Broken Pencil and The Art Exchange Program.

Broken Pencil

Broken Pencil, straight out of Toronto, Canada, was started in 1995 and is a print magazine devoted to underground culture and the independent arts.
They review zines and books and movies and film and more. Each issue has interviews, original fiction, art, and is an all around great publications for the underground and DIY movement.

This year I was happy to answer some questions from them about the Art Exchange program. Issue #60 just hit the stands and can be ordered here if you’d like a copy:


Broken Pencil Scan

How long has The Carbon Based Mistake been publishing?
I started making zines around 1992 when a friend gave me a copy of Factsheet 5, it completely blew my mind that so many people out there were making their own magazines and trading them all over the world. I’ve been self-publishing under the name “the carbon based mistake” since 1998. Before that my projects had various names, all of which I quickly grew bored with, but when I started using the carbon based mistake, it just felt right so it’s been there ever since and I can’t imaging using a different name now. But to keep from getting bored all my projects tend to have sub-titles, like “the carbon based mistake: paltry pamphlets” or “the carbon based mistake: societal monsters”.

What type of zines would you say you focus on making now?
I guess the best way to describe my zines are as “art zines”, just because I don’t have a specific type of zine. I typically do photography and storytelling using graphic design. I also make a lot of blasphemous things. I believe anything can become a zine, so I tend to try to reflect that idea in what I do. If I have an idea, no matter how obscure it might be, then I’ll do it. The best thing about zines is its freedom of restrictions from demographics, so if I have an idea that I’m sure only a few people will most likely care for, that doesn’t stop me from making it. I also publish a pin-up style adults-only photography and design project called cherrypepper, and make lots of stickers and buttons.

What kind of zines are you hoping to get? Is there a specific type you are more fond of than others?
I’m more drawn towards per-zines, the more personal the better. But I’m most excited to get something I’m not expecting. I expect food zines, and music zines, comics and such. And I love those kinds of things, but I’d really like to see something I’ve never seen before. And I know that kind of work is out there.

Which are you more excited to receive: the veteran zine makers work or new blood’s work?
I’m definitely looking forward to zines from the newbies. The newbies tend to be more ready to try new things, the veterans sometimes tend to get stuck in a rut doing everything just the way they have always done it. I think it’s half from fear and half from thinking that zines must have a specific look that shouldn’t be messed with. I used to speak to classes at the University of Oregon and I’ve had a few people tell me that what I made wasn’t a zine because I’ve used actual bar codes in the past, or that my stuff was too polished. I think that’s a cop out, zines are first and foremost self-published; it’s about doing it yourself. I was just having fun experimenting. If you’re not having fun and learning new things, why bother? The newbies have yet to grow jaded and are more willing to take chances. My favorite novels are usually written by first time female authors, they tell these wonderfully honest stories in a language the veteran might end up editing all the heart out of.  

One of the prizes is 150 dollars in one dollar bills? Any special reason? What if the winner is Canadian, will you give loonies?
I’ve always wanted to start a grant, but didn’t realize earlier that I didn’t have to be a millionaire philanthropist to do so. I could just start a grant with the money I did have, the money I was able to give away without going broke, and in turn help someone out. I’ve been donating to kickstarter projects for a while now and when I saw how the community worked it dawned on me how effective the saying is that every little bit helps. So I decided to bring the grant back and do my part with helping to encourage others and to thank them for creating by giving what little back I could. The idea of giving it in one dollar bills is kind of a joke, I might do it that way if they are a local winner, but transferring the cash to someone PayPal might be safer. I will also have a second and third place prize for both categories, but I am not disclosing what those prizes will be just yet.  If the winner is Canadian I will send them the winnings in toonies.

Are the prizes the same or different for the veteran zinesters and the newbies? Or are they both 150 dollars and 100 copies of your zine?
Yes, both the newbie and the veteran get the same prize. 150 dollars and 100 copies of THEIR zine, not mine just to clarify…

Any tips for applicants?

You shouldn’t worry too much over the guidelines on my website, if it’s too short or too long, or a full color zine… just submit it anyway, we might be able to work something out. Be sure to “like” me on Facebook or sign up to follow my website updates, I’ve received a few submission from people not following my updates and it’s much easier to stay in contact with everyone through these means. Get to know the copier you’ll be working with, do lots of test prints, never calculate the hours you spend creating it when figuring out the price to sell it for, always include contact information, never stop making zines and always encourage everyone you know to make them as well. If you don’t like my contest, please make your own. Hell, even if you like my contest you should start your own. It would be great to have hundreds of small grants start springing up, feeding into the community.



Published by: marc calvary

eternally residing in new york, the carbon based mistake currently takes the form of zines, photography, writing, blasphemy, design, art, and printing. - publish and be damned


2 thoughts on “Broken Pencil and The Art Exchange Program.”

  1. Oops! Thanks, that was actually my fault when I copied and pasted the interview. They got it right. $150 for each prize, 100 copies of their zine. I corrected it.

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