Arts & Culture

Five Questions w/ PJ Carmichael of Mass Love Distro

Buy PJ's zines at the Boston Hassle Flea Saturday February 22nd from 12-6pm at the Elks Lodge in Cambridge


Photo Courtesy of @Masslovedistro Instagram page

I’m sure you’ve seen the stickers around Boston and New England. Rife with positive messaging and existential meandering, the mastermind behind this conceptual art experiment is Wakefield’s own PJ Carmichael. What you may not know is that PJ also has been a zine maker and all around DIY head for years around Boston and has been consistently repping at fleas around the area.

What you also may not know is that he is a stellar dude and a constant wanderer. Catch up with PJ at the Boston Hassle Flea Market Saturday February 22nd at The Elks Lodge in Cambridge.

And check out our interview below, and ‘Make Peace’.

Photo Courtesy of @masslovedistro instagram page.

Boston Hassle: Thanks for doing this interview with me. For the uninitiated, what would you describe Masslovedistro as?

PJ Carmichael: Masslovedistro is a free-form conceptual art project. I would call it a zine distro primarily but I am very interested in the idea of what art is, especially from a conceptual point of view, kind of like a thought experiment or the use of various things. I started making zines in 2016 or so but it definitely involved a ton of other multi-media artwork, cds, records, zines, stickers, patches. As I learned how to get different mediums to make stuff, or people I know do, I’ll offer some of their artwork from our creations. Overall, I’ll continue to make art until I’m no longer traveling through this round of samsara.

BH: (laughter) What, initially, inspired MLD?

PJC: So I remember being younger and looking at a bunch of hard-core punk or emo records and reading the lyrics. There was usually something meaningful in the lyrics. It was poetic what they were saying, and the messages resonated with me.

I like the printed word, the music they were making, I really liked the layouts of the records, too. I started looking up zine culture before I got involved. I was reading about 80’s punk records and how influential they were and how zines were included. The records and zines branched off into printed material and became their own entities. People were creating media around their own experiences. I don’t want to say ‘scene’ because it sounds too generic. But basically, I was inspired by old punk and hardcore records and seeing the lyrics in those and then, witnessing how I have thought ‘this is so poetic, this is so deep or whatever’ and then expressing myself after. This would lead me to more and more zines and lyrics by songwriters outside of lyrics for a song. I thought that was cool, I could contribute, and self publish and trade with other people.

BH: Tell us about CRUST ZINES?

PJC: So I started making zines when I was at Fitchburg State where I went to school. I started making smaller, very minimalist, xeroxed, with photography, writing, and art from different people around the campus. I would do them on only computer paper, no thicker card stock or anything like that. There wasn’t a ton of thought put into it. I just wanted to put out material. So I was putting that out and they were just stapled, not properly sewn or anything or bound, just stapling them.

After I graduated, I wanted to make compilation zines, I wanted to put some of the poetry I’ve been working on and submitting it and getting accepted in different places. I was feeling really good about myself because people were reading it.

I wanted to put something out that was a debut zine, that I had created with someone. But I didn’t want just text, I wanted visuals too. I actually put out a call on facebook and someone at Fitchburg State said I should talk to Tory, he’s a photographer, he would probably be interested in doing something like this. I spoke with him and sent him some of the writing and said I wanted to do something that was darker or visceral. Obviously, I wanted something attention grabbing and complimentary to the negative mind state I was in when I was doing the writing.

He said ‘I have an entire collection of photographs of roadkill I took when I was driving in Western Mass.’ I said that that was ‘perfect’ and we worked on it for about a year, discussing where we wanted things to go, how we wanted the design to look, why they should go there, from the writing to the font to the visuals. I had been getting different zines in the mail and looking at what formatting options they were and how they were formatting the covers.

So I looked into getting some printer paper and got access to a printer and was able to print off a decent amount of content and we just got together and stapled it. I would say that’s the first zine I put my full effort and attention into, the first one I really designed with someone.

Screenshot Courtesy of @Masslovedistro’s Instagram page

BH: Fascinating. I like getting into what people do in their own language.

So what are some of your favorite spots to go hiking?

PJC: I will say the White Mountains in New Hampshire. I want to do the 4000 footer club which is just all 4000 foot plus mountains in New Hampshire, there’s so many many.

I just went Willowdale in Ipswich recently. Technically if you want to want get to the Fells, you can get on the Orange Line, walk to the Fells. It is a bit of a walk from Oak Grove, but it’s awesome. There is Horn Pond in Woburn which is nice. Breakheart Reservation is nice for walking and hiking around, it is in Wakefield where I’m from which is cool.

I want to try and do the Adirondacks in New York soon, or also do the Green Mountains in Vermont. South Shore you got Wompatuck State Forest, there is also Freetown State Forest which is haunted I believe. I definitely like going there around Halloween, it is kind of creepy. I could probably keep listing stuff, those are the ones I can list off the top of my head.

BH: Do you have any plans for 2020?

PJC: As I continue to grow and get to a point where I can’t spend that much time on my creative endeavors, I want to put out and will be putting out a new zine this year called Instant Gratification and I’ll probably be printing and designing new stickers. With the whole conceptual MLD endeavor, I have started to realize what is feasible, as far as creating new things. So probably from year to year I’ll put out atleast one zine and I’ll do 1-20 runs of different stickers, hand them out.

I’ve been getting into screen printing. My friends are showing me how to screen print. We’re doing small runs of different things like ‘Productive Member of Society’ things like that, that I think are funny, just to wear on a shirt. I want to get into screen printing more patches as well.

BH: Sick, thanks again for doing this interview.


Chris Hues is a human & writer from Boston, Ma & Associate Editor of //// They can be reached at [email protected] or @crsjh_ via instagram & twitter.

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