Publisher/Graphic Designer/Production Coordinator
Admittedly, I have an odd background for a publisher/graphic designer: I have a BS in Biochemistry and an MS in Earth Systems Science. (I’m either a weather girl or a rocket scientist, it depends on my mood.) But along the way, somewhere between cancer research, radio producer at WBAI, cater-waiter, and biology textbook editor, I fell into the graphic arts. (CV and portfolio here.)
One of the things I’ve learned in my 25 years or so in the field (the majority of it in New York), is that most publishers are crazy. Absolutely, without any hesitation, I can tell you the publishers I’ve had to work for or deal with on any level have been the most certifiably insane people I’ve ever encountered. Ok. Maybe calling them “crazy” and “insane” isn’t fair. Let’s just say they’re monumentally eccentric and leave it at that. So OF COURSE I’ve decided to become a publisher! If the shoe fits…
Since coming to La Crosse in 2013, I’ve often lamented the lack of culture here. There’s some, for sure—I don’t want to belittle what we have and I want to encourage it—but there’s very little in the way of art that features the written word. I’m talking about poetry, very short stories, comics, anything that would benefit from being presented in the format of a “zine.” There are active pockets of writers in the area, but nothing small that people who don’t have access to capital, social or otherwise, might have access to so they can have their voices read and heard.
That’s where Ope! Publishing comes in. Ope! came out of a grousing session with my then co-publisher Rachel McFarland about wanting to write but not knowing where to publish the things she writes which are wonderful little things that won’t really fit into a commercial venue. I talked her into sending me something she wrote and I quickly laid it out in a booklet form. When I saw how excited she was to see how her work looked laid out in a format she liked and could be proud of, I knew I could and SHOULD do that for other writers in the area.
Ope!’s original vision—connecting local writers with local artists, designing beautiful yet affordable pieces so other people can see it, buy it, appreciate it, AND support the artists who created them—has changed somewhat. While all those things are still important and will continue to happen whenever possible, Ope! also wants to make a difference in this place we now call “home.” With that in mind, Ope! is pursuing projects that will help inform the people of La Crosse about the world that surrounds them: things they may not have noticed or considered. From politics to esoterica to local farm life, these are the things that help make La Crosse a place where community can be fostered and encouraged.