Local art Zine targets collaboration and free expression

Luda Polyakova and Luda Polyakova

A local student is doing his part to bring philosophy, culture and art to the masses.

University sophomore Mason Balistreri is editor of The Jist, a local publication that features original works. Balistreri started The Jist as a Web site in June 2007 with the goal of local collaboration and expression in mind.

‘I wanted to have a group of artists and a group of people just coming together,’ Balistreri said.

Since then, the publication has undergone many changes to reach its current state: a local zine published quarterly and distributed for free in Bowling Green and over the Web.

The Jist began as a basic kind of blog, but according to Balistreri, it was initially hard to get people to contribute.

‘I decided [The Jist] had to be more tactile, and I wanted to be able to hand it to people, which is how I got the idea to make it into a zine,’ he said. A zine is a small circulation, independent publication of original content.

Each quarterly issue of The Jist focuses on a central theme or topic.

This year’s themes have included ‘fight failure indulgence,’ which focused on the initial run, fight and restructuring of The Jist, and ‘the beast stares back,’ which centered on the general theme of conflict.

‘The next issue I’m working on doesn’t have a title yet,’ Balistreri said. ‘But it will have a lot of psychedelic artwork.’

As editor of The Jist, Balistreri has emphasized collaboration from the very beginning.

‘The Jist is all about collaboration and sharing what is going on in your mind with others-that’s what it’s for,’ he said.

People contribute writing, whether poetry, fiction or nonfiction essays, as well as artwork. Although The Jist is a local zine, Balistreri has had many contributors from around the country and across the globe.

‘They saw the Web site and sent me emails, and we got to know each other,’ Balistreri said. ‘It’s a lot of people from all over just trying to get their work out, and having it both on the Web and in print definitely helps.’

Junior Andrew Spiess, a creative writing major, is one of The Jist’s major contributors.

‘It’s a good feeling to see your work get printed on paper or even on a Web site,’ he said.

Spiess has contributed poetry and essays to the zine, and plans on adding fiction in the near future. To him, The Jist is an opportunity to both express himself and get work published.

‘This is both for fun and it’s something I take seriously,’ he said.

In addition to the writing and artwork, The Jist hosts a unique product line.

‘A part of the Jist is selling artist’s items and I think it’s important to have a product line,’ Balistreri said.

He designed a series of t-shirts with the help of local business Shirts Signs and Designs and sold them at CBCB’s. All of the shirts sold out, and there is a new series in the making.

There is always room for more contributors to The Jist.

‘I want people to know that if they have an idea or something they’ve been thinking about or want to show people, they should come talk to me,’ Balistreri said.

‘We want anyone who has some sort of expressive or creative work to be incorporated,’ Spiess added.

The next issue of The Jist will be circulating in about a month, and can be picked up at local businesses like Grounds For Thought, Shirt Signs and Designs and CBCB’s in downtown Bowling Green. The zine is also available online at http://thejist.org/zine.