“On How to Say No” – Annie Rubin


The views expressed in the texts do not necessarily represent the views of the artist.


It was unsettling to be back there alone. An impulsive decision spurred by the phone call—or lack thereof—and now she was sitting in the square by her old apartment on a bench in the dark. She checked her phone—it was ten. Still no messages.

She’d taken a seat between the trees that shook gently in the wind, and a rain repeatedly sprinkled and let up as if on a loop. She figured it would be better to be out of the house if he did decide to ring. Public spaces always felt more manageable, controlled: don’t make a scene, Ma used to say; Dad followed her words like they were law.

He slammed the door when he left, causing the dishes to rattle on their shelves. She feared for the porcelain set of four plates and bowls—hand-painted from Sorrento—they’d bought together on holiday. One of them had chipped once and she’d read somewhere you were supposed to throw it away after that but she never did.

She was walking now, in circles up and down the block that smelled like home. Tomorrow she would change the locks. There was no guidebook on how to say no. Only repeated frustration, feigning forgiveness until she overflowed, erupting with all that was never said.

It came out as glitter, bursting into his crevices, filling him with remorse, and an anger as uncontrollable as the thundering laugh she was once able to evoke from him by singing his name. He used to call her his.

Now she wanted to be her own. Didn’t quite know how to do that either. She stared at the ground, hovering before the doorstep of their building. She ached to know what it takes to rebuild.


these words by Annie Rubin were inspired by the work of Kevin Calixte

On Masculinity and Relationships: “When I’m Alone”


I’m pretty sure she fucked her ex at a wedding once. I mean I can’t be sure but I think that’s probably what happened.

When she’s away I wear the same pair of underwear at least two days in a row. I throw a little party for myself in the kitchen with a bottle of wine and I cook food that I know I won’t have to share. I always thought, Why does dad make spicy food when mom’s gone? Why does he cook steak?

            When we first got together (yes it was summer, and yes it was humid, and yes the light on her face through the lace curtains in her room was dappled and soft) we would talk about how we’d never cause each other any pain. We would talk about how we should never leave the bed and we would wish we never got hungry or thirsty. We would scrunch up our eyes and wish we never had to get up to go to the bathroom.

            She goes away on business sometimes or to visit her mother in Vancouver. I don’t know what she does while she’s there. I send her text messages and ask her what she’s doing. But I don’t tell her I’m sitting by the kitchen window eating a whole pizza, getting drunk and chain-smoking to reruns of Seinfeld with my laptop on the table.

            The two of them went to this wedding together and it was no big deal because we’d just spent a whole week in bed wishing we didn’t have to go out to buy milk. Now that we live together, I think about it. Some time I’m going to ask her, Did you sleep with Bryan at the wedding? (I won’t say fuck him, I’ll ask if she slept with him.) Or I’ll say, I know you slept with Bryan at that wedding. 

            I always clean the apartment before she comes home. She brings it up when we fight, that I don’t ever finish cleaning the place. I’ve always got laundry to do and it takes a long time to vacuum the carpet. I’m usually hungover so it takes more time than I thought it would.  

            Once she’s back, I apologize. I ask her how her trip was and I make a salad or pasta for dinner, then we eat in front of the TV.

              When she’s home I go out for walks by myself.

these words by Sandy Martin were inspired by the colour of Alex Andreev

On Art and Relationships: “Extending the Pattern”

for josh

word by Josh Elyea 

colour by Mojo Wang

          Jane knows that compartmentalization is the key to a healthy relationship. She’s put all the little boxes where they belong, and for God’s sake, she’s going to leave them there.

          Jack says the simplest things in life are the most insidious. Comfort, for example. No good can come from comfort, he says. He’s speaking while deftly disassembling a French press that hasn’t been cleaned in months; Jane is only half listening, since she’s just put on Joe Strummer and the Mescaleros and is ruminating on the late singer’s post-Clash career with a keenness she’s not able to summon for the tired lecture aimed in her general direction. Rather, she’s enamoured with the sound quality pouring from their new BOSE Sound System. You really do pay for quality.

          It’s only after a large purchases, like a new BOSE Sound System, when Jack and Jane fight about money. It’s only in those moments that Jane’s chosen profession matters; only after the limited square footage of the apartment has been claimed, carefully cordoned off with a clear presence on either side does it matter what she does for a living. Jack wouldn’t go so far as to suggest she do something else with herself; no, he’s fairly certain art is where she belongs. He’d sure to like to see her make some money from it though, and he’ll be damned before he feels awful for saying so. Or, at least, that’s how this argument went the last time they had it, and the time before, and before…

          It’s not like Jane is overburdened; student loans notwithstanding, she owes a few hundred dollars on a VISA and has an unpaid cell phone bill in collections (she’s only recently stopped receiving calls where a bland, deathly voice asks “Hello, may I speak with Mrs. Jane _____ about an outstanding and quite frankly egregious debt…”). Other than that, she doesn’t owe a cent to anyone. So she’s just getting by right now – so what?   

          Often, Jane wished Jack would try and understand what it meant to be an artist, what it meant to try and create something from nothing. She wished he wouldn’t stare so obviously when she said she didn’t make much progress on her novel that day, and that he wouldn’t move with such reluctance when removing his credit card from his wallet to buy things like BOSE Sound Systems. Hell, she wished he’d stop buying things like BOSE Sound Systems so she didn’t feel so indebted to him, so she didn’t feel like she owed him anything.

