Glue Gallery - 26 Stafford St
Friday August 10th 5pm-9pm
& Saturday August 11th 10am-6pm


Zines. They’re in cafes, pubs, boutiques, and dairies. You may even find one folded up on a McDonald’s table, stained with grease, crumbs wedged in between its hand-creased pages. They’re eclectic, artistic, highly visual, and often arrhythmic in design. One zine’s photocopy quality or another’s hand stitched binding and thick leaves suggest that no two are alike, and you should grab one when you see one. “That’s the nature of a zine,” says Kari Schmidt, editor of Otago Polytechnic’s Gyro magazine. “You’ll find it, and enjoy it, but will most likely never see it again.”

I sat down with Kari to discuss Dunedin’s second annual Zinefest, and to find out what makes a zine unique. “Zines are great,” Kari explains, “because they are such a D.I.Y. thing, there aren’t any standards. A zine can be terrible by conventional standards, but exactly what you want it to be. The point is to make and share something with the public and feel free to do so.” With preconditions, standards, and expectations out the window, I wonder what value a zine has outside of the mind of its creator. “When people are creative they want to share what they have made,” Kari says. “Sure, groups with common interests form communities and those communities can appear exclusive, but there is always a desire to connect.”

The desire to use art to bring the Dunedin community together is what drove Scott Muir of Dunedinmusic.com and Dave Stydom, editor of INK, to push for the sophomore appearance of Zinefest. Their inclusion of Spencer Hall from the Dunedin Comic Collective, Glue Gallery proprietor Kelley O’Shea and Schmidt herself forged the quintet responsible for the seamless orchestration of an event that promises to be as informative as it will be entertaining. “You can see that this is a collaboration and a community project,” Kari says proudly. Receiving City Council’s Creative Communities funding is testimony to the festival’s powerful ethos and busy schedule of activities.

Zinefest has expanded into a two-day event, kicking off on Friday August 10 at Glue Gallery. The opening will have a mass launch of zines created by local publishers, guest speakers, and live local music. Saturday’s schedule features three workshops focussed on comic books, bookbinding, and zine theory and design. In addition, there will be a community market place filled with stalls exchanging food and art, and of course workstations bulging with supplies and materials to create your own zine.

When I asked what a zine should be about, Kari responded: “Anything from reviews to commentary. It can be about porridge, weird science, stingrays, or whatever.” That is the beauty of the zine. It doesn’t have to please advertisers, the lowest common denominator, or anyone else. The zine promotes free expression. “That’s what Zinefest is about. It’s a chance for people who care about zines or writing or art to come together and make the experience real.” Real? “Zines aim not to cater to a popular market, but to be interesting and artistic.”

What’s “real” about Zinefest is that it’s for anyone with an interest to create. That’s a good enough reason for me to check it out. Much like a zine itself, Zinefest could be a gem that you’ll most likely never see again if ignored. It’s right underneath your nose. Grab it! I’ll see you there.
This article first appeared in Issue 19, 2012.
Posted 4:49pm Sunday 5th August 2012 by Josef Alton.