Cheers to non-traditional paths
How do we get to be who we are?
I’m talking both existentially but also, in a very specific way of what we do for work and how we find that path (for those of us who are privileged enough to ‘choose).
I’m a graphic designer who didn’t come to design in any official way until I was almost 30. I tell my story by way of saying that I stumbled upon design after many years in the nonprofit world and fell in love. And that is true.
But then I/we go digging back to find the connect-the-dots story of when the interest in design really started. For me, it comes down to my early teen years when I got immersed in the underground punk and indie rock music scene. This is when I started my zine – it was called Riot Duck and I filled it with my own poetry and writing, photography (still my love), record reviews and interviews that I’d done with local punk bands, and political commentary on racism/sexism/homophobia, with a focus on political prisoners like Mumia Abu Jamal and Leonard Peltier. I painstakingly cut and pasted (like actually cut and paste scissor-like, not Control C and V) all the components and laid them out in a 52-100 page master of the zine. I was lucky enough that my dad (who was incredibly supportive) would sneak me into his office on the weekends, where I would copy hundreds of zines at a time. It felt like I was taking from THE MAN to produce an underground activist zine. I was.
A few years later, when people started using AOL and the concept of ‘online’ was beginning to be used, I created my first website – for Riot Duck, where I essentially copied html code from different sites in order to patch together my own. Now, over 20 years later, this all is essentially how I am able to make a living. It’s cool to think about.
But why are you talking about this now, Eva?
Why am I talking about this now? Well, this week was one of deep nostalgia for that period of time when, I was immersed in the NYC/NJ punk scene, and was in a band, and interned for a woman-run band media and management group and the owner of the quintessential dyke bar, Meow Mix, and had my band Pinker Duck, and my zine and Riot Grrrl NYC.
This week, I got to see, Bikini Kill play, their first time after 22 years. I have a heart breaking story of how, at 15, I was denied entry to their show (you can see the subsequent letter from Kathleen Hanna in the photos), so I had never actually seen them live until a few nights ago. I was also lucky to experience these shows with some dear ones, two of three who were part of my band, and part of Riot grrrl nyc with me. It was two epic fucking nights, where my 15-year-old self, and my 38-year-old self came together in the most beautiful ways: singing, dancing, jumping up and down, and generally feeling both surreal and completely in the moment at different times.
I’m appreciating who I was then, who I am now, and the continuity of friendship, music and design in my life.