Portland Zine Symposium 2011
August 13, 2011

The 2011 Portland Zine Symposium was wildly successful! This was the first year in a new location, which was really great! We had a lot more light, and separate rooms for tables, so it felt more split up and not quite so overwhelming to walk into. As usual, every single table was overflowing with great new projects.

I sat next to this really great doorway arch of bamboo and paper cranes!

Here’s day one. I took a bit different approach to my table display this year, I borrowed some really great acrylic book holders from work that allowed me to stand up all my zines, and have a lot more table space than previous years. I decided to bring my typewriter for the display partially because of the extra space, but also because I talk about it in my two newest zines, so I thought it’d be a cool edition, and it goes along with my whole aesthetic.

You can see my two newest projects – on the second book display from the left, in the front pocket, with the typewriters image on the front, is my zine called How I Became A Connoisseur of STUFF. It is a zine about the fine, almost microscopic line, between collecting and hoarding. The other new zine is laying out in front of the typewriter. It’s called Carriage Return*, and it’s a zine of typewriter drawings I did. I’ll make another post soon with more info/details on these zines, and how you can get them!

Day two. Notice the blue paper note in place of HIBACoS… I sold out! I made a little note so that people could leave their email address, and I’d let them know when the second round of copying was finished and it was in my Etsy page. The zine was really popular, much to my surprise and glee! The Multnomah County Library bought 6, and it will soon be in circulation, joining my zine The Left Handed Knitter. So exciting!!!

Here’s Nichole’s side, my trusty tabling mate. I love how our things look together!

All in all it was a great weekend, I did some awesome trades, bought some intriguing zines, and bumped into some old friends. And this year, surprisingly enough, I actually made a little money. I’m never in it to make a buck, but it’s always a great surprise to come home with more than I left the house with. It’s also always a huge compliment that people consider my publications worth a few singles. I had one lady spent $16 at my table alone! She bought several things for a friend, and one or two zines she bought two of. A lot of times people will go right by my table, especially the guys, because my aesthetic is pretty specific and it just doesn’t appeal to everyone. That’s totally okay with me, we all have our tastes. And it usually means that the people who are interested in my stuff really love it, because the style appeals to them so much. I always come home feeling so inspired from the weekend, it’s really a fantastic feeling.  I’m already developing ideas for next year!

Here’s the view from my side of things.

Portland Zine Symposium Summer 2010
September 7, 2010

Well, it seems I am still recovering from the symposium, a week and a half ago.

I had a really amazing time, met lots of people, saw many familiar faces, and was completely overwhelmed with the sheer volume of impressive and wonderful things that people brought to trade and sell.

I made many sales as well as trades, which I haven’t done as much of in the past. It’s really nice to be able to think of your goods not only as something worth money to others, but something that is as good as money, and a bargaining tool! My most popular item by far was the Left-Handed Knitter.  I sold several packages of Beat Writers Notebook series, one to a journalist who remembered interviewing Allen Ginsberg and told me a great story about driving around with him looking for Kerouac’s mom’s house in Florida some twenty-five years ago.  I gave out a ton of business cards for both my Etsy and this blog, which I hope may bring in a few new interested readers. If you are reading this post as a result of a business card you picked up at the symposium, please say hi in the comments!

Most notable of my sales, I sold 6 of my new zine The Left-Handed Knitter (etsy link forthcoming) to the Multnomah County Library. They have quite an extensive zine collection and are very wonderful about supporting the local zine community. They bought one copy for each of their locations in the greater Portland area, so my zine will be available to check out! I’m really excited about this, and can’t wait to see what kinds of feedback I get on the site and my work.  Very exciting news.

These covers were a little agonizing to cut… The creative part of my mind works so much faster than the logical, planning part. I get these genius ideas but never think through the production and definitely underestimate any time it will take to complete things. But somehow it always seems worth it in the end!

Nichole made a really cute banner for her table with her main zine name, Little Lady. This is our third year tabling together, I’m so glad she decided to come out of her tabling hiatus to hang out with me this year!

Here’s the muscle who helped me lug all my crap in, and most charmingly peddled my wares! Rian also gets credit for all the pics. Boyfriend of the year!

