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Davis, California

Thursday, May 23, 2024

The Cherry Tea Collective club at UC Davis raises money and awareness for various charities through their art

An inclusive group of student artists, designers and writers self-publish a charity-based zine


By LYNN CHEN — features@theaggie.org


The Cherry Tea Collective is a charity-based art club that consists of artists, writers, poets, photographers and other creatives. Every school year, the club publishes a zine — a unique, self-published mini-magazine — on a theme that is usually related to a specific charity organization. Club members contribute artwork, writings and photos to appear in the zine, which is then sold to the school community.

Past themes and charity organizations the zines have raised awareness for include “Earth and Nature” for the Earth Day Network, “Bonds Between People” for The Trevor Project, “Dreams and Fantasy” for The Lunchbox Fund and “Oceans” for The Ocean Cleanup

Along with original merchandise, such as stickers that are designed by members, proceeds from the club go toward the charity of focus.

The process of publishing the zine requires lots of meticulous work and planning. During fall quarter, members vote to decide on a charity-focused theme for the upcoming year. In winter quarter, the club spends time producing and assembling creative content for the zine. Finally, after making final adjustments and printing the booklets, the club prepares to sell the zines on Picnic Day.

Throughout this extensive project, zine contributors may run into creative challenges.

“It is sometimes hard to create art for the theme […] It just really depends on, like, where your brain is at when you first get the prompt,” said Emma Lopez, a third-year aerospace engineering student and artist for the Cherry Tea Collective.

During the process, board members also need to stay on top of planning, delegating responsibilities and financing the club. Club President Mia Karlsson, a fourth-year molecular and medical microbiology major, has to think ahead for every quarter to prepare for events. 

“I need to keep track of the dates that all of the events are on, [decide] what we need to have ready before the events […] think about what we’re all going to say during the events, who’s going to work at the events […] plan meetings and write meetings,” Karlsson said.

The collective also needs to apply for grants from the Student Finance Council on time in order to fund itself properly and keep its members engaged.

“Generally, this is a very independent club,” Karlsson stated. “People work by themselves at home and then submit their work online to us, so it’s not a social club.”

Karlsson discussed the possibility of modifying the club to create an atmosphere that’s more interactive and social. 

“It would be nice if people could meet each other in the club,” Karlsson said. “So I’ve been trying to come up with ideas.”

Despite difficulties members and the club as a whole have faced, the Cherry Tea Collective has still fulfilled its role as a philanthropic organization, like the pun on “charity” its name suggests.

The club was able to make donations to the several charity organizations that made up the theme for Cherry Tea Collective’s zines, according to their Instagram. In 2023, the collective raised $394.49 for The Ocean Cleanup. In 2022, $1068.28 was given to The Lunchbox Fund. In the year prior to that, $552.53 was donated to The Trevor Project.

Members of the club found joining it to be a worthwhile and rewarding outlet for their creativity. 

When asked what inspired her to join the Cherry Tea Collective, Lopez said that it was the fact that the club enabled her to use her artworks for good.

“I love being able to give back to communities,” Lopez said. “I love being able to help out in whatever way I can. [I] don’t make much of an income […] to matter enough to donate, so being able to do something that I can create and [put] towards charity was really admirable [for the club to allow me to do that].”

Michelle Khuong, a fourth-year neurobiology, physiology and behavior major who works in public relations and is the secretary of the Cherry Tea Collective, said that she marveled at the creativity people were able to display in the zines.

“I think it’s great that we can compile all different kinds of art forms like photography, writing, and drawings and see the different interpretations of the theme for that year into one zine,” Khuong said via Discord direct messaging.

She herself joined the club to become more productive when making art and maintaining her creative flow. 

“I initially wanted to join the [club] because I was trying to overcome an art block at the time and wanted to find a smaller club that would motivate me to draw more and overcome my art block,” Khuong stated.

Karlsson also noted the creativity she finds in her members’ work. 

“I’m not tracking anyone in particular, but I do notice that people will try [to] experiment a little bit in different mediums,” Karlsson stated. “Someone [might] say ‘oh man, I’m not great at art, but I’m gonna try sewing.’” A member who said something similar ended up making a beautiful fabric-sewn piece with laces representing seashells, according to Karlsson.

“I hope that people see that the people [in the club] are creative, artistic and also caring about our communities,” Karlsson said. “We want to help make a difference through something beautiful.” 


Written by: Lynn Chen — features@theaggie.org