Doing It Yourself But Meeting Together: Chicago Zine Fest Celebrates Self-Publishing

Celebrate the art of self-publishing this weekend at Chicago Zine Fest. It’s one of the city’s largest independent festivals. The seventh annual festival is happening this Friday and Saturday.

All-ages events will kick off Friday evening with a panel discussion called “Permission Not Granted: Women of Color and the Politics of Zines” followed by readings from some of the Zine Festival exhibitors.

One of the Zine Fest organizers, John Wawrzaszek, said self-publishing through zines allows for more creative freedom. Unlike magazines and academic journals, an author of a zine dictates what is published, when it’s published, and what the publication looks like. Unlike an online blog, a zinester must meet with people face-to-face to distribute physical work. “If you’re in a bubble, you aren’t going to be learning,” Wawrzaszek said.


Nearly 250 zine publishers will be featured on Saturday. They’ll be selling their work and talking to festival-goers. Throughout the day, the festival will provide workshops — which include anything from a “Cute Animal Drawing” to a live radio segment from Lumpen Radio.

Wawzaszek has been involved with Chicago Zine Fest since it first started in 2010. Before Chicago Zine Fest launched, he went to Milwaukee’s festival and noticed that there were tables full of Chicago zinesters. It made sense for the community of Chicago zinesters to create their own festival. After volunteering during Zine Fest’s inaugural year, he started to help organize the event.

Using your hands to fold and staple a magazine adds a layer of pride and craft. The festival helps demonstrate the accessibility and creativity of zine-making. With the variety of zines and comics available for people to see, Wawrzaszek said newcomers to zine-making might ask, “what’s stopping me?”

The event is free. But bring some cash in case you want to take home a zine or donate. Just swing by Workshop Chicago (935 W. Chestnut St. Suite 530) this Friday or Local 130 Plumbers Union Hall (1340 W Washington Blvd, Fl 2) this Saturday. The event is for all ages, it is wheelchair accessible, and it is open to the public.

Colin S. Smith
Colin S. Smith

Colin Smith thinks that Chicago right now is the place to be for music. He works for Illinois Humanities, is a freelance writer, and plays psychedelic-pop songs with his band.

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