"In a not so distant future, men (and women) will dine on Mars, we will communicate telepathically and everyone will be obsessed with Bootleg Press", a new publishing company from NY based designers Chris Pinter and Danny Demers. They print stuff, funny stuff, good stuff starting with Comp Vol. 1 - a 70 page tongue-in-cheek retrospective about their day jobs and the "joys" of making Comps.
I sat down virtually with Bootleg co-founder Chris Pinter for a casual conversation where we Gchatted about Comp and the makings of a creatively rebellious project, what it means to publish in 2015, and what we can expect Bootleg Press to bestow upon us mere civilians next:
Alysia Alex: Okay, I’m going to start asking you all the questions now. Ready?
Chris Pinter: Yea of course!
AA: How did you and Danny arrive at the concept of Bootleg Press?
CP: I hate using this term, but it happened super organically. I think there are a few factors that contributed to that though. We both have really similar tastes and styles, we grew up in the same world. That kind of skate shop, rap music, scene. So speaking that same language we have a really good rapport where we can riff off one another really well without having to finish a complete thought. Where we start with this random offshoot idea and it snowballs into something. That's how Bootleg Press happened basically. We started to have quite a few of these ideas floating around and we were tired of not producing anything so we just decided to one day. The spark notes version, we iChat a lot.
I should also say, almost every discussion we have had on bootleg press happens at work, so Bootleg Press was our answer to a slow work day. Where we can take these fun, sloppy, half baked ideas in our head and create something out of it. Because rarely in the world of commercial graphic design do you get away with presenting work that isn't 100% thought out
AA: So Bootleg is an act of creative rebellion for you both? Was there a reason you decided to produce these ideas in publication form vs. printing editions or posting images digitally?
CP: Definitely. I don't want to speak for Danny but for me this was for sure based in rebellion. I would say a good majority of the time I don't like to take things very seriously, and my job doesn't really allow me to do that. So we both created a project where we could let out that suppressed energy. Where if something feels a little off, or if a design decision doesn't have sound reasoning behind it, we're allowed to say "Fuck it, I like it, lets roll with it." As far as printing, this is also rooted in rebellion. And it's a pretty straight forward one, we never get to work with our hands.
But it's not to say that what we do in the future will be exclusively printed matter, that's definitely where all of our ideas mostly start. Is "oh lets make a book about this or that" but then it always grows into something bigger, and I think we're both pretty excited about leaving that open ended. We ultimately want to do a lot more than just books or zines. I don't think Bootleg will ever be just one medium. When we start to put rules on it, then it turns into the work we rebelled against in the first place.
AA: I like that concept of weaving in and out of mediums. I think a lot of people associate publishing or publishing companies with existing as strictly books or printed matter but really it can evolve into so much more than that. I'm interested to see how Bootleg continues to navigate that world. However, as a bit of a print addict myself I'm selfishly pretty thrilled that your first project happens to take the form of a zine. Can you talk a little bit about Comp Vol.1 ?
CP: Yea so Comp Vol. 1 is a continuation of that day job rebellion you could say. In the advertising / commercial graphic design world, no matter who you are, at some point in your career you're going to be asked to make something called a Comp. Which is basically some sort of visual, could be a sketch, but usually takes the form of 3-4 different photos spliced together to create this hybrid image in order to more successfully pitch an idea to a client of how you're going to use their money on a commercial, retail store, experiential event, whatever.
That being said, it's exactly how you would imagine, they're not fun, it's pretty soul sucking work. People sweat these things a lot, and for good reason, but it still doesn't really make you feel any better about making them. Sometimes they're extremely laborious, i've worked days on comps before, and in the end, the client didn't even like the idea so the whole thing was scrapped. But unfortunately, this is a reality of the industry. And Danny and I got together one day, bitching, along with one of our coworkers who suggested we compile all of them into a book. And basically we just thought that was a brilliant idea, taking this really shit work that we would normally never show anyone and make this really crafted piece out of it. So Comp Vol. 1 doubles as both self-validation, that the time we put into these is being showcased somewhere. While simultaneously giving the middle finger to the whole thing in general.
AA: I know you're calling it "shit work" but I think the comps are really poignant and I'm glad you decided to show them off.I love this zine because the little vignettes are so ridiculous and comical that it reveals a sort of absurdity that can be the advertising world. Is there a critique involved here? Am I reading too much into this?
CP: Oh no you're definitely not, it's a lawless land. That was the other side to it, is that at the end of the day, it's just funny. It gets a laugh, you see these images with no context behind it and you're like, why would anyone ever need to make this? It's hilarious, and totally absurd, and pretty degrading that this is what we spend so much time on. I'm sure there is a more poetic way of saying this but the whole thing is comically depressing.It's funny on the surface, but the undertones in actuality are really very sad.
But that's the motto of bootleg press you know? We're taking out our frustrations in the form of comedy, it's a really basic coping mechanism. At the end of the day, that's what Bootleg Press is, it's therapy. We're just trying to have fun and have a laugh. And hopefully other people will laugh with us. (and not at us)
AA: It's refreshing to see a smart thought out project not take itself too seriously. It's a nice reminder that it's okay to play around a little and celebrate the absurdities in the creative industry. I don't predict anyone laughing AT you. If anything we'll all be applauding you for the laughs. I know you just launched like 5 minutes ago but what's next for Bootleg? Any new projects already in the works? Can you tell us all the secrets?
CP: Haha, I can't share all the secrets yet. I think they're too big, we have to figure out how to pull it all off first but there's definitely a lot of scheming going on. I can say we're focusing on the books, but for future editions we're coming up with a lot of ideas to create a bigger world for them to live in. This could take the form of accompanying videos, micro-sites, events / happenings, etc. not totally sure. But to give a sneak preview for the next issue, for those who are familiar, it will have something to do with umbrellas.
AA: I'm going to take this moment to instruct anyone that is reading this interview to stop what they are doing and go straight to your instagram (@CPinter) and look for photos of umbrellas because that is VERY cool secretive news. I'm really looking forward to seeing where Bootleg take all of these amazing ideas. Will you be accepting submissions at all? Can people reach out to you about collaborating?
CP: HELL YES. That's also on the list of future projects, we'd love to collaborate with anyone and everyone. We'd be thrilled to receive any submissions or interest in a collaborative project, speaking of which, you'll probably be getting a phone call about something like that in the near future.
AA: Ha, well to that I also say HELL YES. Seriously, I think what you and Danny are doing is really fantastic and I can't wait to see all the magic that comes of it. Thank you SO much for staying up late and letting me ask you all the questions. And again MAJOR congrats. Super proud!
CP: Not a problem at all! So glad you had questions to ask. And a big congratulations again to you as well, this has been a big couple of weeks for our friends. Can't wait to see where it all goes but yea, I def need some sleep now haha
AA: Yes, please GO TO BED! Thanks for chatting!