Zine Fest 2012 was the first time I ever sold my books. I was terribly intimidated: I'd made my mini-versions of Sounds and Seas with the hand-printed covers, but after sending out copies for review for months and getting no traction I was pretty confident my work would never find an outlet. Jeffrey Brown (who I was put in touch with by a mutual friend) recommended I try tabling at zine and comic shows. I cared a lot about my project and wanted it to find an audience, but my experience tabling at Renegade selling prints was a pretty exhausting and heartless process. I'm shy so the huge number of attendees was crushing, and the vibe among the exhibitors was competitive rather than communal. I begrudgingly signed up for Zine Fest with no expectations.
And I was blown away.
Sitting between to Christy Road (whose patches I wore in college, I tried not to swoon) and a punk zine distro with maybe 8 kids sitting behind the 3 foot table like a rotating clown car, I was immediately swept up in love. Everyone was supportive and kind and hilarious and fucked up and serious and genuine and searching and trying their goddamned hardest to make something new in the world: my face ached at the end of the day from smiling. After leaving academia, after leaving a toxic MFA program, after leaving a nurturing letterpress art world, I finally felt like I found my community: it was a hugely pivotal moment. It sounds like hyperbole, but if I hadn't found that community at that time, I'm not sure how I would have continued to make work.
All of this is to say: I was (and remain) so grateful to have the opportunity to be a part of the show this year. Thanks so much to Heather, Jaclyn, Johnny and Leslie!