A new zine found its way to Utne Reader all the way from Berlin, wrapped in a strip of German grocery ads announcing “Neu!” products and low prices. In small, handwritten letters on a thin edge of white space is the title Paper Kills Trees, nearly lost in the colorful array of Haselnuss cookies and Leichtgold butter. A collage of images and cut-and-paste words, Paper Kills Trees is former Utne intern Kristen Mueller’s sense-arresting art zine. Among scattered cut-outs of gilded jewels and sequins are elegant peacocks, photos that stir nostalgia, children’s doodles, an old advert for acne cover-up, and graph paper sketches of distinctly modern design.
It may sound as if Paper Kills Trees is an incoherent mishmash collection of ideas, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. The cover asks “What is inspiration?” and the pages that follow echo deep-felt, imaginative responses. With attention-demanding design and fragmented poetic phrases, Mueller manages to unify the seemingly disjointed pieces in an answer to the age-old question, creating 12 full-sized pages of inspiring art.