I had a blast tabling for the first time at the wonderful Chicago Zine Fest. Everyone I met was pretty rad as they like to say in Chicagoland. (Note: I find it absolutely adorable that everyone says rad and radical.) I thought I’d write up a quick little list of tips and things you should probably bring, especially if you’re tabling solo like I was.
- A water bottle and lots of snacks.
- Tons of small bills to make change.
- Antibac hand gel. You’re going to be handling a lot of cash and American bills are… pretty old. They don’t call it filthy lucre for nothing.
- A cheap tablecloth or something nice to cover up the tabletop with.
- A price list.
- Posters, signage, vertical displays or something visually attractive to draw the eyes in that you can tape on the wall behind you.
- Tape, pens, paper.
- Something free with your contact information. I made business cards from post office tags. Also, keep paper around for other people to give you their contact info in case they don’t have their own cards.
- Check out other people’s tables early on in the day. Foot traffic is quieter, making it easier to navigate and you’re less likely to miss someone at your own table. This is especially important if you’re tabling solo; you won’t have much of a chance to even take a washroom break, nevermind saunter around the exhibition floor, when the crowd picks up in the afternoon. (My sincere apologies to those I didn’t make it out to see; one of the major downsides to tabling alone!)
- Trades are awesome! I didn’t realize you could just trade zines. If someone stops by to show interest in your work, it’s good to try to return the favour.
- At the end of the day, or the day after, try to remember all the people you’ve met. After the fest, I made a spreadsheet where I entered everyone’s contact info and made notes. This way, I won’t have to go digging around for a little business card later when I want to check out someone’s website or want to email them after reading their work.
- Make sure to include your contact info in your zines! I acquired a few zines that don’t have any contacts or even authors which makes it harder to obtain more zines.
Anyways, I met a lot of comics people, including fellow š! contributor Jen Rickert, whose lovely work was featured in š!#11; Tyrell Cannon who will be tabling at TCAF where I’m hoping I’ll be able to finish the rest of his comics series, Gary; Kira Mardikes who also does murals, animation and gorgeous, gestural screenprints; and Alexandra Ensign whose Cocktails for Cinephiles looks very cute! I also met so many great people exhibiting (thank you for dropping by my table!) and attendees, chatting about everything under the sun: continental theory, vegetarian diets, feminism, what have you. I also have so many awesome comics and zines to plow through now so I’ll just end with a note about CZF’s “safe space.” It’s clear that the organizers have made an effort to create a truly inclusive space and that’s reflected in the people who exhibit and the attendees who visit. It was a lovely experience to table among so many progressive, thoughtful people and I’d do it again in a heartbeat.