Ryleigh Norgrove (‘21) and Emma Burgess (‘21) are founding editors of The Bullet, an art zine circulated at Willamette. Both editors also work personally in a variety of mediums that include poetry, nonfiction, photography, collage and multimedia visual productions. The Bullet is distributed to art and humanities buildings on campus and accepts submissions from writers and visual artists.
How did you found The Bullet?
EB: We had public speaking together our first semester of college. We’re both from the Santa Rosa area; when we experienced the fires, Leigh asked if I would write a story for The Collegian.
RN: We were bonding over knowing someone from home that understood what was happening and what we were going through, being far away from [the fires]. We decided to go get coffee, and the first time we each opened our journals we were talking about [The Bullet].
EB: We were like ‘Wouldn’t it be cool to publish a zine?’ and it was an immediate yes, let’s do it, I’m down. We came up with the whole idea, pretty much all the sections and the name, that day.
What is the significance of the name you settled on?
RN: We wanted it to be spy themed, that was the original intent.
EB: So, the name is The Bullet and we have [sections called] the Mission Statement, the Person of Interest, Autopsy Of, Wiretap, the Imprint. We also both bullet-journal, which is the concept of having a journal that’s your planner, your notebook for lists, your diary and whatever else you want. You create the setup and the plan so that you can have everything that you need.
RN: Also, the concept that bullets are small things that carry a lot of force. Because I think that’s the purpose of a zine, in some sense, is to catch the voice of people who aren’t always represented in larger media outlets. Our goal was to have the name nod to the essence of a zine.
What are some challenges of publishing in a zine format?
EB: It’s printed in black and white, which is a limiting factor. Submissions need to be able to translate to black and white. We also compile it by hand. Gluing it, collaging it, photocopying it.
RN: I think the black and white is a really fun challenge for anyone who is interested in submitting. It’s a challenge for us, too. It’s a way to focus on the content rather than the fluff of everything that’s going on around it. I think submissions should reflect that.
What makes for a strong submission?
RN: I think I look for somebody who has intention behind their work and has completely thought through what they hope it’s going to convey. Art for the sake of art is difficult. The phrase ‘I am art because I am obscene,’ encompassases that. That’s what a lot of work looks like, so when I see someone who has intention, it’s cool.
EB: I look for something that isn’t contrived or that I haven’t seen before. The pages are a quarter of a page too, so having a solid version that is the correct size is really helpful.
What forms of art do you personally enjoy creating?
EB: My personal preferences are multimedia. Usually pen and collage, but sometimes I’ll use paint. I’m also into sculpture, though I haven’t pursued it very much. I’m taking a sculpture class next semester. I love photography. My dad was a professional photographer and I grew up with photography. I’ll do anything I can get my hands on, though, I just love making things look nice. I like clothes, decorations. There’s so much ugliness in the world, I just want to see the best in it. I also write a lot of poetry.
RN: I usually am a writer, but I like to paint. I like oil and acrylic painting. Visual art I generally keep to myself. With writing, I mostly work in poetry and nonfiction. I’m finding I really enjoy the gray area called literary journalism. That is a combination between creative nonfiction and journalism, so it’s all about the best way to tell a story. It’s all about the sensory observation of the moment. I got there through poetry and through journalism, and it’s the perfect combination of those two things.Note: If you are a musician, filmmaker, writer or visual artist who would like to be featured in an artist spotlight, email firstname.lastname@example.org.