It’s easy to produce things that never escape my hard drive. The past year has made sharing anything creative on Twitter seem frivolous, in the face of the state of the world. So things pile up, invisible to anyone but me. Photos, sketches, and other pieces didn’t have enough within them, or between another, to register as “publishable” in some way.

My goal with Molting is to craft a space for those pieces outside of social media (where they might be scanned for mere seconds), and to establish a rhythm for myself of publishing. I’ll be making an issue of Molting four times a year, a cadence that feels humane enough to not produce stress, yet frequent enough that I always have a new one to look forward to.

Already, I’m excited about the things I might collect for the next issue. I expect to do more paper cutting next year (a hobby I dropped once I switched jobs). While I might not be ecstatic about any given piece, bundling them together injects a certain amount of ceremony that’s invigorating.

I’m also trying to be thoughtful about not converting a hobby into an obligation. One issue a season feels appropriate to capture things I’d already be making. Any more frequent runs the risk of making this a chore, which is a sentiment I’m hoping to avoid.

We’ll see how it goes.

I moved out of my apartment of 10 years. I’m startled by how, only 6 months out, the place looks alien in my old photos.

Without planning it, these pictures capture the major themes of the last year. The global pandemic is the most immediate, reflected both in the masked park ranger, but also the narrow set of places I found myself. This was, for many reasons, a year of staying in place.

Despite that, nationwide George Floyd uprisings called us to go out and demonstrate. I don’t take photos at protests, but the demonstrations caused a cascade of counter-protest and counter-counter-protest, their evidence left on our walls and streets.

And across the West Coast, the sky turned a dark orange for multiple days as wildfire smoke choked out the sun. In its best moments, it left a beautiful haze and magnificent sunsets. The rest of the time, it lined the inside of my window sills with ash, and sent me to the hospital in the midst of the pandemic.

Photos, in order:

  1. Blue Jay Fire, Yosemite
  2. Mt Davidson, San Francisco
  3. My old apartment, San Francisco
  4. 豐盛車身修理廠, San Francisco
  5. Masked Ranger, Yosemite
  6. Proud Boys Counter Protest, San Francisco
  7. Hazy smoky sunset, Yosemite

Molting is a digital zine by Stephen Altamirano