Alex Belardo Kostiw’s self-publishing practice, exploring the unknown parts and possibilities of the self, the complexity of human connection, and the nebulousness of reality. Rooted in graphic design, printmaking, and literary criticism, these works deal in poetic, adapted, and iterative elements, visual structures of comics, and conceptually driven forms.



Finally, I arrive. There is my mother, waiting for me. Does she need anything? She admits, “Maginaw nang kaunti.” (And far off, I think, ‘Here is the place where my Tagalog is perfect.’)

All along the way had been a thousand blankets I could have gathered, pulled across states, an ocean, a forest of pine and birch, and over her shoulders.

Instead, my hands are pale and empty.

Then, I picture, as you will now, a doubling: a wide, vacant duvet cover you fold in half. The perfect thickness to sleep under on a warm night in a winter monsoon (let’s say) or a cool night in this kind of summer. Crumpling and blurring the lines of you in it.

You can stick out your limbs if it gets too hot.

Now, wake up. Pakiramdam mo part of you is elsewhere, adrift.

There is a thought that runs in your family and into you: that a strange feeling in your body has an origin in someone you love.

Wonder whose ghosts mix with yours. Where is your mother dreaming?


Installation at Co-Prosperity Sphere (Chicago, IL), digital prints on organza and paper, acrylic paint, vinyl, wood, fishing wire
Pakiramdam, meaning intuition or feeling, explores how geographic and temporal distances turn the familiar into the otherworldly, even the ghostly. Yet any distance can be closed by moments of recognition, a sense of kinship, or a memory. The project encodes my family’s history of immigration and migration, the in-betweenness of mixed-race identity, and embodiments of hybridity along the way. It interrogates how we locate ourselves, not just within place and time, but in relation to others; what it means to be present to others in spite of physical absence or distance; and notions of authenticity and synthesis in relation to cultural and personal identities.

Like ghosts, we come together, overlap, and drift past each other in the space of the project, a space in Chicago and in the countries of our minds.

Photos above by Colectivo Multipolar


36 pages, saddle-stitch binding and accordion fold, risograph and xerox, 5 x 10.25 inches
A multifaceted exploration of the language of worship, the mythologizing effect of fame, and the trickster-god powers of Cate Blanchett. In four parts—lexicon, cosmogenesis, epiphany, and artifacts—its amalgam of manipulated and original imagery, tropes related to divinity, and motifs repeating across multiple narratives imagines Blanchett as a figure between reality and infinite possibility. Finalist for the Broken Pencil Awards.

book/mark: A Name

12 pages, saddle-stitch binding, risograph printed, 2 x 7 inches
First in an on-going series of bookmark-shaped books, each on seemingly aimless, but unshakeable, thoughts. A Name is a brief, personal reflection on what it might mean to make a person. With images that allude to Greek mythology, Penelope, “the name without a girl,” stands in for a latent wish to have a daughter.

book/mark: Wendr

12 pages, saddle-stitch binding, risograph printed, 2 x 7 inches
Second in the series, Wendr is a spell, cast on me by a stick I saw on the ground. I’ve never been able to forget it.

Somewhere, a witch wanders, wandless.

The Word Sm*t

40 pages, staple-bound, xerox, 4.25 x 5.5 inches
“Eroticism is, above all else, exclusively human: it is sexuality socialized and transfigured by the imagination and the will of human beings. In every erotic encounter there is an invisible and ever-active participant: imagination, desire. Octavio Paz

Brief descriptions of random Tumblr posts after the platform’s ban on adult content and of Google search results for kinky images are imposed on a grid sparsely populated with vague fleshy drawings. The result feels out the extent to which erotica is a work of the mind, gesturing toward the role of withholding in desire.

Endless Distances

28 pages, staple-bound, 1st edition offset, 2nd edition risograph, with offset cover, 4.25 x 2 inches
“Longing, we say, because desire is full of endless distances. I must have been the same to her.
Robert Hass

Three women in different worlds tell themselves stories about the ones they love. Is it a futile practice in the face of obstacles between them and love? The book’s panoramic shape frames distances physical, emotional, and temporal.

