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Small Press Fest! Virtual 2020

The Small Press Fest celebration of small press publications and DIY artists in Champaign-Urbana, IL and surrounding areas. This is an annual event in its second year; our goal is to promote self-authorship, facilitate connection, and re-examine who creates knowledge. 

This year we are primarily in the virtual space, with some socially distanced activities designed to keep you safe and give you a break from zoom!  

All of our events are FREE, though we do ask that you register ahead of time in order for us to share the event link.

For information about the events and speakers (including registration links), check out this page, our Facebook, or Instagram account. We'd love to interact with you! Use the hashtag #SPF2020 to share your thoughts and work with the SPF community. 

This has been a labor of love, and we hope you get some joy from this event during these stressful times. 



Zoom events will be livestreamed on our YouTube channel:
Keynote Speaker: Tonya Ingram
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NOVEMBER 13, 5-6pm CST

Tonya Ingram is a poet, Cincinnati native, Bronx-bred introvert, mental health advocate, kidney transplant hopeful, Lupus legend, cat auntie, and lover of Tom Hardy and “The Office.”

Tonya has graced the stages of The Getty Museum, Madison Square Garden, San Francisco Opera House, Nuyorican Poets Café, The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Lexus Verses and Flow’s variety show, and “The Price is Right*,” the online and physical pages of The New York Times, Vice i-D, Bustle, and Marie Claire, and the classrooms of schools in the United States and Ghana, just to name a few. her viral collaboration with BuzzFeed, “An Open Letter to My Depression,” has reached over 4 million views and counting.

A friend, creative, daydreamer, and Virgo, Tonya’s writing explores the necessity in taking care of ourselves, especially on the days we feel unworthy. She is a graduate of New York University and Otis College of Art and Design. Tonya currently resides in Los Angeles, CA.

HOW TO SURVIVE TODAY is her third book of poetry.

PhotoArt Walking Tour: Nika Lucks
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Learn Photography tips and photograph local art in Downtown Urbana with local artist Nika Lucks!

Starting point: Meet in Common ground Food Co-op Hallway, Lincoln square

12:45pm Check In, Tour starts at 1

Temperature Check and Rules

* Must wear a mask and keep with state safety guidelines
* Limit 15 people. Registration required.

We will be walking to all locations.
Participants will view and learn about sculptures and murals in Urbana. Learn Photography tips and photograph local art in Downtown Urbana.

No experience needed. Please bring camera (phone or professional camera).

Introduction to Manga: Kofi Bazzell-Smith
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Manga is the Japanese sequential art form, traditionally drawn in black and white, that combines story with cinematic visual design and spans multiple genres. A unique iteration of the graphic narrative imbued with Japanese sensibilities, history, and cultural idiosyncrasies, manga’s appeal led the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs to found the International Manga Award “for the purpose of expanding international exchange and mutual understanding.”

Kofi’s manga workshop covers the traditional Japanese 4-arc plot structure, Kishotenketsu, which is not taught outside of Japan.

Kofi Bazzell-Smith is an artist and competitive boxer. A U.S.-Japan Bridging Scholar, he has studied manga in Japan and teaches lectures and workshops on manga storytelling and techniques. His goals are to increase Black representation in the form and to build international bridges.

In Pursuit of Smut: Collecting
South Asian Comics, Zines, and Erotica
NOVEMBER 12, 7-8pm CST

South Asian Studies & Global Popular Culture Librarian Mara Thacker will talk about her work building the largest collection of South Asian comics in a research library. She will share some of her favorite collection highlights (including items from her personal collection) and talk about how the collection has expanded over the years to include zines and erotica. Finally, she will reflect on the value popular collections bring to libraries and the ongoing challenges libraries will need to address as they move forward with this work



Making and Saving Queer Zines: Dr. Spencer Keralis
NOVEMBER 13, 11-12pm CST

Dr. Spencer Keralis will talk about their experience researching queer zines from the late 80s and early 90s, and will describe efforts to preserve these ephemeral objects, including his reflections on his residency at the Queer Zine Archive Project. They’ll discuss the boom in zine culture in the 90s due to desktop publishing, show off some zines from his collection, and share some patterns for making your own zines.

