Artwork by Brittany Burton
By Annie Bohling
March 9, 2017
In its second year, Omaha Zine Fest, happening this Saturday, is packed with workshops led by zine creators and discussions led by individuals or groups such as Planned Parenthood and Nebraska Appleseed.
The big question when zines come up is, what is a zine? Omaha Zine Fest co-organizer Andrea Kszystyniak answers.
Zines are basically low-budget magazines, Kszystyniak said. Zines made of photocopied 8-by-11 pages are acceptable, if not traditional.
“That definition can be stretched quite a bit,” Kszystyniak said. “The primary difference between magazines and zines is that with a zine, you’re your own boss. You don’t have an editor or anyone to answer to. You can write about whatever content you’d like. The main thing is that they’re accessible.”
Accessible, meaning zines are usually a simple product in the physical sense. Hard work is poured into the content, which can cover anything the producer wants: politics, literature, art and design.
As a former journalist, Kszystyniak was enticed by zines’ nature of absolute freedom.
“I’ve always kind of been into zines,” she said. “All these festivals were popping up and I really wanted to go, but there were never any around here (Omaha).”
Kszystyniak made a Facebook page about organizing a zine fest in Omaha and co-organizers Kaitlan McDermott and Daphne Calhoun responded.
“It turned into this huge thing,” Kszystyniak said. “There’s always been people in Omaha making zines, but there’s been no centralized community for it. That’s part of the reason we wanted to do the festival.”
The 2017 Omaha Zine Fest is from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. this Saturday at The Union for Contemporary Art at 24th and Lake streets in Omaha. The event is free and family friendly.
The open house features eight workshops and discussions. The first gives attendees practice making zines. Their work will be complied into a collaborative issue of “The Queer Agenda.” Another session shares the history of zines. An open mic session will turn the stage to zinesters, poets and singers and songwriters.
“This is an assembly of some of the coolest people I’ve ever met,” Kszystyniak said. “I think there are a lot of creative people in this community. This is a place for them to share themselves. A lot of creative people are introverted, so it’s a pretty big deal.”
Kszystyniak said attendees of Omaha Zine Fest can expect to meet lots of new people and have the opportunity to support them and their work.
“You’ll be able to connect with a lot of artists and get your creative and political juices flowing and simply participate in community for a little bit,” Kszystyniak said. “Our goal with this is to showcase the things we love most about Nebraska and our city and to bring people of other cultures together as well.”
A long list of vendors will be selling their zines and other products at the festival. Kszystyniak said the only places she knows of in the are with selections of zines for sale are Indigo Bridge Bookstore in Lincoln’s Haymarket and Solid Jackson Books in Omaha.
“I buy my zines off of Etsy or on Facebook from people I know,” Kszystyniak said. “It’s very much a person-to-person thing right now.”
Larger cities, such as Chicago, she said, have big selections of zines in shops such as comic book stores.
Attendees need not R.S.V.P. ahead of time. Simply show up! More information can be found on the Omaha Zine Fest website and Facebook event page.
Annie Bohling is one of KZUM’s tireless spring interns.