i tabled at OC Zine Fest. here’s what i learned.
what i brought, came home with, & more
I made my first zine when I was 17-ish. It was a mini-zine about redwood trees, and there was way too much information packed into that one page. I still think it was pretty cute, though, and it was also a big part of what sent me drifting into the world of science communication, which I’m incredibly grateful for. Here it is (yes, I still have copies a little over six years later).
Back then, I hadn’t figured out a very effective way to digitize my artwork, and I didn’t know how to adjust my print settings so that my drawings didn’t get cut off (lol). I made some zines in college alongside people I worked with at the student radio station, but I didn’t make a zine on my own since the redwoods.
And almost a month ago, I tabled at my first-ever zine fest. I applied on semi-impulse (with lots of encouragement from a very kind friend) to OC Zine Fest, which was started in 2014. In 2017, this amazing zine fest started partnering with the Anaheim Library — instead of requiring a tabling fee like many other zine fests do, OC Zine Fest asks people participating to donate copies of their zines to the library’s growing zine collection as a way of preserving and circulating the work of local artists. They have an incredibly cool, quite robust zine collection that I’d definitely recommend browsing if you’re ever in the area. (And if you happen make zines, you can donate your work to their collection in-person anytime!)
The big takeaway: I would 100% do this again. Below are a few quick reflections on the (above all, delightful) experience.
what i brought
It’s simple, but having one made me feel like my setup was so much more complete.
Assorted items from my kitchen to set up a table display
I had some organizers that I typically use for tea that I displayed my zines in. I also had some plate-stands I’d been using for cutting boards/baking trays that I repurposed as little risers.
I also brought some of those plastic display-sign-things — people at my office were giving some away for free, and I added some ✨spice✨ to them with acrylic paint-markers. I managed to not have to buy any new items to set up my table!
Folded zines (and also not-folded zines)
The week before OC Zine Fest was massively chaotic for me (more on that at the end of the newsletter), so though I’d printed about 300 zines in total, I only folded about 70 of them. So did I spend most of my time at my table folding zines while chatting with people who stopped by? Absolutely, yes. Made-to-order zines. Completely okay.
Of teeny tiny snails.
It was a whirlwind morning.
But I didn’t spend a single minute reading it — there was so much exciting stuff happening around me!
what i wish i knew
Gluing mini-zines down is cool — but there’s also no need to. There’s an amazing variety of zine-formats out there from the “traditional” mini-zine to larger booklets to fortune-teller-esque ones that have several different orders in which you can read through them. I saw some folks even print their mini-zines to have two sides — one side where the contents fit the 8-page zine format, and the other with an extra image of art.
Elevation on a table display is so helpful. Keeping art and zines at different levels helps people walking by see the variety of items that may be on a table!
I wish I took more pictures, especially close-ups of my table. If you’re tabling at a zine fest: Take more pictures. It will be hard to remember. Do it anyway.
People are incredibly kind! I was super nervous going into this event, but the community was so wonderful, welcoming, and joyful.
what i came home with
So many amazing zines, stickers, and pieces of art. It seems to me like trading mini zines is a vibe — I love the additions to my collection that came out of trades.
I gave out my zines for free with an option to make donations — in the spirit of transparency, I came home with over $100!
Tons of info on local collectives/organizations supporting artists, whether those artists are interested in art as a hobby or career. From just my one experience (so far), zine fests seem like an incredible place to build community with other creative people.
what i want to do next time (wish me luck)
Zine-and-sticker packs: I saw some fellow tablers combining a zine with related sticker(s), and I thought that was so smart!
Bigger zines: I had exclusively mini-zines this time around, but I have some ideas for 8.5” x 5.5” ones that I’m so excited to dive into creating.
Tinier zines: On the opposite end of the spectrum, I’ve been experimenting with how small I can go. Stay tuned for the teeniest tiniest guide to pickling (potentially) in the world.
A newsletter sign-up list (for this newsletter, of course :~) )
where you can find my zines now
Everything is listed for free digital download on my Gumroad page! (There are also a couple zine-packs listed for a small price — for those, I’ll mail you physical copies.)
in other news
It’s been a while! But an exciting while, I must say. Since I shared the last issue of this newsletter, I’ve:
Adopted a snail (by accident — the story here)
Co-produced a 12-hour livestream of people reading out scientific names of California plants, animals, & fungi (aka the primary reason the week before OC Zine Fest was pure chaos)
Worked on content for this platform about one of the most beautiful islands in existence
Made more art than I have in ages, some of which I’ve been sharing here
Tabled at my first zine fest (hence, this post), & also took over their Instagram account for a day
Thanks for reading, as always. Let me know what you’ve been up to over the past few months, and/or if you wanna talk zines (especially of the nature-focused variety). And if you’re in Southern California, check out this upcoming zine fest (that I have major FOMO about because I’ll be out of town at the time … but it looks like it’ll be a ton of fun)!