Zine vendors

Photo by Xiaochen Zhong. 

UCSF Hosts First Ever 'Zine' Fair

Tuesday, October 17, 2023


If you’re one of those people who walks into an independent bookstore and goes straight to the “Zine” section, you have something in common with UCSF medical students Xiaochen Zhong and Eushavia Bogan. 

Motivated by their love for zines, Zhong and Bogan — members of The Intrinsic Value of Art Series (IVAS) — spearheaded UCSF’s very first Zine Fair on June 9 the UCSF Parnassus Alumni House.

“SF and the Bay Area have a long history of radical print shops,” Bogan said. “Zines offer avenues for knowledge exchange that’s for the people by the people. And it’s the medium that almost anyone can engage with and make.”

That’s in keeping with the values of IVAS, a UCSF student-led organization that promotes and celebrates the voices of Bay Area Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) and queer artists. The 2023 iteration of IVAS is focusing on organizing art-based activities that center partnership building between local artists, community organizations, and UCSF.

And zines — self-published, small circulation booklets of text and images — have long been associated with marginalized communities, activism, advocacy and a do-it-yourself philosophy. 

“I first got into zines while living in New York City,” Zhong said. “Now, in San Francisco, I find every opportunity to go to zine-related events, such as the SF Zine Fest which feature zine artists.” 

The goal of the inaugural Zine Fair was to highlight creative expression from diverse Bay Area artists around the themes of identity, health, wellness, and the human experience, with a focus on multi-disciplinary healing. Topics that participating zine artists explored through their practice included food systems, computer science, and the queer and/or BIPOC experience.  

A total of 16 Bay Area zine artists tabled at the event, and over 60 people stopped by the fair to enjoy the wide variety of zines, prints, and cake.

The artists were thrilled to receive payment for their participation, which is rarely offered at such events. While most fairs actually require artists to cover a fee to show their work, IVAS had the funding to pay artists. 

“I loved that we all received honorariums! It felt so good to be compensated in that way,” said Miguel Franco, creator of Guerrilla Grown. 

“We are trying to get funding for future events and very much look forward to the second UCSF Zine fair,” Zhong said. 

Zhong and Bogan believed that holding a Zine Fair at a place like UCSF could bridge both the arts and medical sciences together in a unique way. 

“It was interesting to notice that folks enjoyed products that were related to science and health, which showcases the wonderful confluence and intersections of art and science,” Zhong said.

“Many artists told me that the participants of the fair at UCSF were definitely not the typical audience they are used to at larger annual fairs. Promoting such conversations, interactions and exchanges is part of a continuous mission to bring arts to medicine, and vice versa.”

A unique sight at the fair was the inclusion of cake, brought by Francesca Hodges, the person-in-charge of UC Berkeley’s Our Foodscapes, a project that examines the different food systems on campus.

“Neither of us have ever been to a zine event where the food was so good!” said Dulce Zines, a collective who writes about the trans, queer, and BIPOC experience.

Many participating zine artists said they enjoyed tabling at UCSF Zine Fair, and hope that the next iteration will be even bigger. 

“I loved the range and variety of other makers that I met,” said Amy Wibowo, an artist interested in increasing computer literacy through diagrams and hand-drawn art. “The foot traffic seemed pretty slow, so I think for next year, the event could be promoted more.”

During the planning process, Zhong and Bogan reached out to SF Zine Fest, who helped publicize the event to zine artists and lovers. 

“We are also grateful to all the help we received from the UCSF Humanities department, UCSF Library, and various community organizations as well,” Zhong said. 

IVAS is also setting up a zine collection at the UCSF library from artists’ donations, so stay tuned, and stop by to have a read.