Print Ain’t Dead: How To Make Your First Zine

Words by Matthew Vanatta

As the digital world has continued to be the outlet for which most creative output as delivered more and more creatives have looked for ways to make art in analog formats. From a resurgence of vinyl to rising popularity of zines, the desire to create and purchase art that can be held and interacted with away from a computer or phone is alive and well.

Zine – short for magazine or fanzine, is a generally self-created and self-published small to medium format magazine with no advertising, the zine is a way for creatives to independently publish print media. While zines have evolved over the years with digital software allowing for a more refined design and layout process there are still those who create zines in the traditional manner which generally includes scissors and lots of photocopying.

The zine scene has exploded over the last several years as more and more artists, photographers, and writers have decided to take the DIY medium as a form of self-expression. Zines put the creator in control and have been a major source of inspiration for aspiring creatives as well.

The DIY aesthetic and community that makes up the zine scene are also filled with a large number of creatives that share a passion for independence, what has transpired is an almost underground network of creatives who share and support each other’s work. There has also been a number of book and zine fairs that are supporting independent zine makers across the country.

Zine’s are a great way for both aspiring and established artists to share, trade, and sell there work. If you have been thinking about diving into creating your first zine this guide can help you get started, but always remember that zines are about individualism and freedom of expression so feel free to go your own way as well.

Choose A Narrative (or theme)-

Whether you’re all about that van life or really enjoying shooting bizarre delicatessens having a theme will help you create both an editorial and visual narrative. You can create a zine that is totally random, but many collectors and creators like to stylize and have a theme that they can focus on allowing collectors to pick and choose what topics they are interested in. One of the awesome things about zines is that you can choose different names and themes each time you create one, as many zines are one-offs.

Shoot A Lot – Improve Your Craft- 

While not all zines are photography focused, the majority are or have some element of photography in them. This is a great opportunity for the aspiring photographers to shoot a lot and experiment with their craft. You’ll play both photographer and photo editor so having a large selection of photographs to choose from will help assure you have plenty of photos you are excited to share with the world.

Collaborate With Friends-

Creative collaboration is a key element in the zine-making process. Some of the best zines are collaborative and feature work from a number of contributors. This is especially helpful if you are interested in having a number of different creative mediums featured in your zine but only specialize in one.

Overcome Fear- 

It obviously takes courage to be creatively vulnerable and fear can be paralyzing. One of the coolest things about the zine community is that it’s supportive of new and emerging creatives. It’s a place where artists and writers can experiment and express themselves without fear of criticism. Be bold, create, and share with your friends.

Have Fun-

Making zines is fun and low pressure, so make sure you’re enjoying the process. Making a zine isn’t homework and it should be fun. Get a bunch of your friends together and start making rad art. Zines are a great way to express yourself without limitations, let your imagination run wild and have fun sharing your work with the art and creative community.

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