by Juleana Enright
This week The Culturator catches up with Sarah Ann and Oakley Tapola, the awesome ladies behind a collaborative, curated project, the WOrkshop of POtential Zines, aka WOPOZI. Now looking for submissions for their upcoming issue, “Carmine,” the duo produces a local arts-focused newspaper that doubles as a portable gallery. WOPOZI is all about accessibility with a cat’s curiosity in merging images and words.
l’étoile: Tell us about the conceptual origins of WOPOZI and what creative elements it brings to the local lit scene.
WOPOZI: We met through a good friend who asked us both to be in an exhibition he was curating. After getting to know each other through the show, we got excited about the idea of working on a collaborative project. Initially we had the idea of making a smaller zine with our personal work, but further discussion brought about our enthusiasm for the work of our peers. The idea for a publication, vs a gallery, allows the works represented in the magazine to be tangible, and accessible: it creates a portable gallery. While brainstorming names for the zine we came up with WOPOZI which stands for the WOrkshop of POtential Zines, a name that stuck even when the zine format turned into a newspaper. In terms of creative elements that the newspaper brings to the lit scene: the paper was intended to be arts based, so while we want it to have a heavy literary presence we don’t want it to lose its focus on visual arts. There are lots of publications that feature art writing, but we had the notion that the magazine should accentuate the readers’ ability to bring actual art pieces into their homes and therefore feel a sense of ownership and deeper appreciation for the works showcased.
l’étoile: Recently you participated in events like the Twin Cities Zinefest, Art of This’ “One Nighter” series and the Walker’s “Local Fair.” What were the highlights of those experiences?
WOPOZI: Talking to people that are curious and as excited about the newspaper as we are is always a really great experience. Being around talented artists and sharing ideas is the reason we started the project and it’s a good feeling to have all of our initial feelings reaffirmed by going to events where we get to interact with those people.
l’étoile: What kind of art has been featured in past issues and how does this speak to the paper’s eclecticism?
WOPOZI: The paper has had arts writing, philosophical writing, poetry, prose, photography, sculpture, painting and drawing all featured. The last issue also featured an interview with a local artist, something we hope to have more of. Eclecticism: we promote people making things! And we know that there are a variety of ways to do that so we don’t limit what could be in the magazine.
l’étoile: You’re currently looking for submissions for your third issue, “Carmine.” Beyond authenticity and the obvious “wow” factor, what stands out when sifting through submissions? Are there any restrictions as far as size, content, etc.?
WOPOZI: We’re looking for works that makes us think, which covers a broad range of material. The newspaper has a specific format, the pages are always 11”x17” and there are also color limitations, but we’re working with these constraints. We generally manipulate the submissions in such a way that two artists works may be shown together, much like a group show, so the restrictions end up being subjective to a certain extent. We have yet to include audio or video work, which we hope to do in the future using our web presence. Overall, there are no restrictions to content.
l’étoile: On the technical side, what goes into producing each issue?
WOPOZI: We have to sort through submissions and curate the works appropriately. We wait to officially accept submissions until we have finalized the layout. Overall, the submission selection and layout are intertwined. It’s an intuitive process. Once we’ve finalized the layout we design a cover and bring it to the press. The printers we work with are great and allow us to be present while the press is running, to insure that WOPOZI is printed in the highest quality that it could be.
l’étoile: Where do you look to get inspired?
l’étoile: When it comes to local art and culture, what or who is on your radar?
WOPOZI: We have been lucky to have artists contribute to our magazine that we greatly admire, any of those people are on our radar. We also have been lucky to have awesome drop sites for distribution that support local arts and artists. Visit our Facebook page for more info on where to pick up WOPOZI.