And so ends this year’s zine symposium… and I’m already looking forward to next year! I have a few zines in mind to start working on this winter – my mom has been trying to talk me into making a zine with short stories/accounts of awful, funny, awkward, and furious encounters I have with customers at my work, of which there are many. I think this would be ultimate if I could accompany the stories with comical little drawings, which is something I may have to contract out. I also was thinking of making a mini-zine with my funniest twitter updates.. though I’m still wondering whether anyone else will find me as hilarious as I find myself. While walking around, Rian and I were inspired by a little zine about wiener dogs, and I think we should try out hand at our own fanzine.. Well, I have a whole year to think about these things! Stay tuned for further posts on the library’s catalog, I’ll let you know when my zine is available for checkout!

Zine Making Party
August 4, 2010

Nichole and I have had a few days of intense zine making
sessions in preparation for the Zine Symposium.

I am debuting a few new projects this year – one is a zine of a personal piece of writing, one was the Beat Writers notebook series which have been finished for a little while now, and the third and most complicated project is a craft zine introduction to left-handed knitting, complete with images and video tutorial supplements which I will feature on this blog. I have had an incredibly awesome time playing around with imovie on my new(ish) macbook, and have completed four videos for the zine. When I first cooked up this idea I dreamed of burning the videos onto a dvd to pair with the zine, but in the end I decided I wanted to have music along with the videos and I knew there would be copyright issues because I would technically be selling the videos with my zine, and making a profit (as small as it may be.) So, I include links for the videos in the book, and it turned into a crafty (no pun intended) way to get people to come visit my blog.

Nichole has been my PZS buddy for a few years now – in fact we were introduced by a mutual friend at a symposium about 6 years ago. We started tabling together, and 3 of the last 4 years I tabled next to her. It’s always fun to have someone to sit next to and visit with, and we usually take turns watching each others table while the other walks around. Then later we compare things we found, because it’s always so hard to see everything, that someone can show you what you missed. We also have really similar taste in zine reading material, and cute stuff, so we get along great. Nichole makes really fun and cute zines with photography, personal writing, and ephemera from old children’s books that is very nostalgic and sweet. Her Etsy shop is currently closed, but you can sign up to receive updates when she reopens!

our tastes are so similar, see if you can guess who’s table is who from the above and below pics…

Anyway, as the 28th and 29th draw near, we are getting super excited and are planning down to the last minute detail our new creations. Both of my new zines are 95% complete, and are almost ready for copying. For me this is the most exciting part, when all these little pieces come together and suddenly with a copy and a few cuts, your work folds into a book. I will post some images once final production takes place, and of course will have a full report of the symposium. If you happen to be reading and are a Portland resident, you should definitely come check it out at PSU! here’s the website, once again… www.pdxzines.com

Table Display prep for PZS 2010
June 30, 2010

I have been working on some really great displays for my table at the Portland Zine Symposium this august.

So much of the experience as a tabler is about presentation. Not only is a decorated table more inviting and approachable, but the way that you present your goods can make or break sales! The past few years I spiced up my table with jewelry boxes, vintage cups and dishes, and cute tablecloths. But I always displayed my books and zines laying flat on the table, which isn’t very exciting or enticing for people to pick up and look through things. So, I have been scouring Goodwill for things like vintage napkin holders, letter stands, and other things I can stack and lean to hold books. Here are a few things I have collected so far:

An old napkin holder, that I have had forever and used to store letters in. I have a deep seated love for tacky resin plaques and ephemera with abalone in them!

This is a drawered jewelry box I got at Goodwill. It was painted a dirty gray color with purple outlining the drawers. I painted it magenta and coated with a few layers of modpodge, for shine. I am making a table cloth that is a deep turquoise lace over a lavender cotton, so I think this color will really compliment. I haven’t painted the inside of the drawers in hopes of lining them with some purple velvet I found in my mom’s fabric stash. I think my key books will look really great in the drawers, with maybe a little dish on top with business cards.

Last but certainly not least, I found this little gem on a Goodwill outing with my grandma last week. It set me back a whole $4! I think my books will look so cute leaning back inside of it! And the color scheme goes along with everything really nicely. My mom has already (tried to) lay claim on it once the symposium is over. we’ll see…

Portland Zine Symposium 2010
May 19, 2010

I just paid for and confirmed my table for the 2010 Portland Zine Symposium!

This will be my 8th year in attendance, and 5th year tabling. Wow! It’s crazy to think about.

I first started making zines after taking a zine workshop almost 10 years ago at Girls Rock Camp, and have been reading and making zines ever since. While I enjoy reading zines of all kinds, most of the ones I make are poetry and writing. Especially after studying Book Art at school, I’m really interested in bridging the gap between zines and fine art book making – I like to try and incorporate little details like binding, cut outs, and printing techniques to give my zines a little leg up from plain old quarter page sized, xeroxed and stapled.

