Brooklyn Zine Fest Showcases The Best In Self-Publishing

Competition in the art world has never been more tough, more cut-throat, nor has it ever been harder to penetrate that vision of success. For writers and illustrators, there is a way to achieve this coveted idea of a working artist without having to succumb to the traditional routes of getting there. Self-publishing is ever on the rise, serving for the most part writers, but illustrators and graphic designers make optimal use out of the trend, and giving thriving artists an outlet for their hard work that feels meaningful, tangible. From a writer’s perspective, there are so many literary journals, small presses, contests, and fellowship opportunities out there that it can be overwhelming. It is overwhelming in two ways. Firstly, the amount of navigation and research it takes to make sure you are submitting somewhere that publishes the type of writing you do, at a publication that is interested in your genre or style, and other qualifying components like age and location can feel like a full-time job. The other reason open submissions, contests and the like are particularly daunting, is because while hitting the submit button and sending off the short story you’ve been slaving over for six months, writers know full-well that the amount of competition they are up against is so vast that the chances of being published are laughable.

It makes a weekend dedicated to self-publishing and a DIY approach toward creating a distributing meaningful content by serious writers all the more refreshing. The Brooklyn Zine Fest  held on April 25th and 26th this year at The Brooklyn Historical Society gives publishers of zines a space to promote their work in an environment specifically curtailed to the type of publishing zine writers and editors seek to uphold: a grassroots approach to curating content from writers who are not merely established and thus deemed worthy of publication but rather passionate and contributing members of their own distinct writing communities. For, there is not just one literary world, nor one group of writers making things happen, there are pockets everywhere, in every neighborhood, of writers writing about the issues that matter to them. Brooklyn Zine Fest gives people an opportunity to share what has been happening on their block, whether that be a physical block or one in their mind where a story has been bubbling for years and through the advent of this event and zine publishing is finally given breath.

The Brooklyn Zine Fest makes a statement about the direction that art is heading in these days. A classification in the art world that I have always particularly loathed is “low-brow” versus “high-brow”, which deems certain types of art more worthy. You will most definitely find the classic example of “high-brow” art at The Frick collection on East 70th street. A prime example of what people like to classify as “low-brow” would be 5 Pointz in Long Island City, a homage to street art, which, coincidentally, was demolished. Finding outlets like zine publishing is what keeps original, unpretentious, for-the-people art alive. Particularly for zines, it used to be, back in the early nineties at the height of the trend, that they were only distributed by word-of-mouth and physically handing out copies. The internet, in all her shame and glory, has done much to resolve the issue of readership for these smaller and lesser-known publications. Most zines at the festival this past weekend have an online component where readers can follow those that they are interested in and even submit their own work. If anything, today’s age, rather than in the nineties, fosters zine publishing even more. With so many more opportunities for promotion and an even higher demand for artists just looking to get their work recognized, zines have become even more relevant.

It is in our best interest to continue to create outlets for artists who are involved in self-promotion. Think of what we will loose as a society if new ideas and passionate young people do not have a space to experiment and be noticed. If all we offer artists are the untouchable institutions like world renowned museums, big four publishing houses, and decades old opera houses, the only art we will be exposed to will be a bunch of “high-brow” replicas.