Vincent Matthew Franco
Social Media Editor
Swarms of zinesters, screen printers, illustrators and other various types of artists made their way to Edmunds Ballroom at Pomona College with their artist creations, ready for them to sell Saturday and Sunday for what would be the second annual Print Pomona Art Book Fair.
The large ballroom held three long rows of folding tables with artists ready to talk to customers about their newest zine or tell them of their book-making process. All-around conversations of different artistic concepts could be heard as KSPC 88.7 radio DJs took turns blasting tunes out of the PA system.
Founder and project director, Julian Lucas, started this book fair specifically for Inland Empire and Pomona Valley artists, whom he feels get left out of the conversation because of the limited access to Los Angeles.
“Just to build a community of creatives in this area, we’re so spread out because the suburbs are larger than the city,” Lucas said. “Cities are more condensed, so you know who’s who, but out here, everything’s big…and I think that if you created a center point people would start to find it and come together.”
Lucas succeeded in creating this center point as folks could find an abundance of artists from varying generations. Whether it be creators trying to find their footing in their artistic careers or those who have been around longer than some of the other vendors have been born.
“For one, if you don’t support each other, then there’s no nobody coming,” legendary photographer and director Estevan Oriol said. “The other reason that it’s important to do these is to broaden your reach because there’s a lot of things that you do, but not everybody sees them.”
Oriol’s career spans over 20 years and is chock-full of photographs that give its audience a deep and acute look into gang life, car culture and everything that is Los Angeles street culture. On his table, he had one of his latest photo books, “Bosozoku: Japanese Biker Gangs,” along with other merchandise, like car scents with his pictures printed on them and enamel pins. In this latest book, he presents the same attitude and passion these gang members have for chrome parts and candy paint, but this time with Suzuki motorcycles.
As photography was seemingly one of the more prominent mediums in the book fair, there were still plenty of illustrators present. On the other side of the ballroom was Kelly Jean Janich, cartoonist, writer and animator, who stood behind her table full of her pocket-sized comic zines and small poetry books that were accompanied by her own drawings. Her illustrations have themes of romance and crushing love with a fantasy cartoon style that is right up the alley for those who grew up watching Cartoon Network.
“Digital is good because it’s out there and you put it online, and anyone can see it but to actually have something to hold in your hands is a really special feeling,” Janich said. “It’s more intimate in a way because you’re holding it in your hands and you can think about it, contemplate it. You can put it on your bookshelf, you can put it in your room, you can display it, that’s something you can’t do with digital.”
With the light rain coming to an end as the day went on, the ballroom slowly became more and more filled in with eager enthuses ready to expand their book collection or to fill in that empty space on their wall with a screen print. Screen printer and vendor from Fresno, Vincente Velazquez, was providing both for folks.
Representing his printing press which remains nameless at the moment, Velazquez was selling none of his art but instead was selling all of his friend’s screen prints. One specific print on his table could be seen in the hands and bags of multiple book fairgoers around the ballroom. A print consisting of doodle-like drawings of pots, pans, beans and a Tapatio bottle with the words “Tenemos comida en la casa” (We have food at home) written on the bottom had obviously struck home with multiple people.
“In this day and age of Instagram and social media, it’s easy to just scroll past things and forget about things,” Velazquez said. “You know, the attention span is only shortening, so it’s nice to have tangible products you can hold on to.”
In correlation to the book fair, Oriol held a short lecture on his photographs, giving some behind-the-scenes insight into them that folks might not usually get the chance to hear about. He stood at the back podium as pictures he took of Robert DeNiro, Al Pacino, Danny Trejo and Snoop Dogg were projected onto a wall of the ballroom.
The room fell silent as Oriol held court and told stories of all his friends he had photographed alongside their mothers, unknowingly that they would be the last ever photos taken of them after being killed due to gang violence. These kinds of stories, followed by the stories of all the celebrities he had the pleasure of taking portraits of, had the crowd awwing and laughing simultaneously.
After his talk and the day was coming to an end, the free jazz group Mood came in and ended the two-day run of the Print Pomona Art Book Fair. If anyone is interested in participating in next year’s book fair, Lucas encourages them to keep an eye out for applications on their Instagram page @printpomonaartbookfair.
Vincent Matthew Franco can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Vincent Matthew Franco is a senior journalism major with a concentration in print and online journalism. He has been involved in journalism and print media in high school, community college and is now at the social media editor of the Campus Times and a staff photographer for the Campus Times and La Verne Magazine. He previously served as arts editor.