Monthly Archives: May 2010

Sex, Stickers, and Accounting

1. What are people’s opinions on the Oxford comma?

 I prefer it, as above, in the title. 

2. Tonight I am reading at the Sunday Night Sex Show.

Not the defunct Canadian radio call-in show, but a reading series at The Burlington, a bar in here in Chicago. I am reading with Kristen Fiore, Christian Woodruff, Jen Frank, and Amanda Glasbrenner. 

Readings at the Sunday Night Sex Show have to be  non-fiction.

Here is my teaser: nosebleeds. 

3. Artifice stickers. 


They seem pretty sticky, which is the primary qualifier for a good sticker.

Also they are large, and vinyl. 

IF YOU WOULD LIKE SOME STICKERS, all you have to do is email us at editors AT artificemag DOT com with your mailing address. Also, if  you buy something, like say, a copy of Issue #1, or a print from our limited edition Issue #1, we will send you some stickers with that, too. 

 4. Yesterday, I finished up the year-to-date profit-loss statement for Artifice

I couldn’t find my calculator, so that was kind of a problem. 

I use Quicken to do the Artifice accounting, which is pretty easy to use, but I still needed to do a bunch of calculations, and I ended up doing them longhand. I am not naturally good at math, although I am fairly methodical.

The bad news is that year-to-date, we are in the red just a bit. The good news is that, actually, that is not that bad!

It can take a long time to break even with a new business, and even longer to reach the payback mark, which is why starting a new business is a risk in the first place. Otherwise, everyone would own businesses, right?

(Breaking even is defined here; the payback period is defined here. Would someone like to sponsor my MBA? I think I would enjoy getting an MBA. I am not kidding.) 

But we have copies of our assets sitting on the shelves of the Artifice office, and this afternoon, I’ll putting together our balance sheet, which will tabulate all our assets, cash, fixed assets, etc. to give a big-picture of view of our financial situation. 

If you’d like to help us convert our assets into cash, you can do so here, and if you’d like to increase our liquidity, you can make a tax deductible donation here. (And I’ll send you stickers, to boot!)


A Contest! (Updated)

Barrelhouse Issue 8 is out, and they accidentally sent us two additional copies. Rather than send them back I asked if we could give them away via contest. So that’s what we’re doing. This is their Office Life edition, featuring work from Kathleen Rooney, Elisa Gabbert, Aaron Burch, Kerri French, BJ Hollars, Angi Becker Stevens, and (happy to be in such company) me, among others. We’ll send a free copy to the first two people who email us with a surreal office-related story, true preferably, but funny in any case, and nothing over a page (this isn’t for Literature, just for fun). Send your strange office story to editors AT artificemag DOT com, & we’ll send out those Barrelhouses.

(UPDATE: Congratulations to winners Joel Patton & Marianne Villanueva! Joel’s entry involved chocolates, condoms, and a very special sort of shampoo; Marianne’s involved a scene of horrifically nonchalant flossing. We’ll get those copies of Barrelhouse out to you guys right after the postal holiday.)

We have a not-so-secret magazine crush on Barrelhouse. I mean, you’ve seen these shirts they sell, right?

When I googled Barrelhouse to get the above image, something called “The Barrelhouse Mamas” came up as well, and my first thought was “Seriously? That’s a really weird name for a porn sight.” Nope. Turns out to be a pretty wonderful bluegrass/country band. Sorry BHM. Sorry for thinking you might be porn.

Update: Thursday, May 20

First off, there’s an interesting conversation going on over at Big Other. To get the whole idea, read this first, then this, then this. These people are smart and thoughtful in an exciting way: go read! Tadd and I are in the process of having a number of conversations about this topic, and other PR-related topics, with AD Jameson and amongst ourselves, so we’ll see what comes of it.

Secondly: I recently rediscovered a friend who I knew at summer camp when I was younger, Liz Tapp, and it turns out she publishes a culture magazine called Mule. I ordered a copy posthaste, and it came, and I looked at it. It is beautiful!

It also has advertisements, color ones, that are well designed. And not ads for other magazines necessarily. (Not that I love ads, but I love ads that seem like they might generate income for either the publisher or the ad-buyer.)

Which I think could be linked up to the Big Other conversation, if one wanted to make that connection. About funding, etc., and PR, and saleability, etc.

But what really stood out for me was the design. The magazine makes you want to hold it and read it, and their design is exciting, mentally stimulating, while being immensely readable (something I often find is lacking in magazines, although my copies of the New Yorker do it for me well enough).

Design has been something I’ve been thinking about a lot this week, particularly since my computer (on which I do the layout for Artifice) has become unmanageably slow, especially if I try something crazy like having Illustrator and InDesign open at the same time.

Last weekend I was working on doing a draft layout of one of the longer pieces in Issue #2, Brandon Blackburn’s “Black Sails by Sunrise,” and ended up having an actual tantrum, with tears and stomping. “Black Sails by Sunrise” isn’t typographically complex, either: it’s a longer story with labyrinthine textual notes that are kind of like footnotes but not exactly. (Sidenote: over here at Artifice we are so excited about sharing this story with you. It’s like the story equivalent of this piece of knitted 22k gold and the Infinity Room at House on the Rock.)

And because I couldn’t really work on designing Artifice, I’ve been thinking obsessively about the Artifice design.

The Artifice design is intentionally plain. I almost typed “bland,” but that’s inaccurate. It’s plain, it looks almost “undesigned,” a decision we made so that when we broke the plainness, or made a change, it would be because the designing of a certain piece demanded it. Design is in service to words, here.

