Zine press and street photo collective Nighted celebrates the release of their sixth anthology
Two years ago, I moved back to the Bay from LA. Coming back home can mean lot of things, but for me, coming back at 23 instead of 18 included taking stock of all the cool shit that had happened since I left. At first glance, it was easy to feel like an unusual amount of cool, creative shit had been popping up in Oakland while I was gone. In retrospect, it’s pretty obvious to me that that ground-level creative bubbling–from art shows to zines to weird music–has been pretty consistent since I was a kid. Maybe the climate in Oakland and SF these days offers fuzzier lines than ever between skate culture, punk, rap, rave, and “serious” art. More likely though, tall tee/Killa Season Will just wasn’t really plugged in to quite as much shit back in ’07.
Sometime around then, in early 2012, Nick Garcia was making a pivot from the graffiti game into indie print publishing. With a new daughter around, Nick decided to rein in the later, weirder nights, in favor of being a cool dad. Still though, Garcia felt like there were stories he needed to tell, from himself and others. Pooling some resources with other shooters–most of them leaning toward gritty, street-level stuff–Nick created NIGHTED Life #1, an anthology of photos and stories, capturing moments both grimy and glorious with a curator’s sensibility. From weird drugs to street carnage to more subtle, cheeky juxtapositions, Nighted’s output balanced a no-frills, limited-fuck-giving approach with a firm dedication to giving unheralded but deserving shooters a platform to do their thing.
Needless to say, Nighted was one of those creative entities I couldn’t help but admire when it popped up on my radar here at home. Based out of Richmond, and now on the 6th iteration of the Nighted compilations, Nick’s baby has blossomed into a loose collective with a laundry list of incredible solo zines. A quick browse through their recent projects gives you an idea of the range: music portraits with folks like Trash Talk’s Lee Spielman or Antwon, a hybrid graphic/photo collection from LA’s Brvinfreeze, psychedelic collages from Davon foots, and of course a healthy dose of street-level mayhem like skinheads, punk shows, mysterious powders, and dimly lit graveyards.
Since launching, Nighted has become a conduit for not only zines, but art shows too, including our group effort and mini-fest Feels II on the 29th, where Nick will be offering up a curated selection of Nighted favorites and other zines. Not to mention, we’ll have work on display from some Nighted alumni, including Kris Kirk, Madison East, and Moe Alvarez. Earlier this week, I got a chance to pick Nick’s brain a little about how the project got started and what they’ve got in store. Read on below for our conversation and some spreads from Vol. 6, then come hang next weekend.
OK, so tell us about Volume 6. What can we expect from the anthology?
I decided to strip things down and get back to my original intention for NIGHTED with this issue: showcasing the unseen. I did an open call for submissions for the first time, and limited my picks to one photo per person. This meant combing through over a thousand shots, and pulling out the most powerful ones I could find. This made every single spread of the zine really awesome, and I’m super proud of it. The format is a little bigger, and the paper is also stepped up. It represents how far we’ve come in terms of quality, and dedication to our craft.
Who are some of the contributors you’re most excited about?
There are photos from over 40 people in there, but it’s especially cool to publish stuff from folks who have never been printed before. Kate Fobert, Alexander Hill and Mario Zoots are new to the collective but hadn’t been in one of our releases yet, so I’m hyped on that, too. Then there are the homies who have been down with us since NIGHTED Life 1, like Deanskii, K. Eleanor Bleier and others.
When did you start Nighted? Give me a picture of how the project first came together…
In 2012 I was looking for something new to get into creatively. My daughter had recently arrived, and although I was busy caring for her, I had this itch to start a new project. Prior to that I was pretty into graffiti, but it just wasn’t doing me any good once my little girl came into the picture and I started working a 9 to 5. I decided to make a zine, reflecting on what I had done when I was younger–photos, scanned shit, a couple stories. I met a bunch of people who were doing more photo based stuff through trading zines, and I thought it’d be cool to put together a compilation zine. That’s where NIGHTED Life 1 came from, now here we are.
Were there, or are there, people in the zine game you looked up to? Who’s killing it these days?
Ray Potes from Hamburger Eyes, off top! He’s been grinding in the city forever, putting out the best zines and books.
What have been some of the all-time Nighted classics?
NIGHTED Life 1 was the original and a classic, even though I wince now when I look at the way I did some of the layouts. “Suburban Thugz” by Nicky Crucial of New Jersey was one of our first solo zines, that one was great. I personally really liked “Suspect” by Matthew Eloy, another older one. I think the most popular zine we ever put out was “I’m Being Self Deported”, Aighty’s first solo zine. It went zine platinum.
Are there grand ambitions for the future? People you’ve always wanted to work with?
Yeah, we have some real power moves on deck for 2015. We’ll be putting out more printed work on a very consistent basis, throwing some crazy shows, pushing new art mediums, and we’re working on some new hats and gear right now. There are tons of people I’d like to work with, but I’m always looking for that illusive person who’s just grinding with their head down, you know?
What’s the daily grind like around keeping up this kind of output? You guys put out stuff so consistently. Does day job stuff get in the way?
Ugh, it’s hectic. I’m at my dayjob right now, haha. I’m going to leave here, feed/play with/bathe my kids, then go fill zine orders and work on new projects until I pass out. That’s pretty much the grind.
I feel like hanging around the scenes we’re in, you get this sense that analog media is making a comeback. Vinyl sales are up, kids shoot on disposables. Are we in a bubble though? What kind of a future does indie print have, in your eyes?
File this under “things that keep me up at night”. I don’t know, man. I love how film photos look, and I love my zine collection. I try not to be a dinosaur about it, and also recognize that it’s hyped right now. Someone told me the other day that they sell zines at Urban Outfitters now. So I’d say that indicates a bubble of some kind, right? We’re just going to keep doing what we do well, and pushing each other forward.
I read something you wrote where you summed up one of the Nighted mantras as “knowing better, doing worse”. As a chronically bad adult decision-maker that definitely resonates on my end. What does it mean for you?
Yup, this was the theme of our first zine. It was just something me and my homie Kevin came up with one day. It’s not about being an irresponsible asshole, though. It’s about living with intention, and being an independent thinker. The smartest people I’ve met on this stupid planet have known that in order to enjoy life, sometimes you gotta break the rules.