There’s a quote from Roald Dahl about magic, which says “Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it.” It always reminds me to look for magic, no matter how ordinary it might seem because when I’m feeling pretty rubbish, everyday magic is exactly what I need.
And walking through the doors of Impact Hub Birmingham feels like walking into somewhere magic, it’s in the air, and it was even more so on the eagerly anticipated return of the Brum Zine Fest. After a six year hiatus it was back, and it was well worth the wait. I vaguely remember the old BZF, held in cool upstairs of willing pubs, well before Impact Hub existed, with zines of people I sort-of knew and a whole pile of ones from further afield of people I really didn’t. But the light and airy Impact Hub gave it a sense of freshness, a newness but an openness. It felt like the ideal place for a rebirth.
I’d signed up to one of the first workshops so I made sure I was there early. With enough time to grab a coffee and head upstairs for the first workshop, where I bumped into a few people I know and who it is always a pleasure to see; hearing Anneka talk about Enrol Yourself and Lorna and storytelling for adults reminded me to keep looking for that everyday magic.
Wolverhampton-based Baljinder Kaur hosted the first workshop, which was a look at her journaling habits or drawing every day, by collecting the pockets of time and everyday truths. She showed the variety of ways she has done this, narrating her life through drawings, some of herself, some of commuters she encountered
She inspired and challenged us to pick something personal to us that we had with us and document it, in whichever way we wanted. Despite wishing I could, I can’t draw for toffee, so I chose the Batman keyring given to me by my friend Jude when I moved into my flat. The keyring has certainly seen better days but it reminds me of friendship, of resilience and perseverance and of small gifts with big impacts.
Zines and lunch
I had a look round the stalls and despite trying to set myself a budget, I bought far too many zines. There were a few music ones including one that felt like a mixed tape my friend Louise would’ve made, so I bought the two issues as a reminder to go back and discover some new old favourites. I really enjoyed the variety of zines on display, some were created by people with a clear talent for drawing, others who focused more on words.
After that I couldn’t ignore the calls from my stomach to check out the food that I’d spotted being set up earlier. Bombay Tapas were selling a few things, but I stuck with the tapas offering and the samosa was so good I went back for seconds.
Outside they were setting up for Box Wars, a showdown with cardboard. This mainly involved watching the sheer determination from a collection of very cute children work together to dismantle a very structurally-sound bull piñata. It was also great to chat to
I signed up for this in a fleeting moment of thinking I could be more am more hands-on creative than I actually am. I love the idea of creating a zine, probably partly why I like blogging so much, but realistically I never really know where to start. Or what to do with it when it’s done.
Early as ever, I headed up to grab my seat for the workshop and spotted the table of example zines that workshop facilitators Megan Boyd and James Wilkes had laid out. And sat amongst the pile were a couple of copies of Atta Girl, zines from around the time of the previous Brum Zine Fest and a nice blast from the past. After reading through and reminiscing about those zines, I took my seat ready to have a go myself.
Megan and James gave us a run through of the history of the zine, its originals in sci-fi fandom and punk counter-culture, and then showed us the relatively simple and yet kind of amazing way to take an A3 bit of paper and create your own eight-page booklet without and staples.
With glittery stickers, magazines and pens, we were left to our own devices to create our very first zine. And that’s when writer’s block struck. Whilst I really liked the idea of creating a zine, at that point I had no idea what I wanted to create one about. And so I decided to get all meta and create a zine…about the zine festival.
Once our time was up we showed off our creations to the rest of the group and it was wonderful to see what other people had created. Some very talented artists had drawn cartoons, others drawings of life events, it turns out there was a fellow blogger Nati, from Life After Coffee, who was also in the workshop, something I didn’t discover until after.
After that my head and heart were full and I knew it was time to take my bag full of newly acquired zines home and digest the day. It was a truly delightful experience, an absolutely pleasure to be part of and considering I’d spent most of the weekend feeling quite on the outside, it was really lovely to feel welcomed and part of the fun. It felt inclusive and
I cannot wait for next years. Who knows, maybe I’ll have a zine to showcase by then!