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Thistle interview September 30, 1997

Thistle's probably the best literary zine around at the real zine level.  it started out being done by two people, but now it's mostly just Katie.  E. Katie Holm (not Katie Holmes) also is kind of famous for her photography which has turned into posters & album covers & she sings in a band called Glass.

QRD – why did you feel you personally needed to do a zine?

Katie – well, Thaylor & I decided to do this zine together one summer.  we were living in a small midwest town & there wasn't much else to do, unless you drank, did drugs, or hunted (& boy, are those fun! ha ha).  Minnesota didn't have any goth zines at the time & we just decided to be the first kids to do one (at least that we're aware of).  also, we wanted a place to show our artwork & writing, since getting into galleries & getting published is so darn hard.  Thistle became our medium for exploration & showing off & being mysterious!

QRD – what do you feel is Thistle's market & purpose?

Katie – the original market aim was goths, but has expanded far beyond even what we imagined.  mainly what we aim for is good quality art & writing with a dark or melancholy twist.  there is SO MUCH bad "goth" stuff out there that it makes the term pathetic, but I would still call our zine goth.  certainly most of our writers look more like moms or dads than little lost darksiders.

QRD – how many copies do you currently press & how many would you like to?

Katie – we usually press about 500 of each zine, but it takes about one & a half years to sell that many.  we haven't sold more than 500 of any issue.  it would be nice to produce thousands, but there would be so much work involved & at this time I'm disenchanted with the whole zine thing....  if this side project paid my bills, it would be nice.

QRD – what's the current format & would you like to be bigger & slicker?

Katie – Thistle is a quarter sized zine, but is very thick (120 pages).  bigger ? no.  slicker ? yes.  I wish the artwork would reproduce better on photocopy, but that's impossible.  having off-set printing & the whole schmeele would be cool, because the people could see all the subtleties of the photographs & grey scale drawings, which usually just go black with the current way we press.

QRD – how do you feel about availability in stores?

Katie – consignment is nice & I like that people can find us in the stores, especially places like Chicago.  however, our zine gets lost because it is so small, some stores won't consign us.  also, stores suck up most of any profit/break-even that we'd make.  we're always losing $$ & it would be nice to break even....

QRD – do you think advertisements belong in your zine or they compromise it?

Katie – I don't mind putting in ads for items or people I trust or believe in, but I certainly do not want the zines to be taken over by ads.  that is why they are limited to the back of the zine & only a few pages.  lots of zines like to trade ads, but if I were to do that, there would be no zine, just a pocket-sized billboard.  thus I charge for ad space (to keep the # of ads to a minimum & keep products advertised to good products).

QRD – what would cause you to stop doing your zine?

Katie – complete burnout, which is where I am right now.  Thistle got reviewed in some big name mags & now we are swamped with letters & bad poetry.  I answer so much mail it drives me crazy.  Thaylor, my partner, has left to pursue other projects & doing the last issue by myself was painful.  I spent every day off for three months with layout, editing, mail, etc.  I am in love with my photography & want to pursue it as a career & to do so I will have to lay aside my little zine.

QRD – which is more fulfilling to you; your photography, your work with Glass, or thistle?

Katie – certainly my photography.  I have just taken several assignments here in town, doing various things like weddings (for goths) & tattoo shots.  the work I have done with Projekt Records has been great & has really helped with recognition & getting other jobs (thanks Sam!).  Glass, my band, is a good energy release, but it's hard work.  We've been looking for a drummer for one & a half years & scrambling with fill-ins at shows.  I am so busy with all my projects I don't feel I give the band enough time, but the other guys are kinda lazy about the band; I end up "moming" this project, too.  I hope to make a living from my photography one day & certainly don't see myself doing that from music or the zine.  I love photographing bands, cemeteries, & "romantic"/"mysterious" portraits.  some of my influences come from Anton Corbijn (Depeche Mode, U2), Joel-Peter Witkin, Sally Mann, & Brian Garrity (a Minneapolis local photographer who works for AltPress & Rolling Stone).  I also love old photographs for their mysterious other-worldly quality.  I hope to do a book or two someday....

QRD – do you think all the information on the internet has changed the need for or purpose of zines?

Katie – I don't think it has changed the need for zines, only the format by which it comes.  bigger=better?? maybe not.... Thistle is designed to be a piece of art, not only a zine.  if we were on the net, I think it would detract from our purpose/goal.  I think the net is great, for the most part.  unfortunately, it also provides a place for people with bad poetry to be seen without them having to spend lots of $$ to get it in print.  but I do like surfing to find cool bands & products.