Be Your Own Publisher: A Zine Fest Workshop

May 22, 2013, by

While browsing all the different stands at Houston Indie Bookfest a couple of weeks ago, one trend became quickly apparent to me – handmade books. Whether it was a literary chapbook, local zine, or hand sketched graphic novel, local writers are doing it all themselves – from content to creation.

If you’ve ever wanted to gain the skills to create your own handmade book, join Zine Fest Houston at Inprint House this Sunday for a workshop entitled Be Your Own Publisher! lead by local writer and educator, John Pluecker.

In an interview with one of Zine Fest Houston’s organizers, Stacy Kirages, she gives us more insight into Zine Fest Houston’s year of exciting and interactive programming.


Inprint: How did Zine Fest get its start?

Zine Fest: The roots of zine festivals in Houston can be traced back to a spontaneous gathering in the Hermann Park picnic area where the creators of Black Fist, Coffee and Hash Browns, Uh, and Virus Board came together to show off the latest issues of their zines back in May of 1993.

The first event was held at Super Happy Fun Land on November 20, 2004. Despite the ambitious program book, it was an intimate gathering of comic and zine creators, similar to the original zine picnic, but indoors. Over the years, the zine festival would slowly grow and so would the local zine scene.

My co-organizer, Maria Heg, and I would inherit the task of planning this event from the year’s previous organizers, Lindsey Simard and Shane Patrick Boyle, who are super awesome in every way. We hope the 2013 Zine Fest lives up to their expectations!

Inprint: When and where is the festival this year?

Zine Fest:This year the festival will be on Saturday, October 12, 2013 from 3-8 pm at The Museum of Printing History (1324 W. Clay, Houston, Texas 77019). We are extremely excited about having the festival there this year because we think it’s a perfect match! The Museum of Printing History has a great permanent collection of artifacts that range in time from humanity’s earliest writing through the 21st century as well as vintage printing equipment. It is just an overall cool space! Zine Fest Houston is hoping to bring together the MPH community and the local zine scene through this annual event, and make new friends and connections in the process.

Inprint: You are hosting a workshop at Inprint entitled Be Your Own Publisher! What can people expect to take away from the class?

Zine Fest: For this workshop, John Pluecker, writer, interpreter, translator and co-founder of the language justice and literary experimentation collaborative, Antena, will join Maria Heg and I as a co-host. JP has done a lot for the literary community here in Houston in terms of creating an ongoing dialogue and fostering open communication and attentive listening across languages and cultures. Maria and I both admire his work very much and we are honored to have him host this workshop with us! He is currently a featured guest editor for the online publication {Outward From Nothingness}, where he poses some questions about what it means to be published, how it changes us, and how it connects us with others.

During Be Your Own Publisher! we will introduce a variety of DIY publishing techniques and go over how to make a self-made book through a couple of hands-on collaborative exercises. Working collaboratively allows for a good exchange of ideas to take place and physically making something during a workshop is a great hands-on, participatory activity where everyone has the opportunity to practice the techniques and skills that are being discussed.

Through this workshop, we hope that we inspire others to make their own zines/chapbooks and start their own creative projects, gain a better understanding of the self-publishing process, and hopefully make a few friends as well. Also, we’d like participants to explore aspects of self-publishing as an outlet to get their work out in the community as an alternative to relying on super large publishing companies, who might not have a writer’s best interests at heart.

Inprint: Can anyone attend the workshop?

Zine Fest: Yes, anyone can attend the Be Your Own Publisher! workshop. However, due to limited space we are kindly asking interested participants to RSVP via email to if they would like to attend, just so everyone can have enough space to work comfortably and whatnot. And yes, the workshop is totally free and all of the basic materials needed to make a zine are provided! Zine Fest Houston likes to keep costs low and accessible for the community. Optional materials to bring to the workshop include any personal writing, collage materials or photos.

Inprint: What does the team at Zine Fest hope to accomplish in the Houston arts community in the future?

Zine Fest: As we move forward, there are always plans to make the next Zine Fest bigger and better with more exhibitors, a more central location, a larger audience, and a more diverse assortment of zines and other media. But it’s not just about the annual Zine Festival anymore! Maria and I are working hard to put together a handful of zine workshops to be conducted at various local non-profit organizations (Inprint, the Harris County Public Library, Houston Center for Photography, and the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston) and for-profit businesses (Myth & Symbol) during late spring and early summer of this year.

Through the creation and implementation of these workshops, such as the one at Inprint, we hope to facilitate an understanding about the act of self-publishing, and that Houstonians will be able to learn more about the zine culture as well as use the knowledge they gain from the workshops to make self-published works of their own. Instead of using Zine Fest Houston as a platform just for Houston zinesters, we would like to also use it as an organization for outreach and community activism.

Essentially, through the creation of these workshops and other events, we are striving to not only build more year-round programming for Zine Fest Houston and the self-publishing community, but to help bridge the gap between this small underground scene and the larger Houston arts community in order to inspire more creative DIY collaborations.

Inprint: How can I find out more about your programming for the coming year?

Zine Fest:You can find out more about our upcoming projects and events at our website,, and through our Facebook page and Twitter, which is also under Zine Fest Houston.

Be Your Own Publisher
Where: Inprint House (1520 West Main, 77006)
When: Sunday, May 26, 2:00-5:00 pm

Click here for more information on the workshop!

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