As a small business or major brand, you're expected to have an online presence. And while the digital world has opened many doors for us, there's no denying the joy and excitement that emanates from seeing our work in the physical world.
And while we may aim to sell, gift or keep print work for ourselves, print continues to work alongside, not against, the digital revolution. We can still establish our authority in our chosen field without relying totally on digital means to achieve that objective, as Michelle Lam discovered.
Michelle, a.k.a. mewTripled on Instagram, is an established Los Angeles-based Story Artist, Director and Writer who has worked with Netflix Animation, Walt Disney Animation Studios and Dreamworks Animation, to name a few. While Michelle draws on personal experiences to inform her storytelling, she remains in tune with her audience, delighting them with imaginative stories - filled with adventure and expressive characters.
While Michelle is used to sharing comics on her social media channels, Michelle decided to print a series of comics as zines with Mixam. Complete with gloss-laminated covers and smooth inner pages, each one is bound with PUR binding to accommodate the large page count. We caught up with Michelle to learn more about her process and her experience printing with Mixam:
Michelle, what persuaded you to print with Mixam in the first place?
As a comic artist who frequently shares work online, I eventually needed a physical place to combine all my work. And Mixam was one of the companies recommended by my other artist friends in the art/animation community.
Why did you decide to self-publish zines as opposed to, say, comic books or graphic novels?
The style of the Comic Books I used to print with Mixam is a bit untraditional compared to regular Graphic Novels. Most of my comics used to fit the square ratio on Instagram, so many of my comics work best in a square format. I found that the Zines had more options and flexibility for that. I also like to give my work a bit more of a casual feeling, as they are just mini slices of life stories from my life. I didn't have to add anything extra when it was time to print copies.
I like having a physical place to display all my digital work and not spread it out over my feed.
What do you think the benefits of printing are as opposed to simply posting artwork online or on social media?
Most artists who share their work on social media do not directly make money from posting online, sadly. A form of income for many artists or small business owners nowadays may be through their physical work or merchandise they sell in an online shop. With the world being so digitally focused nowadays, I find it helpful to take a break from social media and look at a physical book/print for once. Plus, I like having a physical place to display all my digital work and not spread it out over my feed.
How do you come up with a story for print?
All the stories are little segments from my life. I put them together on my Instagram as a little collection. For me, my stories are like a diary intended to be read for others to relate to. I always keep lists of every idea that pops up in my mind, and I then choose which story to draw out.
Talk us through your process - did you already have a vision of how you wanted your prints to look?
Yes and no. I knew my prints would come out in 4-panel pages because when working with a square formatted comic, it’s better to have 4 panels per page for clarity. When it came to the covers, I had to combine all the pages of the book first, then read the whole book all over again as if I was a reader. From that, I get a vibe for my book and create a cover based on that.
What was your first impression of the print work when it arrived?
I was amazed by the quality of the prints! I have worked with other printing companies, but I usually had issues to deal with, like image quality, unsuitable materials, or I chose a book size that was too big. The book I printed came out great, and I didn't lose the artwork quality during the process. I also loved how the covers are very smooth and sturdy feeling.
What's your advice for people who are considering printing with Mixam?
When it comes to your book's internal content, make sure you note which pages are left or right! When I created my first book, I had no idea how Mixam worked, so I just based all the pages on one template. After uploading them, I realized some pages would get cut off because they did not align with the left or right pages. I had to reorganize all my book’s content to follow a left-right pattern. But keeping that one simple note in mind prevented the same mistake from happening again with the two books I printed later. And personally, it was also helpful to upload pages as individual pages and not spreads, making the uploading process easier.
To see how Michelle made her comics step-by-step, watch this video on our TikTok channel, or check out this guide on Michelle's Instagram. You can also learn more about Michelle and her work via her website or the video below!
Doodle-Bishez Print Specifications: Zines, 112 sides, Size: 6" x 6" portrait. Digitally printed in color. Binding: perfect bound, PUR. Cover: 100 .lb , Satin paper. Cover Coating: Gloss lamination.
SUCCUBISHEZ Vol. 2 Print Specifications: Zines, 124 sides, Size: 6" x 6" portrait. Digitally printed in color. Binding: perfect bound, PUR. Cover: 100 lb., Satin paper. Coating: Gloss lamination.
Vera the Siren Print Specifications: Zines, 96 sides, Size: Digest 5.5" x 8.5" portrait. Digitally printed in color. Binding: perfect bound, PUR. Cover: 100 .lb, Satin paper. Cover Coating: Gloss lamination.
Image Credit: Cover - Michelle Lam. Article Images: Olivia Lam at Olives and Lamb