Celebrate Zines With L.A. Zine Fest and the Library

Ziba Perez, Young Adult Librarian, Baldwin Hills Branch Library,
Design for the 2019 L.A. Zine Fest by artist Sophia Zarders
Design for the 2019 L.A. Zine Fest by artist Sophia Zarders

Zine Fests are large, free to attend, typically one-day events, where zinesters, people who make zines, gather from all over the world to sell and trade their zines and related merch. Zines (derived from the word magazines/fanzines) are do-it-yourself publications that can be on a wide range of topics. Items you may find for purchase on a zinester’s table besides zines include prints, pins, stickers & other cool zine swag. Zine Fests on the West Coast go as far back as 2001 with the Portland Zine Symposium. L.A. Zine Fest was established in 2012 and first held at the Last Book Store in Downtown Los Angeles.

The Los Angeles Public Library established a circulating zine collection in 2017 with a partnership from the Los Angeles Zine Fest. Seven library branches now carry a circulating zine collection. They are: Baldwin Hills, Benjamin Franklin, Cypress Park, Edendale, Hollywood Regional, Pio Pico, and West Los Angeles Regional Library.

Look for the Los Angeles Public Library Zine Collection as an exhibitor at this year’s Los Angeles Zine Festival.

In advance of the festival, we sat down with two of the LA Zine Fest 2019 organizers to ask some questions. Bianca is a co-founder of the LA Zine Fest and has been a co-organizer ever since. Roxy is a co-organizer and has helped out the last two years.

How has LA Zine Fest changed from the 1st annual in 2012 to now?

Bianca: Oh wow, it's changed in so many ways. The first thing that comes to mind is, it's gotten bigger. It's become a lot more complicated in a few ways, namely finding a space that can fit all our tablers at a price that's not totally out of our reach. Our organizers have changed, with some people moving away and new organizers stepping up to commit their time (so much time) and brainpower to making the fest happen. One thing that hasn't changed is, I'm always impressed that we pulled it off. At the end of the year, I'm like, "Wow, I can't believe that actually happened. Again."

Roxy: For me, LAZF hasn’t changed much. While I’ve had the chance to be a volunteer, an exhibitor and now an organizer, the feelings of optimism and the surge of inspiration I feel during that day has been surprisingly consistent. It’s that time of the year I am the most certain that artists exhibiting are having fun while showcasing their art with little restriction. That aspect of LAZF has remained throughout its 8 years.

What's it like to participate now that there are several regions of So Cal involved such as San Diego, Orange County, and Long Beach?

Bianca: I've been really inspired to see so many zine fests! Joshua Tree, the San Fernando Valley, and Pomona are the newest ones that come to mind and seeing so many new locations and how many new people these events are reaching is amazing.

Roxy: The change that has made me the most excited is that now, there is an increasing number of Zine Fests being created by LGBTQIA+ Black, Brown, Indigenous folx, for LGBTQIA+ Black, Brown, Indigenous artists/creatives. Examples of these include The Bay Area Queer Zine Fest in Oakland and Spookin’ Homies, a multi-medium art event in Los Angeles.

What do you feel our readers should know about zines if they have never come across them before?

Bianca: I think it would be great for library patrons to know about the way zines have a lower barrier to entry than a lot of the other materials in a library. All it took was ideas and a printer to get that zine into someone's hands. I also hope they know about zine fests and ways to find more zines. When you go to the library, you get a book, and if you think, "You know, I want my own copy of that book," you know you can go to a bookstore to get it. But I hope people know or are inspired to look for places outside the library where they can find more zines and the people who make them.

Roxy: Just have an open mind!