Sloppy Queer Press “hopes you can get a laugh out of it, too”

Sloppy Queer Press says, “You know dapper queers? Well dressed, seem to have a plan, ironed pants? We love them, but we’re just not them. We’re sloppy queers. We make zines, digital illustrations, and letterpressed objects. Some of them are about queerness, chronic illness, our feelings. Many of them are about dogs.”

STL SPEX (Rachel): What are your artistic influences?

Zoe: I think more about my work in terms of writing than visuals, so a lot of the people whose work I admire are writers, especially writers who combine theory, memoir and experience like adrienne maree brown and Maggie Nelson. I also love illustrators who illustrate similarly, including Molly Costello, Iris Gottlieb and Shing Yin Khor. I have a strong affinity for weird blobby Matisse shapes as well.

Candice: I try to write no more than a few words at a time and leave the wordsmithing to Zoe. As for visual influences, I have always had a special place in my heart for Lane Smith and also bizarrely proportioned medieval art. Kate Bingaman-Burt and Lisa Congdon and Lauren Simkin Berke have influenced my making as an adult. And in a very literal way, I learned everything I know from Very Important Midwesterners John English (KC), Audrey Benjaminsen (DET), and STL’s very own Edward Kinsella III.

STL SPEX: What are your favorite tools/printing methods and how do you use them in your work?

Zoe: I love to letterpress and typeset and fold paper by hand and sparingly use alcohol markers but I’m working on learning more digital techniques. I’m an open studio member at Central Print and I love using well-loved type and unique found blocks. 

Candice: I work mostly digitally but I’m getting braver about branching into gouache and ink.

STL SPEX: How does your collaboration unfold – are most of your projects collaborative or do you usually complete them individually? Any advice for others collaborating on small press work? 

Both: A lot of our projects are individual, but we give a lot of feedback about what we like and don’t like about an idea or an illustration. We’re collaborative about what Sloppy Queer Press brings to the table as a whole, but only a few of our projects – last year’s zine about our dog’s secret meninist beliefs, for instance, are truly collaborative. We’d really like to more of that sort of collaboration – where we write together and Candice illustrates – in the future. Zoe also collaborated on a zine for this year’s Small Press Expo with her friend Katie, about Tegan and Sara’s album The Con, which Candice illustrated. 

Our advice is to collaborate with folks whose taste, style and thoughts you deeply respect and trust, to let collaboration be fun and enjoyable (if it’s not, let it go!)! Our most collaborative work has come from an idea that we mutually think is hilarious and grows from there.

STL SPEX: Please discuss the prominence of dogs in your artistic endeavors.

We have two dogs who both have very unique personalities and ways of being in the world; and, like many people with pets, we generally narrativize their lives through what we guess their human voice would sound like. We spend a lot of our time with them, taking care of them, hiking with them and we think they’re hilarious. On the more boring end, it is really helpful to have such captive, expressive and treat-motivated models. And we’re millennials without children, a lot of our friends and peers are also deeply involved in the lives of their pets and house plants, so it’s something relatable to us that we want to see reflected. We’re both really interested in the connection or distance between human and non-human animals. How animals become symbols or canvasses to project our ideas (and songs) onto and how we live side by side with these creatures who we often relate to but who do not share in big portions of our realities (they don’t know about capitalism)! Our zine, Indy is a Meninist and a few other bits are manifestations of that ongoing dialogue we have between ourselves and our two dogs. We hope you can get a laugh out of it, too. 

STL SPEX: Anything else you’d like to tell us about yourselves?

You should probably apply to table next year! We’re at the Small Press Expo because we really loved this space the first time we visited three years ago and it’s been really cool to return in this position. 

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