Maya Valencia is a graphic designer, editor, and publisher based in New York City. She previously worked at Wkshps and Synoptic Office, and is the co-creator of Phase Zero.

Alternate Editor’s Letter

by Maya Valencia

Dear Phase Zeroians,
This is a story about


It’s midnight in Paris which sounds romantic but I’m actually just losing my mind. I was losing my mind in New York City but now I’m losing my mind in Paris, France.

It’s midnight in Paris and I’m thinking about this magazine that consumes me. I’m thinking about how I stopped drawing and how I stopped writing when I moved to New York City 4 years ago. I’m thinking about when I saw my Grandma for the last time I wrote her a letter about how I am going to start writing again. She left me her Oxford dictionary and her blue thesaurus and told me to keep them on my desk, always, for when words escape me. I’m thinking about how I couldn’t say goodbye to her before she left because I was so busy with this magazine that consumes me. It’s midnight in Paris and I’m thinking about ways I can talk to the dead because my cousin hanged herself 3 days before my college graduation. I’m thinking about how often words escape me because I sniffed poppers everyday for a year straight and how little I’ve slept for the past 6 months. Thank god for the thesaurus.

It’s midnight in Paris and I’m crying because I’m thinking about the note above my desk: “DON’T FALL BACK INTO OLD HABITS” that I wrote when I was enlightened after I got back from my first trip to Paris. I’m thinking about how I FELL BACK INTO OLD HABITS. 

I’m thinking about how hard it was to unlearn everything about being a Graphic Designer for this magazine that consumes me. I’m thinking about how I Unlearnt Everything About Being A Graphic Designer only to be working as a Graphic Designer at a Design Studio in DUMBO and how I now have to Relearn Everything About Being A Graphic Designer in order to Make A Living. I’m thinking about how I want to be Anything But A Graphic Designer.


Have I ever told you about my spiritual awakening? How a blinding yellow beam shone through my body in space as I entered the astral plane? Have I read you my astrocartography? How I was so against moving West until a map told me I would become a recluse and lead a spiritual pursuit in San Francisco? How I would become a “charismatic guru” or even an “emissary of a far-reaching ideology”?

These are the things I think about when I remember the last time I saw my Grandpa, saying goodbye with our wet eyes because the Parkinson’s stole his voice. Parkinson’s stole his voice but I hear him sometimes when I am dreaming and I am him laying on the ground holding my Grandma’s hand and the yellow beam is blinding. My Grandpa died a month before I left for Paris for the first time.

It’s hard to be a Graphic Designer when your Grandpa is dead and your cousin is dead and your Grandma is dying and Horoscope AstroClick Travel tells you that to the west of your Jupiter/MC Line (Paris, France) “fame and honor strengthen your sense of self-worth and ambitious projects follow a smooth path to becoming reality”. It’s hard to be a Graphic Designer when you can’t understand the Universe and all you want to do is party.


This is a lie. I don’t like parties. This is also a lie. I’m obsessed with New York City at night. I think it’s funny when you’re sober and girls in short skirts and tall heels are barreling down Ave A slurring inaudible noises at their preppy boyfriends who couldn’t care less. I think it’s funny how sad New York City is at night. Actually, I think it’s really funny.

Being sad in the nighttime in New York City is better than being sad in the daytime in New York City because you can party. I’ve always thought of myself as a party girl. I started drinking when I was 13 years old, playing beer pong with my best friend’s older sister or drinking peach vodka my other best friend’s brother bought for us. Actually, my best friend’s older sister got run over by a car and is paralyzed from the neck down and my other best friend’s brother died from a heroin overdose. 

But I digress. It’s 1 AM in Paris, but I have to tell you something. I’m not in Paris. I leave for Paris next week, actually, on July 1, 2023. It’s 1 AM in Brooklyn, New York on June 21, 2023 and my childhood best friend’s birthday is tomorrow and I have to get up for work in 5 hours. I have to get up for work in 5 hours and not 7 hours because I like having a full 3 hours before I have to start my work day. It’s my only time to think, and boy, do I love thinking. 

In my first two hours of the day, I’m naked. I’m staring outside my window at (1) the never-ending eyesore apartment complex (which I secretly love) being built in Ridgewood, Queens and (2) the M train between Myrtle/Wyckoff and Seneca in hopes of seeing that Trainhopper in the red sweatshirt I saw on February 10, 2023. The rest of the morning is spent in transit, the M to the F, where I’m toying with the idea of taking the train all the way to Coney Island. Maybe the train will plunge into the Atlantic Ocean and I will become a mermaid.

But I digress. I’ve always thought of myself as a mermaid party girl, but I don’t do drugs. I have DONE drugs. But I don’t DO drugs. Drugs make me sad. It makes me sad seeing people sad. I never understood why I like to party when everyone around me is sad on drugs. Even though they seem happy on drugs they are actually sad.

One day, when I was at work as a Graphic Designer doing Graphic Designer things like cleaning out the closet, I came across a Wolfgang Tillmans interview. He told me: “Only when you are aware of how tragic life can be can you also enjoy the depth of a party through the night.” That’s a cool thing to say.


It’s 2AM in Brooklyn, New York and I am reminded of how angry I get when I can’t see the moon. I have to get up for work in 4 hours. 

On June 6, 2022 I wrote in my journal that I wanted to implement “Phase Zero” (as in the precursor of Phase One) of Getting My Life Together. “Phase Zero” included finding an apartment, applying for barista positions, contacting professors for advice, and starting a magazine project. I told Charlotte about my master plan. I told Grayson about my master plan. I told Sydney, Jenna, Avantika, Tanner, Emma about my master plan. They thought the magazine I wanted to start was called “Phase Zero”.

There you go. That’s how Phase Zero got its name.

When I wrote this list on June 6, 2022, I had just come back to New York City from Paris, France for the first time, and that was when I first understood the Universe (Graphic Design). I understood how design is a manifestation of an idea that is always changing. How the visual language of a city is manifested in its infrastructure. How graffiti acts as footnotes, how posters and flyers are indicative of political and cultural movements. This was exciting to me. This is still exciting to me. It was my whole world for a second. But I must confess, I am less excited now, for some reason. 

Here is a list of things that make me excited: 
–When Greyson tells me Phase Zero is the only form of creative expression he needs
–When people are seen
–When people come up to me and Sydney and tell us they are proud of us for creating a print publication
–When Sydney and I think about the future for Phase Zero

And while we’re at it, here is a list of things that make me scared: 

–When Sydney and I think about the future for Phase Zero
–Being a Graphic Designer

The list runs on, but I have many confessions I am not ready to tell you yet.


First of all, I must confess I don’t know how to end this letter because Time has passed and I am in Paris now. And second, I must confess it was midnight in Paris two nights ago and I was indeed losing my mind, walking down Canal Saint-Martin and along the Seine to Hôtel de Ville. But I came back down to Earth for just a moment when I stopped on Pont d’Arcole—staring at the moon, of course.

Today, I’ll lay in Parc de Belleville surrounded by silence and roses and try to find peace of mind. But until then, I’ll leave you with my love and thanks for believing in this magazine that consumes me.

Yours truly,
M. Valencia