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Andy Jenkins on Bend 20

Andy Jenkins should need little introduction to the Level reader. His ‘Glimpses’ pages were a regular highlight of this magazine’s print incarnation and a fair proportion of you will know him formerly as Art Director/Master Cluster member at Wizard Publications “back in the day” and/or currently as Art Director and virtually founding member of Girl Skateboards.

In addition, his artistic endeavors will be familiar to many through his gallery shows across the globe, published works (such as his illustrations currently gracing the pages of The Skateboard Mag) and his less-credited artwork for a few good Hollywood movies.

Jenkins has a stubborn bent for print publications, having cut his teeth living and breathing them under Bob Osborn’s encouraging gaze, and his self-made, self-published zine Bend has been a thing of some legend for a quarter of a century. After a too-long break, Bend is back. I had to ask Andy a few questions about this perfectly formed little zine that sits on my desk, just asking to be picked up and flipped through again and again.


Where did “Bend” come from?

Bend was a zine I started doing back in 1985 or ’86. The idea was “bending perceptions” but in hindsight, that just sounds pretentious. So just, BEND.

How have your aims for the zine changed over the issues?

Well, the zine got more and more elaborate as the years went by, until, eventually, I published a couple of books in the series. Bend became Bend Press.

Was it mostly personal artistic expression, or did you really go out to bend perceptions?

Totally personal artistic expression. It was pretty pompous to think I could bend perceptions. It’s just a way to freely express myself in a physical, published format.

When was Bend 19 published, and how did it look and feel compared to 20?

Bend 19 came out in 2001. It was offset printed and there were a bunch of collaborators. Can’t remember how many I printed, but it was way more than the 150 I made for this newest issue. Number 20 is all my own work and put together by hand from laser prints. Pretty big contrast between the two.
I wanted to get back to the handmade feel of the old zines… even though it’s all full color laser copies as opposed to black and white. It was fun. I’ll probably start number 21 some time before the end of the year.

It’s a pretty impressive print job, coming from laser printer: perfectly printed, bound and trimmed. Certainly a departure from the rough Xeroxed and stapled zines—not necessarily talking of Bends—of old.

Thanks. Yeah, I don’t want to move backwards. If I have the ability to put in the craftsmanship, then I should.

Zines have become a little thin on the ground, it seems; the internet has stolen their self-published thunder. So what drove you to produce Bend 20?

Honestly, I missed the tactile feel of a simple handmade book in hand. The internet is so one-dimensional. I like the idea of being able to pick up a zine, put it down, pick it up again. Store it in a nice little box with others… it becomes a sort of keepsake. I like keepsakes.

How do you feel about the last 19 issues—would you ever want a new book made of the complete series, for example, or would that lose the original feel that went with the previous issues’ production?

It would be pretty interesting to compile them into a book. You would really be able to see the artistic and general growth in the publications… numbers 15 and 16 are the two books I published under the title Bend Press—I Check the Mail and Valley—so there is quite a range of published material. It would be a nice documentation for a much broader audience. Some of the early Bend zines were in editions of 50 or 60.
Too much work, though. I’d rather keep making new ones.

Do you know yet what we can look forward to in Bend 21?

I have no idea… but it’ll be before the end of the year, I think. Maybe for December. I have a solo show in Philadelphia and it would be nice to have them there for that.

What do you want people to take from Bend 20? Are you hoping it might inspire more handmade zines or other such creativity, or did that not enter your mind?

Honestly, I just did it without thinking about it too much.

That’s probably the best way to do it.

Indeed.

Chris Noble, 28 July 2011

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