Atlanta Zine Fest Heralds Unsung Voices of Atlanta's DIY Culture

PHOTO: Shae Edman

PHOTO: Shae Edman

This year's Atlanta Zine Fest (AZF) kicks off this weekend for a two day festival packed full of workshops, film screenings and zines from a range of varied styles and different walks of life.

AZF5: Reality Schism delves into the stories and work embarked on through the haze of current social politics, events on the world stage, and back down to the individuals who make up our global identity. With a large diversity of zine vendors, the workshops also follow suit.


Workshops ranging from tackling social issues such as Performative Allyship: How Not to Be and How Atlanta Can Leverage Its Cultural Capital For Social Good to community body work and skill building with Movement Love Presented by Maggie Benoit and Atlanta Contemporary

and Learning to code without touching a computer. There’s even a workshop geared for teen voices experiencing immigration that will give  participants a chance to be published on This is only a small portion of the well rounded, growth intensive weekend AZF has in store.

In anticipation of this jam-packed DIY weekend, we’ve spoke with Brandon Sheats (Executive Director) and Tash Nikol (Program Director), a few questions about what to expect this year:


Brandon, this will be your first AZF as the Executive Director of Murmur, correct?

Brandon: Indeed, and have I learned a lot about the DIY scene and remembered a lot about how intense planning is.


What can we expect this year that may be different than past years?

Tash: This is the 5th Annual Atlanta Zine Fest (AZF5), and we are working to deepen our impact by expanding our audience through workshops with Vox ATL highlighting immigration issues and zine making, Black Noize Media doing a very special and engaging DIY Light Art and Resistance workshop, CCI’s Vote Local highlighting civic engagement, The Atlanta Contemporary showcasing Movement Love, and a number of amazing artists and community change makers. We are also thrilled to feature now NY-based, Atlanta artist Pastiche Lumumba to facilitate a timely workshop related to internet home “ec” and managing your “other other” accounts.

Attendees will also find a special curated film component with short films by House of June, Aloysious Harmon, Lanese Love, and more.

Brandon: We're in multiple buildings, like previous Zine Fests, but we've expanded our range from the past, accepting all vendor applicants, as well as including resources like the Feminist Women's Health Center.


Tell us about the theme of the Fest this year, "Reality Schism" and how that came about.

Tash: This years AZF is highlighting the work and issues of the voices that make up the cultural fabric of Atlanta! Reality Schism is the theme, and is centered around making AZF a multivocal event – specifically for people of color, queer people, women, earth liberators, anarchist, artists and those who encourage and support bodies often oppressed and lacking active and supportive circles in our mainstream-centric society. Reality Schism represents the voices that seek alternative routes of creative expression and community engagement to stake claim – the voices that are overlooked, but that make up the creative culture that Atlanta thrives off of but fails to celebrate.

What makes Atlantas DIY media/zine scene unique?

Brandon: It's wide open. I have not experienced a scene that is as inviting and gives everyone a shot more than Atlanta. While I think we could do a lot better with critique of work and bridging the civic/arts divide, Atlanta has a path to becoming an even bigger, better scene. Zine-wise, I think another wave is just beginning - anyone can make a zine.



Any vendors or workshops you're particularly psyched about?

Brandon (vendors): I'm excited for all of our vendors this year! So many people brought their game to this year's AZF. Chester Hopewell is presenting zines and chapbooks of new poetry you haven't seen on phone poles and walls around the city, the High Museum is bringing their Teen Team, Mo Costello is returning with copies of PICTURE NEWSPAPER from NYC and Atlanta,  Iman Person is presenting a zine on loneliness and making space, Pretty Major is presenting their goods and we've hosted their Valentine's Day experience. Also, we added film this year!  

Tash (workshops): I am excited about every workshop that we have this year. It’s some beautiful shit to see such a multitude of organizations, individuals and artists coming together (for FREE ya’ll) to drop knowledge on those who plan to attend and support. Who else is doing that in the city? Seriously. We have students from Spelman and the Spelman Innovation Lab, Black Noize Radio providing attendees with the tools and knowledge on how to create and use DIY light art projections in liberation movements, Pastiche doing what he does best on the interwebs, Jortfest showing us how to increase accessibility of zine content utilizing technology, and the list continues.

What else do you want people to know about AZF?

Brandon: What you see this year is a beginning - this thing has gone from an idea of Tracy and Amanda's to a multi-venue, two-day event. While it started almost exclusively zines, it's expanding quickly to become a expenading home for independent DIY creatives

Tash: We want people to know that AZF is for them. We aren’t doing this alone. We are joining a movement happening in New Orleans, New York, LA, Memphis, D.C. and all around the US -- specifically in cities that highlight and support DIY, Zine-centric culture. We want Atlanta to be apart of that, and we want Murmur to continue that efforts. We are thankful to the individuals that stepped forward to create this opportunity 5 years ago, and so thankful to groups like MailChimp and the Fulton County Arts Council for stepping up and showing that this matters through their support.

We need the Atlanta community to step up and support this culture so we can continue to thrive and to move this work forward.

Matt Jones is your average carefree black boi, community worker, and sensei. As an Atlanta based artist he dreams to foster community and advocate real change for issues involving but not limited to mental health, queer life, and POC disparity.