2022 Charleston Zine Fest Reflection

Jan 4, 2023

Summary: Last year TINYisPOWERFUL participated in the 5th annual Charleston Zine Fest (2022) – an initiative started by Leigh Sabish of Sarden Press that was primarily organized by Sage Graham this year. During this event artists, zine makers and a diverse set of TINY businesses from South Carolina, North Carolina, Georgia and other east coast states vended/shared their wares. The only requirement being that you had to have at least one zine offering. The Fest also consisted of lectures / workshops where vendors and fest-goers could learn something new. This year TINYisPOWERFUL attended the event with the goal of becoming more connected with the local zine community. This was done by attending lectures, visiting other tables and getting social media and other modes of contact.

This event was one of TINYisPOWERFUL’s public facing events, allowing for charlestonians and visitors to learn about TINYisPOWERFUL and pick up one of our prototype zines. Preparing for this event kicked off the development for the zine program to extend beyond the groups zine 843?, with a total of 4 zines being offered, 3 zines on view / display and 2 zines in the works: a digital version of 843?’s edition 2 and a Noise Pollution zine. And a lecture / workshop was facilitated and led ushering in quality conversation and more connecting with the zine community.

Overall thoughts on experience

Overall the Charleston Zine Festive was a great learning experience and it was nice to have what one could consider the first public event/offering for the currently developing TINYisPOWERFUL’s Zine Program.

What are thoughts on the workshop? Ex: How was the atmosphere? What went well? What can be improved? How was it received by the group?

The workshop was a semi – success. The environment was nice and comfy and because we were a relatively small group that was intergenerational and made up of mostly chill people there was room for improvisation. I led the group lightly by providing my definition of what a zine was, and giving some questions for the group to respond to in pre-made blank paper bag hidden room zines. Then a large chunk of time was allot for people to make their zines with their responses and other elements. Share-out was interesting, and it felt like everyone got to know each other better through their responses.

A few things I would change are:
Next time I would like to do a demonstration for participants on how to make their own paper bag blank booklet
Allot 1hr for the zine making instead of the 40 minutes
Allot at least 20 minutes (or more) for share-out
Have wrap up materials ready to go before workshop
Including a zine version of the workshop and about TINYisPOWERFUL for participants
Pull from other zine workshop materials, or more so accumulating them all into one so that there is one zine workshop that would go for a 2-5 hour time period
Having more art supplies available, we had a good bit, but I felt like more would have been great, like stickers and magazines for collaging etc . . .

How were the other workshops? How will they be incorporated into the work?

The other workshops were great! I participated in two. One was by the TINY business Tiny Megaphone and another was by someone who was a local art student (though I think they’ve graduated before the fest?). Both were very informative with the workshop by TM providing 2 free zines and a whole handout to help a small art business plan out their content and marketing strategy. The second one was about relief printing which taught techniques in how to do basic / intermediate relief printing.

With the relief printing I would like to utilize that to make prints surrounding the characters that are being created to visually represent different areas of TINYisPOWERFUL. Also to create artworks that could be and generate revenue for TINY.

With the knowledge and materials gained from Tiny Megaphone I’d like to create a well developed content plan. So that we can consistently content plan in a way that stays true to us, but that is sustainable over a long period of time.

What did it feel like at the table? What are some procedures and scheduling that could be worked on?

I loved being at the table! It felt like being an artist at a convention, especially when I was explaining each zine and TINYisPOWERFUL. And it was really cool that the fest had the service of providing a person to sit at your table so you can join a workshop (if you didn’t have anyone to watch your table at the time of the workshop/lecture). I think for the first time at this festival we did great at set-up and take down. Everything was quick and took about 15-30 minutes to accomplish. So at this time there really isn’t anything I would have changed about what we did at the table. In fact I think a similar approach, two people setting up & breaking down, with 3-4 people rotating managing the table would suffice for next year.

What would I add though?
Artwork & Collab notes: so that when I’m not at the table people don’t have to just pull from memories of conversations with me or the person who was leading the project a zine is inspired by.
A donation link! Hopefully by next year we will have it set – up so that people can donate. I feel like people didn’t want to take the free zines because they wanted to be able to compensate us as artists and felt bad about not having a route to do that.
A donation flier as well that can be picked up with information about how to donate and that prompts them to go to the zine page.
Also a goal next year is to have digital options and a flushed out zine page on the website so that they can explore more options on their own time.
Zine kits in individual packaging. I think people were hesitant to take a blank booklet because, well we are still in a pandemic and a blank booklet with no artwork or stimulating visuals (after some thinking) aren’t really that appealing.
Oh! Maybe we can plan for there to be 5 of us so that we can volunteer to be the person sitting at other’s tables. Like an organic way to network that is beneficial to the fest.

What connections were made? How can those be more developed / next steps?

Well right off the rip Sage and Leigh now know us a little! This will probably make it easier to participate in future zine fests. And if we build up a good enough repertoire then we could co-organize either future fest or do some organic promotion.

I had some conversation with Tiny Megaphone after her workshop and a future ZOOM call Workshop with her would be a great way to continue the momentum (I tried to ask about in – person but she lives in another state and it would take up more time/resources).

There were more light connections made with the tables besides us. One was a farm and the other was an art business / zinesiter so it’s a matter of connecting for conversation and collaborations in the future.

What are the necessary wrap – up and more next steps?

Well this reflection is one of them, along with reaching out to the other tablers and workshop participants.

When it comes to the workshop participants I need to send them a newsletter follow-up with the following: tips and tricks on how to incorporate art into their daily lives and link to the zine page which needs to have a few things added to it at this time.

Zine page update: I have to schedule a live tutorial and then upload that, finish creating the downloadable version of edition 2 (which is half way done), add an updated version of the workshop (this will be the 3-5 hour version), upload all the photos of the prep process and the fest experience.

Rayn 🌼