Paco D. Taylor
The street fighter that stalks the photocopiers
Section D / Text by Nica & Coco Muro
Dadá Mini Magazine
Section D / Text by Nica & Coco Muro
Dadá Mini Magazine
Paco D. Taylor would much rather talk about art, music or movies, than himself; the things he wants you to know about him are reflected in his work.
The creator and editor of Kung Fu Grip! zine was born in 1969 and raised in Chicago. From childhood he was deeply involved in hip hop culture, writing rhymes and experimenting with graffiti. At 26 he moved to Arizona to study graphic design and immediately after graduating got a job as a designer for a magazine. After two or three years of that, he soon realized that working as an artist in a corporate environment was not for him, and has since worked primarily in call centers, earning enough money to pay the bills and to buy cigars, comic books and Chinese food. While the day job has nothing to do with his passions, it does allow him unlimited access to photocopiers, as well as free time to write articles and browse the Internet.
His zines are small, independently produced publications in the photocopied format. Throughout its 56 black and white pages, Kung Fu Grip! zine is a resume of his work in the form of a fanzine, full of graphic design, collage and illustrations–and all of which emanates from Paco's creative universe.
The terms "street fight" and "exquisite randomness" could be used to describe the work; something like an out-and-out street fight with exquisitely random improvisation.
The D. between Paco and Taylor remains a mystery.
What were your projects or dreams as a boy, who did you admire the most?
When I was a kid I sketched a lot and imagined that when I grew up I would be a professional artist with paintings hanging in various galleries. I also imagined myself as an animator and a comic book illustrator. Back then, two of the people who I admired most were Muhammad Ali and Bruce Lee. I can also remember a time when looked up to Charles Schultz, the creator of Snoopy and Charlie Brown.
What are Mr Paco´s favourite activities nowadays?
A lot of my time is spent doing research on the Internet for various projects, some of which have been made and others that are still very much in the planning stages. I collect photographs from old history books and anthropology books, listen to music almost endlessly, study Tai Chi, watch movies, collect old comic books, practice my writing and make zines.
Why produce something you`re not sure for whom it is or how it will be received? What for?
Honestly, the things that I produce are made for myself. They are creative and tangible expressions of who I am, what has influenced me, and what inspires me. It is only after satisfying the innate need for creative expression that I then find myself hoping that someone else will also see something that they can appreciate in the work, and that it will inform, inspire or entertain.
Why do you prefer the street as a communication channel instead of Internet?
The street has the advantage of being an immediate channel for creative communication, but it is often very impersonal. I have tremendous respect for the Internet, because it allows me to reach a broader audience beyond the shores of America. Because of the Internet, I am able to send my work to people in Argentina, Mexico, Hong Kong, Japan, Spain, Portugal, Israel, the UK, Australia, and other places.
Please describe in ten words what a fanzine is. Why not a magazine…?
Zines are cheaply made publications usually produced on a photocopier. I make zines because standard magazines are fairly expensive to make in America, and usually require advertisers to support them–as well as shelf space in stores from which to sell them. All that it takes to make zines is the passion to produce content, and access to a photocopier.
Considering both your zines and designs which do you think is Mr Paco`s trademark?
Black & white imagery has clearly become one of my trademarks, followed by the use of text, no matter what language the text communicates: English, Spanish, Chinese, Japanese, Ethiopian or Hebrew. It is all visually interesting to me. Found, borrowed and stolen images is another common theme in my works.
Why do you choose only one color and a disposable format to talk about the city and its codes?
In the beginning, designing with black and white was done for practical reasons, the first of which being that it was inexpensive to reproduce. But I immediately made it a goal of mine to make the best designs that I could produce in such a cheaply made manner. Among various groups in the United States, zines can be viewed negatively because they are not made on a real printing press, so it has always been important to me to make things that are not only visually interesting, but intellectually stimulating.
Which is your favourite magazine? Would you edit it and have the courage to say what we editors can't? What do you read and watch?
My favorite magazine is Giant Robot, an Asian arts and pop culture magazine based in Los Angeles, California. If I was the editor of Giant Robot, though, I don’t know that I would have the courage to say some of the things that I do in my zines. Zines are often deeply personal in nature, and when you have a large audience, and advertisers who purchase page space, there are many more considerations that have to be made.
Some of my favorite zines are Samurai Dreams, which is a movie review zine, Xerography Debt and Zine World, which both provide reviews of many of the zines being made today. I’m also a fan of the street art zine, Very Nearly Almost, which comes out of the UK.
Kung-Fu is a Chinese expression for "a well done job", what is all this street fight about?
To quote a line from a Gordon Liu movie: “It’s a secret! Never teach the Wu-Tang!”
Would it be the same for you to be a freestyle wrestler, Hugh Hefner or a ball boy at Wimbledon? If you could choose who you want to be, would you accept to be yourself or someone different?
I think that I could handle being an African-American Sumo wrestler in Japan who wears a lucha mask, like the image in a sticker that I designed. By day I would wrestle to protect my champion belt, but by night I would write haiku poetry like Basho and love poems like Pablo Neruda. I would be so popular in Asia and South America that I would have as many women as Hugh Hefner.
Other than that, I would just like to be myself–but with a lot more money, and publishing contract.
Your work proposes a random journey through the streets of a hidden city, a crazy trip. Where did this idea come from? What message do you want to convey with your collages and all the information you gather and share?
One of the great things about collage is that it allows you to communicate multiple layers of meaning. The thing that drew me into the study of graphic design when I was in school is that it is a multi-layered form of communication that often involves the integration of words and pictures–which is something that I had been experimenting with through collage. As random as collage can be, though, I have always sought a unifying theme, which is often color.
Taking those principles even further, zine making allows me to communicate so much more, on a variety of subjects. At the same time, I still challenge myself to tie it all together with unifying themes. The zine Octopussy is my most recent example of that.
How do you get along with independent magazines? What can you tell us about other producers like you? Who are they?
I have been making zines for more than ten years now, but I have only interacted with a few zine makers. Those who I have met in person have been friendly and supportive. Like me, they are passionate about what they produce, which immediately makes us comrades in the creative struggle, so to speak.
Which are your dearest projects, which of them excites you the most?
Kung Fu Grip! zine is my first love, but I feel that two of the best things that I’ve ever made are In His Image zine, and an article that I wrote on the negritos of Southeast Asia that was published in Giant Robot magazine earlier this year.
Tell us one amusing anecdote related with one work of yours.
Making zines is a good way to pick up women. But I can’t give any more details than that.
What happens when you run out of paper? What do you do?
Sometimes I buy more paper. Sometimes I steal more paper.
For designers and publishers time is an issue. It never seems to be enough, what do you think about that?
Fortunately, none of my publications follow anything resembling a real schedule. I produce as the inspiration comes. Still, I never seem to have enough time to make all of the things that I have in my head.
Who do you look up to?
I look up to children, and those adults who remember their inner child.
As you lived in the streets, is there a story you want to tell that has not yet been written?
There is one graffiti related story that is on an old SyQuest computer disc from back when I was in design school. I would love to publish that, but I haven’t found a way to get the story off the disc it's on. Nobody has SyQuest drives anymore.
Name three objects indispensable for you.
Computer, printer and paper.
Name three websites worth mentioning.