Zines are all about cutting out the middleman. You want to get your ideas or art out there? Just do it your damn self. Dale Zine was launched in 2009 by art director Steve Saiz as a DIY publishing project to highlight the talents of his friends. He was working with arts collective FriendsWithYou as lead designer for the brand and doing commercial work for big companies such as Nickelodeon and Target.
“I was just surrounded by such talent," Saiz says of his bosses and artist friends, "I thought it would be fun to make a zine with everyone.”
His first publication was a bunch of their interpretations of the great lasagna-loving cat Garfield. Through Dale Zine, Saiz's ambitious friends could take a step back from the grind and make something fun, cool, and borderline goofy.
After the tabby hit the presses, "a lot of people submitted and wanted to do their own editions," Saiz says. He began reaching out to artists he liked and releasing one zine a month. This is how Dale (pronounced like Pitbull's trademark cry) was launched. In just nine years, Saiz has 55 titles under the Dale name, including work by international artists. And now, Dale Zine also has a pop-up storefront as part of Mana Contemporary's 777 International Mall, an arts center presenting the most creative entrepreneurial minds.
After Dale got going, Saiz began dating wardrobe and prop stylist Lillian Banderas. Later he moved to Los Angeles with FriendsWithYou in a mass exodus of Miami talents, but the pair maintained their long-distance relationship. On one of Banderas' trips out West, they found themselves at the L.A. Art Book Fair. Inspired by the zine section, Banderas urged Saiz to get Dale involved.
"It was so huge. 'Next year, you have to do this,'" she recalls telling Saiz. "I just loved the community." Before long, Banderas had moved to L.A. too, and together the couple began to take Dale around the art-book circuit. They made friends with other indie publishers and met other Miami expats. Banderas even released her own zine, I Wuff You, about dogs in love.
"It's more than a hobby. I love it," she says.
When Saiz and Banderas moved back to Miami, they went full speed ahead with this project. During Miami Art Week/Art Basel Miami Beach 2015, they collaborated with artist Jessy Nite on a pop-up gallery space in Wynwood. They set up a library and workspace there, which allowed them to think about what a Dale Zine store would look like.
Workshops are a big part of their agenda. Dale Zine has hosted art- and zine-making lessons at Soho House, Lincoln Road, Coral Gables Art Cinema, and the de la Cruz Collection. They've also branched out to form Dale Kids, through which they can reach a younger generation of zine-makers.
“We’re not the art teacher that works at Miami-Dade Public Schools,” Banderas says. They talk to the kids in workshops like they talk to the adults and keep lessons mindful and nonviolent. "Our approach is that we give them the tools and let them explore their natural artist. We try to help them express their own story." Some youngsters need help, and others don’t. “We love helping kids explore their own thing. They can explore any of their passions — express and document them — in a fun way to share with friends."
The meaning of their name — the Spanish word dale translates to "do it" — has become even more apt as the zine has evolved, Banderas says. "Just do it. Let’s go. You can be a banker during the day and take really good pictures; you don’t have to wait 50 years for a book deal.” Zine-making can be quick and easy, letting creatives get their work out in the world at their own pace.
The Magic City knows a good thing when it sees it. So when the arts organization Mana Contemporary expanded its Miami operations to downtown during Miami Art Week 2017, many people, including Saiz, got excited. The inaugural pop-up shop at the 777 International Mall included Dale Zine through the invitation of the monthlong poetry festival O, Miami. Now Dale Zine's shop is housed in an old perfume boutique. Jacuzzi Boys’ singer Gabriel Alcala illustrated the storefront sign, and local friend Roy Hunter helped them set up shop.
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“It’s a great opportunity to bring in friends and publishers we love,” Banderas says. The pair preserved the look of the perfume shop, but the store is now full of zines from all over the world, as well as artist-made goods. “It’s a shop I would like to make a stop at if I had, say, 24 hours in L.A. I thought it’d be something fun for the mall. It’s got more sentimentality, and it’s a little more personal. You don’t have to just see art in a museum.”
Each third Saturday of the month, the mall opens with music and various activations, highlighting a different store each time. In March, the mall presented Bobbo's Crappy Birthday — a videogame created from scratch with original artwork and music by Lofty305. The game was available for guests to play — and, yes, they're publishing a zine about it.
April will spotlight O, Miami for National Poetry Month and Dale Zine. To make their own zines, the only thing guests will need is their creative spirit. ¡Dale!
Dale Zine Poetry Zine Workshop at Mana Contemporary Miami’s Third Saturdays. Noon to 8 p.m. Saturday, April 21, at 777 International Mall, 141 E. Flagler St., Miami; omiami.org. Admission is free.