Sun 9 February 2014, 12-4pm
Melbourne Town Hall
cnr. Swanston & Collins Streets,
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Sticky Institute is a small volunteer run non profit artist run initiative that has supported, stocked and been a creation space for zines since 2001. The zine fair is now in its sixth year and is part of an annual celebration of all things zines, this year part of the Sticky biannual Festival of the Photocopier.
An excellent choice: The venue. The Melbourne town hall auditorium is a big, airy space with lots of room for tables and mingling. The space also comes with its own formally dressed gentleman standing out the front.
Extra points for: a location that’s wheelchair accessible, central to get to (unless you had a car) and, for those tabling, has a lift for that suitcase full of zines.
Refreshing: The attitude. And room temperature. The fair lacked any sense of self-indulgence wankery. People just seemed genuinely pleased to be out for the day, with their zines, around other people who liked zines too. Plus it was hot outside and inside was delightfully temperate.
Leaning towards unnecessary: The choice of live music. The acoustics in the town hall are a force of nature and the amplifier was turned up way too loud. If you’re having to do the ‘What? Huh? I can’t hear you’ yelling nightclub conversation to the person sitting next to you, it means that the acoustic trio is either standing too close to their microphones or someone got a bit handsy with the volume knob. The invisible DJ playing the background music was a good choice but I could do without the solo and trio performers. However…
Highlight: Brass band ‘Deep Vein Trombosis’. Amazing. On a Sunday afternoon in the middle of a Melbourne heatwave there is literally nothing that I would want to hear more than a thumping medley of Ginuwine’s ‘Pony’ and Britney Spears’ ‘Toxic’ (as unlikely as this combination may seem). Book these guys to play the whole thing next year.
Most initiative demonstrated on the day: The person who stood up in the middle of the fair to yell ‘Someone’s lost a phone!’ It later occurred to them to hand the phone in and let the professionals make an annoucement over the PA. It was a Samsung.
Most awkward moment: Staring at the person sitting at the table opposite yours all day, on the same eyeline level, but them being a bit too far away to have a conversation, but just close enough for you to know that it’s awkward. For the whole time.
Most fashionable shopper: The young lady rocking a hooded, lime green leopard print shorts onesie. I wasn’t aware that such an item of clothing existed but it does and hats off to her for pulling it off. Also worth a mention, the Gatsby themed ensemble sported by the Love Secretary who takes valentines dictation at the typewriter.
Best deal: While I would normally cringe at the thought of paying five dollars for a zine that’s only a few pages long and copied in black and white, I was more than happy to pay $5 for Flynn Seward’s zine offerings. This pre-teen zine entrepreneur had his stall set up with a framed mission statement available for viewing and there even was a burgeoning side business starting up by his younger brother. Go Flynn.
Generally, the zines this year seemed to all be very reasonably priced which is nice to see (nothing irks a person more than an overpriced zine).
My Biggest regret: At the start of the day it was brought to my attention that there is a girl who made a zine every day for the whole of January and was selling the month’s worth in this ingenious bound-together-by-rubber-bands-but-not-in-a-tacky-way method. I wandered over to buy one but there weren’t any assembled yet and so I planned to go back but sadly, never did. I go on in hope that I will one day find out who this girl was and purchase her month of zines.
[Secrets: It was Georgie, but there aren’t any contact details in her micro daily zines, which you could buy separately as well]
Advice to next years visitors: Bring your own carry bag. Zinesters didn’t seem to be offering any bags to their customers.
Hot tip for next years tablers: A pack of paper bags does not cost much and saves your fans from having to cradle their zines in their arms as they walk around.
Totally out there/ ‘say what?': The waffle shop diagonally opposite from the Town Hall was out of waffles by the middle of the afternoon and were criticised by an irate person in the queue for failing their own business plan.
Best omission of the day: Mobile phones. In the town hall, for this one day, people were genuinely interacting. And if that meant that one person lost their samsung on the day, then maybe it was worth it.
Worst visual: Walking out of the Town Hall to see so many young zinesters smoking out the front steps. I get the whole ‘it’s my own body’ thing, but it’s not 1994 anymore. Put the cigarettes down and find a vice that won’t lead you to an early death. You could give yourself a few more zine making years if you stop now.
It gave me faith in humanity that: Everyone was welcome. Zines and art circles can be a bit cliquey sometimes just because you know the people who know the people and those people know you and so on. But it genuinely felt like everyone was welcome to come on in, have a look around and talk to the person behind the stall.
Best strategic decision by the planners: I initially wondered about why the fair only went for 4 hours. But then, but the end of the day I realized how much sense it made. Rather than having the entire day drag out with everyone exhausted and at zine saturation point by the end of a 7 hour day, 4 hours is time enough to do all you need to do. Starting at 12pm is sane enough for the difficulties presented by a Sunday morning and a 4pm finish allows everyone time to get a post-zine fair ice cream, go home, do laundry and prepare for the INXS telemovie they’ve been looking forward to all week.
Special Mention: Unlike other zine fairs, Sticky never charge zinesters for their tables. This is a BIG thing. It is very cool that Sticky stands proudly behind zinesters by not making them fork out upwards of twenty bucks for a table.
Maybe next year: The Love Secretary will launch her own zine of style tips and tricks for the uptown gal on a budget?
Thanks to: Sticky Institute and their volunteers for their fantastic zine fair, great Festival of the Photocopier and ongoing support of zines. And the city of Melbourne for making the venue an affordable option for the zine community.