raab

Made with paper and LED lighting, these beautiful sculptures represented both the dimensions of human bodies, and migratory clouds of monarch butterflies that spilled through a local gallery. 

Where did you go? 
by The Orange Girls

This performance piece was moving, and unsettling. It was meant to be a study of identity and to ask the questions: Who are you? Why are you here? What gifts do we have to offer? We were invited to paint strips of paper to attach to the frame that surrounded the people that were staring at each other, not speaking, while sitting at a table. 

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Mini Houses Up Trees: Public Art That Reflects A City's Architecture

by Lindsay Shapka in ,

This isn't your typical slightly treacherous treehouse with a tire swing. No, the treehouses that have been installed in Edmonton, Alberta's Churchill Square (there are three total) are miniatures of actual houses that can be found in the city — high end materials, modern design and all! 

Created and installed by a group called The Threshold Collective (made up of University of Alberta students), this fun public art is meant to reflect "heritage architecture found in historic neighbourhoods... as well as newly built infills." (source)

According to the Edmonton Art's Council who funded the project, it "superimposes private and intimate suburban spaces upon the urban environment and shared public space" (aka there are really cool looking mini houses in trees in the middle of downtown that are perfect for Instagram-ing!).

Throughout the day, domestic sounds come from the small buildings and, at night, there are lights that emit from the windows. 

Overall, a pretty darn cool piece of public art! 

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Artist Douglas Coupland Creates A 3D Portrait of Canadians

by Lindsay Shapka in ,

Artist Douglas Coupland

I recently had the opportunity to meet author and artist Douglas Coupland and participate in a huge art project that he is undertaking.

Coupland is often attributed with popularizing the term "Generation X", which was also the title of his first novel. He is a prolific writer, and on top of writing books, contributes to Vice regularly.

His visual art is bright, in-your-face, and is popular in Canada, America, and Europe. Vancouver, Canada is the home of a few of his sculptures, including the lego-like orca near the convention centre. 

The project that I had an opportunity to take part in is called 3DCanada: APortrait of Canadians in the 21st Century and, uses 3D printers to create portraits that will be used in a giant installation. 

Sitting for a 3D scan involves not moving for just over a minute while the rendering is created on screen.

Teaming up with the Canadian, Quebec City based brand, Simons, Coupland is travelling to Simons locations with 3D printers, and the technology required to scan Canadians and create 3D replicas of their portraits. 

According to the artist, he is hoping to get 2,000 3D printed busts that he will print out in large sizes, paint and then use in a massive art installation to be completed in the year 2019. He plans  on having the piece travel until it comes to rest in the Toronto-Bloor Street Simons store. 

When I spoke to Coupland, he told me that he is excited about how this piece will both preserve a moment in the subjects' lives, and give them the opportunity to look at themselves differently. He enjoys the idea of using cutting edge technology to explore the idea of what a group portrait is in the 21st century. 

The best part of the whole experience?

All participants will receive a small version of their 3D image to take home! 

What's The Difference Between A Reproduction And A Print?

by Lindsay Shapka in ,

Digital prints, giclée prints, original work, illustrations, reproductions — there are a lot of different terms that are thrown around these days when it comes to art, and each term comes with a vastly different price range. 

I have always struggled with distinguishing the difference between a reproduction and a print, so I decided to do a bit of research to figure it out once and for all. Here's what I have discovered. 

The easiest way to remember the difference between the two is to think about how close the actual artist is to the final work that you have hanging on your wall.

In other words, did the artist themselves produce it, or did someone else reproduce it? 


Traditionally, a print is made by spreading ink on a surface that has ben carved (by hand, by machine, etc.) with the artist's design and then printed on a surface as many times as the artist wants. Unlike with a reproduction, there is no "original" (though arguably, the etching itself is the original), and the artist is a part of all stages of the production process.

This is why prints are often labelled "limited edition" and can be more expensive than reproductions. Though, cost also depends on how labour intensive the process was to create the print, and how well known the artist is. 


Reproductions are basically copies of original paintings.

That Degas poster on your wall? That's a reproduction.

The key is that producing a reproduction does not involve the original artist (though I am sure there are exceptions out there). Usually, a digital image is created of the work, and that file can then be used to reproduce it on any surface in any size.

Reproductions can also vary widely in cost depending on the level of detail and the type of surface that is printed on. For example, a giclée (basically fine art reproductions created on inkjet printers) format can even reproduce the texture of the paint from an original piece! 

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