Tag Archives: DIY

Stay True to Your Roots #Dispatch: Miyuki Baker

 

I’VE BEEN CHATTING with travel writers, activists and personalities of color about their experiences navigating the media industry and the globe with an intersectional lens, while exploring themes like power, privilege, place, and identity, themes that are rarely touched on in the mainstream travel space. Read previous #Dispatches here.

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Miyuki is a resident of the place where circles overlap. As a queer, multi-racial/lingual female mixed-media artist, she is happiest when working with people who embrace intersectionality and creativity. After graduating from Swarthmore College in 2012, she received the Watson Fellowship to travel the world in search of queer artists and activists and made 8 zines highlighting what she learned under her publishing house Queer Scribe Productions.  She is a freelance artist, journalist, barber, translator, seamstress, lecturer and performer. Contact her at heymiyuki at gmail dot com.

Bani Amor: Tell us about yourself. How would you describe what you do?

Miyuki Baker: I’m a queer woman of color artist, activist and explorer.  I make things and tell stories in the hopes that they will shed light on our shared humanity.

BA: How does place influence/factor into your work?

MB: Since I’ve been on the road since May 2012, I’d say place influences my work quite a bit. I feel like the work of documenting and chronicling what I see and experience in new places is heavily affected by the fact that I’m parachuting in and then leaving a couple of months later. It forces me to make intense connections quickly and try to minimize the feeling of dislocation for myself.  It makes me think about the outsider/insider perspective a lot and to be sensitive to/respectful of the local politics of the place I’m in.

BA: Tell us about Queer Scribe Productions and the International Art/Activism Zine Project.

MB: In May 2012, I started a 14 month trip around the world to make zines about queer art and activism. I ended up going to 15 countries and making zines about 8 of them which you can see in full color at queerscribe.com I was particularly interested in finding how the local culture, politics, history, geography etc. affected the media used by artists and activists in queer communities. For example, the opening of a queer film festival in Bangalore, India has encouraged many more locals to try their hands at film making.

I also performed in most of the countries I visited as a way to give back to communities, but most of the time I was trying to meet as many different kinds of queer artists and activists, attending events, lectures and festivals.

BA: Did you encounter any challenging conditions while traveling with your project?

MB: Initially it was that I had my camera, laptop and cell phone stolen within the first couple of months of my trip. I’d say I got over each episode pretty quickly but there were moments where I wanted to put more into the zines but couldn’t because I didn’t have a personal computer. I made all of the zines on borrowed computers or in internet cafes. Ultimately, it was because I didn’t have an electronic barrier that I was able to jump into more social situations so it was a blessing in disguise.

Other than that, my first couple of weeks in Buenos Aires were rough because despite how overt gay culture is there, it felt extremely commercial and not at all what I was expecting. It took me a lot longer there than anywhere else to find any radical queer activists who welcomed me.

BA: What did you learn about international queer communities, if anything?

MB: I’d hope that I learned something about international queer communities after 14 months of focusing on it 😉 It’s almost too daunting to say anything in such a small space but I’ll say that I learned the importance of both staying true to your roots (or revitalizing your roots/indigenous traditions) and also adapting. Things are always in flux but I found the sticky tentacles of colonization contaminating most places. In those situations you just have to find a happy medium! And many vibrant queer communities around the world were doing just that 🙂

 India Zine
BA: Why did you choose zines to be the medium for your project? How would it have been different otherwise?

MB: I specifically chose zines for their DIY and low-budget nature (except the time when I printed in color–eek!). I wanted a medium that wouldn’t be pretentious and could be easily/cheaply distributed.  I found that performing was great on site, but to share different stories, I can’t imagine using anything other than zines.

BAWhich QTPOC* artists/writers/projects inspire your work? What would you like to see more of?

Aami Atmaja, Tania de Rozario, Louise Chen, Elisha Lim, Aryakrishnan Ramakrishnan…
I’d like to see more collaborations!

BA: Anything you’d like to add before we wrap up?

Subscribe to my illustrated blog at heymiyuki.wordpress.com where I draw and write about travel, art and food every week 🙂

Also, I’m raising funds to become a yoga teacher. Visit my campaign at igg.me/at/miyukiyoga to see my amazingly edited (just kidding, I did it on iMovie) film and support me in exchange for zines, custom portraits, prints and more!

