Philly Zine Fest took place August 27-28, for the 14th Year. Here we interview Dre Grigoropol, one of the event organizers as well as a talented comics artist, zine maker, and Soapbox instructor and member:
For how long have you been attending Philly Zine Fest?
The first time I visited the Philly Zine Fest was in 2003. I knew I wanted to get involved, but it was years later when I started exhibiting. My first Philly Zine Fest experience was in the summer and that is part of the reason I liked hosting it in the summers of 2015 and 2016 but from now on it will most likely be in November.
What inspired you to get involved in organizing the Fest?
After going to so many small press events, I was actually thinking and daydreaming of what it would be like to run a small press festival just minutes before the Philly Zine Fest’s founder and original organizer, Casey Grabowski, announced online that he was ready to pass the torch and I was right there following up.
If you don’t mind telling us, what has been the most challenging thing about organizing?
I think it would be finding time and energy to work on my personal work after communicating with so many people everyday when the festival’s energy begins to activate prior to the festival.
What has been the most gratifying?
The successful turnout and the many different visitors last years festival is my favorite highlight.
Is there anything you’d like to see in PZF’s future?
My zine fest collaborator Ken Richard and I are thinking that an art show of the printed ephemera that go along with the zine fest would be a really cool addition.
What are some of the first zines that inspired you?
Self publishing was always around me. When I attended community college I was in a literacy group who published a quarterly chapbook. Through the people who were involved with this club, I found out about the Philly Zine Fest.
Right after my first visit to Philly Zine Fest, I got involved with another DIY event called The Big Art Show. Paul, who currently runs Fireball Printing, organized the event. This show was a traveling art show and through it I got to exhibit my cartoon art in Philly, Brooklyn, Baltimore, and – back then up and coming – Asbury Park. In Asbury Park I met Megan Gale, who who had a zine named Rock Candy Magazine which had comic spoofs on some of my favorite indie bands at the time. I thought her zine was so great. I knew that I wanted to make something similar. It really inspired me to move in the direction that I am working.
A few years later, a noise compilation of local music released by Badmaster Records in a zine with a silk screened cover by Mark Price. He later began the highly acclaimed Zine Of The Month series. I thought the whole concept and design was so clever. It was a so much more than just a CD package: It was a book, it was art. Flipping though the pages of this zine was another spark in my willpower to begin self publishing.
Anything else you’d like to share?
I really wish there were more zine fests, small press festivals and DIY events. These types of events really mean a lot me in so many ways and these are the kinds of places where I make my most active connections. Surprisingly enough, I met my co-organizer Ken Richard and Mary of The Soapbox for the first time at the Scranton Zine Fest. Going to zine festivals has brought me to many different places and I have made friends on the journey.