On Saturday, I had the opportunity to go to the Chicago Zine Fest, located at Columbia College Chicago in downtown. There were many artists and publishers exhibiting their work and it was great to see independent artists get together and showcase their talents. What is a “zine”? Here’s how the Chicago Zine Fest website describes it:
A zine (an abbreviation of the word fanzine, or magazine; pronounced â??zeenâ?) is most commonly a small circulation publication of original or appropriated texts and images. More broadly, the term encompasses any self-published work of minority interest usually reproduced via photocopier on a variety of colored paper stock.
I arrived at the Conway Building where it was being held around the afternoon. It was a windy day and once I entered, I warmed up immediately. There were many artists and art students walking up and down the aisles, looking at the exhibitors’ works and buying them for modest prices. The vendors took up the 1st and 8th floor and being that this was an art college, you can expect to find creative individuals everywhere. Be they independent comics, DIY zines, or prints & posters, it was great to be able to interact with a community that thrives on the “underground” spectrum. These are creators and independent publishers from the Millennial Generation who find success through new outlets like social networking and blogs (Tumblr, Kickstarter, Etsy, etc.). This was a great opportunity for all of them to get together and swap, not only zines, but experiences.
What’s so unique about these independent artists and publishers is that they have ultimate, creative control over their works and that’s something to be admired. We live in a world where corporations and companies have the biggest media awareness but thanks to new methods of communication like the Internet, products are now being put back into the hands of the creatives.
At the Chicago Zine Fest, I met up with Isabelle Rizo, founder of The BellaVie, a website dedicated to DIY guides to education, living, and travel. She had just come back from Shanghai, where she spent a couple months teaching local children, and I had the chance to interview her.
Q: How did you start The BellaVie Project?
A: I started it in high school. After I graduated, I found out that there were lots of resources for college students and that they didn’t have to go into a ton of debt. I found out about zines, self-publishings, and DIYs, so I started making zines and blogging.
Q:Â What do you hope to accomplish with The BellaVie?
A:Â I want to make new friends and more pen pals, and then find out about more interesting zines because they’re really hard to find. It’s different meeting someone in person, instead of just the Internet, so that face-time is good.
Q: What do you think about the Chicago Zine Fest?
A: I love it! I wish it was more often, instead of just once a year.
Q: So what do you think about the independent, creator-driven aspect of this?
A: That’s what I love! It’s what I like to support on my blog: promote independent artists, independent businesses…because I like everything independent!