Deena Wicker | The Poly Post

Curious Publishing: A blooming platform for the unheard

By Deena Wicker, May 2, 2023

What began as a conceptual art project for Curious Publishing founder Rebecca Ustrell blossomed into a community of artists sharing their work through multimedia projects, collaborations and local events since 2017.  

With a history strongly rooted in the Pomona area, the company stands today as a non-profit, 100% artist-run organization driven to spotlight queer, Black, Indigenous, people of color and women creatives of the Inland Empire of Southern California.  

Their main projects include Independent Art Book Publishing, Curious Vintage Sporadic Obscure Precious and CURIOUS and ABYME magazine. Though the art books and VSOP have not been active as of recently, some of  its content can be found on the company’s social media or online.  

Their magazines are heartfelt, brilliantly colorful and diverse – full of visual and written pieces that express the narratives the organization was founded on. Each publication has a unique aesthetic and together, they are rich in the culture, lifestyle and provide readers with a wide range of experiences within marginalized communities. 

The older and most prominent of the two, “CURIOUS,” releases quarterly issues every year. Some notables include “Psychedelia,” “The Womxn’s Issue” and “The Queer Issue.” Each topic is fairly self-explanatory, but a fantastic collection of art, nonetheless.  

Currently, CURIOUS is releasing a series of “Empathy” issues, where IE creatives are encouraged to submit personal essays, investigative writing, illustrations and graphics. So far, they have completed “Empathy + Resilience,” “Empathy & Environmental Justice” and “Empathy + Sexuality.” Respectively, they encompass empathy as a tool for resilience in art and the relations between empathy and love, relationships, sex and sexual expression.  


Deena Wicker | The Poly Post

The company announced an open call for their latest prompt, “Empathy + Community” March 17, focusing on relationships and culture within communities. Submissions are set to end May 6.  

Beyond magazine pieces, Curious Publishing also ran submissions for independent projects through the BIPOC + Queer Publishing fund, which was heavily sustained by the California Arts Council Impact Grant and The Arts Area with $23,000 in 2022, according to their Instagram.  

The project guidelines follow the general themes of non-profit’s mission: race, equity, marginalized narratives and social justice. Chosen projects are to be exhibited in events, galleries, installations and the organization’s website. A few of the latest winning works, “Apocalyptic Theatre,” “Oh No – Ur Obsessed!”” and “Sensitive Content Magazine” are all available to buy on their website.  

The organization occasionally commemorates releases with release parties or Packing House Zine Fests, where art vendors, speakers and workshops are held for exposure opportunities, educational resources and social networking. According to their Instagram, their most recent Zine Fest was held at the Claremont Packing House with two speakers, three workshops and 34 exhibitors.  

The Claremont Packing House is a huge support to the company, as many of their events are often held there. One of the largest markers of their success is the opening of a newsstand, Art & Bodega. Located in the Atrium, it serves as a convenience kiosk selling various ephemera published by Curious Publishing and their affiliates, local artwork, snacks and drinks specifically chosen for their package design and brand values. 

Since its grand opening last October, the miniature shop has hosted four book releases, poetry readings and the most recent Zine Fest, according to their website 

Additional opportunities for Curious Publishing’s target artists have arisen through collaborations with companies holding similar values to their own. In 2021, they partnered with artist marketplace Threadless in a design competition for Curiosity Lab’s conversational card game “Actually Curious,” endorsed by Beyonce in 2020.  

They also intend to create a “BIPOC + Queer NFT Studio” in a partnership with “Actually Curious.” According to their website, the goal is to help create valuable, visually pleasing and mission driving NFTs, helping NFT artists, the community, the company itself and its partners. Ideally, this furthers their promise to provide platforms to the underprivileged. 

Students interested in more information on work submissions, collaborations, purchases or other inquiries can visit their general website or their Instagram page @curiouspublishing. 

Feature image courtesy of Deena Wicker

Verified by MonsterInsights