Paradise Khanmalek

"Reality" is an illustrated poetry book that praises the magic of women of color through experimental science fiction poetry and illustrations. "The life of Flowers" is a children's coloring book that teaches children about the environment and the importance of plant life. I also have 4 photography zines that explore the secret beauty of Los Angeles and a series of poster prints.

City:Los Angeles
  • Poetry/Literary
  • Photography
  • LGBTQ/Gender
  • Illustration

Logo/Graphic
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What are your current zines about?

I am an Iranian artist, poet, and designer who makes work to heal, feel good, and cast spells of encouragement on my community. I illustrate fat, hairy, brown women like myself in an effort to create an illustrated family of visually powerful, compelling, and spiritually invigorating figures. I channel this mission into my illustrated book of poetry, "Reality". In "Reality", I explore racial and sexual themes through experimental science fiction poetry and digital illustration. In my most recent series of poster prints, "Pantheon", I illustrate a pantheon of imagined woman of color deities that carry magic in their stunning large curved noses, wispy mustaches and uni-brows. Both these projects function as powerful tools in my mental health journey and in my survival in the toxic, body shaming, and racist culture we live in. Photography is another creative medium I use to aid in my mental health and quest for joy. My photographs explore the neon, sparkly, glittery, and glowing visuals present in nature, Los Angeles, and Los Angeles lawn nature. These photographs make me feel that beauty and wonder can be found in even the most polluted, littered, and ignored settings. They give me hope and happiness. I have published these photographs in 4 different zines; "Flowers the Moon the Sun my Grandmas my Hands Fish Glitter" and three books of my "Walkumentary" series.

What methods do you use to make your zine?

  • Digital

What type of binding do you use for your zine(s)?

  • Hand-stitched

When did you start making zines ... and why?

I started making zines when I was 19. I wanted to engage with my community and my city with art and I felt like more institutional paths to do so (like galleries) were in-accessible. I was a young, angry, queer brown woman and I wanted to just make something and pass it out and see how that felt. I made tender, personal, super weird collages, drawings, and poems, put zines together at my university and placed them all over town; in buses, at the library. I just gave them out. I'v pretty much been hooked to the medium ever since. I love making books because it's a fun and natural process; I work on a set of drawings, poems or photos, build it into a series, and compile it into a book.

How do you create your zine content?

I take photos while taking walks through my neighborhood, write poems in bed when I'm feeling exasperated, and draw stunning women of color on my computer to make myself feel seen. I let these mediums, my fingers, and my brain do their thing for a while until a cohesive project takes shape. I then compile the works into a book and finesse the placement, imagery, and editing until a sequential marriage of art and experience is born. Then I bind it.

Why do you think independent publishing is important?

As a queer, Iranian, fat, hairy, angry, whole, magical, and weird artist, I know in my bones how important it is to make your own platforms, distribute your own work, and support your community in their endeavors. Mainstream publishing/visual art/fashion is catching on to our radical magic very slowly, and possibly for dubious marketing reasons. Independent publishing is our way to ACTUALLY engage with each other and our creative spirits.

What was your first zine called? What was it about?

My first zine was called "Golden Bitch". It was a collection of collages, gel pen drawings, and poems about being confused, sad, queer, and brown.

What is your favorite part of making zines?

I love illustrating, writing poetry, and taking photos. Those mediums make up the content of my zines and I love their process. I love taking walks and taking pictures of sun streaked architecture and urban foliage. I love laying in bed and illustrating my goddesses, perfecting their mustaches, and basking in their color. I love being a broody weirdo, writing my poetry, and letting my imagination build worlds that feel and taste good.

What is your biggest challenge in making zines?

Having enough money to get them printed.