Tuesday, November 28, 2023

Inside My Face Is A Mask That Does Not Change















New Zine For Expozine 2023

INSIDE MY FACE IS A MASK THAY DOES NOT CHANGE

signed and numbered edition of forty. 52 pages, various stocks and sizes, rubber stamped and embossed detailing. $20

Only available in person.
 

Wednesday, November 13, 2019




















Here's a photo of me with my dad, Mihalis Mavreas, in his hospital room the month he died, sometime in September 2018.

It's cropped. My brother and my son are in the background playing.

I miss him even though he aggravated the heck out of me at times. I have lot's of petty and some not so petty complaints about him. I also love him and wish he was around and healthy so I can foist my kid onto him and watch them do their thing.

It's been a year plus and grief is strange. My mom, who I visited yesterday for the first time in too long, has her ups and downs. She wore a white t-shirt under her black blouse for the first time yesterday, she said.

Greeks are heavy enough as it is without death around. With death, holy cow.

That's all I've got for now.

Friday, November 08, 2019

New Zines


























Today I harvested the finished zines from my local copy shop, Papeterie Zoubris on Parc Ave. Demetra Z. did a great job putting my books through the machines and I am now a week ahead of being fully ready for Expozine 2019. 

This is going to be my first Expozine since leaving the organizing team several years back. I burnt out a bit with the whole process and gave myself some time to heal from zine fairs. This year i'm only tabling on the Sunday. I'll have these new books (pictured above) plus a couple of other concrete poetry titles of mine published by above/ground press in Ottawa.

The antibiotics in my gut are making me feel woozy....oddly hungry and nauseous at the same time. It's not a good feeling to have underlying the accomplishment of 6 new zines. I take these damned things at the suggestion of my gastro-enterologist, we're trying to find out what is at the root of my problem. Maybe it's a stubborn bug that's been throwing me off. 

This fucking thing has been throwing lots of chaos into my life. It's making me edgy of course which rubs off on the family. My 6 year old is throwing near daily tantrums and i am not being my best self about it. I get mad too and then we have two kids, one 6 and one 51 yelling at each other.

The zines. Sure, I got them printed. The material has existed for a bit, all done at different times these last few years. Although I am happy to have them, there is still some need that keeps gnawing at me, the need of the unwritten novel or the unlived dream. I'm not sure which. I collect art. My own art. I collect projects and series of drawings, monotypes, collages, poems, comics, whatever...I collect these small stacks of my creations hoping that something - anything - will happen.

What is it I hope for? I hope someone will sweep into my life and take my art and give me money and glory. I dream of some phantom agent coming in and leading my work into the hands of publishers and curators so that I can relax. So that I don't have to sit retail to make a living - selling my own art.
So what would I do, now that my art has found a premium art house publisher dedicated to making and distributing my work? Would I still sit shop at Monastiraki? No. I would not. I'd move out of here and create a home studio and work from home. My home? does it have a room I can use for a studio> Of course not. We'd have to move but no problem, big money is coming in now at this rain of fire global time and I can afford a sweet home in Outremont. My Mom can even live here, it's so big. I'm losing my mind!

Keep making art, Mavreas.....but why? What for? It's some sort of stand in for something else...So often on this blog I've gone on about needing to write more and here I am months later writing a bit more. For what? more drops in the void.

I still haven't taken up running. That would probably tire me out in the right way.

It's like I make art as busy work, as a stand in for something still out of reach. I am productive and prolific and often satisfied. right now I am not. iI can make cool stuff and thing whatevs more stuff. How can I even begin to untangle myself from this store studio I've built? I don't know what's mine anymore. I have a giant cave full of riches I can't easily liquidate.

Ok. Venting done. I sat here to describe the news zines and instead I've described my unease.

