Caroline Paquita is a Miami native who currently lives and works in Brooklyn, NY. Along an art-making journey leading from Florida to California to Minnesota to Providence and finally New York, Caroline has produced nearly twenty years of successful work in music and visual art. Sine 2011 Caroline’s “feminist, queer, and total-art-freaker" orientated small press label Pegacorn has released over thirteen exemplary publications. Caroline was one of the first people I thought of when I’d first had the idea to do an interview series for the Ditko! blog and it’s my pleasure to present these words to you here.
GW- What’s Womanimalistic?
CP- Womanimalistic is a comic zine that I draw and publish, as well as a larger body of work that I’ve been focused on for the past six years now. On a deeper, more out there level, it’s also your feral self; the one that’s in touch with your instincts and your environment. Most people I know are total WOMANIMALS, so it’s a sort of consciousness raising to bring us all together!
GW- What’s Pegacorn Press?
CP- Pegacorn Press is a publishing adventure that I officially began in 2011, after self publishing for the past eighteen years. In 2009, I bought my first Risograph stencil duplicator and began my journey of figuring out how to use it, and use it well. At first, due to my living situations, I stored and used it in the kitchen, but in the past couple years, I was able to finally get a dedicated studio. It’s been great to not have a crazy amount of printing equipment and paper in my house anymore and to be able to spread out for days at a time, without bothering my housemates.
GW- Would you describe your bookmaking process?
CP- So far (officially), Pegacorn Press has put out eleven publications and three calendars- it’s a really, really laborious process. Basic steps: drawing/designing, layout, making masters that are good for Riso printing, gathering up all the supplies, printing one side, blow drying that, printing the other sides, collating, stapling, corner rounding (if the project calls for that), folding, photos of the finished item, getting it online, mail order and/or dropping off at stores… ACH! I know that I’m missing steps, but that’s the basic format for my personal process.
When I’m publishing my own work, this is done all by my lonesome, but when I work with others, we share most of the labor. I have some equipment that streamlines the process a bit, such as a booklet maker (which staples and folds), but smaller publications can’t be run through it, so it’s back to sitting at a table with huge piles of paper, doing it all by hand. I used to print editions in the thousands, but it’s really hard to deal with that much paper around, so nowadays, I start with editions of 300-500 and just reprint when I need to.
GW- How has making this type of work affected your life?
CP- Ha, ha, ha! Well… in my personal life, I neurotically work on Pegacorn Press all the time, whether that’s putting things together, or doing mail order, etc. When I’m in deadline mode, I often don’t have a personal life. I’m lucky to have a supportive partner who is down to help me when I need it, though I often forge ahead alone. (There’s many late nights, but I’m naturally a night owl, so that’s real helpful.) All my close friends understand my drive/passion and know that when I’m deep in it, I probably won’t make it out to events. Often, they send me texts, or call, to give me little shout outs of encouragements, which is really, really nice.
This is a side rant, but one that I do think is important to address: despite NYC’s obsession with using interns to do all the “busy” work (aka, shit work), I still haven’t had one, though it’s often suggested that I should. I actually don’t believe in the idea of interns for anything but super non-profit/social justice organizations and most definitely, not for any type of even-quasi formal entrepreneurial adventures, even if you’re not making that much money! Basically, if I won’t work for less than $20 an hour, then I wouldn’t try to hire someone for less than that. It would be completely amazing if this whole abusive and total waste of time internship model was transformed into something that was more equitable for both parties. If you don’t have money to hire someone, but have a lot of work that you can’t do for some reason, perhaps consider a more equitable apprenticeship, or a barter/trade model where both parties can both benefit across the board.
In my world, I try to work in a way that makes putting things out a super low stress endeavor, which requires following an intense work schedule so that everything doesn’t pile up. This doesn’t always work, despite my best intentions. While it’s incredible to own all my own printing equipment and have access to it all the time, it also means maintenance and dealing with machine breakdowns. Sometimes, there have been some ultra, pull-out-your-hair-and-scream-like-all-hell printing nightmares. I’ve spent a lot of my time in my studio tinkering with my Risos, cursing, wanting to sledge hammer everything, doing magical dances and singing songs, in an attempt to coax them back into better printing conditions. Again, having a partner and friends who understand what I’m doing, is really helpful! I’ve weighed the pros and cons of what I do and still have determined that while it can be a real pain in the ass sometimes, I love what I do and it is totally worth it!
GW- Would you explain some of the things you’ve learned in your bookmaking career that might help someone who might not have that level of experience?
CP- Diligence. Having high quality standards. Studying/talking with others who do what you’re trying to do. Really, as with most things, you need to do something consistently in order to really refine your craft, whatever that may be. I’ve been asked this question a lot, from being in bands, to making art, and it always comes down to “practice makes perfect.” People are dissuaded from continuing to do something because they don’t like the initial outcome, even though they have only tried once, or only several times, at whatever is it they are trying to accomplish. They look at someone who has done something for a long time and say, “I WANT TO DO THAT!”, not really absorbing that it took that person probably years to really master their practice. You gotta just keep doing it, over and over and over again. In time, you will either get to where you want to be, or, it may even lead you to something that you never expected you’d be interested in!
GW- Have you received any memorable responses from readers?
CP- I get responses from people all over the world on a regular basis and that’s a big part of what keeps me going. One of the best though, was that someone was inspired to start a New Year’s Eve party called a “Unicorgy New Year’s,” after ordering Sy Wagon’s, Those Fucking Unicorns