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Paul Davis on Raised Eyebrows

Paul Davis publishes his drawings, and stories by some friends, in Raised Eyebrows, a monthly A3 sheet he circulates around Melbourne.He prints about 50 copies each issue, with no advertising, and he prepares each edition month by month.He lays out the page with In Design, then takes a PDF file to a printer.Then he distributes the usually folded A3 page to cafes around Melbourne. It’s a simple and effective way to get exposure for his work, experience, and probably a great deal of satisfaction.

READERSVOICE.COM: First up, can you recommend about four or five books you’ve read you’ve really enjoyed, particularly any out of the way stuff people might not have heard about (fiction or non-fiction, comics, literature, it doesn’t matter, and say a bit about why you liked them?
PAUL DAVIS: I keep going back to The Third Policeman by Flann O’Brien.
And Kurt Vonnegut’s Bluebeard was a sleeper for me.
An early drawing influence was Peter Pavey’s One Dragon’s Dream (Australian).
Recently I loved and envied the work of Istvan Banyai (http://www.ist-one.com/)
RV: How old are you, what’s it like in Footscray, Melbourne?
PD: 33. Footscray’s great but our house has a weirdly sloping floor as if we are constantly tilting.
We lived in Vietnam for a while so it’s good to practise my Vietnamese at the market.
RV: What’s your daily routine and what sort of things have you been doing the past week?
PD: I hold down a day job – an office job of sorts at the Uni of Melbourne.
Time at home is completely full of stuff related to caring for our seven-months-old baby girl and doing (or thinking about) drawings.
RV: When and how did you come up with the idea for your one page A3 magazine, Raised Eyebrows?
PD: I wanted something that would force me to work in a large format – as if it was a newspaper page.
I wanted to try my hand at large-scale graphic design and image making.
RV: What sort of art training have you had? Can you name some of your favorite artists?
PD: No art training. Sometimes I think I should have, other times I’m glad I didn’t. (I trained as a high school English teacher). Favorite artists: Istvan Banyai, Sempe, Barry Blitt, Bruce Petty and David Levine.

RV: Can you talk about some of the magazines and almanacs that have published your work, and the sort of things you did for them?
PD: Not many. I’m relatively new to all this.
Most of the stuff I’ve done has been for friends and some self-publishing books.
Sleepers Publishing here in Melbourne have been hugely supportive, as have the gang at Is Not Magazine.
I’ve had other spots here and there but nothing substantial.
RV: Are there many other contributors to Raised Eyebrows, and what sort of things do they write? How did you find these contributors?
PD: They are friends and I suggest topics and they suggest topics.
One is one of the founders of Sleepers publishing, the other two are friends who are magazine editors in Hanoi and Tokyo.
RV: Who are the editors in Hanoi and Tokyo who contribute to Raised Eyebrows?
PD: Connla Stokes in Hanoi – he’s an old friend from when I was living there and he edits Time Out Hanoi.
And Elliott Samuels in Tokyo – he’s also an old freind I met in Vietnam and he edits J-Select: an English language monthly lifestyle mag.
RV: How much time have you spent in Japan?
PD: Just over a year.
RV: Where were you and what were you doing there?
PD: Part-time teacher, part-time drawer.
PD: Where do you get Raised Eyebrows printed, and roughly how much does it cost you each edition to print up the copies?

PD: Dinkums printing. I take in a pdf file on a USB flash drive.

RV: What sort of places do you distribute it to?

PD: I drop it into some cafes – randomly, and I post it to people I know.

Many people send me self-addressed stamped envelopes for a copy.

RV: Did you have to ask the places you distribute Raised Eyebrows to, or do you just drop the A3 sheets off?
PD: Sometimes I ask – mostly just drop them off. I’m thinking about asking those guys who distribute all the posters to put it around for me.
RV:Can you talk about the drawings you are doing for the travel book on Japan? Are you writing the book, too?
PD: No, just drawing. It’s a cultural guide book to Japan (eg. don’t wear shoes inside – but a bit more interesting).
The drawings I am doing are a mix of decorative images, cartoons and larger realistic images.
RV: Is Raised Eyebrows influenced by anything in Japan, or is your art work influenced by Japanese illustration or manga?
PD: I guess I was heavily influenced by the wonderful sense of design in Japan – especially in print.
And Japan has a lot of ‘zine’ type work that is also free, but it’s done by graphic designers and printers who want to do their own work, so they lay out great expense and produce these completely professional-standard work.
RV: What are some of your plans for Raised Eyebrows and your art work in general?
PD: I’m happy with it now. I’ll keep it there in the background while I do other things.
It’s a place to do work that is just for me.
-See Paul Davis’s blog at