A few years ago some friends of mine got into making zines and started a group where everyone would make a zine and bring copies to trade with the group. They called it Zine-Aged Angst, because they're clever like that. It was a brilliant idea because it gave us all a reason to do something creative, and a concrete deadline by which to have it finished. A zine is an original DIY publication, usually a small booklet reproduced with a photocopier - though they can come in many forms. It can be on any topic imaginable and contain any kind of media, as long as it's reproducible. Over the years I've gathered quite a collection, on topics from building an ant farm, to the things you find when you pick up garbage for a living, to how to quit drinking coffee.
Zines are often used by people and communities who don't have a mainstream voice, and who want to get their message out through underground channels. In certain circles they can be quite political and controversial. However, they're also often used by artists and writers to promote their work or to try something new, and by ordinary people who just have something unique to say. This is why I love them. Zines can be anything you want them to be and are the ultimate medium to play around in and experiment with because they don't have to be perfect - a rough and messy aesthetic suits them perfectly.
The zines I made for the group included an illustrated list of things I love, sketches and notes from a journal I kept on a road trip around the U.S., a story about a spy in Communist Berlin losing his mind, a diary of my first garden, things I've learned about dealing with anxiety, and more. As you can see, they involved a lot of hand writing and cheap photocopying. I used fancy paper to bind some of them but most were just stapled together and made entirely of copy paper.
Some of the zines I've made:
Some of the zines friends and strangers have made:
Want to make your own zine? The possibilities are literally endless. You could:
- cut up magazines and print some of your favourite quotes over the images - or use your own photographs
- photocopy drawings, paintings, sketches, doodles, poems, or any little piece of something you've created
- make a list of things that inspire you and paste in images or sketches
- write about something you know a lot about - like your family tree, how to bake gluten-free or cook Persian food, or how to grow the perfect tomato - and include pictures you've taken
- draw cartoons of some daily mishaps
- write about a cause that matters to you and what can be done to help
- draw your own maps of interesting or little known places to visit in your city
In terms of structure you can:
- make a tiny zine, or a really big one
- use one long piece of paper and fold it, or roll it up
- add natural elements (my garden zine had buckwheat seeds glued to the cover and one of the zines above has dried leaves attached to the centre fold)
- use string, staples, fasteners, buttons, ribbons, or sew the pages together
- make each copy by hand or photocopy them
You can trade zines with friends, give them as gifts, submit them to websites and zine fairs, or leave them to be found by strangers. How fun would that be? For some simple ideas on how to physically bind your zine watch videos here and here. And, according to Stolen Sharpie Revolution, July is zine international zine month, so now is the perfect time to try your hand at making zines!