Twin Cities zinesters virtually unite for local zine fest

The festival pushes for its sixteenth year to be virtually accessible and inclusive.


Courtesy of Twin Cities Zine Fest

Meg Bishop, Arts and Entertainment Reporter

Top zinesters from around the metro are gearing up for the yearly opportunity to attend Minneapolis’ biggest zine get together, sharing their tiny magazines with each other and the community.

This year is the 16th year of the Twin Cities Zine Fest (TCZF), which has been hosted at the Minneapolis Central Library, but due to COVID-19 is being virtually hosted this year from Oct. 19 to 25. Last year, the festival had 100 zine vendors made up of creators and organizations. Only 50 zine creators were accepted as vendors this year as a result of the virtual setting.

A zine is a smaller version of a magazine and contains short stories, articles and art pieces. They are normally the size of a small booklet and can be easily designed and printed at home. Most zines are sold for under $10 or given out for free.

Every year the festival is completely run by volunteers. A flurry of zine crafting workshops are a big draw for the festival. This year the zine festival is hosting a new workshop each day. There are also poetry readings and creator interviews, allowing attendees to learn more about each vendor.

Heather Lou, a Minneapolis multimedia artist, is the TCZF 2020 poster artist. “I can’t for myself afford to publish a book, but I can afford to make a small booklet of my poetry,” Lou said. “I’ve gotten more and more of my friends involved in zines, specifically folks who are Black and Indigenous and people of color.”

Inclusivity is an overarching theme of the zine scene, including the ability for zines to be used as tools of education. “I’m an artist but also an educator — telling stories about my everyday experiences in hopes that people might relate to them,” said Lou.

Violet Fox has been one of the TCZF organizers since 2017. Falk said TCZF is all about inclusivity as well as great zines. The fest recently created a Safer Spaces Policy to prohibit all forms of discrimination. “We make sure that people who are BIPOC or queer identities get pushed to the top of our application list so that we can highlight those voices,” she said.

Low Kling, creator of YOLOW Zines and Pickle Witch Zines, is a part of this year’s Zine Fest and regularly collaborates with Lou. Kling went to their first zine fest 10 years ago. “I was overwhelmed with the quality of the zines that people were producing that you could pick up for like $5 or $6,” they said.

Hannah Dove, a fourth-year student studying English, lived in Chicago until moving to Minneapolis where she found herself immediately drawn to the community surrounding zines, something she says she did not grow up with in Chicago.

“I like it because it allows me to have a creative outlet, and it also allows me to teach people about stuff that they didn’t know of prior. I don’t want to be like, ‘I’m smarter than you’ — I just have hyper fixations that no one knows about,” Dove said.

For Dove, the best part about a zine is the accessibility. A zine can be typed out, written up, printed and folded all within a day.

“I like the idea that anyone can make a zine. It’s like ‘Ratatouille’: ‘Anyone can cook.’”