Spokane Zine Fest honors small but mighty medium

October 5, 2018

“Though (they) be but little, (they are) fierce.”

When modified, the quotation from Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” describes zines perfectly.

Sometimes comedic, sometimes political, often personal, zines pack a lot of poetic and artistic punch in just a few pages.

According to Spokane Zine Fest co-founders Chelsea Martin and Ian Amberson, zines can be lo-fi affairs (“Xeroxed copies of sketchbooks”), professionally printed with hand-bound stitching, and everything in between.

Content often centers around alternative culture or marginalized ideas, or contains art and writing that wouldn’t get published by other outlets.

When Martin and Amberson moved to Spokane two years ago, they set off in search of people making zines and places to showcase zines of their own.

They found a lot of the former, but not a lot of the latter, save for the Bird’s Nest Zine Library.

“We saw that it was happening but we didn’t see where they were being sold or an organized event around them,” Martin said.

As creators and consumers, Amberson and Martin appreciate zines because they are an affordable way to support a creator and take home a piece of homemade art, much of which, given the small runs zines see, can be considered limited edition.

Last year, the pair received a grant through Spokane Arts that they put toward the first Spokane Zine Fest, which brought about 15 writers and creators to the Bartlett for a one-day celebration of the medium.

“It was a shot in the dark,” Amberson said. “We were a little worried that no one would apply after we got the grant, but it worked out.”

Zines of all shapes and sizes, plus small press books, comics, drawings, prints cards and other handmade paper goods will once again get their due at the second annual Spokane Zine Fest, Saturday at the Bartlett.

Spokane Zine Fest 2018 features 20 people, both individual creators and group collaborations, from Spokane, Seattle and Missoula.

“A lot of these people weren’t at Zine Fest last year so we have a lot of new faces we haven’t met yet,” Martin said.

This year’s festival includes the work of June T Sanders, Tracy Hall, Collin Horner, Seattle collective miXed, Mason Smith, Erin Dailey, Tim Greenup, Kate Reed, Emma Noyes, Spokane’s feminist art festival Fem Fest, Nicki Sabalu, Seattle’s Archive Six, WTF! Fashion Magazine, Dan Scully and Simeon Mills.

Attendees will also have a chance to enter a raffle for prizes including a gift card to Auntie’s Bookstore, a Tim Greenup broadside, copies of Lilac City Fairy Tales Vol. 4 “Towers and Dungeons” and Sharma Shields’ “The Sasquatch Hunter’s Almanac,” shirts and a mug from Boo Radley’s and a notebook kit from Art Salvage.

From the looks of it, the community at large is warming up to the idea of zines. This year, Martin and Amberson were able to offer free tables to four artists through table scholarships funded by community donations.

“I think it will be a good chance for people to have a first encounter with some self-publishing stuff they might not see anywhere else,” Amberson said.

Spokane still has a ways to go (Amberson said sometimes people pronounce “zine” like “line”) but events like Spokane Zine Fest are making zines a bigger part of the local arts community.

“It feels like we’re bringing awareness,” Martin said.

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