Here's what i posted on FB about these new books: 

Six new books ready in time for Expozine. Sunday only. Details below:

Untitled Abstract ed. of 20
The Realms - comic about Becoming ed. of 60
QuoteUnQuote - suite of concrete poems ed. of 100
The Burden of Possibilitie - autobio comic about pathways ed. of 100
Untitled Abstract ed. of 40
ACCEPT - chapbook length full colour visual poem ed. of 100

available at Expozine and at Monastiraki
$5 each except Accept $8

Friday, March 08, 2019

eyetrails


Dragging my heels



A deceptively simple task like writing a short blogpost every week has repeatedly and consistently bested me. I can't seem to do it. I've slowed down fb posts, I still post images and jokes on twitter, I do a daily or so instagram post for my shop, monastiraki but this here? every week/ a little something? Nope.

I'll tell you what's new this year. I did the ten day miracle challenge which is an affirmation/desire/focus study program promoted by Mitch Horowitz. I extended it to thirty days. It resulted in an increased poetic & publishing practice. It helped ground me and focus my energies towards a goal. I liked it. I incorporated light weights into it, synching my affirmations with fifteen pound curls. Totally super powered cheese. 

In February, on valentines day I got surgery to deal with my persistent fistula problem. I'm still slowly recovering, 3 something weeks later. Take care of your bumbums, folks!

For the next month, I'm working on a submission for a groovy group show in the states, readying myself for a short family trip out west where I've also scheduled a poetry reading, tidying up my errant MSs into usable content and oh so much more.

Ok. I wrote something down. Good.

I feel I need to do another ten day miracle challenge burst now. It's effective, practical magic. 

-b











Friday, December 07, 2018

Writing on the bus

I took the bus to Ottawa to see an art show at Carlton university.
On the bus I started writing something based around the idea of trying to not have someone sit next to you. The characters were four friends taking a bus ride. I loved it. I loved writing about these kids. I loved the kids. I tried to add a bit of magic to the text. I need to revisit it, of course, and edit it, clean it up, add it to something larger, forget about it completely.

What got me was how the actual writing diffused any stress I had. It was as if the solution was right there in front of me, that I loved getting things down on paper, long hand.

In September my dad died suddenly. I never thought this would happen how it did. But it did. And the whole thing left me hanging. It left my cute little affirmations hanging. It left my grander visions and future art projects hanging. I'm slowly trying to get back to a place where it's normal life again but of course it's hard. My grieving mom with all the shock she's going through.

Writing on that bus took me away from my life and situated me in the life of my characters and their ideas. The two and a half hour bus ride slipped by like nothing. I arrived ready for a walk in this other town, full of peace and ready to absorb the novelty of my Sunday away from home.

I wrote a bit on the way back but it was dark and I was tired so I tidied up the story as best I could and now my clipboard sits next to my bed. My kids been sick since then and now It's my turn too.
I'm writing here for the first time since when I said I'd write weekly.  It's tough to do something so simple, maybe it's not so simple. 

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Some sample comics pages of mine

I am supposed to write a little something and upload a blog post every Thursday not because someone told me too but because I in my haste obliged myself to do so. But the shop was busy and I couldn't sit down to compose anything so instead, I've decided to share some pages from various short comic strips, a tiny sampler of strips I've done with actual stories in them!


Add caption







Thursday, July 19, 2018

cut-outs

























I've often noticed that I tend to approach illustration with lines rather than forms.
I'm trying to amend this, exploring how to make forms and then use lines to cut away or add details, lines that are actually part of the negative space or background.
Here is a test I did yesterday. I tried to start with a known figure (bunny cartoon) but quickly became bored with myself so I veered into abstraction (to stop myself from drawing boobs, tbh - long story).
I like the results. I've been cutting out colourful sticky vinyl and this reminds me of that. Paper cut-outs have a similar feel. Cutting away on the screen is easier than scissors and paper.
I've been hooked to the line forever, it's immediate and easy but it limits my vision. Forms, blobs of all sorts, allow a new approach that is still novel to me, fresh. It provides new avenues seldom walked. 

