September 20, 2018

An intro to Zines: Mini magazines for the self-made publisher

An intro to Zines: Mini magazines for the self-made publisher

The one TiNA event that’s always included in my festival itinerary each year is the NYWF Zine Fair. The Zine Fair happens on Sunday September 30 and runs from 11am till 3pm at the Newcastle City Library. It’s a lively gathering of some the finest young zine makers in the country.

Sounds great if you’re familiar with the world of zines. But for the uninitiated, you may want to know exactly what is a zine, how they are made and how you can climb the ranks of the zinester.

NYWF Zine Fair 2017 Credit: Bridget Luthebrorrow

The good news is you can make zines pretty much anywhere. If you can write, draw, cut ‘n’ paste, photocopy or dream up crazy ideas, you can create a zine. And you are free to explore any topic you desire.

The word ‘zine’ (pronounced zeen) originates from the word magazine and was born from a DIY culture that wanted to move away from the consumerist and monetised driven ethos of conventional publishing.

Zines are often small run, self-published works that contain original or appropriated content that explores topics not often included in mainstream media. You might share a niche skill or interest, ruminate on identity or develop a story as a way of connecting communities whose voices are often unheard or invisible. The zine values personal connection between creator and reader over profit.

To find out more about these culturally significant and ephemeral works, I had a chat to Bastian, Co-ordinator of the NYWF Zine Fair.

What is the main focus of the 2018 NYWF Zine Fair?
The main focus for the NYWF Zine Fair this year is to return the zine fair to its glory days! We received a huge increase in applications this year, and we are looking forward to being in our new home at Newcastle Library, where a lot of other great things are happening on the day: there are events from the NYWF program, the Younger Young Writers’ Program and the Young Queer Writers’ Program. We are also launching our own Mini Zine Symposium, which will feature three different workshops presented by Zine Fair participants on zine-related topics.

Bastian at the 2017 NYWF Zine Fair. Credit: Bridget Luthebrorrow

A goal of the NYWF & Zine Festival is to poke holes in the accepted boundaries of literature, how do zines do this?
I think the beauty of zines is that there are no gatekeepers – you can publish whatever you want, and you don’t need to appeal to anyone. Zine poke holes in terms of content, but they also poke holes in the boundaries of format by experimenting with different ways to publish zines. All you need to do to see this is pick up a copy of YOU Zine. I’ve seen issues of this free, weekly, anonymous zine taped to broken drumsticks and VHS tapes – so you can get pretty creative with a zine!

What type of topics are covered?
Anything and everything… Usually topics are important to the person making the zine, and that is the only justification needed to cover the topic.

Credit: Bridget Luthebrorrow

What is the importance of partnering with the local community and partner organisations to create events like TiNA and NYWF?
Partnering with Newcastle Library this year has been great because it means we have a wonderful space to hold the Zine Fair. I’m looking forward to welcoming the Library’s community to the zine fair – an event they may not have heard about otherwise. There’s always a lot of community interest in zine fairs because zines are so different and accessible. People might come to a zine fair as total newbies and be back the next year selling their first zine. To me, the zine community has always felt like an inclusive community. Partnering with local community and creative organisations is just the natural thing to do.

Do you think zines will be around 10 years? 50 years?
Maybe. If humans are still around.

What’s your favourite zine?

This is like asking ‘Who is your favourite human?’ There are so many good ones! My favourite kind of zines are quirky, sensitive, deep-thinking & feeling, and they tell good stories. I guess that is also my favourite kind of human.

Credit: Melissa Hamlyn

We hope you will join us in Newcastle for This is Not Art (TiNA) 2018. 

Personalise your festival experience by browsing the event program and using the My Festival function on the website. With no print program this year, the website is the best way to plan your festival. See you for #TiNA2018: Thursday 27-30 September 2018.

Melissa Hamlyn is a recent graduate from UNSW, Sydney with a Bachelor of Fine Arts (Honours). She combines her art curious nature with practical experience in the arts and has participated in writing programs, organised zine fairs, exhibits in galleries and creates content for digital media.