As the symposium looms ahead, I’ve decided I want to make AT LEAST one new zine before tabling begins. This was my plan last year, and I was actually able to turn out an exciting new book – and finished binding it AT my table while the crowd rolled in to browse, ha. You can see that book on my Etsy (I will eventually make a more detailed post about it here.) Anyway, as I have been trying to imagine up a new zine to make for this summer, I have been developing this post as well.

Here are a few simple techniques I have seen that are great ways to spice up a zine:

Color! may seem like a no-brainer, but adding a little color to your zines can go a l-o-n-g way. And you don’t have to spend a ton of money on glossy ink prints… You can xerox your covers onto recycled colored construction paper, or add inserts or have one or two pages with color images.  It really makes you stand out!

Special paper! An easy way to make your zine noticeable is to use different kinds of papers rather than generic white printer paper.You can make your whole book in textured, printed, or otherwise noticeable paper, or you can just accentuate the cover or one page with it. A realllllly cheap and easy way of doing this is adding a see through paper, usually vellum or some sort of tissue, as the second page (after the cover) of your zine. When the reader opens the cover, they see the title page of the zine, but through a sheen of another paper. Very tangible and appealing! almost like a fog, setting a mood…

Size! Another vastly simple but huge factor in zine making. The classic sizes are half sheet, and quarter sheet. I tend to make things small, so I often go for a size that is inbetween these two. Even just using 8.5″ x 11″ paper, there are tons more options – fold the sheet in half longways (hotdog), and then tri-fold it widthways (hamburger) so that your end result is a zine that is 4.25″ x 3.33″ (1/6th size). Or, start with 8.5″ x 14″ paper. fold it in half widthways, for a larger zine, or fold it in half and then tri fold the same as the way I just mentioned – end result is 4.25″ x 4.33″. You can also fold paper in half length or width wise, but then just trim off a few inches of the other size, rather then folding it exactly in half the opposite way. Experiment! I always make models of my books, even if just for a visual reference for size and how things will be perceived. Because it changes so much!

Binding! You can bind your zine with almost anything – don’t let yourself be limited to staples. And you really don’t need any kind of fancy book binding techniques, although those are often impressive to the average zine reader. I’ve seen books bound with everything from wire, rubber bands, fishing line, ribbon, intricately cut straws that stick through tabs, brads, yarn, magnets, even weird stuff, like hair. (Then again, I’ve seen a book made out of underwear and used sanitary napkins, so pretty much nothing shocks me. And no, I don’t really want to talk about the Period Book 😦 ) Sure some of these were higher end book art projects, but I’m a huge advocate of figuring out how elements of “fine art” can  be adapted for simpler, easier to mass produce projects. Some typical-yet-not-stapled bindings I have seen used in zines are the french door binding, japanese stab binding, comb binding, heat binding, and good old fashioned pamphlet stitch.

Content! Duh! Make your zine about something interesting, so that people will want to read it. Here’s one thing I have really noticed about the zine symposium, and any other place you peddle your handmade books – if it looks intriguing on the outside, people will pick it up, but they will usually only flip through for a few seconds before putting it back down again. Especially in today’s economy, where we are spending less and less money on impulse buys and non-necessities, it’s very hard to market your things if they aren’t eye catching. With that being said, there is no surefire way to make everyone love what you do – you will always have a target audience and certain people will and won’t be attracted to what you zine about. However, there are ways to spice up your content. Above all, images are most important. If you write a zine about recipes, intersperse some pics of your concoctions with ideas about how they should be presented. If you write poetry, develop certain themes throughout your zines and include personal artwork or photography that relate to your themes.  If you write zines about your adventures in a wacky job, foreign travels, funny stories about your pet, your interesting fashion sense… by all means, go crazy with visuals! Not only are they an easy way to ensure that your reader gets the right image from your writing, but they help to split up larger blocks of text that most people would otherwise be less likely to read. You can see this technique in….. about every blog post I make, ha!

here’s a pic from my table a few years ago. Check out my ‘About Me’ page for another pic!

As the dates get closer, I’ll make a few most posts, in case any readers who are in town stumble across the post. And of course, you will see pictures and accounts after the weekend, which is sure to be an absolute blast as usual.