Long Beach Zine Fest is the Epitome of Independent and DIY Culture

Self-publishing artists have given themselves a voice and a chance to be heard (err, read…) loud and proud at the Long Beach Zine Fest this Sunday, August 6. The LBZF will make its third annual return to the Museum of Latin American Art and will be jam-packed with all sorts of entertainment. Guests can expect zines from over 100 independent-publishers, live music, workshops and panels presented by experts from various zine sub-cultures, 3D printing and zine-making, zines available for purchase from the one and only zine library in California, and of course, great local craft beer and food. The cherry on top? Admission is free. It doesn’t get any better than this.

Zinesters will attribute their work to LBZF’s central theme, “The Future is Folded”. LBZF isn’t an event for locals only, but rather, one where everyone regardless of their experience, ethnicity, and county (and even country for one zinester’s case) is given an equal chance to showcase their best creations.

Sarah Bennett, one of the coordinators for the event (who is also a scribe for the Weekly) describes zines as a means of giving people, especially the younger generations who have grown up in a digital age, the chance to “explore print and the possibilities of it.” It is also a means of being able to relate to one another; Bennett uses the example of someone picking up a zine and being comforted by someone other than themselves writing about being Chicana or someone else’s parents immigrating and speaking Spanglish. Participants and guests can unify through their artistic expression.

“There’s a whole new generation that is waking up to this, and it’s something that’s totally fresh to them, and they’re motivated and inspired by it. It’s a new medium,” Bennett tells the Weekly. “Back in the day, people picked up a paint brush, a canvas, or went to the art store and did that. Young people now are picking up a pen and an X-Acto knife and making zines again, which is great.”

Whether it’s through words, photographs, or art, zinesters will be able to express themselves politically, culturally, comically…you name it. It’s a celebration of DIY and a medium that has broken into the mainstream and offers a form of escapism for creators. Let’s be honest here – in this day and age, escapism is necessary in order to maintain some level of sanity. I mean, how the hell else are we going to cope with what’s going on in the world?

Local Long Beach musician and headlining act, Rudy De Anda, noticed the event’s turnouts the previous years resulting in success; there was a high level of interest considering people were traveling from all over California to attend. He then realized it would be worth his while to play at an event he watched grow. De Anda used to attend punk shows in his early teen years and would always see zines on the tables. He mentions how zines create a platform and network for people who are simply wanting to connect, especially culturally. And to think – this is all possible through the mutual interest of writing, drawing, stapling, and gluing some pages together.

“It’s a subculture of communicating among the youth,” De Anda says. “I’ve been exposed to it enough to where I can appreciate it, and I know what it means to these kids.”

Nicole Valencia, a photographer, writer, and aspiring filmmaker, will be participating in LBZF this weekend. Her first-ever zine “Girls Will Be Girls” will be published through Plants and Chairs; it is a photo-poetry zine about the experience of love, loss, sexual relationships, and modern identity expressed through photography and poetry. Valencia is passionate about documenting the female experience in a way that is true to her personal aesthetic and unmasks patriarchal values and symbols that oppress women. Her work can be found here.

She has been writing since she was about 12 years old and was heavily influenced from Emily Dickinson, Edgar Allan Poe, Frederick Seidel, W.H. Auden, and her own “insufferable teenage angst and emotion.” Valencia knew she wanted to make a zine after attending the Los Angeles Zine Fest in 2015. She describes herself as being “truly impressed” and “astounded” by the passion, creativity and drive she found within the rooms at LAZF.

Valencia’s long-term goal is to share beautiful, interesting, and thought-provoking art. What’s the most rewarding out of the entire process for her is having total creative control and knowing she’s created something from the ground up with someone who shares a similar passion.

“Independent publishing is a great way to jump-start, get over the fear, and get your work out there,” Valencia says. “If you are truly creative and in love with what you do, eventually, your work will find its way to the right place, and that may very well be independent or non-independent publishers.”

The Long Beach Zine Festival takes place at the Museum of Latin American Art, 628 Alamitos Ave., Long Beach; Sun. Aug. 6, 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Free, all ages. For more information, click here.

Yvonne Villasenor is often in a sleep deprived daze daydreaming about ’90s heartthrobs, dogs, upcoming album releases, and what she’s going to eat for dinner. When she snaps back to reality, she writes about OC’s latest music and artists.

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