As a self-described “young punk” in Boston, NIA KING could be found perusing the shelves at the Lucy Parsons Center or the Papercut Zine Library and frequenting shows at venues like Brighton’s House of Sufferin’ Succotash. In these spaces she absorbed the city’s D.I.Y. culture, found an artists’ community in zines and music, and first encountered Colorlines, a news magazine addressing issues of racial injustice. King was already forming her identity as a writer, artist, and activist.
It didn’t take long for the young punk to take up the pen and begin writing zines of her own. Says King, “Self-publishing definitely helped me find my voice at a young age and process a lot of stuff around being mixed-race, racist microaggressions, and passing as white when it all felt very raw and urgent.” Her work has since evolved and grown to encompass a blog, a monthly podcast (each episode of which is transcribed for the deaf and hard-of-hearing audience members), and a self-published collection of artist interviews, Queer & Trans Artists of Color: Stories of Some of Our Lives, which hit the stands this past summer.
Both her book and her podcast, We Want the Airwaves, present an extensive collection of conversations with innovative minds challenging social and political norms, while also providing an incredible resource for the artist striving to make work as well as a living. (In fact, she has a whole podcast episode dedicated to the issue of artists working for free.) Her advice to artists seeking resources? Make connections. “Start with who you know and work from there,” urges King. “It will also really help illuminate where some of the boundaries between communities exist.”
To date, King has conducted and documented interviews with over 40 queer and trans artists of color—and there’ll be more to come. Tune into her podcast this month and you’ll hear her conversation with TextaQueen, an Australian visual artist working primarily with felt-tip markers.
King now resides in Oakland, but she’ll be back in town for an East Coast tour to promote her book (a second edition of which is already in the works, which you can support here). Catch her at Make Shift Boston on May 4!
(Photo credit: Elliot Owen)
A Night of Readings by Queer Writers of Color @ Make Shift Boston (549 Columbus Avenue)