anna brones

writer + artist + producer

How to Make a Zine

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Zines are part of a long history of self-publishing, a way for people to get their thoughts, ideas, and manifestos out into the world. Essentially since the invention of the printing press, people have been finding ways to publish things that are outside of the mainstream. There are even zine libraries.

You might perhaps remember the feminist punk zine riot grrrl from the 1990s. Or maybe you’re a fan of the zines that indie publisher Microcosm Publishing is behind. Or maybe you’ve seen a stack of zines at your local coffee shop or bookstore.

Maybe you have never heard of zines at all, but are itching to tell a story or get a thought out into the world.

Then making a zine is for you.

The simplest way to make a zine is with a single piece of paper.

To help out with this project, I reached out to visual artist, journalist, and author Sarah Mirk. She spent the last year making a zine every single day! She was kind enough to share her top five tips for zine-making below, and she also has this easy-to-print free PDF that shows you how to make one.

Supplies:

  • A piece of paper
  • Something to write/draw with
  • Scissors
  • Other supplies like paper, glue, watercolors if you want to get even more creative with your zine

How to Make a One-Page Zine

You are basically going to fold a piece of paper into eight squares, make a cut in the middle and then magically fold it together into a book shape.

This is much easier to communicate visually than by written instructions. Note that Sarah’s PDF is far more detailed than mine, and has way more useful instructions, so I’d recommend downloading and printing it as a resource too.

Now for the good stuff on what goes into the zine, and for this, I will pass it over to Sarah.

Five Tips for Zine-Making
by Sarah Mirk

  1. Pick a specific topic. It’s easier to start filling up a blank sheet of paper when you have a specific prompt. Your topic can be sharing a skill (“How to cook the best ramen”), a personal list (“Five beautiful things I saw today”), or just plain weird (“Cats from outer space!”)
  2. Grab a pencil and start writing! Don’t overthink it. Just get started writing or drawing on the page. I do my zines in pencil first, then go back in and trace over everything in pen, then erase the pencil marks.
  3. Embrace imperfection. The goal is to make something to share—not to make something perfect! This isn’t going to be a master’s thesis, it’s going to be a zine.
  4. Everyone can draw. It’s totally okay to draw stick figures and squiggly lines. Drawing is a skill, just like singing or dancing or cooking. You’ll feel better about your art the more you do it, but in the meantime, just put pen to paper and see what feelings come out.
  5. Share what you make. You can publish your zine online, photocopy it and leave it in a public place, or mail it to a friend.  Your friends and family will love whatever you make, even if you’re uncertain about it.

Here is my zine that I made all about fika (basically a much shorter version of my book on the topic).

A version of this post appeared in Creative Fuel Challenge, a newsletter full of prompts/projects intended to inspire creativity and art-making. 

Written by Anna Brones

March 23, 2020 at 09:05

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