DYKE A Quarterly, No 3: Cover, Alice Austen

DYKE A Quarterly #3 Cover, - Alice Austen

DYKE A QUARTERLY ISSUE No.3, Photo on cover by Alice Austen. Design by Liza Cowan

We probably first saw  Alice Austen's photographs  at an exhibition of her work at Richmond College in Staten Island, NY. Alice was a pioneer 19th Century photographer who was born and raised in Staten Island. By now everyone pretty much accepts that she was a Lesbian, or a woman who loved women. DYKE A Quarterly was the first periodical to write about her as such.


Alice Austen, from Alice's World by Ann Novotny. Photo 1891

 The text reads, Alice Austen, The Darned Club, Staten Island, New York, October 29, 1891. Left to right: Alice Austen and friends Trude Ecceston, Julia Marsh, and Sue Ripley.


Alice's world Ann Novotny We were smitten with Alice Austen's work as it tied in nicely with our project of bringing art and history to our readers. At the time we were putting together the article for DYKE, we met with Ann Novotny, who was writing a book about Alice. She gave us several prints (reprints...not originals) to work with. Our treatment of this one is based on another love, Japanese Woodblock prints. The staff at Tower Press, the all woman print shop in NYC where we printed the magazine, helped us realize our vision. 


Utigawa Hiroshige, apricot garden, woodblock print Utagawa Hiroshige (1797-1858) Apricot Garden.


Dyke alice austen chop

We made the title using Letraset presstype, hoping to make it look like a  Chop mark, or seal. 

DYKE A Quarterly: Photo Shoot For Flier 1975

Photoshoot dyke a quarterly one frame contact
Detail from photoshoot. 1975. Photographer unknown.


When we decided to publish a magazine, we decided that it would be as beautiful and slick as we could make it. This was in direct contradiction to almost all other feminist, gay, Lesbian and small press periodicals of the time. Our readers were baffled, trained as they were to believe that good design was the province of "the man" and  "the enemy."

We believed that we deserved nothing but the best, so that's what we tried to provide.

Dyke+is+out+(small)+ For this photo shoot for our first flier, we went to the studio of the lover of one of our friends. It was her father's studio, but she worked as an apprentice. We were excited to pose on a big roll of seamless paper, and we were even more excited by the results. Our printing options at the time limited the clarity of the image in the final product, so we were excited to find the contact sheets from the shoot as we were preparing our archive.

As with all our design work, the process was laborious. Probably we made photocopies of an 8x10 photo print and used Letraset  dry transfer letters to form the text. To print it we found a copy shop that had two women workers. Those women went on to found Tower Press, an all women print and graphics company that grew to annual sales in excess of $1.2 million with a technical staff of 24 people.




DYKE A  Quarterly contact sheet from flier photoshoot 1975
Strip from contact sheet. Photo shoot for first DYKE A Quarterly flier. 1975