Chicago ZineFest 2014

Independent Publishing in Chicago

Last night I attended a meeting for organizers and volunteers for the next Chicago Zine Fest. It was a room full of educators, fans of indie publishing, and zine publishers themselves. Lots of talk about the next Chicago Zine Fest, self publishing and indie publishing, and the love of indie culture in general.

I published zines in the 90s, and am currently working on returning to indie publishing with some work I’ve been doing in StudioLab. It won’t be long before my new title is ready to publish and it’s pretty exciting to be working on zines, graphic-novel inspired material, and incorporating more text into my artwork in general.

My background is in writing, and I’m still earning most of my living from writing, so it has been an interesting journey bringing my multiple worlds together between writing, music, and art.

One thing that I think is really fascinating about trends in indie culture overall is that today, “handmade” has a lot of weight and carries a lot of currency. But when I was self-publishing in the 90s, it seems that there was a more bias against hand-made. Looking back, my perception is that we really had not entered maker culture yet. Handmade and maker stuff has a great deal more respect these days, it seems.

That’s one of the reasons my first title in my return to zines and indie publishing in general is entirely written and illustrated by hand–no computers, no Word documents or PDFs were used to create the content for the zine. For better or worse, all the text is my own hand, all the pages were drawn to fit and not subject to external layouts or computer assisted layout.

I’m putting the finishing touches on this now, but the new title is a combination of observational writing, satire, and personal writing. I know it’s a lot of growing up in public, as it were, but this type of writing and artwork is new to me and it’s a lot of fun to explore–and pretty revealing, too.

Back to Chicago Zine Fest. Even now, moving into the end of spring and the start of summer, they are looking for volunteers and volunteer organizers to help make the next Zine Fest a reality in March of next year. I strongly encourage anyone who is a fan of zines or indie publishing to consider volunteering in either capacity. This is definitely a worthy cause and a good use of your time. You can learn more at the Chicago Zine Fest official Facebook Page.





Joe Wallace Paisley Babylon Art and Music

Mixing Music and Visual Art


Joe Wallace Paisley Babylon Art and Music–by Joe Wallace

I’ve been working on a lot of action paintings at StudioLab lately, and after performing last night at CIMMFest as Paisley Babylon, I’ve been thinking about doing a show featuring paintings that each have a soundtrack accompanying them. It wouldn’t always be music–sound design, soundscapes, atmospheres, etc…

I’ve toyed with working on visual art as Paisley Babylon and making the pieces more transmedia…it’s an interesting (to me) concept but I wonder if there’s a harder sell hiding behind a “band name” or stage name as opposed to selling your work as yourself.

Which makes me think that bringing “branding” to art is probably a bad idea. It’s goofy enough that you have to deal with branding as a musician or even as a writer, the idea of having a “brand” as a visual artist (at least in the context of doing shows and trying to go that traditional route more or less) makes me gag a bit. However, I understand that things are just moving in that direction anyway.

It’s a dilemma–do you buck the trend, or do you introduce it and embrace it and make it part of the work? I can’t decide which is worse–seeming like a luddite or joining the fray.

Or maybe I should just not worry about it and do what I do.

I am Joe Wallace. I am a visual artist, multi-media creator, musician, writer and vinyl seller. I have a lot of projects going on at any one time and I am always interested in new collaborations, paying work, and group shows. Get in touch with me at

Joe Wallace StudioLab Bridgeport Art Center

Working in the StudioLab

Joe Wallace StudioLab Bridgeport Art CenterWork at StudioLab (located inside the Bridgeport Art Center at 1200 W. Racine in Chicago) has started in earnest. I’ve been working across a range of mediums including charcoals, ink, and acrylics in preparation for an open studio show on the third Friday in July.

Some artists are content to stick to one format, one idiom, or style…but I’ve found myself working everything from graphic novel-type drawing and illustration to the big, hyperactive action painting style that’s so much fun to do…but not always as much fun to look at.

When StudioLab opened its doors two months ago, I really had no idea what to expect in terms of my output working more fulltime on visual art. The process has been extremely educational. Unfortunately, like action painting, the early results of this blog are far more interesting to write than they are likely to read. That’s because StudioLab and I are still finding our legs together and big comprehensive artist’s statements and musings about the nature of life, art, cinema and everything else are still a little ways off.

This blog is meant to do several things at once. It acts as documentation of StudioLab as a project in and of itself…but it’s also a way for me to throw ideas against the wall and see what sticks. That also is PROBABLY more fun to write than it is to read. But there are likely some kindred spirit artists out there who feel the same way about things and might have two cents worth to throw in.

And it’s also a bit of an artist’s confessional–you know, all the typical doubt, amazement, first impressions, excitement about other artists and networking that goes on.

The blog so far has been more sporadic than anything, but I expect that will change as both StudioLab and its presence here grow and mutate.

In other words, stay tuned.

I am Joe Wallace. I am an artist, a musician and filmmaker, and I run StudioLab which has its home in the Bridgeport Art Center in Chicago. StudioLab is about visual art, sound design, transmedia art and collaboration, and so much more. I’m preparing for an open studio show at StudioLab scheduled for July. Details on that coming soon.

Artwork, sound design, and video