Designer Kurt Woerpel has been creating zines for around five years after taking Duncan Hamilton’s Independent Publishing Primer class at the Pratt Institute. “Directly after graduating Pratt, my friends and I applied to Printed Matter’s New York Art Book Fair with some of our student work and came up with the name TXTbooks in an effort to sound more official than we were,” explains Kurt. “It worked, and we ended up attending, sneaking back into Pratt to use their Riso to produce the stock needed to participate. It went over well and since then we have participated annually in the NY Art Book Fair and a handful of other fairs around the US.”
There’s a whole section in Kurt’s portfolio dedicated to zines, and the designer enjoys the flexibility and “low pressure” nature of creating a zine about your own interests. “That being said, it also provides, by virtue of limited time to create (for me) and space (24 pages), a certain level of forced restraint and therefore punchiness,” Kurt says. “It’s always more of a snack than a meal if you know what I mean.” It’s the attitude towards making zines that also drives Kurt to continue making them. “There’s a simple pleasure in the DIY aspects,” he says. “Managing every step of the process yourself down to folding and stapling paper. You don’t need permission – you can just go and do it if you can cobble together some free time and a late-night workplace printer.”
Recent projects Kurt’s worked on include his new zine No Scroll Zone, “a bootleg print pack loosely warning against the perils of idle browsing and aiming to educate against the internet k-hole”, and a series of chapbooks with different poets, that Kurt hopes will become a larger project where each poet chooses another poet to be featured after them.
Before becoming freelance and spending most of his time with TXTbooks, Kurt was a newly graduated designer at MTV News working with Richard Turley (who’s now at Weiden + Kennedy). “It was a pretty ideal introduction to the working world in a lot of ways. Richard gave us a lot of freedom to create in our own visions and room to experiment,” says Kurt. “There was a lot of trial and error with our team’s role within MTV – our team sort of repositioned itself every couple of months. Even though I talk to everyone individually I miss our MTV team a lot as a unit. We had a good run.”
This passion for his work has continued in his new ventures and anything Kurt can put himself fully into is a great project for him. “I really enjoy collaboration with other artists who don’t have design backgrounds,” he explains. “Helping someone produce their work in a way they envision (or can’t envision) is one of the most gratifying feelings.”