Odd Kiosk, Barcelona. An exploration of queer based literature

Odd Kiosk was a response to the climate of these spaces, giving the youth, in importance, a space to explore their sense of self without harming one’s mental health

Odd Kiosk in Barcelona 

Affixed to one of the plethora of kiosks that litter the city of Barcelona is Odd Kiosk. A five by two-meter stand, the store asserts the exploration of queer narratives through the items sold there. Located in Carrer de València 222, the kiosk functions as a magazine store as well as a newspaper stand. It sells art books, magazines and newspapers of sorts, in queer and hetero genres.

Founded by thirty-five-year-old Iván Jiménez Garcia and thirty-four-year-old Txema Montero Gomez in September 2020, the duo and the kiosk have made a name for themselves. Garcia graduated from EINA Centre Universitari de Disseny i Art de Barcelona with a degree in Graphic Design. While, Gomez graduated from Escola Tècnica Superior d’Arquitectura del Vallès in architecture. Then, they came together as friends and intended on moving to Mexico to set roots and start a business.

Iván Jiménez Garcia and Txema Montero Gomez, Odd Kiosk’s founders

Garcia shares «Txema and I have been friends for twenty years. We met when I was eighteen and he was sixteen at the time. It made sense to us to want to work together». But the COVID-19 crisis stopped these plans. Prior to establishing Odd Kiosk, Garcia was managing the role as an Editor to a magazine that he founded. At his time there, he scouted talent, writers and coordinated editorials.

Focused on the topics of art, fashion and design, the publication came to a halt in 2017 due to lack in funding. «Three of us were involved in the making of this magazine. It was a hurdle to sustain the production and publications of the magazine, as we also had additional roles to sustain our finances. When we were producing these issues, we sold them at Colette in Paris as well as bookstores and newsstands across Europe and the United States».

Taking on freelance roles as a graphic designer for brands and tutoring classes in universities in the locale was how Garcia supported himself. Gomez, on the other hand, worked at an architectural firm and partook in freelance roles in rendering architectural and spatial layouts for clients in the city. Intending to explore outside of their area of expertise, the two then diversified their attention to establishing Odd Kiosk. «We chose a kiosk as our outlet of operation due to its long-standing history in the city. We brought in a facet of queer concept to the city via the kiosks. The kiosks in Barcelona had been around before we were born». 

A homage to LGBTQ+ community in Barcelona

Kiosks that are staged across the city, as Garcia describes it, were worn and unchanged in its design. Owners, in fact, do not make the effort to modify the exterior and interior of the space. «When you ask someone living here to describe a kiosk, they would say it is a place to get a packet of cigarettes, newspapers and a cup of coffee».

Garcia shares the concerns with the costs of renting a shop lot in Barcelona. An indicator urging them to take on a space they could afford. Rents in kiosks are priced in such by the government to ensure shopkeepers are able to sustain and maintain their businesses. This, therefore, alleviated the concerns shared by Garcia and Gomez on the topic of rent, prompting them to begin.

Drawing concepts from their travels abroad and from where they lived, Garcia shares «there was a kiosk with a similar business identity as ours here in Barcelona that remains selling coffee and magazines. On a trip abroad to Italy, I also came across a kiosk, selling magazines».

The inception of Odd Kiosk

With the ideation of founding a business centered around the importance of the city, structure and culture of Barcelona, Garcia and Gomez diverted inwards to their queer identity. A means to set themselves apart. «It was an opportunity to change the narrative towards the LGBTQ+ community here. Being queer ourselves, we established Odd Kiosk as a means to bridge the gap between queer and underrepresented individuals. We want and will continue to maintain attention toward inclusivity on every individual in the area, and in turn, Barcelona».

Garcia states that though having established Odd Kiosk seven months ago, the philosophies and objectives kept at heart remain the same. Renovations took place in April of 2020, upon acquiring the space. Then, the store was opened to the public four months later, in September. The name Odd Kiosk was a leading factor as to how they were intending to position themselves in locale.

They, in fact, settled on the name Odd as a means to control the narrative in the way queer individuals were segregated from society through the use of slurs and demeaning language. «Queer individuals endure name calling and insults throughout their lives. How the general public sees them, as odd beings, gave us the idea to reinvent the label given unto us and make it ours. We are not shying away from being odd». 

Lampoon, The kiosk functions as a magazine store and newspaper stand
The kiosk functions as a magazine store and newspaper stand that sells art books, magazines and newspapers of sorts – in queer and hetero genre

Odd Kiosk’s location

The neighborhood Odd Kiosk exists in homage to being the first queer commune in Barcelona. Garcia and Gomez were eyeing two locations. One of it being Carrer de València, and the other on a street adjacent to theaters and art studios.

