Phoenix Zine Fair, a growing arts culture and DIY aesthetic

While most people mobbed around usual hotspots on First Friday, down the street on Grand Avenue a gathering of young artists and publishers displayed their work at legendary DIY venue, Trunkspace.

In the beginning, there was a magazine with a struggling artist writing and writing, hoping to be published. Always the magazine would respond with a "no" or "try again."

The struggling artist couldn't cope with "no" as an answer. His art must be brought to public light!

So one day, reclining in his wicker chair and smoking a Victorian pipe, the struggling artist stumbled upon an idea. Instead of submitting to another person's magazine, he would make his own.

And he wouldn't call it a magazine — no, much too mainstream.

Hence, the "maga" part was dropped (it was a drag anyway) and the "zine" was born.

Zines are usually self-published and released on low budgets. They adhere to principles of the Do-It-Yourself culture, which encourages people to do as much as possible themselves. And they are a response to the struggles that young and upcoming artists face in establishing and spreading their work.

While most people mobbed around usual Roosevelt hotspots at First Friday, down at Grand Ave a gathering of young artists and publishers were displaying their work at the legendary DIY venue Trunkspace.

The environment was friendly, lively and social. Most people there were friends or knew each other on a working basis.

One of the groups at the Zine Fair included Tempe publishing house The Paper Knife, who had a colorful booth with fun goodies such as a mason jar filled with miniature prints of art the group curates and endorses.

Another Tempe publishing power, The Normal Noise, had its two latest zines up for grabs and limited edition prints available.

Hush Baby, a Phoenix based zine that released an all-girls issue was an epic display of the reactionary powers of a zine. Based on their feelings for how sometimes artists make art for other people and for reasons not related to the art, they founded Hush Baby on the motto, "This is not for you," meaning that the art and writing featured in their zine isn't for the reader, but for the artist themselves and for art's sake only.

Although feminism was a key theme to Hush Baby's first release and next, Hush Baby was adamant about not representing themselves as a purely feminist zine. It encourages everyone to submit and contribute and are still accepting submissions up to April 24 for their next issue.

Most zine artists at the fair agreed that giving voice to young artists and segments of the population that had trouble finding places in traditional publishing means was key.

Damon Begay a visual artist who releases zines under the name of Interstellar Comix expressed that there is a place for zines in literature.

"Zines give voice to perspectives that are usually swept under the rug," he said. “Zines are literature, too.”

As a Native American, Begay said not all of his art was about his heritage, but it finds its way into his work. He was ecstatic about zines as a way for people of all of walks of life to “get your story told.”

Likewise, Ryan Mellor of Hush Baby spoke about how collaboration is an essential part of making and releasing a zine.

"The best things are made when lots of perspectives are thrown in,” she said.

Zine artist Samantha Rodriguez has published three zines herself and expressed her love of the zine as a “super independent” medium.

"Zines are a great way for me to channel how I feel,” she said.

Rodriguez stood for the fact that zines are accessible to everyone.

"Zines allow people to express things they wouldn’t be entirely comfortable saying out loud," she said.

Making personal experiences relatable were central to Rodriguez’s own zines. She said that zines sometimes are "people’s pointers" on how to survive this cruel world. Find Samantha's zines on here.

Feeling inspired? Go out and make a zine! The great part of a DIY culture is everyone can take part.

Follow the writer on twitter @looooogaaan.

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Correction: A previous version of this article referred to Ryan Mellor as a "he." "She" should have been used in reference to Mellor and a change has been made.

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