Zines are a really exciting form of making media. You can publish your own words, ideas, images, and more into a zine or small book, without a lot of money or being okay-ed by a big publisher. You can get your zine out into your community, libraries or bookstores, and engage people in your work. Zines can look like a lot of things: photocopied pages stapled together, or like a magazine, or a tiny one-page folded zine. Find out more about zine making here.
Another great thing about zine-making is the community. There are fairs happening all over the world, bringing together folks who are interested and involved in making zines and DIY publishing, sharing ideas and stories.
Right now, I’m helping to organize the first ever Hamilton Feminist Zine Fair with SACHA – Hamilton’s Sexual Assault Centre. It will be a celebration of feminist voices in zine-making and DIY-publishing. I’ve been making and reading zines for years, and after helping to co-organize the Feminist Zine Symposium in Toronto last year, I was ready to organize more feminist zine events. Hamilton is an exciting place to start a feminist zine fair – there’s a great community of people interested in feminisms, zine making, and DIY publishing.
That said, we wanted to share some ideas about how to start your own feminist zine fair. It’s an amazing way to bring together folks doing similar work, get a conversation started, and make something big happen in your community.
Here are the steps we took. Let’s organize a Feminist Zine Fair!
1. Who do you want on your team?
A zine fair is a big event, and you’ll want a team of folks working together. Either you already know exactly who’s on your team, or you could use Twitter or Facebook to ask for volunteers. You could always consider partnering up with a like-minded organization, as well. I partnered with SACHA, an organization that supports survivors of violence while working to end oppression. Erin Crickett – SACHA’s Public Educator – and I are working to put this fair together. We had a conversation about our strengths in event planning, and we divided the work according to what we are best at. For instance, as I’m new to Hamilton, Erin was able to provide a lot of resources for zine and feminist communities in the city, and connect with local organizations to get involved. I love drawing and doing creative work, so I made the poster and other images.
2. Brainstorming: What is important to you? What will the day look like?
At our first meeting we decided what was most important to us was accessibility. The event needed to be physically accessible, financially accessible, and emotionally accessible; we would designate spaces for folks to sit and read during the day, or find a space to make their own, reflecting what was needed in that moment. We made sure that the zine fair room would have enough space so that folks never felt trapped or overwhelmed while browsing or talking to zine-makers, since that was something that we noticed happened often at other zine fairs we have attended. We talked about zine fairs that we had been to and made two lists – what we liked about them and what we would change.
Another very important aspect was that we wanted the fair to be youth-focused. This meant, for us, that we would prioritize youth voices in the event planning and at the fair, as well as offer free tables to youth who are interested in being part of the fair.
We also decided on what the day would look like – we wanted a zine fair with about 30 tablers, as well as hourly workshops in a separate room, and a space for folks to rest and get some snacks throughout the day. We started thinking about who we’d like to get involved in facilitating workshops, and a rough schedule for the day.
Throughout the planning stages, you’ll want to keep track of all of this – it’s great to take meeting minutes so that everyone is on the same page about any decisions being made and can review previous meetings throughout this process.
Just like making a zine, you don’t need a big budget to put on a zine fair. The basic costs will be: – The space (see if you can ask a local community centre or library for a free room to use – they can act as a sponsor of the event in return) – Honorarium for workshop facilitators – Promotion – photocopying posters and flyers – Table and chair rental (most spaces will have tables and chairs available, so this most likely won’t be a cost – but make sure to look into it) – Food and drinks (if you choose to have these available for free) – Décor (this can be very simple and cheap if you can make it yourself)
You can fundraise for the event with a concert, or set up a small Indiegogo campaign. Also, if you charge for tables, you can ask people to pay in advance so that you can cover any fees leading up to the event. So, if you have 25 people tabling and each person is paying $10, you have $250 to spend on the fair. (We will talk more about tabling fees and applications in the next post for the How to Organize a Zine Fair series). As well, you can ask for Pay What You Can donations at the door to cover any other costs for the day.
4. Book the date / space
Find a date that works for everyone involved – check that there isn’t anything else major happening on that day in your city or with the community of people you want to be involved in your fair; make sure it doesn’t fall on any religious holidays that will prevent people from attending. Then book your space!
This can be the hardest part. Ask around to other organizers about accessible and low cost spaces. Think of awesome events that you’ve been to and where they were held.
Make sure to do this well in advance. Ask for details about when you can set up and take down, and who you should be in contact with on the day-of if anything happens.
This is Part One of How to Organize a Feminist Zine Fair – Part Two will include more tips on promotion and planning the day’s events. Good luck with your amazing feminist organizing!
Amy Egerdeen is a Hamilton-based maker and social justice worker. You can find out more about her at amyegerdeen.com