Germany The Queer Edition
* QTPOC – Queer and/or Trans People of Color
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Super Mega Ultra

Hey people! I’ve got so much to share. First off, I landed back in the motherland (Ecuador) last Tuesday night after 7 tough months of Polar Vortex Lyfe in NYC, and couldn’t be happier to be back. After some much needed beach time and catching up with the fam, I’ll be renting a room in Quito for 2 months – so hit me up if you’ve got any leads.

Secondliest, I’m happy to announce that the fine folks at VONA/Voices have accepted me into their program in Berkeley this June! VONA is the nation’s only multi-genre workshop for writers of color and this is the first year they’ve got a travel writing track going on (with Faith Adiele) so I was quick to apply. Other writers I’m mad about – like Staceyann Chin, Patricia Smith and Junot Diaz – will be there too. So I’m stoked.

My person on the back of a truck, circa 2012
My person on the back of a truck, circa 2012

If you’ve been keeping up with this blog for a while, then you know that I’m almost always broke. For about 3 years now, I’ve been struggling with a chronic pain condition in my shoulder, and I’m here in Ecuador to make use of the healthcare – which still costs quite a bit – and for which I’ll be paying out of pocket. I had surgery last fall (which I’m still paying for) but unfortuntaely, it wasn’t successful, and the pain has extended to my right hand, making regular writing (and therefore making money through work) pretty impossible. But I’m trying to stay positive.

The Fine Folks at VONA were able to grant me some financial aid (THANKS!) but I’m still struggling to pay the remainder of tuition and buy a plane ticket out there. I’ll be starting an Indiegogo campaign in one week to raise the funds to get me there, and any help would be super mega ultra appreciated!

I’ll be launching the campaign in conjunction with an interview series where I discuss race, place, media, belonging, community, diaspora, exile and adventure with other travel writers and bloggers of color and poc thinking about these things, right here on the wonderful platform that is this website. So if you want in, please get in touch. Muy exciting!

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“The Struggle”, from Philly’s Magic Gardens

In other news, the second issue of my travel zine Everywhere All The Time is out and available for order on my Etsy shop Boom For Real Press, so pick ’em up! If you ordered the first issue, waited a long time to receive it and I promised you the second issue free, hit me up! I’m also up for trades (anything related to travel, disability, qpoc lyfe, or latinx shit is cool!)

Finally, you should check out The Body of Jean-Michel Basquiat, a profile I recently wrote for Nowhere Magazine’s blog about how place permeated the artist’s work.

And that’s all for now. Stay tuned with all the goings on going on on Facebook, Tumblr and Twitter @bani_amor. Say that 5 times fast.

No Hay Puentes Submission Deadline Extended!

Accepting travel stories + artwork for a Spanish-language zine anthology

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are you:

  • latinx

  • consider yourself among the latinx/chicanx diaspora

  • come from a spanish-speaking country, directly or 2nd, 3rd generations, whatever!

do you:

  • have a story about traveling in latin america

  • have any kinda travel-related art lying around – DRAWINGS, photos, photos of graff/street art around the world

  • have random travel ephemera – train/plane/bus tickets, maps, handwritten maps, flyers, magic stuff you bought back from the road

then you gotta:

  • send that shit right over!

  • no other choice!

  • by september 15!

i’m collecting travelogues, lists, adventure stories, thoughts on place, and pretty much anything poignant and written well for a spanish-language anthology of travel stories in latin america. spanglish or english is cool too, since we’ll be translating it for an english edition (but if you can, spanish please!) zine will be half page, black and white. no need to send your art in in b+w, just keep in mind it will be copied that way. 1,000 word entry limit, but we’re flexible. send whatever you got to heyitsbani@gmail.com by september 15. internationally-syndicated multi-lingual zine yo, get in on this! tell EVERYONE. baniamor.com.

Caminante, no hay puentes, se hace puentes al andar. Voyager, there are no bridges, one builds them as one walks.