Between Us

12 pages, staple-bound, xerox, 4.5 x 6.5 inches
When two share a vision, how do they know they see the same thing? A strange occurrence will pull a couple closer together, or break them apart.

A version of this story appeared in the anthology Linequality.

Are You Even Listening?

20 pages, accordion fold, risograph printed, 2.75 x 3.25 inches
One asks the question, and we spiral into the other’s ear in search of an answer.


12 pages, flutter book, offset with risograph cover, 3.25 x 6 inches
A woman’s grief spills into her sense of self and way of life.  Legible backwards and forwards, remembering and forgetting her grief are enacted by the direction of reading. The cycle transforms her again and again. 

Butter Dust

16 pages, stab-stitch binding, offset on vellum, 3.5 x 4.25 inches
Dust floats in the rectangle of light falling through a window. Fifteen daydreams occur, shifting between abstraction, metaphor, and sensation.

Sigils of Trouble Sleeping

10 pages, one sheet folded, risograph, 2.75 x 5.25 inches
A list of troubles with sleep is paired with images of bed linens. These were the basis for sigil designs inscribed on the interior side.

Sigils are used in spell casting and are symbols of intention. These sigils are meant to ward off each source of trouble, paralleling the transitional natures of magic and sleep.


28 pages, saddle-stitch binding, risograph, 5.25 x 8 inches, edition of 36
An essay comic about reading Anne Carson’s translation of Sappho If not, winter and the visual presence of its lost fragments. Drawings translate spreads from Carson, with matching page numbers.

Inventory : Recollection

Saddle-stitch binding in hard case, accordion fold, laserjet, edition of 1
This two-part artist’s book documents a man’s life through his possessions. A folded list provides brief descriptions of items in his home and their history. A single-signature pamphlet shows unlabeled rubbings.

Collapsing the volume and values of objects, the book interrogates the significance of legacy and the marks a life makes on things, places, and people.


10, coptic binding, woodcut relief, 16 x 10 inches, edition of 1
A gatefold book collecting ten woodcut prints in which “chatter,” or texture. In turning the pages, various characters are placed in dialogue with each other. Conversations between them are composed and recomposed.

BOX Actaeon

Paper object, risograph
In Greek mythology, Actaeon was a noble hunter with a pack of loyal dogs. After hunting with friends, he wandered out alone and came across Diana, goddess of the hunt, bathing in a pool. Furious at being spied on, she transformed him into a stag. Fleeing back to his friends but unable to speak, Actaeon ends up torn apart by his own dogs.

Nested boxes house the myth. Readers piece together the story by turning the inner box while viewing images through successive openings. The structure echoes the act of peeking and of being trapped in a different body. It layers and segments the story, aligning reality and magic to shift images of transformation into view.

Tenderly : Poetry comics & printed matter

︎ Alex Belardo Kostiw
Alex is an artist, graphic designer, and educator whose explorations include participatory reading experiences, narrative spaces, myth making, and in-betweenness. They have an MFA in visual communication design from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and a BA in English literature from the University of Chicago. They live with many reams of paper and two cats.
CXC (Cartoon Crossroads Columbus), 2022
TCAF (Toronto Comic Arts Festival), 2022
In Cahoots Residency, Summer 2022
Kitchen Table Stories, group show, Evanston Art Center, 2022
CAKE (Chicago Alternative Comics Expo), 2023
CXC (virtual), Chicago Art Book Fair, Independent Artist Book Fair, LA Art Book Fair (virtual), St. Louis Small Press Expo, Autoptic, CAKE, CALA, DiNK, MICE, TCAF, Zineland Terrace, Co-Prosperity (solo; group), The Annex at Spudnik Press (solo), Carlow University Art Gallery (group), Tephra ICA (group), Chicago Design Museum (group presentation)
Joan Flasch Artist’s Book Collection at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago Zine Collection at the University of Chicago Library, Zine and Comics Collection at the MassArt Library, Decker Library at MICA, National Museum of Women in the Arts, Pratt Institute Artist’s Books Collection, RISD Artist’s Books Collection, Haas Arts Library Special Collections at Yale University