Zines are homemade mini-books/magazines usually reproduced via photocopy and circulated among small groups. Zines can be made by anyone, about anything. Zine culture celebrates the handwritten, typos, misprints and originality. I like making zines and sending them to my penpals! They are a fun to make and because you’re reproducing them, you can keep multiple correspondents up to date more efficiently. Plus, they’re flat enough to avoid paying for extra postage.
Here’s how to get started making your own mini-zines. It’s easy!
Don’t forget to sign up for the IGGPP zine swap! Sign up ends on August 19th and mails out by August 26th.
- 2 sheets of paper
- a craft blade and cutting surface
- a ruler
- pens and pencils
- a copying mechanism – this can be a photocopier or a home scanner/printer set up
- a bone folder
- white out
- decorating supplies, including but not limited to: washi tape, magazine cuttings, decorative papers, paper ephemera, stickers, glitter, markers/crayons/colored pencils/etc. , any relatively flat craft material
Fold paper hot-dog style
Fold paper in half hamburger-style and then half again.
Unfold paper and cut between only the two middle segments.
(I like to draw, in pencil, a guideline where the middle cut needs to be made. That way I don’t need to remeasure every single copy of the zine. Pencil will copy fainter than ink, but is still legible.)
Draw 1/8 – 1/4” margin around the perimeter of the paper. Stay within this guideline to avoid having your work cut off when you go to copy it.
(Use a light blue pen or pencil to draw your guidelines. This color will not show up when you’re scanning.)
Refold your paper hot-dog style. Push out the folds in the middle of the paper so that it looks like a clover-leaf formation.
Fold the clover-leaf segments in on themselves so that they look like the pages of a book. Go over your creases, making sure to line everything up as tightly as possible.
Now you have a blank zine, it’s time to fill it up! You will have 8 pages to fill. What do you want to write about?
- Fandoms – music, TV, movies, books, etc.
- Favorite recipes
- Summer memories
- Favorite quotations or poems
- Random thoughts and trivia
- Something you collect
- What you did today
- Tips on something you’re good at
Don’t forget to decorate the page with drawings, collage, ephemera, and whatever else. Write as little or as much as you like. You can write by hand or cut and assemble typed passages.
Remember how I said you needed 2 pieces of paper? Make sure both are folded as in the instructions above.
I like to do a first draft, jotting down all my ideas. I usually find that not everything will fit in the allotted space so I’ll do some editing, then make a final draft on the clean zine.
Make sure to include your name and any contact information you want to provide, so people can admire your handiwork.
Now that you’re finished, make some copies to send to your friends. Always budget for more time/change/paper than you think you’ll need, in case of misprints and mistakes.
Unfold your zine and get acquainted with your copy machine. You can use a photocopier or print from home, whatever is available to you. Print in color or black & white. Feel free to experiment with the copier settings, you might wind up with a cool effect.
Print a couple more than you think you’ll need (or save a scanned copy), in case you decide you want to send more out later.
If you want, you can go back and hand-color or decoupage on top of the copies.
Otherwise, fold and cut your copies as instructed above and you’re done! Mail them to your friends.
Now that you’re hooked, where can you find more zines? Look around your neighborhood at independent bookstores, comic shops, record stores, public and private libraries. Zines have also been conquered by the world wide web, lots of them are sold on Etsy. Google “zine festival” and your town to see if one is happening nearby.
And don’t forget to sign up for the IGGPP Camp zine swap!
Recommended reading (the short list):
- Whatcha’ Mean, What’s a Zine? by Esther Watson and Mark Todd: There are lots of resources for zine-making out there, but this is my favorite.
- Microcosm Publishing’s catalog: A small press publisher that got started making zines in Portland, Oregon.
- Robyn Chapman’s Instagram: Robyn posts zines and mini-comics from her vast collection every week.