Celebrating ONE YEAR of the “Non-Human Neighbors” Mini-Zine!

Here I am, sitting in the last rays of a surprisingly warm autumn day, reminiscing on the one year anniversary of the Non-Human Neighbors zine project. This zine started in Fall of 21’ and over the course of the year, I have created a quarterly volume for each season. What a dream come true! I am honored to have subscribers who have supported the zine since inception. If you are interested in supporting or subscribing, check out my Patreon page. The top tier, “Happily Housemates”, even gets you a perpetual discount on my Etsy Shop!

Non-Human Neighbors?

Non-Human Neighbors is a quarterly zine which honors beings living amongst us that are often overlooked. Each zine features illustrations of three individuals in a fun 4.25″ x 2.75″ format. This has been an affordable way for my supporters to own a piece of my art and it provide me an outlet to display my love for the nature around me by designing a new publication every few months. My goal is to heighten awareness of all of our neighbors and our interactions with them. Thanks for your support on this tiny bit of artistic activism!

As a fairly reclusive artist, I tend to see my community beyond other humans since I interact with non-humans more frequently. This project is a way to connect to our community more inclusively. The practice of honoring these individuals and places has helped open my perception to consider even more beings as sentient.

Limited Edition Risograph Prints

What is a risograph and why do I love these prints so much? A risograph machine is essentially a modern duplicator. For those familiar with printmaking, the process is similar (kind of) to screen printing. Each layer of color is burned into its own screen and printed one color on top of another. This process uses vibrant spot colors, not CMYK like typical printers, so there is more intensity to the final prints. They are also generally more energy efficient machines and print with plant-based inks. I’ve tried to source paper with recycled content for my prints, my favorite being the Neenah Astrobrights Stardust, which includes embedded flecks of colored paper, which was used in volume 3 and in the upcoming volume 5.

My zines have evolved from one color in the first edition to two color prints going forward. I was trained in printmaking in college and feel such a rush to think in color layers again. I also remember quite distinctly enjoying the mis-registration of prints on happy meal bags as a child. The offset press works quite similarly with colors shifting out of their lines. The risograph has an element of surprise for each run. You cannot easily get registration exact, so each print is a bit unique. I love when the art or development process adds a tiny bit of chaos to the final piece. 

All of my Patreon subscribers get their copies first, any left over are uploaded to my shop for sale. Given that I’ve sold out of a couple editions faster than I expected, I am increasing the print quantity from 50 to 100.

The First Four Volumes 

Volume 1 – Fall 21′

This first zine is discussed more in my early post on zines and was created during a workshop with Detroit’s Taxonomy Press. The booklet featured neighbors close to my home at the time, on the west side of Ann Arbor, Michigan. Individuals included, Octotree, a willow with 8 separate trunks, a cooper’s hawk family and a wild blonde bunny who hung out on the playground where I practiced Kung Fu. All prints are sold out on this one!

Volume 2 – Winter 21′

The winter volume was the first to use two ink colors – a dark blue with fluorescent pink accents. The neighbors were those who reside on the north side of Ann Arbor, MI, where I once went to art school and later worked as a graphic designer and merchandiser. This volume includes a merganser duck who hangs out with a big mallard flock on the Huron River, massive flocks of crows that fly to and from the University of Michigan Diag in the winter and Tripod, the three-legged doe.

Volume 3 – Spring 22′

The spring volume was my favorite print so far. This was done on Neenah Stardust, a recycled paper with flecks of color throughout. I printed with Outlet PDX on the suggestion of my friend and she was spot on. They did an amazing job with the print quality! This edition features neighbors from a few locations, spring peepers and trout lilies from the vernal ponds near my home, plus a special great blue heron who runs the beach of Indialantic, Florida, where I sometimes visit.

Volume 4 – Summer 22′

Summer’s volume has been my favorite in terms of design. I tried to play around with typography and some graphic elements. Two of my dear friends (ceramic artist power couple Anastassia and Chris) were married in Copper Harbor, Michigan this summer and I met a few neighbors in the far north of the state who are featured. Estivant Pine Nature Sanctuary was where I met ancient pine friends with their roots hugging each other and the largest wasp I’ve ever seen in my life. The zine also features our hummingbird friends who frequented my hibiscus in Indianapolis, Indiana before migrating for the fall.

Here’s To Another Year!

Ren S.K. Studio Non Human-Neighbors Zine Vol 5 Cover Raccoon in Fluorescent Yellow and Violet

I am currently working on volume 5, Fall 22’. It is all designed and has been sent off to the riso presses of Risolve Studio in Pennsylvania. The digital copy is available on Patreon for my subscribers.

This upcoming edition features friends of the White River in Indianapolis, Indiana. I recently moved with my family to an apartment complex that the river runs adjacent to. I am so fortunate to have the ability to visit the river and my river neighbors on a daily basis for inspiration!

I am also working to get a solid schedule rolling for the upcoming year and ways to sweeten my Patreon offerings/ updates. If you have any ideas or thoughts, feel free to share! Thanks once again for supporting my art and zine dreams.
– Ren