Friday, July 13, 2018

Clear Blue Skies

Clear Blue Skies - Original and Treated


























The above is a clear showcasing of two distinct modes I work in.
The first is the immediate scrawl on paper, in this case, the words CLEAR BLUE SKIES written on a scrap accompanied by a quick doodly sketch, all on a scrap used for note taking around the shop. The tear reveals a to-do list, cut short.
I love this scrap. I've used it to alert customers that the store is closed on beautiful days when the pain of sitting in a quiet shop was too much and maybe anyone would sympathise that I had to get out into the world, where they were.
Next to this scrap is a treated version. I took a quick snap of it with my device, emailed it to myself, opened it up on photoshop, removed the colours and made a high contrast black and white version which I printed out onto a piece of blue bond paper.
I love this sheet of paper. I love the punk zineyness of it. I love xerox art and much of my digital work is done in the service of achieving a lo-fi copier look. I've taken my more precious scrap and turned it into a more accessible, raw, mediated thing, something that inspires me to run off several copies and staple them around the hood.
So here it is, tactile and folksy vs machine tooled. I love them both, these funny kids.

Thursday, July 05, 2018

Valley Lake

Lake

Valley




























I surprise myself by embarking on projects I could never have preconceived. I do this by simply using whatever tools are at hand. Have I told you this one before? My partner has a beat-up old laptop at home that she doesn't use anymore. it restarts every so often so is generally an unreliable drag. But for the most part, it still works.

I sat up late one night and instead of putting down the damned screen and going to bed, I started taking pictures of myself with the photo booth app. Just horrid, dark selfies of me laying back on the couch, slack jaw and all.

Then I dragged one of these pics onto the desktop and opened it in preview. I have always wanted to see what exactly, graphics wise, one can do with preview. The version I had was an older one that had several limitations. I could copy, resize and paste. No flipping, rotating or mirroring. No changing the contrast/hue/etc of any individual selection. The whole thing or nothing.

My experiments began trying to lighten my midnight selfies. Mucking about with the colours led me to notice the selection tools and then off I went. The above images are collaged from selfies, any semblance to me utterly obliterated.

How would one set out to do this except by circuitous accident?

Thursday, June 28, 2018

World Building Continues

I sat with my notes from my first world building exercise and found that scenes, dialogue, additional characters and relationships simply upped themselves and shuffled into place. it gave me a taste of what may happen if I gave myself more time to do this; if I immersed myself deeper into this.

I'm doing this world building longhand, in an Ikea rocking chair I wanted to get rid of just a few months ago. I sit in a corner of our middle room with a lamp shining down on my papers.

I type with two fingers and have been doing so for so long that it just may not be possible to learn proper typing. Writing longhand allows me to zip back and forth between notes, add to this part, let that part breed something new. Of course, I can do the same digitally but for now, it simply makes good sense to use pen and paper.

Another thing that happened recently is I made yet another new zine. This one is 44 pages covers included. It's a stream of consciousness comic strip about accessing visionary narrative realms via asemic writing. I let it sit overnight, rereading it often the next day. I made some corrections and additions a day after that and printed it up on the next day in the first edition of 20 copies. I mailed some out to some comic book friends in the hopes that my semi-fugue state has yielded something noteworthy. One never knows. It could be junk, it could have something to it.

I like the idea of the unlikely thing being a hit. Usually, the stuff I'm convinced is hot really isn't. My taste is not the deciding factor. In any case, my takeaway from this quick zine making is simply that: Do it. Finish it. Get it out there. Make another one.

The world building I've been discussing belongs to a larger project and it's a relief to have some place to drop my errant thoughts, a basket to catch these characters, names, situations that I have been collecting. While this big thing brews and inches on, I'll pound out smaller offerings, I'll commit my smaller projects to print.



Thursday, June 21, 2018

World Building Begins

So, I am actually on track.

I was reading a short story in an anthology of gothic fantasy, a Gray Mouser story I believe, when a click happened in me.

The author mentioned in passing the places Our Hero had been, you know, the Lake of Whatever, the Mountains of Overthere, like that, destinations that had little or no bearing to what was happening or what was about to happen. I stopped short, muttered World Building to myself, closed the book, grabbed my notes and started listing off the things in my world, the world I have been cobbling together since forever.

I have often thought that I lacked an array of characters and plotlines, which I mostly do tbh. The click was that I should be concerned with where (what world) I want my stories to take place in. This world-building strategy has helped me because as I was listing off elements of the world I wanted to see realized I started listing settings, events and characters that belonged in that world. One followed easily from the other.