Here are three sample pages from Issue #1 from Lance Olsen, Jessica Bozek, and Kyle Hemmings, as an example.

As you can see: the default setting for prose text in Artifice Magazine is left-justified. There are only two fonts in the default design: Adobe Jensen (I love Jensen-y fonts. And the Adobe Jensen has an enormous family. Very useful. In fact, it’s the font that my arm tattoo is in. It’s a Robinson Jeffers quote.) and Gill Sans.

But sometimes I get a little insecure about this. I like cool design as much as the next person. I get all fluttery when I look at Proximity or Ninth Letter or anything that featherproof books touches. And now Mule.

Because highly designed is “in.” It’s part of what makes the “celebrity culture” of indie presses run. How many times have you bought a book based on the cover design on a website?

Tim Jones-Yelvington (an Issue #1 contributor who has become a good friend) and I were recently at Quimby’s, a local indie bookstore, picking up books published by Green Lantern Press.

They make me want them. All of them. They flip the consumer switch in me, which doesn’t want fancy jewelry to show off, but rather understated little jewel-books. Is that bad? It is true that I first said about them, “I love Green Lantern Press; their books are so gorgeous” rather than “I love Green Lantern Press; the authors they publish are so good.”

Is this a problem? Are presses and magazines that focus on highly designed layouts giving people the carrot in order to try and convince them to like the stick, too? I don’t know: as soon as I sat down with a couple of Green Lantern’s books, I revised my thinking. “I love Green Lantern Press; their books are so gorgeous and the authors they publish are so good.” 

So: while I sit around, trying to figure out the busted-computer situation, I’m considering all this (And reading Issue #6 of Mule). Are we doing the right thing with design?



Three things happened in the past seven days:

1. The Requited release party. Amanda Marbais, Heather Moymer, & the rest of the Requited editorial staff rented out the Hideout on Friday for a reading & musical extravaganza. Rebekah & I fell a little in love with poet Jason Bredle. You can fall a little in love with him, too: some of his poetry’s here & check out his books here.

2. Saturday’s edition of Uncalled-For Readings, hosted by (Artifice Issue 1 author) Tim Jones-Yelvington & Megan Milks. Uncalled-For is both: a, new to Chicago (the series was founded in Brooklyn); & b, badass, so y’all need to get hyped about it. Uncalled-For focuses on Queer writers, “Queer” being applied as broadly as you care to apply it, & Tim & Megan’ve done a good job of drawing in some folks from outside the standard Chicago lit scene. Case in point, performance artist Kareem Khubchandani, who read to us about why Bollywood was sexier before everybody got so toned, plus a piece about the wonders of the internet for boys growing up gay in Ghana.

3. This month’s Quickies! reading included Amanda Marbais (see Requited, above), Natalie Edwards, Matt Trupia, Sara Levine, Jonathan Messinger, Sam Pink, & brand-new Quickies Mascot Brandon Will (whose piece involved audience participation in the form of we all yelled “This is my moment” real loud when so cued).


In other news, it’s looking like we’ve got the content for Issue 2 together, though we won’t know for sure how Word .doc converts to Artifice pages until we’re a little further along in the layout process. At any rate, we’ve started taking pieces for Issue 3 (including a couple of Horrible Machines & some heart-stoppingly beautiful plagiarisms).

We’re crazy excited about the work we’ve gotten for Issue 2. If you’re in the Chicago area & you’re interested, expect to see a short preview when Rebekah & I read at the Orange Alert Reading Series this Sunday. For now, I will say two words: Freddy Krueger.

Update: Thursday, May 6

The week in review:

JTA and I went to a reading put together by Green Lantern Press and heard Devin King and John Beer read. Mr. King’s book Clops just came out from Green Lantern, and although it’s a little book (only 54 pages) I am getting the feeling it’s epic. (Ha, that’s a joke, because Clops is a retelling of the Odyssey.)

Here is a picture of Mr. King wearing wonderful green pants. I also took about 10 minutes of video, which has since been mysteriously deleted from my phone. JTA bought a copy of Clops; I’m pretty psyched to read it.

Also at the Green Lantern Press reading, John Beer also read, offering up a powerpoint-enhanced awesomeness. His book The Wasteland and Other Poems just came out from Canarium Books. Here is a picture of Mr. Beer looking as though he is conducting an orchestra:

In reality, that’s just the light on the podium so that Mr. Beer could read see when the lights were dimmed to make way for the powerpoint.

Later, I went to a reading at Quimby’s, which was headlined by James Greer. His book The Failure came out from Akashic in March. Yes, this is the same Mr. Greer from Guided by Voices. He seemed really nice; his reading made me want to read The Failure; he drank two Modelos during his reading.

Zach Dodson from Featherproof Books also read. First he read some Madlibs, which were great. Then he read a story (the title of which I forgot) which had cats in it. Here’s 1 minute of him reading. Mr. Dodson was wearing his red sweatshirt inside out. 

We are doing things other than going to readings and shows!

We had a content meeting this week and took a few pieces to go in Issue #3, which will come out in February of 2011. We’ve basically got #2 in the bag, but I need to lay what we have to see exactly how long it is. Our wee size makes it hard to translate manuscript pages into issue pages.

Issue #2 and #3 are really exciting. It feels like we’re exploring new realms of what the “Artifice aesthetic” really is. More on that later, probably from JTA.

To leave you, here are two more pictures. One is of Mr. Greer drinking one of his Modelos. The other is Mr. A.D. Jameson of Big Other (and other) fame listening to Mr. Greer read. 

As usual, if you want to know what we’re up to right now, visit us on Twitter or Facebook.