Interview with Zinester Julia Arredondo
I met Julia at the Brooklyn Zine fest in 2015. She was tabling next to us. This was my first zine fest other than the one I used to run in the 90’s (Royal Fest). I made the mistake of bringing too much stuff and too many people to help. And even though I was crowding Julia, she was nothing but nice to us. She gave me a copy of one of her pop-up zines and I have been a big fan ever since. Now I follow her on Facebook and noticed that she travels all over with her zines. She is one of the most talented and involved zinesters out there. That is not just me kissing ass, it’s true.
Antagonist Movement: First, please give us a rundown on who you are and about your work so the people can get familiar with you.
Julia Arredondo: I am an artist and I run a travelling printing and publishing entity called Vice Versa Press. As an artist, I travel for artist residencies which allow me to produce my own personal work at different print shops and artist spaces around the country. I carry Vice Versa Press with me simultaneously through my travels in order to distribute the titles Vice Versa Press publishes and to promote events and collaborations in each location. My personal work and my work with Vice Versa Press are directly related, as both bodies deal with subjects of pop consumerism and art as commodity. My lifestyle as a travelling artist has also affected my work, in that my pieces must be easy to transport and be reproducible in transit.
AM: Can you describe what a zine fest is and what you do at one? How many have you been too?
JA: A zine fest is essentially a marketplace that focuses on experimental and underground publications. Zine fests are a gathering of sellers and makers of zines that are open to the public. As a tabler at zine fests, I show up and exhibit Vice Versa Press publications and try to make enough money to hustle to my next destination. I’ve lost count of how many zine fests I’ve been to, but I’m guessing at least 20.
If you want a deeper explanation of what zine fests are, here goes:
Because zines are rooted in subculture, zine fests are a gathering of people and information that are relatively subversive and cutting edge. Zine fests are a place to disseminate information that might otherwise be too risqué for some bookstores, and zine fests are a place to exhibit artwork that is underrepresented but very contemporary. A lot of times, zine fests will have accompanying panels and lectures that discuss topics ranging from the role of zines in academia to examining how punk affects the queer community. Zine fests are very smart and I’m seeing a large influx of collectors and writers in attendance because zines are being taken so seriously in the art world right now.
AM: Can you list a few of your favorite zine fests?
JA: Brooklyn Zine Fest is one of my favorites because I always meet people who I keep contact with, and the work displayed is incredibly varied. Austin Zine Fest is a bit curated, but the marketing and promotion design is impeccable and always attracts a great crowd. A lot of cities are starting up zine fests, like Kansas City and Tulsa, and those first zine-related events are always interesting and fun because everyone works together to make something obscure happen in a community that may not know too much about zines.
AM: Give us some pro-tips for your first time zinester who would like to participate in one?
JA: Attend a zine fest or two before you decide to table. Zine culture is very expansive, but understanding the renegade attitude of zine making is integral to understanding not only your market as a producer, but the ethical and aesthetic choices for choosing to self publish. Always have cash on hand (one’s and five’s to start off with); and keep the monies close at hand. I carry all of my monetary and credit card tools in a fanny pack on me to ensure safety.
AM: Is there a shopping list of items you should have with you for tabling at a zine fest?
*Business Cards or Contact Info
*a free thing that people can take with them
*a Square reader if you roll like that
AM: Any tricks on making sales?
JA: Don’t be afraid to re-merchandise your table. Zine fests usually last for several hours, and during some of the down time you might want to rearrange your display in case some items have sold out. Interacting with passersby is something I really enjoy, and I’ve found that conversing or attempting to converse with each person who approaches the table actually helps sales. Don’t be pushy. Understand your aesthetic. Have fun with your table. Make it look wacky if you want. It should be fun.
AM: Tell us about a few good and bad experiences you have had a zine fest.
JA: I get really socially exhausted after zine fests, because I feel that I have to be “on” the whole time and I’m generally not around too many people a whole lot. So the two-day zine fests can be really strenuous for me, particularly when the smile begins to hurt and the conversation feels forced. But really, all zine fests are great experiences because you’re around people who appreciate the aesthetic of zines. It’s not like you have to explain what you’re doing to people who don’t understand why anyone would pay for Xeroxed pamphlets. That’s the worst.
AM: I know you travel a lot for these events and most times stay with friends in the zine community and can you give us some advice on doing the zine fest tour?
JA: Be a great guest. If you are staying some place for free and with people you know, treat their dwelling like a sacred space. Be respectful. Pitch in. Pack efficiently. Everything you need, you should be able to carry; but I travel a bit more extreme than others in that I don’t have a car and I usually travel solo. Keep track of finances; don’t blow all of your earnings at the club; try and get some rest; and eat healthy. Otherwise, you will run the risk of exhausting yourself midway through the tour and no one wants to buy zines from a tabler who is hungover and in a bad mood. Being smelly is totally OK at zine fests tho.
AM: Last thoughts?
JA: I never foresaw having a career in zines, but the resurgence of zine culture took me totally by surprise and I’m almost at the point of being able to support myself from my work. If you’re thinking of putting out a zine, NOW is the time to do it. Just fucking do it.
For more info, check out Julia’s website:
Ethan H. Minsker is a writer, artist and independent filmmaker. Minsker has written screenplays and produced and directed eight independent films. He is the founder of the Antagonist Movement, Inc., a consortium of artists, writers and musicians based in New York's East Village. Mr. Minsker was also the creator and editor-in-chief of Psycho Moto Zine, in publication from 1988-present. Mr. Minsker received his B.F.A. in Film with honors from the School of Visual Arts and his masters in Media from the New School. He lives in New York City.