          Jane looks towards Jack and sees there’s a torn piece of wallpaper where the counter-top ends; looking behind it, she can see that the little black and white boxes don’t end where they appear to, and the pattern extends far beyond her cursory understanding of it.


See more colour by Mojo Wang


On unrequited love: “Turning Around Her”

unnamed (5)
I wasn’t sure what direction things were taking. I was having trouble sleeping, trouble concentrating and for the first time in a long time I didn’t know what my next step was.
I wasn’t myself. I used to be methodical, to a fault. I planned everything: my schedule, my goals and pursuits… so this was well beyond my capacity to deal with. I started running to clear my head, I tried to exhaust myself to sleep each night but nothing could clear the soundtrack of self-doubt and indecisiveness that invaded my mind.
She was beautiful and so uninterested in me and all the things I thought I had to offer. I didn’t exist in her world. I mean she was thick and curvy, soft with the hardest edge and sharpest wit. She didn’t let you get away with anything; called you out on every disingenuous gesture or colloquialism and demanded that you be nothing but one hundred percent real all the time. She wore black denim like it was her uniform and her long box-braids were always tied back. You sensed her presence before you even saw her enter the room; her misshapen silver bangles adorned each of her forearms and she smelled of menthol cigarettes and cherry cola. Make-up never touched her densely freckled face and her ears were never without the small diamond stud earrings her father gave her before he passed.

“She was beautiful and so uninterested in me and all the things I thought I had to offer. I didn’t exist in her world.”

She talked to me about it only once in the 17 years that I’ve known her. She said things were dark for a long time, she was angry, she lashed out and hurt some people she loved. I was in love with her, but I was scared of her. I’d seen her gnaw away at the affection that others so easily bestowed upon her. Despite the edge, the anger and her demanding nature, you couldn’t help but want to be near her. There was an enigmatic energy that orbited around her and she unwittingly drew people close to her but she never let them in. When I came out five years ago she was fiercely loyal, almost stiflingly protective. I realize now that I didn’t know her back then, I probably still don’t. I guess I thought that the experience had bonded us, that my sharing this part of my life with her made us closer. I thought we were friends but she had her own thing going on; so I silently pined from a distance and grew sick over unrequited feelings while she pursued other phenomenal women like herself only to chew them up and spit them out soon after, leaving husk where there was once plenty.
It was only getting worse for me. I was barely functioning. And I couldn’t tell her. Clearly I wasn’t a contender, I wasn’t worthy of her affection and I would not succeed where others far better than me had failed. I was drowning in the throngs of a relationship that existed only in my mind. I didn’t know which way to turn. 

colour by Hey Studio

“Hey is a graphic design studio based in Barcelona, Spain.
We specialise in brand identity, editorial design and illustration.
We love geometry, color and direct typography.
This is the essence of who we are.
We take care of every single step of the design process and we always work closely with our clients, big or small, in one-to-one relationships.

We also undertake side projects. These activities aim to play with new ideas, push our creative boundaries and develop a passion that is then injected into client’s work.

In 2014, we opened an online shop, a place to share our passion for typography, illustration and bold graphics.

Hey was founded in 2007 with the idea of transforming ideas into communicative graphics.
Here is a selected list of projects crafted for our clients.
We would love to hear from you. Say hi here.”

sitting on Marty’s lap

I used to care what people thought of me. Like, I’d wonder what the guy at the coffee shop thought about my hair. All through high school I worried about whether or not I was popular. Then I met Marty and he told me nobody gives a shit about anyone else. Seriously, he said, nobody gives a shit. I know that’s the kind of thing people say, but Marty actually meant it. He even put his hands on my face when he said it, not letting me look away, like he really needed me to listen.

Every morning we sit outside on his porch and share one coffee and one cigarette. The first time I went over to his place I brought him his own coffee, but he told me he’d rather just share mine. He only smokes because of the coffee. Those things would piss me off if he were anybody else. I used to hate girls who would sit on people’s laps. I once went on a rant for about an hour because this girl was sitting on her boyfriend’s lap even though there were about five empty chairs right there. But now I get it. I think I’d sit on Marty’s lap if he asked me to. Yes, I would definitely sit on Marty’s lap.



It was the kind of day where everyone’s happy but nobody’s totally sure why. I think it has something to do with the weather, or maybe it’s just everyone being happy that makes everyone happy, like some kind of psychological butterfly effect.

We were sitting on Marty’s porch, but he had to go inside to get something he forgot. He was about to leave for work. Marty’s a lawyer. He says he got through law school by not caring about anybody or anything. He came back outside and just stood there. He checked his phone like he was in a hurry or something.

What if we got married? I asked.

We wouldn’t, he said.

Why not?

It’s not something we would do.

Sometimes I look at him out of the corner of my eye and I swear he’s different, like he’s only human when I’m looking him square in the face. I have dreams about him turning into an animal, becoming some terrific creature, but it always happens just out of view. The only reason I know for sure he’s changing is because it’s a dream, and you always know better in dreams.


I go into the coffee shop and I order one Americano. I sit outside the shop in one of those metal chairs that it’s impossible to get comfortable in. These kinds of places, the kind where they write your name on the coffee cup for you, never want you to stick around for long. It’s all a bunch of false comfort. I drink my coffee while I smoke my cigarette and I try to think about all the things I’m not going to miss.


words by Leah Mol

colour by EVLUK