By Kari Kleinmann
When I stepped into the Canzine West Festival at the Ukrainian Hall last weekend I was instantly overwhelmed by the array of choices. Where to go first? My strategy was to visit all of the tables before making a decision about which zines to collect. A zine fair is like being in a candy store. One could easily end up with a sore stomach and an empty wallet without this approach. With so many varieties, how do you choose? My own personal decisions are based on the aesthetics of a zine. I am the type of connoisseur who likes to enjoy the zine in its entirety after purchasing it. As a bookmaker, I also love the idea of containment. If there is a special nuance in the packaging, I am sold.
For anyone who is unfamiliar with zine culture, it is a space where artists create easily producible multiples ranging from comics, prose, and academia to photographic montages. The medium is open to the artist’s imagination, and is distributed at a low cost to maintain accessibility. Zines can either be the artist’s own work or a collection of submissions. My favorite part about a zine is sharing them with my peers; almost everyone loves receiving sweets, so why not in the form of a zine?
Just like a candy store, there was so much variety. The vendors at the fair ranged from individual artists to local publication studios and outlets, all of whom were very friendly, informative and welcoming. Several vendors caught my attention. Project Space, a bookshop, programming space, and studio, is located at 222 East Georgia. They work with OCW Arts and Publishing Foundation**. I picked up a zine by OCW. It was submission-based and worked within the theme of “Atmosphere.” It is dominantly photo-based and came in a mailing envelope appropriately sized, just like a sinful chocolate bar. White Rabbit Quarterly is a Vancouver-based zine that is distributed freely. The material within the zines is by a collection of artists, and is often engaging, both critically and aesthetically. Motto Distribution works out of the Or Gallery at 555 Hamilton. They focus on artist publications as well.
Spartacus is non-profit bookstore at 684 East Hastings Street, which focuses on political, theoretical and philosophical publications—an important consideration in anyone’s practice. Anteism is a publication outlet that focuses on new, emerging artists. Not only do they publish zines, but also more heavily content-oriented books, all which are handmade. I really liked that they focus on emerging artists, rather than established ones. Patrick Cruz and Kurtis Wilson are freelance artists; Cruz had a coordinated table indicative of his practice, and a full-colour zine to match. I picked up a zine by Wilson that was also an array of high-quality, full-colour photos. This treat appeared to be of higher quality in the zine market, and made of finer ingredients. He was also selling real sweets in addition: pecan tarts.
There were some great talks and workshops happening: live readings, a make-a-zine-in-one-hour workshop, a talk on distribution by Keith Higgins and Kathy Slade of Publication Studio, (a local Vancouver studio that publishes artist books), and an indie-writer death match: a collection of independent writers who read short stories that were then critiqued by a panel of judges, who eventually determined the winner.
At the end of the day, I managed to get my sugar fix in the form of paper, ink, and staples. I sat back and crashed from my buzz while enjoying the amazing content I took home.
For more information: http://www.brokenpencil.com/canzine-vancouver