Ailin Lu, Crystal Bi Wegner, and Lily Xie love the moon. They also love eating. When they decided to launch a zine dedicated to showcasing artwork from queer Asian- and Pacific Islander-Americans, “Moon Eaters” — so chosen for their loves and the moon’s significance in cultures across Asia — seemed like a natural fit. On her Instagram (@lolydraws), Xie promotes their growing collective and shares her own creations. The 24-year-old Somerville artist spoke to the Globe about the magic of zines, drawing as meditation, and reimagining the body.
Q. How did you first get into making zines?
A. I got into making zines I think when I graduated. I moved out of Boston and I was going to some art markets and really admiring the folks that made zines locally and really talking to some of them about it. The attitude is very “anyone can make a zine, you should do it if you want.” And I was like, "I do want that!" So I just did it.
Q. What about them is special to you?
A. I love a lot of things about them. I love how democratic it feels. I found it very empowering to be able to make my own work and publish it and share it and not feel like I needed validation or approval from anyone else. I like that it's a book format. Most people have grown up with books, and there's this special power that you get from holding and reading a book that I don't think you get from other forms of visual art.
Q. Moon Eaters gathers creations from queer APIA people. How has that lens influenced your own work?
A. I don't have any formal art background — not that you really need one — but [it’s only] more recently that I actually started drawing and sharing it. We [do] Moon Eaters because it's an opportunity to meet a ton of really talented, amazing artists who have their own practices and philosophies and ethics about art, and getting that exposure has been like going to school. It's been really amazing. [But we're also] in a position of power where we're the ones who are creating the community. And so having to think about “How do we try to make this an inclusive group?” and “What can we do more of to support the artists and community that we're a part of?” — that's impacted my own work as well.
Q. It seems like a lot of your designs focus on distance. Why do you think that is?
A. I think a lot of my practice right now has been inspired by Lynda Barry. Something she talks about is drawing as a way to connect back to the core of who you are, and it's almost like a meditative practice. So when I draw I might not know what's going to come out, but what comes up naturally is sort of an expression of myself, of my subconscious. So I think whenever I'm drawing there's a feeling of trying to reconnect to myself and get back in touch.
Q. A lot of your characters have bodies that are amorphous or irregular in shape. Is that a deliberate thing?
A. Body dysphoria is definitely real. I think a lot of the figures I draw they don't really look like how my body looks, but they look like sort of how I imagine myself to look. It helps me to draw that out, to get that down on paper. It's a little bit of a relief. I've grown over the past year and I feel a little bit less like I see myself that way now, but I do feel like the way I've been drawing people is tending toward more strong, full-bodied, sort of flexible, almost amorphous or watery figures. The body demands to take up space, be really fluid. As I'm describing it to you, I'm almost imagining a big blob of jelly or water.