As a wannabe-purveyor of punk aesthetic, choosing to go to U of T downtown was quite beneficial. Toronto has a lot of… for lack a better term, variety. Whatever you are interested in can be found. If not, it can be created.
I went to a zine fair! Specifically, Canzine, ‘Canada’s Largest Zine Fair and Festival of Alternative Culture!’ ^ O ^
“But what is a zine?”, I hear my dear younglings ask. A zine is a self-published magazine. Traditionally, or perhaps commonly, zines are hand-made and photocopied booklets, but of course this can deviate in many ways, resulting in crazily creative variations. Depending on one’s budget, resources, patience, etc., a zine can also look like a standard magazine or book. The important part is the ‘self-published’.
Toronto has its own zine library, babeh.
Over a hundred vendors from all over Canada set up their wares at the Gladstone Hotel on Queen Street West (coolezt streetz evar?). As well as zines, comics, books and artwork, there were all kinds of crafty things: buttons, hats, scarves, doll-in-a-paper-bag kits, prints, and t-shirts. The zines themselves touched on everything one could imagine; DIY gynaecology, knitting, hipster archetypes, radical politics, fashion, life, feminism, video games, how-tos of all sorts, random doodles, art collaborations, blank books for you to go crazy in, humour, thoughts, critiques, anything, really. It only cost $5 to get in, how much you BUY is your call… and you will be called. (shifty eyes)
A suggestion from a certain mother of mine who will not be mentioned ended up with me arriving at the fair a little late, perhaps around 5, meaning I’d missed the comedy acts. Rage. I only had two hours to take the overwhelming awesomeness in, but it turned out to be just enough time.
The section I was most excited about was the ‘Artsy Games Arcade Room’. Set up were games made with, you guessed it, their own unique visual aesthetic. I recall one done in marker drawings, another in a traditional, painstaking pixel-adventure style. But… I ended up not seeing much of it. It was super packed when I arrived, so I decided to wait. Upon returning, they were packing up. In addition, the U of T student I wanted to interview/interrogate was not there! : ( Lamentations.
Regardless, one of the games (an epic battle done with subtle backgrounds, silhouettes, and Law and Order sound effects) that was supposed to be on display was made during a game design tournament at… guess where… A U of T affiliated club! The ‘UT Game Design and Development Club’, to be exact. In addition to that, one of the vendors I passed by was a professor from OCAD (Ontario College of Art and Design – kinda want to go there now), and she had one of her classes create a zine as a project. I spotted another OCAD-related table later, and was thoroughly jealous. Obviously, it is possible for one to engage in… things other than school while in school.
A goal I had set for the day was to talk, actually talk, to people and to make at least one friend. I still spent most of the time in silent musing, but it was an improvement. Memorable chit-chat included asking the founder and ‘el presidente’ of Shedoesthecity.com, Jen McNeely, how she got her website started. In short, she quit her job, and used the money she had put aside for the site to begin it. Then, meeting and networking with others began, and the project got rolling. Simple as that.
Okay, most likely NOT as simple as that. Looking at the site, a project of that size would take a formidable amount of work. I used ‘simple as that’ to describe the initializing of it. We can sometimes get lost in the idea that we need to have some kind of miraculous, Hollywood-esque epiphany, or a lighting bolt of an idea in order to begin a worthwhile creative endeavour. We need to begin after a life-changing moment, or we need to complete a certain rite-of-passage in life first, or we need to be discovered by someone else that can help us. We don’t. We just need to start (and be willing to take chances). Simple as that, see?
When I saw a publication I found interesting, I asked if they took submissions. More often than expected, I got a positive response (and even some contact info!). Just more of an inkling that this is not impossible.
I did achieve my goal of one new friend, but partially by luck, as she was the one to say, “We should be friends!” (How I secretly wish I could say that to everyone I meet. Beh, I’ll start.) She also became involved in zine culture just by doing it. Just do it. You want to publish a book? Just do it. You want to make a friend? Just ask! Why did this seem so difficult before?
What am I trying to tell you by reiterating all of… what was reiterated? Number one: from the game design example, getting involved in what you love, maybe even while at school, can, in a cliche, expand your horizons and lead to plenty more opportunities (for fun, learning, experience, blah) for you. Number two: bringing to life one of your many dreams, projects, or crazy ideas does not take a miracle, it takes you bringing it to life. Number three: returning to my very first, ambiguous paragraph, you are at a ripe age and in an excellent location to do numbers one and two. Pull out those time management skills, and make the expanding of your own ideas and creativity within the prodigious scope of Toronto’s art and cultural variety.
Wwebsites for mah faves:
BoyOBoy – not for the average gay guy –> they want submissions!
Broken Pencil –> the hosts of the show!