Artist Spotlight, Arts & Culture

Seance: a zine by Joe Ledoux

Magical Artist Conjures a Seance Within a Zine

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Joe Ledoux, a self-described magical artist based in Brighton, has released a new piece of art that works like a seance. Seance is actually the title of the illustrated zine, full of true stories that will connect you to magical, spooky things that really exist! Joe is an artist and performer who believes magic is art. He performs in art galleries and blends his passions of skateboarding, art, and magic together at his shows. Joe sees writing as a way of casting a spell, so we decided to interview him and learn about the magic his new zine can conjure.

Tell us about this new zine. Why did you call it Seance?
It’s designed to explore the connections between art and magic. If you think of it, in a traditionalseance, a medium helps you make contact with spirits. But there are also artistic mediums likewriting, and I wanted to use stories as the channel. The words we say can form a “say-ance,” bringing the reader into contact with ghouls, spooky critters, glowing green worms, lake monsters, and fleas that live in the snow. But here’s the catch: all the stories are real. Once you are consciously aware that something exists, then you might see it. Did you know that there are fleas that live in the snow? Once you do, you can go out in the woods and actually see them. That’s the basic idea, and the book is meant to illuminate. It’s meant to conjure the enchanting qualities of Halloween that I love, the nostalgia of growing up with shows like Goosebumps and Are You Afraid of the Dark?, except my tales are true. These are little moments of my life that I
actually witnessed, and during the fall season, where the days are shorter and it’s darker, the zine is about bringing in more light.

image courtesy of artist

How did the project come about?
I wanted to start writing again. I grew up reading books like Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, and I wanted to create a book like that. I was trying to turn these moments into longer short stories, but it felt too fabricated when I was making up details to extend the length. So I decided to just share the real moments with the world. I learned from Ralph Bakshi that real things don’t evaporate. I realized people would connect with the stories because the book is also about growing up, and a lot of people have had these same experiences. It’s very nostalgic. You know, I’ve never told anyone this publicly, but I’ll say it right now. Years ago I had this dream – I was standing at a door, and a voice said, “If we open the door it will show you your passion, but it won’t be what you expect.” I opened the door and there were old-school wooden airplanes with rubber band propellers, comic books, and things from my childhood, and a voice said it was nostalgia. I never would have thought that consciously, but my unconscious told me that nostalgia is one of my loves. This zine is following that dream.

Why would a magician make a zine?
Art is Magic, that’s my mantra. A magician will say the world is made up of language. Abracadabra actually means “it is created as it is spoken.” Alan Moore talks about how a grimoire – a book of magical spells – is really another word for grammar, and that to arrange letters and form words correctly in the act of spelling is literally casting a spell. So I have always seen writing as a form of real magic. A zine is the perfect way to turn your magic into a craft, since you can craft it right in your living room however you want, manifest it into the world your own way. So that combination of DIY, and the magic of words, makes zines a great medium!

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Is the zine really a seance?
Well, I think that depends on you. My hope is that people will treat reading the book like a ritual. At the beginning, I tell you to light a candle and make popcorn, and read if you dare! I think if you do it like that, and you understand the tone I’m going for – not horror, but that enchanting, spooky quality of a Jack-o’-lantern – then you can have a magical experience from reading the zine. You can enter the realm of story, see these things in your mind, and know they exist in the real world afterwards. So yes, it can be a seance.

Did you do all the writing and illustrations?
Yes, I wrote the stories and my girlfriend Ashley Rine edited them, and she helps me find better words. I did all of the illustrations. They are mixed media, acrylic, paint markers, crayon, ink, graphite, and even collage in one of them. I did most of the art first, then wrote the stories around those images of my memories. That’s the process.

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You mentioned the book is also about growing up. Can you elaborate more on that?
When I first created it, I didn’t have that goal in mind. You know, you trust your gut and dive in, and then you start to discover what the project is really about. And it’s really about life and conquering our demons, and eventually having to be on our own. It takes place during the first chapter of life, when one is innocent and everything is new. It’s about light and dark, beauty in nature, friends and enemies, stability and chaos. All of these monsters from my past, sometimes you get past them cause you’re lucky, you know? You survive and ultimately it’s kind of about taking a deep breath, exhaling, and being happy to be alive, seeing the universe as magic.

Where can people get the zine?
Anyone who wants to order a copy can email me at [email protected]

Are you working on anything new?
Always. I’ll let everyone in on a little secret – right now, at Ritual Arts in Allston, they have
mysterious envelopes at the front counter called Muhachi Mystery Mail. This is my current art show. It’s a mobile art gallery, you get one and take it to your favorite cafe, and open it, and the art gallery is right on your table, and you keep the art. Muhachi is a little animated character I have been drawing as a kid, you can see him on my instagram @JoeLedouxMagic. Besides original art, there are also other surprises, like magnets, buttons, stickers, etc in the envelopes. I’m a big fan of grab bags, and I just love to draw. I usually don’t sell my art this cheap, I’m basically giving them away. But when you love creating art, it’s easier to give. I like to twist the old statement: good artists copy, great artists steal, but gifted artists give. So thanks for giving me an opportunity to share my gifts of art with the world.

You can email Joe at [email protected]mail.com, and follow him on Instagram at
@JoeLedouxMagic.

image courtesy of artist

image courtesy of artist

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