There is a reason why students at Colorado College love smothering their laptops and water bottles in stickers, knitting their own scarves, and brewing their own kombucha. It’s also why homemade cookies are always better, why handwritten letters hold more meaning, and why you can’t seem to let go of that mediocre paint-by-numbers you did in middle school. Doing something yourself makes it special. Because in a world where everyone is trying so hard to be different while somehow simultaneously being exactly the same, at least I can snuggle up in the blanket I wove for myself (see this issue’s covers) and feel some sense of comfort. No overpriced, pre-distressed jeans and flower-crown-wearing “hippie” or #vanlife poser can take that from me. That’s why I, a replacement art editor who was never officially hired for this job, put my foot down and fought for this theme when no one else did. Somehow, it worked.
Unfortunately, I’m not particularly good at telling stories with words. (I prefer slapping paint around on a canvas.) Lucky for you, the magazine you’re holding is full of stories like mine but much larger, much stronger, and much sexier. Callie Zucker’s piece on masturbation and the pleasure gap (pg. 12) is one of them. Nathan Makela’s interview of an anti-capitalist curator who challenges societal norms with her collaborative projects (pg. 16) is another. I urge you to find love in the dying genre of “prog rock,” as Mira Fisher did (pg. 8), or go a step further and join a DIY art troupe like Kat Snoddy did (pg. 28). And if the stories don’t convince you, let Jules Olliff’s weaving of unconventional materials (pg. 26) and Alyssa Miller’s prints (inside covers and pg. 38) show you what you’re missing in life.
My favorite part about this job I somehow got roped into is that I ended up falling in love with *drumroll*—the people. Who would’ve thunk that a group of idiosyncratic, story-hunting, dry joke-telling, surprisingly sentimental, pajama-wearing grammar nerds could be so much fun to work with? Seriously though, there is debatably no classroom in which I have learned more important values than I have in CC’s publication house. Part of that is because we try to incorporate the collaborative, self-empowering practices of DIY culture into our work process.
This is the last issue that we will be publishing in 2017, but more importantly, this also marks the last issue of our very own Catherine Sinow’s Cipher career. In her time here, Catherine has been an integral part of this magazine’s development as both a contributor and a staff member. She wrote her first article for Cipher four years ago. Eighteen articles later, she bids us a bittersweet farewell in her last Cipher story ever (pg. 44). A strong, zine-making, overall-dress-wearing, passionate enameler, I consider Catherine to be one of the most “DIY” people I know. If you have the chance, I highly recommend that you revisit some of her stories that she wrote throughout the past few years.
So that’s my letter from the editor (or “lettitor,” as I like to call it). It’s not particularly witty or profound, but when supplemented with the work of this issue’s contributors, it might provide a better understanding of what we’re trying to do at Cipher.
In a world where Spotify tells us what to listen to, Instagram tells us what to wear, and Facebook events tell us what to do, having full autonomy over something is a rarity. So, grab a warm beverage, find a quiet spot devoid of consumerist propaganda, and let us show you the importance of doing something yourself every once in a while.
It's been a pleasure,
Caroline Li and the Cipher Editors