Sleeptalk: an interview with Kevin Novales about film, cartoons, travel and pizza August 31 2014, 5 Comments

We interviewed Kevin Novales a little while ago and talked about a multitude of things. We are now carrying his zines in the store and thought it would be a good time to publish this as an introduction to his photography and SleepTalk Press, which he runs with an iron fist.

Where are you from? Where did you grow up?

I’m from Sylmar in the San Fernando Valley. Not proper LA but one of the many suburbs that surrounds it. I was born in East LA and lived in Pasadena for a couple years, but mostly grew up in the valley.


Where did you learn photography?

I learned the basic photo stuff at Cal State Northridge. I took a photo elective my second year of my undergrad. It was an intro class so you get taught basic camera operation stuff. Back then it was still an all-analog class so assignments were shoot on slide film. It’s a digital intro class now but you would shoot everything on slide film before, which was amazing. All the assignments would be projected onto the wall. It was such an awesome way to be introduced into photography. Guess they don’t want people constantly spending money but after seeing those slides projected like that… that kind of was the hook.


So do you shoot digital at all? Do you own a digital camera?

I have. I did. But it broke a while back and never took the time to fix it. It was an entry level Canon Rebel. I was using it and just didn’t get the same feeling I did with film. I bought a AE-1 while still using the DSLR, the DSLR broke and I just kept shooting with the AE-1. That’s when I started to shoot more and more every day.  


Do you remember the first camera?

It was a borrowed AE-1. Got the DSLR said screw this and bought my own AE-1. The friend I borrowed the camera from didn’t want to sell it to me. She had a nice case, bunch of filters, but she “really wanted it”


Does she use it now?

No, not at all.


How did you get really into shooting film and pursuing it?

After the intro class I kind of stopped shooting, also didn’t have a camera to keep shooting with. I bought the DSLR to start an online vintage store with my girlfriend but it didn’t end up happening. Once the DSLR broke and picked up the AE-1 again I just felt that hook/itch hit me again. The negatives, the colors, the feeling and just the whole processes in general made me want to shoot everyday. Not getting into the cinematography program at school also helped me concentrate and devout much more to photo taking. Took a darkroom class and that was the final nail, after that I haven’t stopped.


What’s your favorite camera to use now? 

That would be my Leica M6.


Is there any film you really like to use? Like a preference or something that you look for?

Lately, its been a lot of slide film, Kodak slide film. Any versions of the Kodak chromes, also any ISO from 100-200 for color film. The colors on slide film are just so vibrant, looking at them on the light table and projected. Those reds and greens just pop.


What’s your favorite cartoon growing up?

Spiderman and and Batman. The square faced Batman from the WB. Haven’t stopped watching cartoons, Bobs Burgers is a must. It's really good.


Favorite artists or photographers?

I guess all the stuff I look at is photography stuff which is kind of bad, should maybe change it around, but Eggleston, Lee Freidlander, Ed Templeton, Robert Frank. Favorite artist has to be Basquait, so good and just amazing. It’s a never-ending list, I feel terrible cause I’m bad with names and have a terrible memory.


What was your first show?

In 2010, I was in this student show at Northridge. A mural print I did for class got in. That was in school so I don’t know if that really counts.


Anywhere you want to explore or go see?

Bunch of place I would like to go but lately I’ve had this idea of a taking cross-country road trip to New York. Explore America and spend a couple weeks in New York and see what I can capture.


What got you into zines?

I kept submitting to open calls online and would never get accepted. It was super frustrating and really bummed me out. One day I just said “fuck this shit, I’ll make my own.” So I made two zines with all the stuff I had been shooting up to that point. I taped 4x6’s on legal size paper and did color Xerox of the spreads. I ended up giving them away at school. I still have a copy of each and have thought of reprinting them but that’s kind of embarrassing cause that stuff is old and just garbage.

Those first two cost me too much to make that I stopped making them cause I couldn’t afford it. My parents bought a small office home printer that could do double sided printing. Picked it up again and it wasn’t until I found this small printing shop in the neighborhood that I went crazy with making color photozines.


So when did Sleep Talk officially start? Do you publish other peoples stuff or just your own? Where do you want to take it?

SleepTalk started two years ago and I’ve only published my own stuff. I’ve tried releasing stuff with a friend but that fell through. I would like to publish stuff for other people. Even just help them get started with making a one. Push people/friends to take action and not just take about making them. Eventually I want to make books along with zines and also have a space to showcase art/zines/books.


Where did the name come from?

My girlfriend, Jessica, and I were hanging out trying to come up with names. It came from a song and it sounded good so I just used that.


Have you noticed the rise of popularity of zines or zine culture recently?

Yeah. I have notice the rise in popularity. I feel one of the reasons I started making them was from that. I mean, people have been making them forever, and just over the past year you’ve seen events start popping up everywhere and people starting stuff . Which is cool, I mean, people are making stuff. That’s what counts.


What is the Sleep Talk Pizza Club?

Its an idea I came up with to start a pizza club to hang out, eat pizza, taking about photo/art, and try to get projects going. I made pins and fliers but haven’t told anybody about it and haven’t officially made it official. I just need to get it started.


Have you seen the 7-11 5 dollar pizza?

No, what’s that?


At 7-11 they have some pizza for 5 bucks and they have this turbo oven where it takes it from frozen to done in like 4 minutes. It’s like a jet turbine or something.

Whoa, that’s like Back to the Future.


Yeah it’s crazy. But it’s good.