Why Not? Minot Festival

August 19, 2013 — by Joe Biel

There aren't many events that we go to every single year for Microcosm, so when we make repeated appearances it's either a matter of three different things: Getting to catch up with very special friends who live there, consistently awesome support for what we are doing, or a truly amazing and inspiring event. Somehow Why Not? Minot Fest offers all three. You wouldn't exactly think of Minot as a cultural epicenter or even associate it with art, necessarily. Which is why it surprised me so much when I made my first trip back in 2006, after seven years away, to discover a vibrant music scene at The Red Carpet, a DIY venue on the outskirts of the city.

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Dinner & Bikes Tour Reflections

July 25, 2013 — by Joe Biel

It's been over a month since we returned home from the now-annual Dinner & Bikes Tour but it remains the kind of activism that I think about most frequently. For those unfamiliar, it involves Elly Blue, Joshua Ploeg, and I renting a car for a month, hitting up a different region of the U.S., and depositing our food and bike love in our wake.

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Get to know Grow: Introducing Designer Meggyn Pomerleau

March 28, 2013 — by Eleanor Whitney

Grow coverGrow: How to take your do it yourself project and passion to the next level and quit your job! is a practical field guide for creative people to achieve success and sustainability on their own terms. Part of Grow’s mission is to empower creative people to come up with innovative solutions to make their creative passions sustainable career options. The first step in that process is to assess where you are and define where you want to go. In the spirit of Grow I posed a series of questions to Meggyn Pomerleau, who designed the book, about her career and goals so far. The issues that Meggyn outlines in our conversation are the ones that inspired me to write Grow: How to balance your creative passion with “real life,” how to understand what you and your creative work is worth, and how to face down an uncertain future with a careful planning.

Right now I’m in the process of putting together a series of workshops around the country this summer that will help creatives like Meggyn plan for DIY success. Until midnight on April 1 (9 pm pacific time) we are running a campaign on to support the workshop tour and the production of Grow. We’d love to have your support!

How do you describe yourself creatively? What do you do and make and what would you like to do and make?

- I am a graphic artist. I make, draw, manipulate, form, paint, and sketch. Professionally, I'm a graphic designer and I primarily build websites. What I really like to do is illustrate and create typefaces.

What skills do you think are your strongest?

- My communication skills have gotten me to a point where I haven't had to seek out work, ever.  I'm also surprisingly good at drawing using my touch-pad on my laptop.  

What skills do you feel you need to develop? How will you go about this?

- I still need to work on my time management skills, as well as practicing and researching my craft. Unfortunately, because I'm still a full time cubicle drone it’s difficult to find the time to work on my technical skills. That's my main challenge right now--to make the decision to devote myself fully to my passion, or taking small steps to allow myself to have it in the future.

How integrated is your creative work into the rest of your life?

- My life is design, despite having the office job. I dream about typography; I pay attention to advertisements and details in logos, banners, and posters; and I'm constantly brainstorming pieces in my head. If I had to break it down in numbers: 40% of my life is the non-creative office job, 25% is actually creating, and 35% is everything else.

I believe it's completely possible to turn the 25% into 75% if I choose to, but I'm worried about failure, inconsistent work flow, and settling for work I wouldn't be interested in.

What is something you didn't learn in school that you wish they taught about making your life and living as a creative person?

- One thing no one discussed was how to know what you're worth. A lot of fresh graphic design graduates settle for production work, which doesn't do anything for you, creatively.

Additionally, I wish that I had more one-on-one guidance and the professors helped us determine what kind of designer we were, how technically skilled we were, and where we should go to look for work in order to shape our future a bit. Design can be applied to many things, and if it's not narrowed down to a specific category, it's overwhelming to try to decide what category you're going to focus on and try to pursue.

What are your creative goals for the next year? For the next five years?

- This next year, my goal is to develop a consistent style in my design that draws people to my work. I haven't painted in the longest time, and I'm going to start again, to get back to my roots of being an artist.

In the next 5 years, I'd like to work for an agency or something fast paced and high stress or work as a freelance artist full time with clients sending me consistent work.

Grow tips

Check out Meggyn's work in Grow!

And support the RocketHub campaign here:

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2012 Financial Report

March 24, 2013 — by Joe Biel

In the name of fiscal transparency, here's our 2012 financial report! You can read them from 20112010, and 2009 too! We've made a lot of headway this year and feel like we are approaching a good place despite a recession and changing publishing industry. We've resolved a tremendous amount of old debt so big thanks and hugs to everybody who stuck with us this year. We are still working on re-instating last year's reduced wages and healthcare but we are finding creative ways to work out those problems by next October. Here's a toast to continued improvements in 2013! If you want to help, it is always helpful to sign up for a BFF subscription or purchase anything from the site!  

