Have you ever heard of a zine? It is a small self-published original work, traditionally cheaply reproduced via photocopier. However, the term is often used to describe any magazine aimed at a niche audience.
Generally, there’s a hand-crafted element to its production, while the content draws typically on ideas and values that aren’t too popular through mainstream media. This peculiar publishing method has made it possible for artists to produce new and alternative works of art, sharing them to other creatives and enthusiasts.
There’s no strict methodology to make a zine. However, there are certain guidelines you can follow to help you get started. Here are six beginners’ steps that can inspire you to get up and running with your zines:
1. Research and Pick a Theme
What do you want to write about? Whatever it is, you need to narrow it down. Remember, your zine will only be as good as the consistency of its theme. It is best to choose a concept you are excited about and are already interested in, or – if you want to break into a new area – make a list of things you want to research on your new topic.
Try to draw out material from as many sources as possible and get a balanced view of your chosen topic. Remember to take notes and jot down any questions you may have.
2. Decide What Materials to Use
Do you want your zine to be text-heavy with lots of images or more visual, with the text serving as captions for the images? The format you choose will depend on the theme you have chosen. Think about the balance of content you want and how you would like your zine to look.
3. Plan the Layout and Format
Now that you’ve settled on the basic theme of your zine and the estimated amount of pages (remember that zines are usually made up of numerous folded A4 sheets), you can decide on the ideal layout for your zine.
Think about other artists and writers, and creative people who could contribute to your zine once you have your framework, you need to decide on a format. Will your zine be a perfect square, a portrait or a landscape? Does the shape of your zine need to reflect the shape of the theme?
4. Plan How to Physically Produce the Zine
First, you will need to decide how many copies you want to make. For the first few copies, it is probably best to take less rather than more. Remember, printing takes time, and you need to think about manually binding and folding it.
You will also need to decide on the number of copies you want to make and the size of the paper. Just remember that if you are copying the zine yourself on a photocopier, you will need to work out how much paper you will need.
5. Decide How to Bind It and Distribute It
Most zines are printed on a photocopier and are designed to be folded down the middle with the staples facing inwards. Nowadays, you can print them manually through your own printer. Hopefully, you will have planned your zine so that the number of double or single pages matches the number of the staples.
If you want to get your zine disseminated quickly to a broader audience, you can try zine-related sites to distribute whatever you create. You can also try selling it at markets or other customers in a shop you might work in or at art fairs. If you want to distribute it for free, try leaving it in interesting places and sharing it online.
6. Make More!
As your experience grows, you’ll grow more confident in making more. Try to experiment with different techniques and materials and learn from your mistakes. The important thing is to have fun and keep moving forward.
It is safe to say that zines have a big part to play in the future of the design and art industry, and the mainstream media is taking note. With the Internet, print-on-demand services, and photocopiers more widely available, the ability to share ideas in print is more accessible than ever.
So, if you have a burning idea within you that you want to share with the world, a zine might be the perfect way to get it out there. Zine-making is a great way to share your passion and creativity, and most importantly, it is fun!
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