EXPLORING THE ANALOG UNDERGROUND
Recently, we were fortunate enough to speak with London based journalist Michael Drake who chose us to represent the City of Angels for his article on worldwide creatives who embrace analog culture for Kodak's blog Kodachrome. We are honored to be presented alongside skater/artist/photographer Ed Templeton, The UK's Resolution Records, Japanese artist Yusuke Hanai and San Sebastian surf photographer/filmer Sancho Rodriguez.
These Days is a bookstore and zine emporium owned and curated with impeccable taste by born and raised Angelenos Stephen and Jodi Ziegler. “We’ve been residents of downtown LA for 13 years now,” says Stephen, who is an accomplished photographer in his own right and regularly hustles his own photographic fanzines. “Back then, Winston Street was rough and dirty and only the adventurous and/or those looking to score drugs would venture down there on foot.
It’s a layered and complex place and These Days was ‘born out of it’.” Downtown LA is a curious other-Eden where, among other places, the masses that populate the US huddle together. There’s a certain poetry to the Zeiglers’ presence here. “The physicality and tactility of the book, magazine, zine or print in its nature is what photography was originally about,” Stephen adds. “In the beginning of photography, when the common work-a-day person could have their photo made, it was a revolutionary and very special thing. Before the photographic process, only those with a substantial amount of expendable income could afford to have their portraits painted; committed to canvas to be handed down long after they had passed on. In so many ways that is still true today. The print living in a frame on a wall or reproduced in a book gives an importance and a sense of the everlasting that a digital image on a computer screen will never have.”
In many ways creating a real, three-dimensional space to provide a home for the physicality of analog culture means that many of the threads of California’s analog-oriented creativity lead back here. “I think most creatives that I’ve met generally love print and would like to be able to utilize it more than many of their clients allow, or see the value in. I think that analog and digital mediums are now being used in tandem, but I also think that creatives enjoy the physicality and permanence of printed work – it has the potential to become collectible in a way that the digital experience never will. I was recently going through our personal book archive and came across a spiral bound book that Adidas created in 2001 of Mark Gonzales’s drawing. It was a simple idea; give Gonz a 40-page book of blank Adidas stationary and let him draw whatever he wants on it, then make a book from that.
It regularly sells to collectors for upwards of $400.” That skateboarding and art connection is tangible. “There is no digital skateboarding,” says Stephen. “Skateboarding is a whole-body, physical experience and medium, and so is photography. There is an understanding and respect between the two forms I think, which is why you can find so many skaters who also make photographs. While punk is a different thing and gets far more layered, punk was originally analog...the shows, music, zines and styles all came from a time before the ‘digital revolution’, so its very foundation is analog – and those who carry the torch of punk rock ethos today still honor that.”