Zines have been experiencing a kind of cultural resurgence and reinvention that is, at least in part, a response to the rise of the Internet. (The New York Times has been championing this trend for years now.) While mostly focused on the art of little handmade books, AZF's lectures and panels touch on all variety of DIY subjects: "History of Street Art talk and wheat paste demonstration," "Controlled Chaos: the perils, payoffs and pleasures of putting on DIY shows," "Feminist Perspectives on DIY Blogging and Zine-making," and so on.
CL caught up with Amanda Mills, co-founder and organizer of the event, to talk about zines and her plans for the festival.
This is the first year for Atlanta Zine Fest. How did it come about?
AZF was born through my friendship with a Canadian actually. She and I are compared incessantly. Before I met her, our mutual friend, Josh Fauver, told me that I had to meet this girl named Tracy Soo-Ming. "You guys are exactly alike. And I'm not sure which one is the evil twin," he said. Eventually she found me on Facebook back in April. We pretty immediately started organizing a volunteer base and fundraisers. More significantly, she became one of my best friends - which is not a term I use lightly. I have never found someone who has such similar interests as me.
We both have been involved with zines since elementary school. Riot grrrl has an indelible role. My childhood - and that of all my girl friends - was rife with violence and poverty. Riot grrrl really helped me understand the relationship between my experiences and the broader scope of feminist politics, including how to articulate these concerns. Here is where zines come in. For me, zines are inherently political. Zines allow for fringe expression, or counter-responses and alternatives to mainstream media. It's a medium that is accessible to everyone. Honestly I consider myself a sort of community cheerleader in that I'm always trying to hype and organize other people's talent - of which there's an insane wealth in Atlanta - and concentrate it into more accessible venues. This is what AZF comes down to. Exposing and in tandem creating an Atlanta zine community.
What's your impression of the zine community in Atlanta?
I know that before I was publicly involved in the Atlanta community there were other efforts to concentrate zinesters here, including Mad Ratz and Wonderroot's zine library. These were both before my time. Right now, I can say that my impression is that there is a lot of energy but a lack of cohesiveness. I don't mean this as a criticism towards the amazing people in Atlanta; just that I saw a gap and am trying to fill it. Hopefully this will create a space for more awesome things to manifest. I think that's the objective of AZF and the Atlanta Zine Library, which I also run. I'm trying to give outlets to creative energy that is already totally vibrant and ready to burst.
Whose work are you excited about?
I'm super pumped about Becky Furey and Jeremy McCleary's table. They both do really amazing - albeit completely different - work. Becky designed this year's AZF shirt and has been making zines in Atlanta for years. She's also a member of Plastic Aztecs, a local art collective with 4 badass women. Both of them do a lot of flyer and tape artwork for local bands too. Peco Dory's weird, experimental writing is really genius. He's sharing a table with a really talented artist, Sunny. I'm also really eager to see what People of Color (POC) Zine Project is bringing. They're based out of Bronx and do really important work in bringing non-whites to the forefront of zine communities. This is something that AZF Is highly lacking, and I really appreciate their presence this year. AZF will have a table with lots of great stuff, including zines from people who didn't have enough material to warrant a whole table but still made stuff for the fest. And I suppose I should mention my tape label, Big Blonde, which has a table too. I'm up to 18 local releases now!
The fest has a big schedule of speakers and panels. Which seminars are you most excited about?
It's incredibly difficult to pick a favorite speaker or panel. I was really surprised at how well this part of the festival turned out. We have a little bit of everything: sticker-making, wheatpasting, and multi-media button making include some of the workshops. I'm really excited that the esteemed Kill Your Darlings writing group is doing a workshop. The speakers and panels range from talks on social media to booking your own house shows. Although this is a zine fest we're really highlighting all aspects of DIY culture. These things all work in tandem. Zines are a medium to express DIY ethos. Many participants are distributing zines made especially for their guest talks, so that's another incentive to attend the panels.
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