Salvatore Delle Palme’s love of art traces back to his childhood. It was imprinted upon him by his father, a reclusive poet with an artistic persona Delle Palme describes as “unique and almost unnatural.”
“He always struggled in his career because he was an artist and he was, I think, a little misunderstood by people. He was always just writing poetry and not even really trying to get it out there.”
Delle Palme wanted to be a poet like his dad. But once he moved out, he began to question how he’d make a living doing so—until a fellow student at Concordia University in Montreal handed him a zine full of poetry and art. “The type of stuff I was creating myself as a teenager and I thought was cool," Delle Palme says. "It was all around Concordia, downtown, in all the cafés, and they were taking it seriously. I had this idea that it could be something real. That it counted, and that the kind of culture I was aligned with was something I could come back to in my life.”
Several years later, in 2010, Delle Palme co-founded Zouch Magazine, an online publication for independent artists and writers.
But let’s not jump ahead.
Delle Palme, who’s originally from Ottawa and now lives in Brantford, Ontario, dropped out of Concordia after a philosophy course he’d had his heart set on taking—Minds, Brains, and Machines—was cancelled.
He gathered up his savings, $10,000 made on Montreal’s underground poker scene, and headed south.
“I just said, ‘Fuck it,’ and I went to Los Angeles and I turned my 10 grand into $50,000. I was extremely lucky.”
For several years, Delle Palme played poker professionally across the United States, making enough money to keep writing and creating art. He moved around a lot—initially, he’d come back to Montreal for a couple of months at a time to play with his best friend in their band. Then, after meeting the woman who would become his wife, he travelled across Canada and the United States with her, living in Calgary, Ottawa, Kitchener, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Oshawa, and Hamilton.
“I was totally enamoured with the idea that I could have that level of freedom,” Delle Palme says. “When I discovered poker, I was like, man, this is something I can apply my brainpower to and get ahead in this world and have the freedom that I want to be an artist.”
But, despite the glamour of that lifestyle, he found a “profound lack of meaning” in playing cards. He doesn’t play anymore.
With an interest in transposing the authenticity and creativity of zines to the Internet, Delle Palme began to teach himself about online publishing and website creation, launching Screw the Status Quo!, an online zine and podcast, in 2009.
STSQ! eventually metamorphosed into Zouch, with the help of co-founder Jeff Campagna.
“There is something very nostalgic about print media now that most publishing is digital,” Delle Palme says. “The web has always been perfect for delivering news and rich media content, but we felt, especially in 2010, that serious work needed to be done to carry forward the true essence of independent art and literature. My first idea on how to achieve this was to appropriate the form of the traditional college zine.”
In January, Delle Palme stepped down from his editor role at Zouch, though he remains an advisor, helping staff—who work from Los Angeles, Texas, Paris, Vancouver, Montreal, Halifax, London, and Manhattan—with Zouch’s development and day-to-day site operation. He and his wife had their first child in the fall, and Delle Palme recently started working full-time for Kraken, a San Francisco-based Bitcoin trading platform.
But the family isn’t settling down yet. Delle Palme says they’ll likely move again soon, perhaps to Toronto or San Francisco.
And what will 2014 bring for Zouch? More graphics (a new series called Master List, for instance, is visual with a humorous tone), more poetry and literature, and a push for greater international traffic.