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Feature Thu Aug 09 2012

Self Publishers of Chicago: Fire Dog Experts Among Other Things

Particularly in light of the closure of the Publishing Industry Programming Office, a part of the shuttered Chicago Office of Tourism and Culture, there's something disparate in the lives of Chicago's creative professionals. In an effort to unify, writer and designer Nicki Yowell got together with Liz Mason over at Quimby's to create Self Publishers of Chicago. Since its beginning in April, the group has developed into a virtually unstructured weekly meet-up that invites creative types to gather in a central location and get stuff done. The stuff Yowell and Mason originally had in mind was mostly zine making, but the group's attendees have since diversified. SPOC launched its website earlier this week and intends to broaden its reach. SPOC.jpeg

"It's a really solitary thing to be a writer, designer, artist and people really benefit from coming together," Yowell said. "Just come as you are with whatever you're working on."

Yowell said she and Mason were determined to put together a group that met without pressure, without demanding much of its attendees beyond willingness to share space and some ideas.

"Early on I wanted to go to tacky chain restaurant as a group, so we had a poll and listed all of the big offenders like Chili's and Friday's," Yowell said. "That just reinforces that we're really not taking ourselves too seriously. We're productive, but really it's to give the basic ingredients for people to be more productive and aware of what's going on in the creative community."

Recently some founding SPOC members completed a collaborative project, Fire Dog Zine, inspired by a book in the Read/Write Library all about Chicago firedogs. It's on sale now at Quimby's. SPOC's interpretation, with writing and art by Yowell, Mason, Meghan McGrath, Paul Durica, Eric Bartholomew, and Grant Reynolds includes an advice column written by a firedog for fire dogs, a word hunt, and lots of art.

"We had people do illustrations and poems, and stories about fire dogs," Yowell said. "Liz made a song. Whatever people are naturally gravitating towards, we can accommodate it. You don't have to change according to the group or organization."

To get on the email list email selfpublishersofchicago@gmail or check out SPOC's Facebook.

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Book Club is the literary section of Gapers Block, covering Chicago's authors, poets and literary events. More...

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