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Interviews Palette Magazine L.A. Zine Fest

Published on March 4th, 2014 | by Palette Magazine

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L.A. Zine Fest 2014

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By Palette Magazine

I found out about this festival about three days before it was to take place. Next year I hope to have more time to get really into the spirit of it and help promote it. Visiting the L.A. Zine Fest was fun. It creates a great sense of community and everyone is completely open and ready to talk about their work. The festival is a great place to be introduced to what is going on locally in zine culture. I was able to speak with a few artists at the fest and get their impression.

Definition of ‘Zine’ by one of the festivals organizers: Generally speaking, zines are a tangible, noncommercial, handmade publication, mostly in runs of 100 or less and often about unconventional subject matter.
 
Q: How is L.A. Zine Fest helpful to you in getting your work out as an independent artist of color?

Jeremy Arambulo – LA Zine Fest’s donation-based entry allowed for a great turnout. I encountered a really diverse group of people stopping by my table throughout the day.

Alisa Yang – Zine Fest is a great place in getting my work out; Besides being able reach out to new audience, I get to interact with the them and the buyer directly, it’s a great event to meet people, other zinester, and network.. It’s also very encouraging and helpful to receive feedback and to watch how people respond to my work.

Jennie Yim – What with the internet, there are lots of avenues through which I could present my work but what I like about LAZF and similar fests is that I can talk to people face to face and hear their reactions and laughs in real time to my stories. I have a couple comics which are directly about immigrant experience and it’s touching and empowering to hear other people’s immigration stories.
 

Q: How is this fest different from something like Comic Con?

John Pham – The differences are pretty obvious. You can start at the choice of venue: LA Zine Fest this year was held in a repurposed parking structure; we were setting up tables on top of parking dividers and motor oil stains. LA Zine Fest is the local farmers’ market, San Diego Comic Con is the WTO Ministerial Conference.

Alisa Yang – LA Zine Fest allows more alternative and independent small press and self publishers, the eclectic variety is unmatched by big mainstream fests. Free admission is great for encouraging people to visit, the cost for table/booth is way more affordable than Comic Con or APE(Alternative Press Expo). You are more likely to find zines that are handmade, unusual, limited editions, or just beautiful works of art.

Jennie Yim – LAZF is focused on artists/writers who self-publish whereas Comic Con is focused on franchises/brands with mass market appeal. Pretty much anyone can exhibit and sell at LAZF and this is facilitated by the inexpensive tabling fees, proximity to mass transportation and core of dedicated volunteer staff. There is so much good will and solidarity based on the common goal everyone has of having a safe space for people of all backgrounds to share their experiences, tell their stories.

Jeremy Arambulo – I preferred it way more than Comic Con. Independent creators/companies tend to get overshadowed by Comic Con’s larger spectacles/events.
 

Q: How are the stories or messages found in Zines different from what you might find in a more mainstream medium?

John Pham – Most mainstream media is meant only to exist as a sales pitch wrapped in a product. The sales pitch is to buy even more product, preferably of the same brand or series. Zines can be seen similarly, but there’s more of a focus on an individual’s (or like-minded collective) artistic vision or intent. Art vs Commerce if it was a basketball game: with zines, Art’s the Harlem Globetrotters and Commerce is the Washington Generals, and with mainstream media, it’s the other way around. It’s not a binary though, there can be lots of different positions along the spectrum whether you’re making a TV show or xerox black and white zine.

Alisa Yang – Zines tend to be more raw, honest, and experimental. It offers perspective and stories from marginalized or underrepresented sectors of the society that you won’t find in main stream media. The Zine community is very supportive, accepting, and friendly, which makes people feel comfortable giving their uncensored opinions and stories. Not having the pressure of mainstream medium to create things that are marketable for sales or being PC gives freedom for zinesters to explore and express whatever they desire, it is incredibly liberating.

Jennie Yim – It’s easy/inexpensive to make zines and as a result there are a lot of people from a wide range of backgrounds making zines and sharing their myriad of experiences through them and not being worried about their zines having mainstream appeal. Specifically women and POC are able to speak and be heard in the zine scene in a way that’s not currently possible in more mainstream media.

Bios

Jeremy Arambulo was nominated for a 2012 Emmy Award for his Graphic Design & Art Direction on HBO Documentaries’ Superheroes. He also storyboarded music videos for Matt & Kim and Noel Gallagher. Jeremy Arambulo was born and raised in New York. Studied Graphic Design at Boston University. www.jeremyarambulo.com

John Pham was awarded a self publishing grant from the Xeric Foundation in 2000 for his first comic book, Epoxy. His next series, Sublife (published by Fantagraphics Books) was nominated for Outstanding Artist, Outstanding Series, and Outstanding Comic at the 2010 Ignatz Awards. He was included in the 2010 and 2011 editions of The Best American Comics. He also contributed a story to volume 7 of the acclaimed anthology, Kramers Ergot. www.substitutelife.com

Jenny Yim grew up in Philadelphia, went to art school in NYC and then settled snugly into the SF Bay area where she divide her time between coffee, pupusas and walking up steep hills. She’s an illustrator, concept and storyboard artist available for freelance. www.jennieyim.com

Alisa Yang (a.k.a Sammy Sundae) is an artist, cartoonist, and illustrator based in Los Angeles. She received her BFA with honor from Art Center College of Design in 2009 and currently works as a curator at Gemini G.E.L and as a contributing illustrator for Artillery magazine. She exhibits widely, including Riverside Art Museum, Orange County Center For Contemporary Art, Mckinley Art and Culture Center in Reno, Another Year in LA gallery, and Gabba Gallery. Her work has been the subject of reviews in the LA Times, Fabrik magazine, and the Huffington Post. Her works can be viewed at www.AlisaYang.com and www.SundaeSpecial.com.

(PHOTOS available on FB of L.A. Zine Fest 2014)

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