Tell us a bit about yourself, how did you discover zines?
I’m a student, psychology this year and I like to illustrate and write when I can.
I heard the term being used on the net. A little research led me to Sticky. I live a little out of Melbourne, so I took the trip in to visit and was blown away because the place is incredible. By the time I went back a second time I had already printed the first issue of MOTE.
Tell us about MOTE…
I didn’t know what MOTE was about when I first started. That’s good, I think, because it meant I wasn’t modelling it off anything, I was just filling it with things I thought were cool. I was inspired by the energy of zines and the braveness of just creating something like that. Zines try to push what you can do in the world, I was excited by that. If you want to create, just start creating.
Initially, I just wanted to make people who read MOTE happy. It was about pointing out how incredible I found life. Gradually, it’s become more quiet and more contemplative and more honest, I hope.
Also, why is it called MOTE? (It’s an excellent name by the way.)
I think I just scrolled through my iTunes song library and landed on it. It’s a song by Sonic Youth. I probably chose it completely at random and it was just luck that the meaning is relevant and makes sense for a small, quiet publication.
I tried to translate the title into Japanese once, when I stocked some over there. It translated to dasuto, which is a Japanified ‘dust’.
In the past, you’ve invited readers to place an illustrated Post-It all ‘round Melbourne, or send you an email to receive a rap poem or drawing. How important is this interactive element to your practice, and what were you hoping would come out of this?
I was excited by possibility when I first started. I felt like there was a lot, anything, that you could just go out into the world and do if you wanted. So I wanted MOTE to inspire and instigate that. I also just really like getting emails. It’s awesome to know that you’re being read and that people like what you’re doing. I want to be able to extend that into an even more personal relationship where I can actually create something unique for the person, a sketch or something.
Um, on a related note, does the offer of fun doodles or the rap poem still stand? ‘Cause I’d really like one (whichever, I’m not particularly fussy), please!
I’ll definitely do some illustrations, but I’m not at home at the moment, so I’ll send them through in a couple of days.
[And he did! Here it is…]
[But wait! There’s more…]
MOTE (understandably) has gotten a lot of love from a bunch of folks (EWF, The Thousands, and well, us). What’s the most unexpected bit of fan mail you’ve gotten so far?
I recently got an email from somebody asking for an illustration of Kougalhoff monster. I couldn’t even find it through Google. The closest definition I could find was a German cake, so I turned that into a monster and sent it to them.
But probably my favourite email was when somebody said they liked a particular article of a particular issue. It was an article on beautiful things, and it was really nice to have somebody tell me they thought I had an idea that was worthwhile.
What’s your latest issue and tell us about some of the cool things featured in it?
I have one issue that’s finished but not released that has some more monster illustrations, stories about bird watching and things.
But I’m currently working on the 13th issue, which is going to be a hundred pages, and then I might stop MOTE there. I’ve been interested by nuclear war lately. Not the actual war, but the process leading up to it; all the effort and creativity the scientists put in and all the discoveries they made as they constructed the bomb. I like the idea of contrasting that kind of intellect with the intellect of somebody younger in the same world, just starting to explore life. So that vague idea will inspire some of the content. But most of it will just be more illustrations and ideas. I’m filling up a notebook at the moment.
First zine you ever bought?
There were two zines I bought first. One was Radical Morning by Cougar Flashy. His stuff is great and the zine itself is beautiful, printed onto nice paper. It’s about an eighth the size of an A4 sheet of paper. I love that zine; it’s still my all-time favourite. I wanted to pick it up because of the cover and the little illustration on it. Cougar Flashy crosses straight geometry with hand drawn stuff in a great way. There seems to be a bit of that style around now, I don’t know if he created that wave, or was just a part of it, but the drawings are great.
The other one was a collection of personal photos somebody had put into a zine. I can’t remember what it was called. It was messy and black-and-white and hard to follow, but I liked it too. It was really thick and all I remember was a photo of a guy eating pork ribs. It was huge, heaps of pages and at the back, it said to leave the zine on a bus for someone else to find. I liked it because it was rough but it had the right energy behind it.
I have some books I keep going back to for inspiration; I’ll go through those:
- Hell’s Angels: The Strange and Terrible Saga of the Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs – Hunter S. Thompson
- Heads on and We Shoot: The Making of Where The Wild Things Are
- The Pinkerton Diaries – Rivers Cuomo
What are you up to these days?
I had the idea for a comic about Werewolf Police fighting a gang of ghosts called The Dirty Diamonds. I’d like to work on that more.
I’m trying to animate a bit, and I’m just collecting illustrations ideas here and there. I would like to do an extended journalistic thing where I find two people in unrelated fields and simultaneously write profiles on them. Something like an orchestra conductor and a Dungeons & Dragons expert.
Who: Cameron Baker
Where: Unfortunately, Cameron doesn’t stock with Sydney stockists (he should though!) so if you wanna grab a copy of MOTE, shoot him an email (firstname.lastname@example.org) and he can send you stuff (he’s a super rad guy) – or mail order at maildept.stickyinstitute.com
Featured image: cover of MOTE #8, courtesy of Cameron Baker