By Julia Escobar
Born from the ashes of school closures and isolation, the new Farmers Market Zine has planted a seed for a new community of young artists and writers that stretches from West Los Angeles all the way to the Canadian border. Seventeen-year-old Annabel Axtell, a rising senior at Culver City High School, founded the teen and young adult print magazine composed of art from local and international high school students. The inaugural issue will come out at the end of July.
Creative works from everywhere under the sun, in every genre — photography, paintings, music playlists (with scannable QR codes) and poetry — are featured in this zine, all done by high school students.
Creating a zine had been on Axtell’s mind ever since 2011 after seeing her first zine, but as a busy high schooler juggling school and extracurriculars, the idea fell to the wayside — until quarantine. The zine was originally going to be just for her friends, not necessarily to sell or promote. But when the Instagram page was created online, teens from all over the world began following the account and submitting art. From March through June, art and writing from California, Arizona, Ohio, New York, and even Canada poured in. It quickly became apparent that the zine was growing beyond her friend group.
“It’s really amazing that so many people are making art, and so many people were waking up to certain things happening in the world,” Axtell says. “I mainly wanted to create it so that we could build a community of artists and like-minded people to discuss different things that we’re passionate about.”
Axtell assembled her friends to create a youth editorial team of eight high school-age editors, illustrators, layout designers and web designers. They created a 30-plus page youth magazine with letter-size pages, all designed in a scrapbook collage style.
“We got a lot of work that was thematically tied into being stuck at home during quarantine,” Axtell says. “So we’re naming this first issue ‘From my bedroom to yours’ because a lot of the work that we have, as well as the cover image, is art that people did in their bedroom.”
That theme is the core of the zine’s three main sections: visual arts, media, and writing. Distinctive elements include subcategories on current topics (i.e. ‘Issues and Activism’) and an advice column embedded in the writing section. The team wanted to make sure there was a space in the zine to inform youth about timely topics like Black Lives Matter and provide a forum for youth to educate their peers about taboo subjects such as sex ed that might be missing from some teens’ high school curriculums.
The BLM section is powerful: it shares news, vital resources and personal statements, all written by youth activists. The advice column then pivots to talk about sex education from a youth perspective not usually taught in high schools. It also dispenses advice for college applications written by an alum of Culver City High School.
The team created a website to give the magazine an online platform (farmersmarketzine.com). While the full print version of the zine won’t be posted online, all writing featured in the zine and any additional work submitted will be on the website. Artists and writers can also submit their work online.
Aiming to create a strong sense of community and compassion through their newly minted publication, the Farmers Market Zine team hopes to release a zine every season — the next being this fall.
“We want to try to do more community activities with all the people who are following us because we love the people that are following us,” says Axtell. “Hopefully, when COVID passes, we can have little community meetings, classes or even forums where we talk about ways to help the community.”
In fact, creating this sense of community is the exact reason why the zine is called Farmers Market. Just like produce vendors who come together to sell the fruits of their labor in a community setting, the magazine offers a forum for young artists to come together — with all their different mediums —into one cohesive space.
“We wanted to focus on issues that affect our community,” says Axtell, “and farmers markets are a wholesome way to bring communities together.”
To preorder the first edition of ‘Farmers Market Zine 6’ ($10), visit farmersmarketzine.com. If you are a young artist or writer and would like to have your work featured in the next edition of ‘Farmers Market’ submit your work to firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @farmersmarketzine on Instagram for updates.