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Meet Robby Herbst of Llano Del RIo Collective

Today we’d like to introduce you to Robby Herbst.

Robby, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I come from art, pirate radio, and activism. I attended Fox Lane High School in New York State. There we made a few copies of a student newspaper we called Fox Droppings.

The Llano Del Rio Collective developed from of my participation with those things, and the Los Angeles based, and globally oriented, Journal Of Aesthetics & Protest. The Journal of Aesthetics and Protest started publishing grassroots creative-theory and practice addressing the Anti-Corporate Globalization Movement in 2001. That project went very well; we published the journal and several books and developed an international readership among activists, artists, and critical thinkers.

However, in 2010 I recognized that the focus on global movements had alienated me from critical and creative practices in Los Angeles. Rereading Mike Davis’ book City of Quartz I came upon his passages about the socialist colony founded by Job Harriman in the Antelope Valley and was inspired to begin developing the Llano Del Rio Collective. The goal of the collective is to produce accessible frames (in the form of guides) to help people see Los Angeles differently.

Has it been a smooth road? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
Llano Del Rio’s publications hope to connect with the broad county of LA. But it’s a big place. Also, the landscape of publishing has changed remarkably in the 20 years I’ve been here. For us, this not only means the decentralization and a-materialism of the digital age, but the disappearance of “free publication” areas in cafés, social centers, and galleries. We respond to these challenges with our distribution strategies, but it requires us to stay on our toes.

Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about Llano Del RIo Collective – what should we know?
Our mission statement says: “The Llano Del Rio Collective aims to expand the cultural, social, and political imagination of Los Angeles through the production of thematic guides, related events and the hosting of a speakers bureau. We aim to frame practices, rather than be a practice. The collective is engaged in pre-figurative research.”

Ours just completed guide Rebel City Los Angeles guide answers the question, what would Los Angeles look like if vertical power as we know it disappeared?. The illustrated two-sided guide helps users visualize the city from below, providing details of a developing infrastructure of people-centered institutions supporting human activities outside corporate dominion; from electricity, housing, education, medicine, and banking.

Our past guides include Utopias of So.Cal., PowerPoints, An Antagonist Guide To the Assholes of LA, Scores For the City, and A Map For An Other LA.

We work between the fields of social practice art, publishing, and academia in a very public format. Our first guide, A Map For An Other LA, centered around the concept of “post-capitalism” and Gibson-Graham economics, sighting locations in Los Angeles where individuals contribute to a “Nowtopian” economy- it’s characterized by creativity in the field of environmentalism, cycling, experimental arts, and home craft.

Correspondingly our business model is based on “free” labor. We make enough money to fund our publications, but we don’t really pay ourselves; after-all love and belief are free. We have a dual strategy with our distribution; LA County residents can send us their mailing address (by emailing, and we’ll post them a printed copy of the current guide. They may also find copies for free at places around time. But they can also buy guides through our website, and a book and fashion shops around town.

Until recently Los Angeles was known in the “art world” for its cutting-edge culture, which did not try to work at serving the interest of money. Llano Del Rio Collective’s work comes from that tradition and uniquely serves to theorize and imagine what our world could be together.

Is there a characteristic or quality that you feel is essential to success?
Success means continuing to make strange, beautiful, and curious publications, and then getting those publications into peoples hands and minds.


  •  Our guides can be purchased through our website by anyone and can be found at book and fashion stores for $10.00.

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