When I started as a software developer at Big Cartel in December, I decided to make a conscious effort to get involved in my local arts community. Since I work from home, it seemed even more important to get out in the world and see what people are making.
I’ve been focused on making comics lately, so I decided to check out the Independent Publishing Resource Center (IPRC), a non-profit here in Portland, Oregon, dedicated to DIY publishing. I went in on a Saturday to scout it out, and it couldn’t have been a better experience.
They have a wonderful industrial studio space that has letterpress, screen, and Risograph printing equipment, plus computers, scanners, and large tables to work on. Oh yeah, did I mention that they also have a collection of over 9,000 zines? It’s as cool as it sounds.
The IPRC also offers everything from workshops, to certificate programs, to various memberships for using the space. The cherry on top is how friendly the folks have been from the get-go.
Wanting to get involved, I began chatting with the staff at the IPRC to see how I could help them out. I offered up my web development skills, and I’ve been helping make adjustments to the website to make it easier for those interested to learn more about the organization. I got them set up with a Big Cartel shop, too!
Aside from volunteering, I go to the studio space every Saturday to work on my own projects. I pack my bags with my supplies and spend a good six hours drawing and chatting away. It’s such a beautiful thing to be around other people creating art. I even took an intro to Risograph printing class a couple of weeks ago, which was a total blast. Learning about how the machines work and the history of it was fascinating. It seems like a great printing technology for comics, so I’m looking forward to experimenting more with it. I’ll be sure to report back with what I learn.
I learned about the IPRC over two years ago at Linework NW. The IPRC offers a comic course every year, and the students had a table set up featuring their comics. One student gave me a copy of their comic - one I still read every month or so. Printed on just a few pieces of folded up paper, it continually reminds me that I can do this, too.
Joining and getting involved with the IPRC has had such a positive impact over the last few months. I truly feel like I’m part of the community there. Working on comics and illustrations can get a bit lonely and isolating, for better and for worse. Being able to say “Hello!” to folks and see what they’re working on motivates me to keep working hard. I love seeing the art people make online, but there’s something really special about seeing that art in person.
If you live in Portland or are ever visiting, I can’t recommend checking out the IPRC enough. Drop in and say hello, read some zines, and make some art!