A community of neighbors surrounds their location, sitting at the foot of Barcelona’s city center. In businesses and homeowners in the apartment buildings. «It is a communal neighborhood. We are happy being here, serving the customers in the environs». Garcia explains that there are up and coming restaurants and attractions that draw in visitors as well as locals to the area. Being in the queer neighborhood was integral to the vein of the business. A historic reference and root to the subcultures that developed in the area.

Queer spaces were in segregation twenty years ago, Garcia shares. «Discos and clubs were the meeting place for queer folk. But at the time, it promoted an unhealthy image of what it meant to be queer». Individuals had to look and act a certain way. In contrast to present day, in which the community is breaking from. Therefore, Odd Kiosk was a response to the climate of these spaces. Giving the youth, in importance, a space to explore their sense of self without harming one’s mental health.

Odd Kiosk’s customers

While their demographic caters to queer youth and individuals, Garcia states that there are three subgroups of customers that frequent the kiosk. «There are the people in the area that come by to buy magazines and newspapers. They are older customers, who come by looking for a cup of coffee and their daily newspaper. Then there are those involved in the arts. They come by looking for art books and magazines that we carry featuring editorials. The last is queer individuals of varying ages».

Operating from 8am to 2pm. and then taking a break till 5pm, they then continue on their shift till 8pm. Garcia and Gomez take shifts of three or four days in a week, managing their store in intervals whilst taking on their roles in freelance work. Their store opens out onto the street. Stands and shelved tables hold the books, magazines and newspapers. Coffee from Nomad, a company in the area, is also sold here alongside home brews colas, kombucha and cookies that customers can purchase as they stop by. 

Queer art books and magazines at Odd Kiosk

When asked if Odd Kiosk has allowed for change to occur in the area of Carrer de València, Garcia shares that to be true. Their store has allowed for change to occur. Urging concepts to be born in the vein of queer genre. Having been interviewed by publications as well as television networks on a local and international scale, Garcia believes that Odd Kiosk has given a voice to the queer community.

In the city of Barcelona, the queer movement has had significant publicity over the last five years. «We are seeing spaces come up across the city that don’t conform to stereotypes. Exhibitions that portray queer history and art also take place across the area. There is a voice in that that transcends. We have kept this ethos close to heart at Odd Kiosk».

Carrying sixty-five percent of queer art books and magazines in the store, the reminder of items includes newspapers from printers as well as publications in the area. There are at a time an estimate of two-hundred titles of magazines, varying from Gentlewoman, Fucking Young, Fantastic Man and Buffalo Zine, to name a few. Some of their queer titles include Love is Love, Archer Magazine, Boys! Boys! Boys! and Crotch magazine, as well are works from featured artists that they partner up with in monthly rotations.

Partnerships with artists, writers, illustrators and creators of sorts

Using their social media platform, Odd Kiosk also features artists, writers, illustrators and creators of sorts in the creative industry. They believe this to be an importance. A means to platform creators through their existing position in the community. Inviting these creatives as guests to Odd Kiosk is how they draw in customers of varying identities. Offering book signings, release campaigns and a celebration of crafts created by the creatives.

«A number of the creatives we feature are based in Barcelona. While, there are also some that are based in other parts of the world. We have featured Gabriel Sciutto for instance. An Argentine illustrator as we enjoyed the work that he puts out». To Garcia and Gomez, the ideation of print materials in magazines, art books and newspapers are a concept brought to life. An importance to them due to its value in spreading thoughts, information and a platform for the discourse of queer theory and the understanding of what it is to be queer. 

Odd Kiosk’s partnership with Nomad Coffee 

The partnership was a means to sustain the business. Garcia admits «we knew that selling magazines and newspapers would not be able to keep us afloat. Hence, we took a course with Nomad to learn how to brew coffee and do coffee art. The sales of drinks and cookies that we source from Demasie helps draw in customers». Nomad, reputable in Barcelona for their coffee beans, is roasted in Barcelona. Coffee beans are scouted across the globe and then brought back, roasted by expert roasters of the brand.

In the coming months, when the pandemic has settled down, Garcia and Gomez are planning on extending Odd Kiosk’s brand presence by curating and selling merchandise. Designed by a peer of theirs, patterns are embroidered by hand. «There is a shirt, a pull over hoodie and a key chain that we have designed for our customers to buy». Garcia and Gomez intend on branching out of their kiosk by participating in events hosted in spaces dedicated to the arts and culture in Barcelona. «There is an event happening in the city, a day to celebrate books. We are looking forward to being a part of this».

Odd Kiosk

Carrer de València, 222, 08011 Barcelona, Spain

Odd Kiosk is the world’s first LGBTQ+ magazine kiosk. It has opened in Barcelona in the Esquerra d’Eixample neighborhood, selling a curated selection of magazines, art and snacks.

Pravin Nair

The writer does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article.