Gloria E. Anzaldúa

Boom For Real Press n’ Other Updates

hey people,

there’s a few reasons to excuse a travel writer’s lack of recent blog posts:

  1. too busy traveling
  2. too busy writing
  3. too stoned
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me and jake salt

well, who’s counting? but an extra good reason i have which was not fun while it was happening but in hindsight is a great thing – i got my double ecuadorian/american citizenship. i think of this site more as a portfolio than a blog and didn’t really clue you in on the story, but i moved to ecuador a year ago to attain nationality through my family, who are from here. i had no effing clue it would take this long and that the process would make me feel pretty miserable for a while, but i got it now and can cross the border and travel to whole other countries ’cause i got not one, but two passports. for a traveler, this news is so good it’s bad.

so now we have to talk about the zine. i just got back from mailing the first ten copies, which were ordered back in december. i’ve got to admit, this looks bad. real bad! and it hasn’t taken so long ’cause i was too busy traveling or writing or stoned, but because of TONS of formatting issues and copy machine troubles (plus that fire that melted half my typewriter.) My tiny room in Guayaquil serves as ‘the zine office’ (i sleep on the couch in the living room ’cause the office is hot as balls, and there’s no internet) where hundreds of miscopied zines are lying about in piles. there is no self-serve kind of copy shop set up in Ecuador – someone has to do it for you. everywhere all the time has been copied in student supplies shops in jungle towns, fishing villages, stationary stores in four cities, and on and on – badly. i can’t blame these folks for not understanding layout, but in the words of Gob Bluth, COME ON! i’m not going to tell you how much of my dwindling funds have been spent on bad copies.

the zine
the zine

but i’m still on a high from that time i got my ecuadorian citizenship (what i spend in copies i make up for in free healthcare!) so i’m goin’ ahead and looking for the perfect copyshop in the sky/ecuador and will print this goddam zine exactly as i want it whether it wants to be printed or not. the first ten copies that were mailed today are the best of the lot – a little out of order but otherwise quite awesome. and just to make up for all that bullshit waiting time, the first 20 orderers get the second issue free! gratis! i’ll be sending an e-mail letting you know who you is.

since this is the zine’s first copy i want it to be perfect, so the ‘miscopies’ aren’t unsightly or unreadable, they just don’t come in the order i planned it. what i’m trying to say is – they look great! so those hundreds of imperfect zines won’t go to waste; i’m selling them on etsy for $2 (plus a lil’ shipping) so you betta order that shit, ’cause those will be sent out immediately. i re-opened my old shop where i sold typewriters and named in Boom For Real Press (basquiat ref) and plan to turn it into a full-blown international travel zine distro in septemberish.

also, if you didn’t know – my last article on Matador got reprinted on Bluestockings Magazine – then now ya know. more updates on the intersection between race, place, writing and adventure are all up at facebook.com/everywhereallthetime.

Anthony Bourdain and the Lunar Eclipse

guess who finished a zine? thank you, lunar eclipse: through your little window of mantic possibility i slipped in a project millions of years (it seemed) in the making. of course, i’ve left on a trip today so it may be another week before it mails out, but i’m bringing the mother copy with me in the hopes of finding a copyshop and post office in the little fishing villages of the ecuadorian coast i’m heading to. sounds pretty impossible but i’m stubborn and bringing that shit with me, reality can eat it! or something.

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shout out to vellum

mailing costs from here are pretty wack, so now’s the best time to order the zine. again, i’m open to discounts, trades, whatevs. it isn’t perfect, but i’m so relieved it’s over so that i can get started with the second issue. if you’re into travel writing, photography and zines, you’ll like it, trust. by the way, if you’re an illustrator or designer or otherwise-inclined embellish-er of things, get in touch! i wanna work with you (re: i suck at sketching.)

i will be documenting some grassroots community projects here (ecuadorian coast) as well as writing about my time in yoga camps and whatnot, so if you’re around and know of any news of that sort; are an editor and want to publish my sage scribbles; or just a traveler wanting to say hi, holla! you can do that at heyitsbani at gmail dot com.

that time i wore a turban
that time i wore a turban

i just got through with interviewing a really awesome person (RAP?) and am stoked to tell you all about it once the story’s out. also also also, keep checking the fb page ’cause i’m updating it a lot more now with traveling/POC/feminist/outdoorsy/queer/zine matter, which, if you haven’t discerned yet, is what i’m all about.

in other news, last night i dreamt that anthony bourdain was singing that gogol bordello song ‘start wearing purple’ to me somewhere in subterranean macau. ambien is most likely to blame.

chao!