Sweet Zines Are Made of Trees 

Artist Orion Frantz pushes local creativity with handmade, limited edition zines

click to enlarge culture_mini_orion_frantz_1.jpg

As an artist, Orion Frantz's identity is mutable. His work is defined by an enthusiasm for experimentation and for constantly expanding. Throughout his life Frantz has used a variety of media, from illustration and painting to collage and photography. He likes spraying prints with bleach and working with glitchy machinery. He invites fortuitous accidents. He's not trying for consistency, and because his process yields unpredictable results, every piece he makes is one of a kind. His work can't easily be classified. However, in 2011, with the publication of his first zine, he found a way to unify it.

Now 24, Frantz plays a growing role in the Tucson visual art scene. His latest release, Unknown Voyage, brings together work from Tucson and beyond. Each contributing artist has a distinct style. Frantz says this incongruity is deliberate—he didn't want any single aesthetic to dominate so the only theme is "no theme." Unknown Voyage is cohesive in its variety, and in that sense, it's a true representation of his artistic vision.

Frantz released his first group zine at Heap—an art collective organized in 2013 by Joie Estrella, Matthew Baquet and Claire Mirocha. The collective, though quite successful, lost momentum in Tucson when Mirocha and Estrella moved to New York. Frantz focused on solo projects for awhile before going back to collaborative work, but for Unknown Voyage he had no trouble finding submissions. He held the release on Dec. 26 at Pharaoh's Horses, a tattoo parlor where some of the contributors work.

Frantz grew up in Tucson, and he currently lives on the northwest side of town where he has his own studio. Though he's never lived outside of Tucson, he is still able to make and keep connections in other cities through travelling and, of course, the Internet.

Interest in DIY publishing is growing, but the scene is still small. Of the last zine fair, Frantz says, "I knew everyone that was there except this girl from Phoenix." The girl from Phoenix runs a zine shop, and had found out about the release on Instagram.

It's in that way that, for the resurging zine world—one that focuses on actual print products that are often hand-bound and handmade in every way, the Internet has ironically become an essential platform for connection. It's a great way to get your work out there and to find out about like-minded people from around the world. Still, Frantz knows the physicality of a zine is what makes them special.

Although Frantz is inspired by friends in bigger scenes, like the folks at a A Love Token Press in New York, he says that the sheer amount of content in those big cities is overwhelming, which can cause the audience to spread out. Ultimately, Frantz is happy to be in Tucson.

"It's not where you are, but what you do," he says.

You can find out more about Frantz's work and purchase his latest collaborative zine, Unknown Voyage, at

www.loosebones.com. The booklet features work from artists such as Yu Yu Shiratori, Raquel Craney, Kristian Livas, John Jr., Brian Arnold, Jake Lehmann and more.

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