U-C Comics Colloquium Fro-Yo-Social
NOVEMBER 13, 12-1pm CST

Join the U-C Comics Colloquium for a socially distanced social. Enjoy the snack (frozen or otherwise) of your choice and talk comics, zines, and other small press stuff with the students, scholars, librarians, and creators who make up the Urbana-Champaign comics studies community.

Non-conventional Storytelling with UMMA 
NOVEMBER 13, 3-4pm CST

From oral, to written or drawn to embroidered, come learn about how the most subtle information is shared and cherished across the world

Virtual Dance Party
with DJ Baub!
NOVEMBER 13, 6-7pm CST

Step away from the computer (but not too far!) and get moving! DJ Baub will host a virtual dance party to shake the zoom away.

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Hike with Midwest Explorer!
NOVEMBER 14, 10-11am CST

Enjoy a fall hike with Sara Johnson, editor of the Midwest Explorer zine and botanist.

Get some fresh air and discover the late fall landscape!

Masks and social distancing required. Limit of 15 people, so please register!

Urbana Small Press Fest Walking Map
NOVEMBER 14, anytime

This activity leads you through crafting and writing your own walking tour map zine of Urbana.

1. Grab a zine kit from the art coop (first 40 people get a free kit!)

2. Make your zine (download printable directions here)

3. Open the map:

4. Go to each of the spots on the map and look at the map to get writing and drawing prompts

5. Add new points of interest to your Walking Urbana Zine

6. Share with us! #SPF2020 on Instagram

Character Design Discovery!
with Cow House Press
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NOVEMBER 15, 3-4pm CST

Discover the magic behind great character design! Learn all the tips and tricks you need to create unique original characters for your comics and graphic novels with help from a professional cartoonist. Draw, ink, and share your creations with other teens and tweens in a fun collaborative environment. Supplies and a custom workbook provided!

Creating handmade comics and telling weird funny stories about the human experience for all ages. Cow House Press is committed to supporting marginalized creators and bringing books to all readers. We are passionate about storytelling and building community, and always looking to work with new artists!

The Young Artist's Studio is a series of art workshops sponsored by The Urbana Free Library and The Urbana Arts & Culture Program designed to offer youth an opportunity to explore the arts. All events in the series are free and open to the public. The series is designed for children ages 5 to 11 (7 and under with a caregiver). 


Saturday, November 7


PhotoArt Walking Tour with Nika Lucks
Thursday, November 12


Undergraduate Library international comics collection tour


Rare Book and Manuscript Library collection tour


Introduction to Manga with Kofi Bazzell-Smith


In Pursuit of Smut: Collecting South Asian Comics, Zines, and Erotica with Mara Thacker
Friday, November 13


Artists Interviewing Artists: Josh D. Sanders and Z Snyder


Artists Interviewing Artists: Will Arnold and Aim Beland


Making and Saving Queer Zines with Dr. Spencer Keralis


U-C Comics Colloquium
Fro-Yo Social


Artists Interviewing Artists: isPRESS and Liz Mason


Author readings: Champaign Chinese Magazine, Marream Krollos, and Joe Mason


Non-conventional storytelling with the Underrepresented Muslims and Minority Advocates (UMMA)


Keynote Speaker: Tonya Ingram


Virtual Dance Party with DJ Baub
Saturday, November 14


Hike with Midwest Explorer


Artists Interviewing Artists: Mary Widdicks and Andi Santagata


Artists Interviewing Artists: Grant Thomas and Alex Nall


Author Readings: CU Poetry, Michael Allen Rose, and Libby Pettett


UIUC Zine Library Tour


Home Shopping Network! Learn about work available and purchase your own copy!

All Day

Urbana Zine Walking Tour
Sunday, November 15


Character Design Discovery! with Cow House Press part of the Young Artist's Studio