How to Make Your Own Zine


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What are zines?

A zine, short for “fanzine” or “magazine”, is a small-circulation pamphlet that is typically made by hand and distributed outside of the traditional publishing channels. Historically, zines have served as platforms to amplify the voices and perspectives of people in marginalized or less-empowered communities. Being non-commercial in nature, these publications have a limited reach and are usually meant to attract niche audiences.

Zines first appeared in the world of science fiction in the 1930s,  as a way for fans to share their ideas and opinions on various sci-fi topics. However, they gained popularity in the counterculture circles of the 1960s and 70s, especially the punk and feminist movements, as a way for musicians, writers, and artists to circumvent mainstream media. 

Zine
UK and US Zine, photo courtesy of Wikipedia

Early zines include Sash and Sniffin’ Glue, known for their irreverent DIY aesthetic, representative of the emerging punk rock scene in the UK in the mid-70s. They often covered interviews with seminal punk bands like The Clash and The Ramones, and reviews of their shows. Other popular zines emerged from the Riot Grrl movement of the 1990s. A few such publications were Bikini Kill, Girl Germs, and Le Tigre, which were self-produced and distributed weekly at no charge. The fanzines were created by the members of the punk rock feminist band Bikini Kill, led by Kathleen Hannah, as personal weapons against the male-dominated music scene of the time and open platforms to discuss themes of sexuality, body image, and abuse. 

Nowadays, zines have lost their exclusive connection with underground cultures and activism and have gradually embraced a greater diversity of topics. Although still primarily circulated within creative networks to express alternative viewpoints, they can also serve as tools for personal development, community-building, or simple recreation. 

Creating a zine is an excellent way to express yourself creatively and share your ideas with others. They are relatively low-cost and can be made at home with minimal resources. Below we will provide helpful tips on how to create your very own zine. 

What is my zine about?

The first step in creating a zine is picking the right topic. Although zines can cover virtually any subject matter, some are more popular than others. Here are a few ideas to help you on your way:

Art Magazine
Image from Agora Gallery Twitter page
  1. Personal narratives: Many zines are focused on personal narratives and experiences. These can range from stories about growing up to reflections on relationships, mental health, and identity.
  2. Politics and activism: Zines can also be a platform for political and social commentary. They can address topics such as feminism, LGBTQ+ rights, racial justice, and environmental activism.
  3. Art and culture: Zines can be a celebration of art and culture, featuring everything from illustrations and photography to poetry and music reviews. 
  4. DIY and crafting: Zines can also offer a space for DIY and crafting projects. These can range from tutorials on how to make your own clothing to recipes for homemade skincare products.
  5. Alternative lifestyles: Zines can explore alternative lifestyles and subcultures, including punk rock, skateboarding, and underground music scenes.
  6. Mental health and wellness: Zines can be a way to explore topics related to mental health and wellness, such as self-care practices and coping strategies.

How do I make a zine?

Zine

There are no rules to making a zine and the process is relatively easy and inexpensive. Here we will give you step-by-step instructions on how to create your own zine from start to finish. 

  1. Gather your supplies: To begin with, you will need A4 paper, writing utensils, and a pair of scissors. You could also use old magazines, stickers, pieces of fabric, colored pencils, glitter, pressed flowers, or anything that strikes your fancy. If you are an artsy type, you could insert old sketches or drawings, or perhaps create new illustrations and designs. 
  2. Decide on a format: Zines can come in many different formats, from folded sheets of paper to bound booklets. Decide on the format that works best for your content and how you plan to distribute your zine.
  3. Create your content: Now it’s time to create the content for your zine. Write your articles, create your artwork, and take your photographs. You can handwrite the text to give it more character or use digital tools if you are more tech-savvy.
  4. Layout your zine: Once you have all your content, it’s time to lay out your zine. This means arranging your content in a way that is visually appealing and easy to read. You can use software like Adobe InDesign or do it by hand.
  5. Print your zine: Once you have your layout, it’s time to print your zine. You can print it at home, use a print shop or even use a photocopier. Experiment with different paper types and colors to make your zine stand out.
  6. Assemble your zine: Depending on the format you chose, you may need to assemble your zine. This might involve folding and stapling or binding your zine.

How do I publish my zine?

First, you need to decide on your method of publication. You can either print your zine yourself or have it professionally printed. Printing it yourself can be cost-effective and will give you more control over the overall design and layout. Using a commercial printer, however, can give your zine a more polished look and offer alternative options not supported by at-home printers. 

Once your zine is ready, it’s time to send it out into the world. You can sell it at local events like craft fairs or zine festivals, or you can distribute it to independent bookstores and record shops. To widen your reach, create a digital version of your zine and post it on your website, blog, or social media. Sell it on online marketplaces, such as Etsy, and promote it on zine-friendly platforms like Tumblr, Pinterest, and Instagram. You could also submit your zine to online zine libraries or archives. The Barnard Zine Library in New York, the Salford Zine Library in the UK, and the Papercut Zine Library in Boston are some of the largest and most comprehensive zine libraries out there. 

Guerrilla marketing can also be a highly effective and fun way to distribute your zine, especially in highly-trafficked urban areas. Depending on the audience you are trying to reach, leave a stack in strategic locations, such as park benches, coffee shops, or subway stations. Get creative with your distribution methods: tape them to walls, slip them into books at libraries, or hide them around town like a scavenger hunt. Make sure to include a clear call-to-action and contact information in your zine so that interested readers can follow up and learn more.

So here you have it. You now have all you need to plan, make, and publish your own zine. Whether you are making a zine for personal enjoyment, a group of friends, or a wider audience, the most important thing is to have fun and enjoy the creative process. So go ahead and start creating–the world is waiting to hear your story.

 


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