Competition for gallery space and limited resources have always been obstacles in visual artists’ careers. Fanzines, or zines, are one approach to surmounting this creative struggle.
Zines are a self-published collection of images, illustration or text produced cheaply for small-scale circulation. For artists like SF State alum Derek Macario, zines are driven by self-expression rather than the intention of generating profit. Alongside the members of his creative collective Local Punch, Macario will be participating in the 14th annual SF Zine Fest Sept. 6 at the San Francisco County Fair Building.
The San Francisco natives of Local Punch were accepted to feature their photography, prints, sketches and paintings as a six-person group. Macario, who has been attending Zine Fest since his freshman year in college, looks at the event as an opportunity to meet artists on a one-on-one basis and appreciate their craft.
“Zines are a cheap, accessible way for artists to share their ideas,” Macario said. “In the city, it can be hard to have an art show unless you know someone. Zine Fest is a way for artists to get together in a casual setting and support each others work.”
Unlike in years past, when vendors could purchase tables on a first-come-first-serve basis, the event will be curated through a submissions process in which applicants are selected for exhibition, according to the SF Zine Fest website.
SF Zine Fest’s Director, Liz Mayorga, said that the event is a special occasion for the community, put together by the community, as it hosts a diverse crowd and is funded by artists.
“The tabling artists themselves, through their tabling fees, are the primary funding sources for putting on SF Zine Fest,” said Ramon Solis, SF Zine Fest business director, in an email. “This year was the first time we earned grant funding, which was generously provided by Southern Exposure Gallery in the Mission.”
Macario will be sharing two photo zines, one of which is a collection of images taken over the span of several seasons and the other is a photo series examining the ever changing social landscape of San Francisco’s neighborhoods. Macario said his more narrative zine, “No Longer Eventual” is about how time has touched the places he’s seen growing up in San Francisco.
“Events like this are great because you can see how attendees respond to your work and get feedback from other artists,” Macario said.
From an administrative perspective, Mayorga said she values SF Zine Fest’s inclusiveness and the space it provides for artists to belong.
“As an artist it’s so familiar to feel uncomfortable,” Mayorga said. “Often times work you value most isn’t for monetary gain, it’s really personal. Zine Fest is a nurturing environment where artists can feel experience a solid sense of identity.”