Kamini Purushothaman, Contributing Photographer

Handmade jewelry, stickers, books and an abundance of zines — self-published magazines — decorated the tables inside Bradley Street Bicycle Co-Op as vendors eagerly chatted with attendees.

From 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. last Saturday, Feb. 10, a zine fair took place at the community center. Organized by members of the local zine Connectic*nt, the event featured 14 art vendors. These vendors sold zines ranging in content from visual art and creative writing to political advocacy.

“In 2021, we were invited to a zine fair in New York to sell our third issue of Connectic*nt,” Jensen said. “We wished there was something like this in New Haven, so we were like ‘let’s just freaking do it.’”

Since then, they’ve been hosting fairs in Connecticut, bringing together a community of local artists and creators.

At Saturday’s event, Jensen and Pelaez sold the latest edition of Connectic*nt, a Valentine’s Day-themed issue including poems, essays, photographs and sketches focused on love.

“The magazine was created during quarantine when we couldn’t really go to events in person,” Jensen said. “So it was born of that desire to look at people’s art and connect with people outside of just doom-scrolling.”

Today, Connectic*nt’s Instagram presence has grown to around 5,000 followers. Jensen uses the platform to advertise events like Saturday’s zine fair, which was the fifth of its kind that she helped organize.

Zine creators interested in seeking their goods at the fair apply through a Google Form, and Jensen works to ensure that each fair includes vendors she hasn’t worked with before.

On Saturday, that included Jasmine Jones, the founder of Aislin Magazine, a publication highlighting emerging artists.

“I started my magazine because I wanted a publication that focused on new artists, and underground artists — not necessarily people who are already big names,” Jones said.

Jones published the first issue of Aislin Magazine in 2018 and has steadily expanded its reach since then. She said that working on the magazine alone in addition to having a full-time job is difficult, but she ultimately finds the experience rewarding. In fact, Jones said that she credits her current job at a publication to her zine.

Aislin Magazine’s scope extends beyond printed issues: the magazine also includes online elements like curated lists of creative opportunities and video interviews with local artists. Jones said she has not attended many zine fairs, but she hopes that more start happening in Connecticut.

“It’s very much a magazine for the artists,” Jones said. “So I would love to make sure I’m benefiting them.”

Saturday’s zine fair itself was an event by artists, for artists. Growing up in the state, Pelaez said that she often felt she was missing a creative community. 

That changed when she matriculated to the University of Connecticut, or UConn, where she said she felt like her artistic inclinations were met by a diverse collective of artists. When she graduated in 2021, she feared losing that artistic community once again. That desire to find and facilitate a creative community galvanized her to join Connectic*nt. 

“We love collaborating with other creative powerhouses in the state,” Pelaez said. “There’s some really cool shit going on and we’ve been able to build an even wider audience and connect a lot of creatives that may have never interacted with each other.”

One manifestation of that collaboration came when Connectic*nt hosted a craft night at Bradley Street Bicycle Co-Op. They have also held pop-ups at Atticus Market and Orange St. Art Market and clubbing nights at Diesel Lounge and Cafe Nine.

According to Jensen, Connectic*nt transcends its role as a printed magazine. By hosting events in physical spaces, Jensen and other members of the zine facilitate a physical, tangible space for creatives to connect with each other.

“It’s just so cool that there’s so many people that want to celebrate this stuff and come out and show support for it,” she said.

The bicycle co-op is located at 138 Bradley St.

Kamini Purushothaman covers Arts and New Haven. A first-year student in Trumbull College, she is majoring in History.