Look at any contemporary zine today, and it’s easy to forget DIY publishing’s humble origins in the 1930s among sci-fi fandoms and, later, the punk scenes of the 70s and 80s. These zines often shared carnal and controversial views on anarchy, social justice, and militant movements. Today’s zines still often cover some of these topics, but advances in technology have made them much more refined and expansive.

Claudia Maria, 26, a librarian at Barnard Zine Library in New York and former special collections assistant for Miami-Dade County Public Libraries, says the traditionally intimate and raw essence of a zine makes it incomparable to others. artistic mediums.

“It’s really intimate, like the classic thing you read in someone’s diary,” Maria said. new times. “There’s a kind of confidence that I felt reading where I feel like I know you, but I never knew you.”

But they feel that kind of intimacy and individuality has faded within Miami’s alternative print community.

“I feel like a lot of the zines that have come out of Miami over the last five years are a little more polished, or definitely more upscale,” Maria says. “It’s like making a zine because you want to eventually publish a book, instead of doing it to do freelance work.”

“It feels really private, like the classic thing you read in someone’s journal.”

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What started as a hobby for Maria and other zinesters turned into a business for Miami-based zine and bookstore Dale Zine.

Dale Zine founders Steve Saiz, 36, and Lillian Banderas, 37, opened their third storefront in Little River on January 21, selling books, zines, prints and products made by publishers and artists independent. (It’s Dale, pronounced DAH-leh, as in ¡ándale!)

“A lot of people don’t have a platform, especially in Miami – it’s such a void,” says Saiz. “We’re extending the platform to anyone who would often be overlooked or overlooked.”

Before the store, in 2009, Saiz began publishing issues of Valleywhich were shared and exchanged among other performing artists.

“Zines are meant to be spread out, no matter your budget,” says Banderas. “I saw photographers and artists with whom I was really creating a format that was really accessible through a zine.”

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“A lot of people don’t have a platform, especially in Miami,” says Steve Saiz, co-founder of Dale Zine.

Photo by Jesse Fraga

Local Miami artist Nain Cruz, 19, documents street fashion through printed photographs and collages. His passion project eventually turned into an independent multimedia and print magazine, Project foreword.

“I personally like the organic nature of a print. Sure, it can be expensive to make, but I’m not going to charge a lot of money for something I made for my own enjoyment,” says Cruz. . “Sure, there’s room for this kind of high-end art in Miami, but are you doing it for yourself or for other people?”

Cruz thinks these standards could restrict access to those with limited resources or transportation.

“It feels really private, like the classic thing you read in someone’s journal.”

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“At the end of the day, it shouldn’t be about profit,” he says. “It should be about creating great works of art that will influence other people, something your average Joe could afford, not just your fancy collector.”

With less time to practice his craft, Cruz balances his studies at Miami Dade College and a 9 to 5 at Bath & Body Works – all to survive in one of the most expensive American cities to live in, he points out. .

“Yo, that’s tough. We live in Miami. That’s a good five hours of someone’s life just to afford a zine or a print,” Cruz says. “We artists don’t eat anything. We are paid minimum wage.”

Click to enlarge Dale Zine recently opened its new store in Miami's Little River neighborhood.  - PHOTO BY JESSE FRAGA

Dale Zine recently opened its new store in Miami’s Little River neighborhood.

Photo by Jesse Fraga

This realization pushed him out of Project foreword last year when he felt he had lost touch with his individuality as an artist.

“It gets corporate and cookie-cutter,” says Cruz. “Your brain is a muscle, so the second it becomes constrained in this box of business, it sucks a lot. The stress of meeting expectations for work unconsciously pours into all of your work.”

It could even increase competition between zinesters – the community that Maria once expected to host a humble camaraderie.

“I’ve been to zine fairs in Miami, showcased stuff I’ve done, and there’s a kind of barter economy to the zine and trade scenes,” Maria says. “But sometimes it feels a bit like a class signifier – like something is very well printed and perfectly connected. I feel like I have to give away one of everything I’ve done for just one of theirs. It’s becoming an unequal job.”

Traditionally, zines were traded through art fairs, film and vinyl record sales, which allowed for quick and inexpensive transactions in art, sometimes even in the form of propaganda.

“It creates a sort of distribution system where people can connect with people who post similar works,” adds Maria. “That’s just how you would get information. When you send your CD or tape, for example, you could also include zines.”

Risograph, a duplicator developed in Japan in the 1950s, has made a comeback among artists and independent publishers looking to mass-produce zines. Printing on a risograph is often cheaper than photocopying. But the growing divergence between handmade zines and professional mass printing raises some questions: what is a zine?

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“I think the foundation of a zine is this story of making something that’s accessible, democratic, and can be streamed,” says Luna Goldberg.

Photo by Jesse Fraga

Wolfsonian-FIU education officer Luna Goldberg, 27, directs the museum’s K-12 programs, including Zines for Progress and STEAM Zines, which teaches zine-making at so-called Title I schools — those whose enrollment contains a large number of low-income students – in Miami-Dade County.

“We’re going back to the roots by having students work on zines that are much easier to produce and distribute,” Goldberg says. “We never want our students to create something that they couldn’t necessarily replicate outside the institution.”

Goldberg further stresses the need for equal access to art in his programs and among other zine creators. She describes the art of zinemaking as a way to exchange personal voices that would otherwise be silenced.

“I’ve been to zine fairs in Miami, and there’s a kind of barter economy to the zine and trade scenes. But sometimes it feels a bit like a class signifier.”

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“I think the foundation of a zine is this story of doing something that’s accessible, democratic, and can be streamed,” she says. “We used to do zine fairs where we could bring together students who didn’t know each other, coming from different neighborhoods. There was a real urgency to that.”

Zine fairs are no stranger to the Dale duo – Saiz and Banderas’ customer base first grew through local pop-ups and an online store. They also became eager to advance in their own art and create a platform for others.

“I think when we were younger obviously we were much more into the DIY scene, but it’s just that we’re getting a bit older and finding a way to accommodate that,” Banderas explains.

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“I don’t think there’s a wrong way to make a zine,” says Luna Goldberg.

Photo by Jesse Fraga

Cruz finds the changing culture of printmaking essential to growing as an artist.

“There’s always going to be some craving for what other people are doing, especially when there are artists who might have more support or experience than you do,” he says. “There have to be those levels to bounce back in order to transform and grow.”

But Maria remains concerned that the growth in zine sales in Miami is creating a false standard for what a zine should be.

“People who are exposed to zines for the first time might see the high-end stuff and think you have to be popular enough to distribute it,” Maria says. “It’s not a value judgment towards artists’ books, but as it’s become a bit more mainstream, you lose some of the quality of intimacy.”

Others thrive in the changing nature of zines.

“It started as pamphlets, then later punk, and it expanded from there,” Saiz says. As for a definition, he offers: “I think it’s just a book you make yourself.”

Goldberg agrees: the medium’s unusually loose rules could make a zine exactly what it is.

“I don’t think there’s a wrong way to make a zine. Their formats change all the time,” she says. “Maybe there’s something about the fleeting quality of not being able to put your finger on it exactly.”

Correction: The original version of this article stated that Dale Zine was selling zines for up to $50. According to Dale, art books are sometimes sold at this price but zines are not.