Last year I went to Melbourne's annual Festival of the Photocopier Zine Fair as a customer. This year I went as a stallholder! (Or I 'tabled', as the kids say.) Hello to everyone who has found my blog through purchasing one of my zines or taking my card. I appreciate your interest: it means a lot to me. Thank you and welcome!
Having a stall at the Zine Fair was a huge step for me in several ways. I'm very introverted, I have social anxiety, and am starting to understand that I'm an HSP (Highly Sensitive Person). All of that means sitting in a huge room packed full of people all with their own nervous energy, while a stream of people come past judging my work, is not the best place for me to be! It was a really great experience though, and I want to do it again next year.
I first started writing zines in 2006. I even had an Etsy shop where I sold them for a couple of years. I closed it in about 2008-2009, partly because of declining sales, but mostly because my anxiety made it too difficult to go on. A couple of years ago, when I saw that zines were resurging in popularity, I was encouraged to start making them again. I had a lot of pieces of writing stored away that were too personal for the blog, not on topic for the blog, or I just preferred to present on paper. Instead of writing zines on single topics or in response to a prompt like I had in the past, I decided to write more of a magazine-style zine. It would have articles, stories, comics, and whatever else I could jam in there. I was hoping it would be the first of a series, and it would be called Intensely Introverted. My anxiety interfered often though, and there were long periods when I didn't work on it.
That was interrupted when I was invited to take part in an exhibition on Chronic Illness in early 2017. I was told that any creative endeavours including zines were welcome. I'd always wanted to write about my illness, so I made I Have Ulcerative Colitis and presented it there. I was proud of it, yet at the same time horrified that I shared such personal (and disgusting!) stories.
Intensely Introverted was my real baby though, and when I pinky-swore with my friend Fox that we would have a stall in the 2018 Zine Fair together, I knew I had to finish it! Skip forward to yesterday, skipping over a lot of stress, anxiety and last-minute trips to Officeworks, and I made it to the Fair.
I got to find out what it was like being on the other side of the table. I saw many interesting people, and met some lovely ones. I got lots of ideas for future zines and future stalls. I have a list of 'what to do / not do next time'. Which I may as well share!:
* Don't bring so many zines -- I really had no idea how many copies of each zine I was going to sell, so I brought lots. I had to lug them there and then lug the un-sold ones home! It was a great learning experience to see which ones were more popular and how many copies sold. (Of course, if I become a famous zinester in the next year, then I'll bring more!) Also, it's good to note that you're not going to fit more than 7 or 8 A5-size zines on the table.
* Having a card is a great thing -- Quite a few people took my card, and as a customer, I will always take the card of someone whose work looks interesting, but I can't buy it at the time for whatever reason. So I'm always very pleased when someone takes my card.
* Bring cough lozenges, breath mints and muscle rub -- My throat was very sore after 5 hours of chatting with my friends, I was paranoid about my breath after eating sushi handroll for lunch, and my jaw was sore after all that smiling!
* Make a greater variety of zines -- This is just an aesthetic point, but when I saw my zines all lined up in a row, they were all the same size, and most of them were black and white. I'd love to have some of different sizes, and with colourful covers as that suits my personality.
* Go to town with the table decorations -- Really, you may as well. You have an hour to set up, and an interesting display really brings people in. Even if they don't buy anything, looking at a cute and/or interesting display makes people happy, and I want to make people happy!
* Bring whatever you need for your self care -- I was so glad I brought my mascot Princess Fuzzyhorn. Stroking her and even just looking at her helped keep me calm. I wish I'd brought my essential oil roll-on too, so I'll do that next time.
I haven't posted for a while because I was focussed on the Zine Fair. Now that it's over for the year, I want to finish off some paintings, do some craft and start sewing again. All of which you'll see here!