In 2011, participants of the Feminist Zine Symposium at the Carnegie Library reached out to local indie cartoonists to organize a Pittsburgh-based event to promote zines and zinemakers. Since its debut at Artist Image Resource in 2011, the PZF has attracted a diverse group of artists, writers and activists from across the region whose content varies but the format remains the same: -the zine.

Essentially, a zine is any self-published, small run book, commonly photocopied. Historic figures like Martin Luther, Benjamin Franklin or William Blake could be considered early “zinesters”, but the modern term grew out of 1940s rock ‘n’ roll-related “fanzines” and popularized by the Punk Rock and Riot Grrl communities in the 1970s and ‘90s, respectively. An icon of DIY ethos and radical, democratic information sharing, the zine decentralizes media and vaults individual expression while remaining inexpensive.

For the past two years, the Union Project has been the perfect host for the PZF for many reasons, including location and accommodations. Accessible by public transit at a major intersection, the Union Project is a fixture in the Highland Park, East Liberty, and Morningside communities as a space for community events and creative workshops. The Union Project has accommodations for people with physical disabilities such as ramps and ADA compliant bathrooms, which allows the PZF to confidently welcome members of the disability community. Finally, the sheer physical beauty of the space can not be undervalued as it contributes a welcoming atmosphere that urges attendees to linger and that grants vendors a sense of prestige one might not associate with zine culture.

The Fifth Annual Pittsburgh Zine Fair (PZF) returns to the Union Project (801 N Negley Ave, Pittsburgh, PA 15206) on Sunday, October 4 from 2 until 8pm. This event is always free to all-age attendees and promises an afternoon of art, literature, hands-on activities and a birthday party atmosphere. In anticipation of the October 4th event, the PZF will host a live music fundraiser on Friday, August 21st from 8-11pm at Boom Concepts (5145 Penn Ave, Pittsburgh, PA 15224) and a live reading on Saturday, October 3rd (location TBA). At the fair, the Mr. Roboto Project and Carnegie Library Zine collections, refreshments from Black Forge Coffee House, and hands-on activities are featured in the atrium while vendors pack the Great Hall of the Union Project accompanied by DJs from WVKR. Come check us out!

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