Get SF Weekly Newsletters

Thursday, September 8, 2011

The Act of Creating at SF Zine Fest Blows Away Any Mass-Produced Sales Pitch

Posted By on Thu, Sep 8, 2011 at 11:00 AM

Shayna Yates of
  • Shayna Yates of
Small-press publishers don't slack off. Over the weekend at SF Zine Fest, the County Fair Building's two halls and a reading room were filled with independently produced artwork and literature. And if that weren't testament enough to their productivity, many of the artists passed the time with notebook and pen or paintbrush in hand. Although we don't know what the final numbers were on sales, this offered a much more engaging selling technique than any "pitch" could be. Nothing's more awkward than being sold to by someone who not only cares about what they're selling but who's also the one who created it.

The perfume spritzers at Macy's can be a nuisance, but you know that when you decline to buy a bottle of the latest Eau d'une Nuit Régrèttable from Tommy Hilfiger you're not rejecting their babies. There is perhaps no more poignant consumer experience than to have to pass over work presented to you by the artist who made it, and this colors the interaction that begins the moment you hesitate right as they catch your eye.

One needs a Puccini to capture all the doomed optimism of that initial, "And how are you doin' today?"

Cameron Forsely of DC Tattoos
  • Cameron Forsely of DC Tattoos
Watching an artist at work, calmly concentrating despite the din of the surroundings, instantly makes him or her as well as the art itself leagues more interesting. In their actions, these artists are not trying to impress or persuade you to do or buy anything. They're making something, and their activity, not their strategy, draws you forth.

This is probably based on the same principle that makes people more attractive when they're ignoring you, or when they're with someone else, but it's probably also because so much of what we buy is made either by machines or unseen people across the sea. Seeing an item evolve into being at the hand of one person, right in front of you, is increasingly unusual, and therefore fascinating.

Art from Red Letter Day
  • Art from Red Letter Day
So-called "snail mail" provides a good example. The U.S. Postal Service might shut down in January, and the act of sending postcards has seemed quaint for a while -- especially when you can easily just update your Facebook status, or, if you're really considerate, take the time to e-mail friends individually.

Jennie Hinchcliff has raised to an art form the increasingly rare -- and now imminently threatened -- tradition of sending letters and postcards. She creates beautiful letters, postcards, and "fake" stamps, and she encourages people to create their own and send them to her as part of the Red Letter Day project. The examples at her booth were enough to make us prematurely mourn the demise of the Postal Service (and no, UPS will not deliver your postcards, however lovingly watercolored they are).

  • Pin It

Tags: , , , , , , ,

About The Author

Larissa Archer


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Popular Stories

  1. Most Popular Stories
  2. Stories You Missed

Like us on Facebook


  • clipping at Brava Theater Sept. 11
    Sub Pop recording artists 'clipping.' brought their brand of noise-driven experimental hip hop to the closing night of 2016's San Francisco Electronic Music Fest this past Sunday. The packed Brava Theater hosted an initially seated crowd that ended the night jumping and dancing against the front of the stage. The trio performed a set focused on their recently released Sci-Fi Horror concept album, 'Splendor & Misery', then delved into their dancier and more aggressive back catalogue, and recent single 'Wriggle'. Opening performances included local experimental electronic duo 'Tujurikkuja' and computer music artist 'Madalyn Merkey.'"