Domy Books: Where Art and the Printed Page Meet
Russell Etchen on launching an Austin version of his Houston bookstore that focuses on art books, magazines, and toys
A self-confessed progressive, Russell Etchen has brought his quirky bookstore, Domy, to Austin after launching a successful model in Houston. Domy Books features an art gallery, books, magazines, plushies, and other collectible toys à la Kidrobot. Since it opened its doors, Domy has worked with fine publishers like Gingko Press, known for publishing a range of contemporary art titles, including one of my favorites, Saber: Mad Society, which has some photographic gems in it. Domy has a tradition of hosting authors, artists, and filmmakers in the store. Mostly True author Bill Daniel had a booksigning there and then walked over to neighborhood gallery Okay Mountain to screen his inspired hobo-culture film, Who Is Bozo Texino? Local art stars like Jenny Hart, Sloke, and Billy Kirkland, as well as filmmaker Gary Price, recently gathered on a Saturday evening to meet the extremely cordial Gary Panter. The chance to meet the cartoonist and set designer of Pee-wee's Playhouse was inspiring, and he had a kind and genuine demeanor. I took a minute to ask Etchen a few questions.
Austin Chronicle: Who do you see as your closest competition here, Amazon or another store?
Russell Etchen: I don't really know if we have competitors per se, but there are a few stores in Austin selling some of what we sell. But what I've heard from my main art-book rep is that no one really has a good selection of art titles. Waterloo [Records] dabbles in it but shies away from a lot of good stuff, and I haven't been to Lowbrow [Emporium] yet. I've heard about Atomic City, too. Sounds pretty cool. I love Austin Books & Comics, too.
AC: You seem very committed to in-store events. What kind of event excites you the most?
RE: Openings, definitely. Watching people interact in the store is the most exciting thing for me. We had a great plush workshop with one of the artists that showed in the Houston store. Community building, getting people together, and watching ideas bloom.
AC: I'm always interested in hearing from out-of-state creatives: What is your scope of interest? What does contemporary culture mean?
RE: I come from punk rock and zines and got a degree in graphic design. Got started making zines when I was about 15/16 and fell into hardcore and punk shows. Booked shows in Houston for a few years, then opened the bookstore. I got hooked on graffiti – the letters, not so much the culture – about eight years ago. I dunno, my interests are all over the place.
Sounds good to me. Etchen is just the kind of inquisitive bookstore owner who might find an eager audience here in Austin. I look forward to Domy's next event presented in association with Monofonus Press: American Trashcan, a John Wesley Coleman reading, with paintings by Michelle Devereux and videos by Max Juren. This takes place Saturday, July 12, 7-9pm, at Domy Books, 913 E. Cesar Chavez.
For more information, call 476-DOMY (3669) or visit www.domystore.com.