Q&A with Zine Maker: Laura Helen Winn

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When inspiration strikes, Laura Helen Winn rolls with it.

Her friends’ yummy Vietnamese food inspired a skateboard design, which inspired a photoshoot, that in turn inspired the creation of the Rice Paper Scissors Zine.

We asked her all about it and ended up finding inspiration of our own. Read on. Be inspired.

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Say Hello to Laura Helen Winn
Q: What do you “do”? Where did you come from?

A: I’m a designer and artist living in San Francisco. I’m originally from Tennessee. I moved here 4 years ago on a whim, fell in love with California, and have been captivated ever since.

Q: What are you most proud of?

A: A few months ago I moved my workspace out of my apartment and into a studio in the Mission – I’m very proud of that. I’m also proud of running The Secret Handshake Conference, one day of advice talks for new designers.
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Co-conspirators
Q: Who are those nice collaborators you’ve got there?

A: Valerie Luu and Katie Kwan are the dynamic duo behind Rice Paper Scissors, a Vietnamese eatery that started as a pop-up and has blossomed into much, much more. I’ve always been inspired by their spark and humor – they work hard to dish out the absolute freshest Vietnamese dishes that are different from what you’d expect. They slay.
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First Steps
Q: Where were you when inspiration struck? How’d the idea for Rice Paper Scissors Zine come about?

A: I was actually chatting with Val & Katie at their current lunch spot at Brick & Mortar when inspiration struck. We were talking about the skate park that opened across the street, and Valerie said they wanted to design a skateboard to attract that crowd. I keep my eyes peeled for fun & interesting projects, and this was definitely one of them. We brainstormed different Vietnamese inspirations, mostly revolving around food – lychee, Asian florals, dragon fruit, watermelon radish, fried eggs…Where we ended up was a painting of a flower that’s inspired by those pink THANK YOU takeout bags.
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The RPS Photo Shoot
Q: Where’d you shoot? What did you shoot with? How’d it go?

A: When the skateboards came in from a SoCal printer, we did a Chinatown photoshoot with their buddy Eric Ehler, head chef at the newly opened Black Sands in the Lower Haight. I shot the photos on a Canon AE-1 and Olympus XA rangefinder. It was a super fun afternoon of hanging out, skateboarding, and eating snacks.

You can see all of Laura’s photo from that day on her blog here.
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Designing the Zine
Q: When did you decide to turn your photos into a zine?

A: I got the film back and reviewed the shoot with Val & Katie the same week as West Coast Craft. Just being around them makes me feel inspired – so after our meeting I went back to the studio and cranked out a bunch of zines for them to sell at their food station. It was kind of a crazy thing to do, but I’ve always wanted to make a zine and we had so much dope B-roll that needed to be used somehow. I really love making photo collages, and being a designer means I’m extra particular about folding paper. It all came together really nicely.

Q: What’s your layout process like?
A: The zine template is from Rookie mag. Nerd alert: I actually made an InDesign file where I loosely blocked out the photos, then printed them on my Canon Pro-100. From there I spent hours snipping things out with an Exacto and taping them down to the master zine. I played with the sizing of certain elements, snapped some texture photos on my iPhone from materials around my studio, printed more, and just had fun with it.
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Assembly Line
Q: How did you print these up? What was your assembly process?

A: I went to Copy Central on Mission Street and chilled there for an afternoon, printing both black & white and color copies of the zine. I kept playing with scale there by blowing things out of proportion on the copiers until I liked what I saw. That’s how I ended up with a poster on the inside of the zine. Then I trimmed the edges on Copy Central’s Rotatrim, and hauled them back to my studio to trim & fold. Around this time I got my first ever migraine, and for a few hours I didn’t know what a migraine was. I layed in the dark in my studio for a few hours, then got some headache medicine. My boyfriend came to the studio around 10:30pm to help me out because he is a true and perfect gentleman. We made an assembly line where one person trimmed and the other person folded. We finished up around 2 am, then I toted them to West Coast Craft the next day for the Rice Paper Scissors counter. Valerie and Katie sold a skateboard, and introduced me to a bunch of their maker friends. And I ate a dope chicken meatball banh mi, so it was a great day.
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Finishing Touches
Q: Can folks pick one up elsewhere now?

A: You can pick one up online right here. And if I get accepted to West Coast Craft, you can pick one up there in November. :)

Q: We like you! How can we stay in touch forever?

A: Follow my projects and life on Instagram, thoughts on Twitter, and my portfolio and blog at laurahelenwinn.com.

Our next Secret Handshake Conference is coming up in NYC on October 2 & 3, and we have a bunch of amazing speakers lined up who personally inspire me. They each rock and have so much goodness to share. I’m grateful to be able to bring people together like this.

If you’re in SF, find out where to eat delicious Rice Paper Scissors on their site.