Centenary alumnus featured on NPR’s “All Things Considered”
SHREVEPORT, LA — Centenary alumnus Kirk Reedstrom ’15 recently caught the attention of National Public Radio’s “All Things Considered” with his “quaranzines,” small comic book style drawings exploring the small details and occasional absurdities of daily life during the COVID-19 pandemic. Reedstrom is an author, illustrator, and designer and works as Social Media and Digital Services Coordinator for the Shreve Memorial Library system in Shreveport.
Reedstrom’s “All Things Considered” interview is available at npr.org. He also recently answered a few questions for the College about his process and inspiration.
What was the inspiration behind creating the zines? And why zines, specifically?
I'm a newcomer to the zine world! In fact, I made my first one in January of this year when Malaka Gharib, a zine-maker and author of I WAS THEIR AMERICAN DREAM issued a challenge to create an eight page zine about your last decade. A few artists I follow started posting theirs, and I thought it looked like fun! After watching a couple tutorials to figure out how to fold and cut the paper, I instantly fell in love with the form. I'm not great at writing long-form pieces or even journaling regularly, but I found I could handle writing four to five sentences along with a couple of doodles. I especially enjoy that I'm not using extravagant art supplies—you just need a sheet of paper, something to write with, and you're good to go!
When Louisiana started sheltering-in-place, I made a couple about our new quarantine life. The 100 day project was about to start, and I wanted to see if I could maintain a daily practice of creating. My wife, fellow Centenary alumna Sarah Duet ‘11, did a 100 day project last year, and I was super jealous! Now we're both working on our own projects at the same time (she's doing 100 days of Enneagram), and it's nice to have a person to encourage you to keep going. I have to say, though, she's done a much better job at posting every day than I have.
An added bonus of the zines is that I don't look at a screen when I make them. My phone and computer consumption skyrocketed when we were at home all day, so I wanted an activity that would keep me engaged and not scrolling through endless feeds on social media.
Can you talk a little about your creative process? What’s the hardest part? What is the easiest part? What is your favorite part?
I usually sit down with a spiral bound notebook, jot down a few ideas, and do very loose thumbnails before jumping in. I want to make sure my zines feel like first drafts. I tend to overthink and overplan most of what I do, so if I'm not careful I'll spend weeks making drafts and not actually creating anything. I also want these to look so accessible that other people try making their own. The most rewarding feeling is seeing people inspired by my posts to create something that might be meaningful to them. If I'm feeling really stuck on an idea, I run through Lynda Barry's four minute diary exercise or make a few squiggles to loosen myself up.
The hardest part is making time to create the zines! It's so easy to watch another episode of something on Netflix—especially when you're tired at the end of the day. I've missed a few days (life happens), but the most important part of the project is to pick up where I left off and keep going.
Do you plan to continue to make zines post the 100 days project? How do you foresee them evolving?
I do! I have a feeling I'll be making zines for a long while. I have a few ideas collecting dust right now because they'll take longer than 20 minutes to an hour to make, but I'm itching to start on them!
How else are you spending your time in the pandemic? How has it affected your family?
Most of my days have been spent cooking, working on longer writing/illustration projects, walking, staring at my phone, and watching a lot of TV. Now that Louisiana's opening up, I'm going back to work in my office for part of the day which feels bizarre. We've had a couple of non COVID-19 related health issues come up in the last couple of months, but my family has stayed largely healthy throughout the pandemic and I'm incredibly grateful for how lucky we've been.