Hello, Broken Pencil reader! And welcome to the magazine’s newest regular column, Exposure Unit. I’m Rabeea Syed, a zinester and arts organizer based in Toronto. Let’s start with a little bit about me. I’m currently studying graphic design with a completed minor in print- making. I love making zines, and I am lucky enough to have been creating and partaking in zine culture for three years now. I became interested in making zines when I first decided to take a minor in printmaking. Soon I realized that there was this unexplored form of expression and I decided to pursue it.
Eventually, with my experience in graphic design as well as in printmaking, I was able to use this medium to explore my identity in a way that I had not previously realized was possible: through self-publishing. Being able to photo- graph and write about moments and experiences, and to compile them into something I felt captured the emotions surrounding my diasporic identity was brand new to me. Now, it is a key part of how I view art and its possibilities.
Of course, participating in zine
culture hasn’t always been a breeze. There are things that a creator has to be prepared for when presenting work in any environment.
For me, it was the fact that my work was directly related to my identity as a Muslim Pakistani-Canadian woman. This opens me up to unwanted comments and questions that I feel as though I have no choice but to answer, especially when displaying my work in-person at a zine fair or festival.
But those who ask these invasive questions would be likely to do so regardless of my art form. I would not consider it to be a setback that is specific to zine culture, but it’s worth unpacking how it plays out in those particular contexts
Zine making and the culture surrounding it is one of the most freeing things I’ve been able to do, and the most fulfilling community I’ve been able to be a part of.
In this column space, I plan to elaborate on how zines are able to express so much in so many ways, yet remain an accessible form of media for all, in that
they are easy to make and that there are no limitations on how they’re made and who makes them. Thankfully, zines don’t belong to any one person or any one group. They go beyond the traditional notions of artists and writers even, making them an extremely accessible form of representation for oneself.
I hope that in the issues to come, I can help open up conversations about the promises and pitfalls of zine culture, and the issues that affect us as zinesters making work, tabling at festivals, and sharing ourselves to the world. This can be as far ranging as how to make zine spaces more accessible, the challenge of collaborations in self-publishing, the politics of representation in DIY, and maybe even the big question of how zines fit into the digital media land- scape. Really, anything that comes up in the life of a zinester!
If there are topics you’d like to see covered, from a zinester’s perspective, or any questions you have for me, please shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Let’s talk zines!