My newest "hobby" is making handmade zines. I'm not new at this, I’ve made multiple zines in the past, but this is an art I recently picked back up. There are huge zine fests worldwide, and my own hometown, Grand Rapids, has a small one. Zines are fun and popular - they’re even more popular than I thought, something I learned after spending some time looking up hashtags for zines and zinesters on Instagram.
What IS a Zine?
Without looking up bland dictionary definitions and what other people deem zines to be, I will give you the definition that fits zines as I know them. First, it seems obvious that the name “zine” comes from a shortening of “magazine,” and if you’ve ever seen a zine, you know why. Zines are like mini-magazines, in a way - but they’re also very different.
Zines as I know them are handmade creative little mini-magazines filled with art, words, stories, poems, clippings, stories, and whatever else the person who created them wanted to put inside. I’ve made zines with collage art, drawings, poetry, and more. I made it into this year’s Grand Rapids Zine Fest and have some fun new ideas for zines, including a collection filled with personal ghost stories and a couple witchy spell zines.
Why Would You Want to Make a Zine?
There are a few different reasons you may want to make a zine, and you can combine those reasons. I make mine as a creative outlet, because I have things I want to share and thought this was a good way to share them, and because I am a writer and artist, and I am always looking for new things to add to what I have available when I sell at events and to have in my Etsy shop.
Perhaps you’re not a working artist, but you enjoy being creative - here are some things you can do with zines:
- Make a family recipe book to share with other family members
- Sketch and write a story idea you have
- Print out some poems or lyrics you’ve written
- Collect your favorite quotes or write some witty anecdotes
- Make a zine full of affirmations to carry in your pocket for a positivity boost
- Make a zine full of cool collage art or paintings
Basically, anything you can write or draw can go in a zine. It’s a fun and easy way to be creative that doesn’t have any set rules.
How to Make a Zine
Zines are pretty easy to make. You can find tutorials online to teach you how to make them with one sheet of paper, no staples or binding needed. I prefer to either stitch-bind or staple mine. How big you make your zine is up to you. Some of mine are basic printer sheets folded in half, but I also do some in quarters.
You can make one-of-a-kind zines, or you can make printed copies of your zines. For the latter, you’ll need someplace to copy and print. I love having a 3-in-1 printer so I can do everything at home.
Step 1 - The first thing I do is fold a piece of paper to the size I want my zine to be - whether it’s in half or quarters. Once I have the right size, I start decorating or writing on the pages. If I am using printed stuff, I glue whatever I am using to the folded pages (see the image above).
Step 2 - Once all of the pages are filled, I make printer copies. I do copies because I make my zines to sell. If you’re making one-off designs, you can put all of your folded pages together and staple them. If you’re doing a quarter-sized zine, you’ll need to do some cutting before you staple. I have an angle-adjusting stapler to make stapling my bindings easier.
That’s it. The steps are simple. It’s more about what you put in the zine. I use plain white printer paper for inside my books and colorful printer paper for the covers.
Zines are a wonderful way to share your art and your stories. They’re fun and easy.