Zine Fest encourages self-expression

by Nicole Badgley , Contributor

Music was blaring from Centro Cultural de la Raza in Balboa Park Oct. 1. Inside, over 50 individual booths displayed an array of creative works, each completely different from the one next to it.

From magazines to comic books, buttons to stickers and photography to handwritten notes, San Diego’s fourth annual Zine Fest exhibited some of the newest artwork by the best of San Diego.

For those wanting freedom of expression, this free all-day event gave artists the freedom to create just about anything they’d like and a place to showcase and sell their work.

The festival featured a DJ that played throughout the day, so festival-goers could enjoy music while taking in the surrounding creations.

Short for magazine, a zine is a piece of created work that showcases the maker’s individuality and really has no limitations for what is has to be.

“We’re completely independent publishing, free from editorial censorship, publishing company censorship, so it’s completely free for your own creation,” Gina Mejia, the founder and director of the San Diego Zine Fest said. “You decide what you want to do. It’s very hands-on. You’re putting the pieces of paper together, putting it into the Xerox machine, cutting and pasting, deciding if you want black and white or color. It’s totally up to you.”

One of the booths, titled “Girl Zines,” displayed a variety of computer generated artwork and unique phrases that were copied onto canvases and pieces of cloth.

Another booth had a tripod set up next to it and was selling various prints of photos that the exhibitor had taken of places from all-around the world.

Many of the participants make copies of their zines and put them onto various items and materials.

Most of the zines at this events are free or sold for around one dollar or less.

For the exhibitors, the purpose of this event is to distribute their works and showcase their art, ideas and creativity rather than to make a profit.

One of the exhibitors, Sara Kennedy, is a middle school Spanish teacher at Urban Discovery Academy in San Diego. The zines she displayed at her booth were an array of handwritten notes that she had her students make about reasons to learn another language.

“I had them start with reasons to learn a language and we used zines to share those reasons,” Kennedy said. “The students had to interview a person in their life who spoke another language, then they were given the opportunity to make zines about anything related to reasons to learn another language. This is my first time here. I got excited about zines over summer when I went to Tijuana Zine Fest and I knew I wanted to make zines with my students.”

Many of the exhibitors at the San Diego Zine Fest have been festival-goers to the events in Los Angeles and Tijuana, just another two Zine Fests that are held across the globe.

After the six-hour event ended, the festival also hosted upcoming new bands from San Diego, Los Angeles and Long Beach that played next door at the World Beat Center from 6-9 p.m.

San Diego Zine Fest allows people, who may not even consider themselves artists, the freedom to make anything they want without the limitations of defining what art is and a cultural platform to display those creations.

Next year’s annual Zine Fest will surely have some new exhibitors that live up to the stunning variety of creative works at this year’s festival.