2012 Income $264,226.84 (17.3% decrease)




Printing Bills $84,418.65 (34.2% increase, 32.9% of budget)

Total staff wages $46,908.84 (a 106.4% increase, 17.8% of budget)

Shipping $39,153.20 (5.9% decrease, 14.8% of budget)

Paid to publishers and distributors $32,306.09 (64.8% decrease, 12.2% of budget)

Utilities, insurance, phone, office supplies, etc $26,716.09 (32.8% decrease, 10.1% of budget)

Rent $10,400 (17.5% decrease, 3.9% of budget)

Royalties to authors $9,911.44 (27.3% decrease, 3.8% of budget)

Zines bought from makers $6,033.04 (68.6% decrease, 2.3% of budget)

Advertising $5,457.80 (81.1% increase, 2.1% of budget)

Catalog Printing $2,638.56 (8.6% decrease, 1% of budget)

Travel $1,251 (71.1% increase, .5% of budget)

Staff Healthcare $0 (0% of budget)

Donations $15,495 (488% increase)


Total Expenses $265,194.71


Total $-967.87 (loss)

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Here at the 'cosm ...with the CIA.

February 16, 2013 — by Jeff Hayes

Happy Valentine's Day! I hope all you lovers out there were out lovin'.

We've been active around here lately. Tim is heading down to Austin for Staple, our store continues to evolve, we've got lots of bright ideas for the future, and we're adding lots of new titles on the website!

If you haven't read the new CIA Makes Science Fiction Unexciting yet, you should. It's creepy. It's disturbing. It's angering. Some parts are downright sickening. But it's also exciting, enticing, and undoubtedly interesting. It contains minimal speculation and maximal research. Much of the content is admitted by government officials and operatives themselves. And the book compiles it together to let you see more of the big picture. And it's not a pretty one. Not only does it bring un-skewed history to light, it's a time capsule that you can send to friends and family to provoke thoughts and conversation. Even if they don't want to believe most of it, it's provocative so they can't help reading it anyway. If you've read the original zines, you still want this, because it's all been updated.

Stay safe out there!

  CIA book

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Meet the Interns

January 11, 2013 — by Tim

How’d you get here? Mackenzie: The Northridge Earthquake, which hit just before my before my scheduled due-date, urged my mother to go to her home town to have her lil’ baby. Therefore, I was born in St. Louis Missouri rather than Los Angeles, my real hometown, but permanently moved back to the west coast shortly after my birth. Now, many years later, I go to school in Vermont, which enabled me to intern at Microcosm. I drove up the 5 from Los Angeles all the way to Portland with my good ol’ friend Phil. Elizabeth: Born in Texas, raised in Tennessee, schooled in Vermont - a drive to Albany, a flight to Cleveland, a drive to Knoxville, a flight to Denver, another to Seattle, another to Portland and here I am. Phil: I’ve been an LA boy my whole life, but now I go to school in Vermont. Mackenzie and I drove up to Portland with full hearts and a full...

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A Statement From Microcosm

January 03, 2013 — by Microcosm

Several people have asked for an update on all of the confusing developments at Microcosm since we published our You Can Work Any 100 Hours Per Week history zine in 2006. The internet, if it's anything, is a confusing place to get clear and reliable information where you have to navigate innumerable biases, so putting our story out there to be found seemed like a good idea.

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Introducing the Scene History Series

December 19, 2012 — by Beau Gheale

Are you stoked about the history of your town? Do you find out interesting nuggets by talking to those who came before you or by scouting out details on Wikipedia? Do you want a reason to hunt out some people you respect for them to fill in the gaps?

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New Newness News!

November 05, 2012 — by Jeff Hayes


Just so you know, we've got a lot of super great new titles! Who's excited about Railroad Semantics #2!!?


If not that, how bout the new edition of Mostly True!


Raleigh Briggs even released her sequel to Make Your Place, the much-anticipated Make It Last!


Beyond The Music is Joe Biel's new book, a really great one for anyone interested in the Punk "Scene" or the DIY ethics it brings with it.


And of course, we can't forget about Everyday Bicycling, Elly Blue's know-it-all book about cycling in any and every situation, a super great guide to get someone who might just be getting into bicycling, or even the bicycling fanatics! :)


Holy Cow! As I was typing this we just got another one in! The People's Apocalypse! This one looks super interesting!


If your into that whole Thanksgiving thing, these are all things to be thankful for!
If your into that whole Christmas thing, any one of these would make great gifts!
Or, you could gift one to someone on Nov. 13th for World Kindness Day.
You'll also have to stock up on books to read for Stay At Home Because You Are Well Day at the end of the month. Book Lover's Day doesn't have to end on Nov. 4th, it can last all year!

I can't even keep up around here. I'm going to have to start reading faster...


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Interview with Raleigh Briggs, author of Make It Last: Prolonging + Preserving What We Love

October 01, 2012 — by Tim

What was the inspiration to write about fixing things?

We were throwing around the idea of having a book about canning, I think. But there are a million books out there about canning. I started wondering why some preservation skills were so glamorous all of a sudden, while others went under the radar. So I decided to take that same great energy around canning, pickling and whatnot and expand it to include things like mending and home repair.

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