For example, of course, there is a band in that world of mine, a touring band. So there are members of that band as well as fans, venues, all the stuff that comes with bands. The stuff of my social life since adolescence. I started remembering jokes I have told myself about all that.

So I'm on track. I haven't written a stitch of a story except for some notes and a tiny piece of dialogue but at least now I have somewhere to be, somewhere to start from.









Thursday, June 14, 2018

Fantasy Writing

I have always wanted to write fantasy.  I was big into LOTR and regularly read SF&F short stories.

I've filled a few pages of the stuff but not much at all. When I have sat down to do so I have zero plan so it goes nowhere. Also, I haven't tried for years. My last real efforts yielded a couple weird short stories that were more atmospheric than anything, all about slugs floating through walls and such. No characterization, no real plot.

I studied lit in school some decades ago so one would think that I could figure out the basic building blocks of story writing. Thing is I simply don't put in the effort. I don't give myself the proper allotment of time at the desk to finger peck my way towards a complete short story.

My efforts in comics have seen some fantasy but not the elf/wizard variety. More the dimensional portal/trickster bunny type.

Also, as you can tell, my prose style is choppy.

And next I'll show you an example of how I was going to start this small text piece :

Oblique pathways towards fantasy literature, an early and as yet undying love, take the shape of psychedelic posters, stoner comics, asemic jottings, sigil crafting, magical street art, 

From choppy to snotty.

The stuff I most enjoy reading is sword and sorcery. When I discovered C.A. Smith I was floored. I've loved the old R.E. Howard stuff too. I don't draw this stuff. I don't sketch it, I don't design it on paper. nothing. But I enjoy reading it. I'm not up on the contemporary voices and don't care to be. Still chipping away at the classics.

I've read lots of fairy tales and children's classics. I'd love to write a kids book but here I am stuck with stilted confessionals.

The task is to inch towards a practice that leads to writing fantasy. It can be hybrid, urban, anything as long as it's coherent and complete.



Thursday, June 07, 2018

Towards a Writing Practice

The impulse to write is camouflaged as a choking sensation that I recognize much too late for what it is. So I turn in circles. I go for walks and I chant. I scribble. I practise asemic writing, convinced that I am making headway into new lands. I collect series upon series of art projects, potential books languishing in my drawers, projects neatly organized waiting for an editor to knock on my door wearing nothing but devotion, patience and a huge cash advance.

A couple of years ago I participated in fun-a-day, a community action inviting peeps to choose a project and work on it, for fun, a bit every day for a month. I chose writing text. No concrete, no alien tongues, just word after word in English. I posted each offering online elsewhere. I went for 2 months plus. it was much needed. I got a lot off my chest. I felt a release. Some days were a tough slog other days a whiz of excitement, thinking faster than my two chicken pecking fingers could deal with.

Today the writing I do is on this blog and is centred around the creative process. I upload an image of some visual art of mine and start riffing. The image below is of some hand lettering on found blue canvas. I like the idea of such simple poem signs, an I very much enjoy making text-based visual art. It's simply that I think I wasn't to write write. And do it much more consistently and much more often. 

I want to write and let myself be taken by it. What a romance! I want the practice to steer me and not the other way around and I'll tell you why. I make excuses for not just starting something. I collect fragments that are never revisited. I have no aim, no plan, no plot, no characters, no setting. I have a choking sensation telling me that I'm not expressing myself. Chanting helps, it's immediate and lovely and I'm improving my singing voice. Asemic is radiant in that it stretches my imagination in unforeseen ways but I still fear writing straight and long form.

Here are some excuses....do I use the computer or longhand? Should I get a dedicated notebook? Should I force myself to create a list of characters and a setting and start plotting? Should I trash all fragments to clean house and just choose one project and go with it? When should I write? Family life is demanding. Should I wake up earlier than everyone else and sit at a desk for 20 minutes? Should I remind myself that in other aspects of my life I've near successfully jettisoned the word should?

To date, I've told myself to at least hit this blog more often, maybe once a week, on Thursdays. Maybe the regularity will breed discipline.

I've been told that discipline is the name of the game. Showing up at the office, every day, for a 500-word jaunt or something.