Arts, Down time, Events, General, Get involved, Places

CanZine and the local underground art culture!

Toronto is home to thousands of talented people. There is a beautifully colourful underground culture of artists and writers lurking just below it’s surface, waiting to be appreciated. Combine these commercially undiscovered creators and a free festival near U of T, and there’s an event I can’t miss.

This weekend the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) hosted this year’s annual CanZine Festival; an event in which self published authors and poets as well as independent artists were given the shimmering spotlight, gaining some well-deserved exposure.

The AGO is located on 317 Dundas St. W, student prices are $11, and it’s free every Wednesday after 6pm! The exhibits range from breath-taking Renaissance paintings to intricately detailed boat models-definitely check it out soon!

CanZine took place in the lower level of the AGO, hosting hundreds of zine, comic, micropress, small magazine, and artbook creators. If you don’t know what a zine is- and I didn’t – it’s similar to a very small magazine. Usually housing entertaining or aesthetically pleasing little comics, drawings, or poetry, the ones I saw were all super cute and impressive.

Each team had their own table, which they decorated however they desired. This made the overall experience even more interesting- the diverse ways the artists expressed their styles and creativity in their displays was fantastic, and I maybe would have gone just for this part alone.

Everything on display was for purchase, and the money went straight to the maker of the products- a great way to support local culture. The items for sale ranged from artfully designed or passionately expressive home-made buttons and brightly coloured stickers to gorgeous poetry pamphlets and huge creative prints. The variety in age, personality and experience of the sellers was a wake-up call to how many diverse and compelling people exist alongside me in Toronto. Everyone was so kind and excited to be there, humbly blushing when I complimented their talents.

On the way there I figured I’d spend maybe ten dollars, however- upon arrival, seeing the beautiful things and charming people, I ended up dishing out all that I had in my wallet ($30) and it was 100% worth it. Even when I ran out of money I took business cards for later reference- even these were like mini pieces of art!

aligned on a table-top are a collection of colorful illustrated business cards, stickers, and a small booklet

Here are some of the business cards, along with a little zine I purchased and stickers!

Which is a way you can access all the participants’ resources as well, if you didn’t get the chance to attend. Most of them mainly sold their products through online websites like Redbubble, Etsy, and Tumblr. If you’re like me and love art, poetry, and supporting undiscovered talented people, get involved and check out the website of the creators of CanZine, Broken Pencil (http://www.brokenpencil.com/) . Also, fun fact, I noticed a few of the comics and zines for sale I had seen before in a bookstore just down the street from U of T, The Beguiling Books & Art  , so if you would like easy access to local, alternative and independent stuff, check them out as well!

After CanZine, I felt myself getting inspired to create. I went home and did some doodles myself; another great reason to get involved in the independent art scene. Maybe some day I’ll sell my drawings on Redbubble and sign up for CanZine…all I need is a little more talent, can I buy that online?