.DIY Culture Gets Virtual Boost at Santa Rosa Zine Fest

Even in today’s digitally dominant world, many artists, crafters and do-it-yourselfers still make Zines. The self-published art form that often resembles a pocket-sized book can still be seen in local shops or circulated in local libraries, and in the North Bay there is a community of zine artists and admirers waiting to meet each other at the first annual Santa Rosa Zine Fest, now running online Saturday, Nov. 7, from 2–5pm.

Originally intended as an in-person event, the Santa Rosa Zine Fest will still create a space for the arts community during a three-part virtual program that will feature conversations between local artists, a zine-making workshop and an online gallery of art, all offered for free with advance registration through Sonoma County Library.

The Santa Rosa Zine Fest is the brainchild of volunteer organizers Meredith Morgan and Melissa Andrade.

“Melissa and I are both artists, a lot of our friends are artists, and we realized so many of our friends were making these awesome zines about their personal experiences, or their identity, or different kinds of cats they liked,” Morgan says. “It’s such an awesome, wide-reaching genre that people find a lot of freedom of expression with zines.”

Zines can indeed be about anything; they can be informational or personal, and likewise they can be thought provoking or silly. Morgan also notes that zines are not bound by narrative structures the way other literary works may be because zines do not have to go through traditional editorial or publishing channels.

“You can have an idea and get it out there,” Morgan says. “That is what we are seeing with our personal friends and then also with the people who are the presenters and artists in the fest.”

The virtual fest on Nov. 7 will be presented in both Spanish and English. The program begins at 2pm with an artist conversation between RJ Simon and Amanda Ayala, who will discuss what kinds of art they make and how they go from idea to finished art piece. That session will be followed by a panel discussion between Maia Kobabe and Tessa Hulls, who will talk about making protest art in 2020 and fitting self care into personal projects. The fest will then feature a demonstration and workshop led by Leah Yael Levy that is open to artists of all ages and skill levels or anyone interested in zine making.

Registration for each session is open now, and Morgan hopes attendees will join the fest for the entire day and register for all three sessions. The fest also features a pre-recorded showcase of artist’s works on YouTube, and zine starter kits are available for young people age 12 to 18 for curbside pick-up at several Sonoma County library locations (call your local library branch to reserve a kit).

With the history of zines closely tied to social and political movements, the organizers of the Santa Rosa Zine Fest are also using the event to help uplift people of color, queer and trans folks, people of all ability levels and others who feel underrepresented in the Sonoma County arts scene.

“We wanted the inclusivity and the diversity of this event to be baked in,” Morgan says. “Myself and other organizers identify as queer, I identify as non-binary. A lot of our presenters come from a diverse range of backgrounds, and our artists do as well. I thought it was important in Sonoma County to reflect this diverse community. You don’t have to go to Oakland or San Francisco to find a diverse group of artists making incredible art. Those people also exist here.”

Santa Rosa Zine Fest takes place online Saturday, Nov. 7, 2–5pm. Free; registration required. Sonomalibrary.org.

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