Grrrl Zine Fair hosts DIY events, zine fairs, gigs and workshops across the country, with their most recent taking place on 12 March 2017 at Hackney’s Moth Club. Their approach is inclusive and intersectional and their events celebrate DIY culture, with zine fairs often combined with panel talks and punk bands. At this event they also launched the first edition of their own zine, created collectively by stallholders at the event and named Grrrl in Print.
They promote independent and self-publishing in all its many glorious forms, so Peachy felt that we just had to speak with them to find out more!
We spoke to Lu Williams, the current director of Grrrl Zine Fair, about the continued success of the fair, its aims and motivations, as well as their recent foray into print …
When and why did you create Grrrl Zine Fair?
I’d always made zines since I was a kid (I’d illustrate my own stories and demand my family read my new ‘books’ - I feel that’s a pretty standard kid thing to do), and printed material has always been part of my work, layering and collaging, scanning and augmenting, re-appropriating. It wasn’t until I got to university that I saw the political element in small publishing. I had made my own zine Bitchcraft and was co-editing Cuntry Living at the time when a bunch of fellow feminists at Uni asked if I wanted to create an event with zines, panels and a few musicians. Basically bringing stuff we scrolled through online into the in real life to paw over. I had a bit of experience running a fortnightly club night so creating the first event, especially as a group, wasn't too different and was fun. I added the workshops and more musical elements, so it’s a bit like a mini festival, which Grrrl is made up of now. I also made the website and all the socials which fed into my artwork. Since then I’ve run each event with various people, collaborators, friends and some amazing volunteers.
How important is the legacy of 90s zine culture to the group?
I feel pretty influenced by the first punk fanzines from the 70s but zines have existed for ages, made by those with marginalised voices. The history of zines is super interesting and I'm worried that pinning it down to just 90s zine culture plays into the ‘fad’ element of zines and whitewashes it. I do think it was an incredible time for girl power zines though (hence “Grrrl”) and some of the most infamous issues are from that time. There is definitely still a legacy but I feel like we’ve manipulated it into a more intersectional, less fad-y resource that can provide a real outlet for women and LQBTQ folk; especially as the population is becoming more politically engaged.
What is your favourite part of any event?
Probably meeting people and getting to hear about their ideas in an informal setting. Instead of pretty formal emails and coffees you can purchase from your favourite artists and then dance to some bands with them. Not gonna lie but I've had quite a lot of great collaborations come out of adding each other on Instagram at a party.
What is your highlights from the first issue of Grrrl in print? Why did you decide to make a magazine?
As we pull together so many great creatives at Grrrl events it made sense to pull them together in print. The first issue is made up of collaborators from our events and particularly those who had stalls at Moth Club on March 12.
For most fairs, you pay for a table, but that’s always made me feel a bit uncomfortable, so I decided to offer a free space for zinesters. If they submitted a scan of their zine, an article, playlist or some artwork - any content really, they’d get a table for free. We asked the ones which suited our ethos best and offered them a table. I think it made the whole event really exciting and that it wasn’t a typical sitting-and-selling fair but a proper celebration of self publishers and a party to celebrate the massive collaboration that is Grrrl In Print.
We’re a website devoted to independent publishing. What does independent publishing mean to you?
It’s a true symbol of doing it yourself, not waiting for a fancy publisher in a suit to tell you you’re the next big thing. As a working class gal I feel like I have an innate sense of getting round obstacles in a very make-do way, using resources I already have to create things.
Photographs by Meg Lavender and Bex Pannett, courtesy of Grrrl Zine Fair.
You can visit Grrrl Zine Fair’s website to find out more and apply for a table at their next fair.