DSTL Arts is a nonprofit arts mentorship organization that works with at-risk youth & adults, providing zine-making & creative writing workshops that culminate in the production of various zines, comics & chapbooks, including our Art Block Zine, collecting youth artwork & writings, & our Conchas y Café Zine featuring our adult participants' creative writing written in both English & Spanish.
DSTL Arts is a nonprofit arts mentorship organization that inspires, teaches and hires creative at-risk youth, ages 16–21 years old. Our programs include our Arts Mentorship Program where we work with at-risk youth to develop visual art and creative writing projects that culminate in the publishing of either a chapbook, comic book, or photo series. Additionally, we provide our zine-making workshop, Art Block, across multiple sites in South LA, East LA, and Northeast LA for youth whom we gather submissions from and publish in our biannual Art Block Zine. We also provide our Conchas y Café creative writing program, for adults ages 30+, in South LA and East LA, where we teach creative writing skills and publish our quarterly Conchas y Café Zine, plus we offer our Artist Residency Workshops in partnership with local libraries in South LA where we provide intergenerational art-based workshops that focus on community-related issues that culminate in the publishing of a book featuring artwork created by workshop participants alongside our teaching artists. All of our publications range in topics from love, community, identity, and more.
DSTL Arts teaches entrepreneurial for artists through all of our programs, and this includes teaching self-publishing practices that include zine-making and more. It is our goal to teach creative individuals how to Develop Skills and Transcend Limits through Arts. And this definitely means teaching our participants the mighty power of the zine.
Depending on the zines or chapbooks we produce, oftentimes we gather content for our publications through workshops we provide in partnership with the various public libraries that host our Art Block and Conchas y Café programs, plus our Artist Residency workshops. For chapbooks produced by our Arts Mentorship Program students, we typically work with individual youth in our program to develop their craft and artwork over the course of a year, and once ready, we publish their work in collaboration with them through the editing and design process. All of our Arts Mentorship Program students also receive payment for the sales of their artwork in the form of a commission fee paid directly to them, allowing us to teach them how to finance their own projects in the future.
Independent publishing is vital to the inclusion and diversity of voices we need to see in the publishing industry. Without independent publishing, too often our communities will not be accurately reflected in the works of larger publishers. When zines and chapbooks focus on how a community views itself, the stories will be more authentic, more real. And that is our goal in working closely with our program participants. We want our publications to always reflect the issues and identities that matter most to our local community members.
The future of zines and publishing, for DSTL Arts specifically, will become more inclusive and will continue to produce high quality artworks. As our programs enter their second, third, and fifth year in existence, we will work harder to sponsor our emerging artists across all ages, thereby helping them realize their artistic goals and dreams of wide spread publication, including e-books and e-zines.
The first publication we produced was a collection of poetry and photographs written and taken by one of our original three Arts Mentorship Program students, Brian Andrade. His first-ever publication was called Expel, and we produced a limited, numbered and signed print-run of 50 chapbooks. Needless to say, Brian was very excited by it, and now, four chapbooks and zines produced since joining our program, Brian is now a college graduate entering into an MFA in Creative Writing program at Sarah Lawrence College!
Our favorite part of zine-making is the collaborative process we use through our workshops and mentorship program. Every zine and chapbook is custom-designed and tailored to the input we receive from our program participants, thereby reflecting the personality of the artwork our participants each create.
Our biggest challenges include acquiring the funding we need to keep our programs going and producing high-quality zines and chapbooks. But thanks to individual donors and the grants we have received from the CA Arts Council, the National Endowment of the Arts, the LA County Arts Commission, and the City of LA–Department of Cultural Affairs, we have managed to continue providing our programs and services to our community.
DSTL Arts is a nonprofit arts mentorship organization, and we believe deeply in the idea that no artist should be a starving artist, only a working artist. That's why we pay our Arts Mentorship Program participants for their artwork. That's why we teach our zine-making program participants how to make their own mini-zines. We encourage our emerging artists to think of themselves as artists whose work is valuable. So buy their art. Buy all local artists' work. And if you can't buy it, support them by sharing your admiration for it. Supporting artists isn't as hard as people think. Just respect the value it has in our lives.