What’s a Zine?
I first wrote this post 12/15/2009, it addresses such a great question of “what’s a zine?”. Since I’m knee deep in working on the next issue and thinking zine-y things, I thought I’d update it, and re-share it with you. Enjoy!
I love getting questions about zines. It’s one of my favorite topics since I spend a lot of time each month making one! “Lydia, Clueless Crafter” asked the question:
“You’ve got a really sweet blog going here. I hope I’m not cluttering it up by asking some silly questions. What is a Zine and what is published in them? Are they handmade and is all the content generated by the maker? Thanks for getting back to me!”
That’s a great question, and not clutter at all :)
I love hearing from readers! A zine is an independently published magaZINE. But “independent” can mean anything from copy and pasting on a copy machine, to laying out in InDesign, to letter press printing, to offset press printing. And “magazine” can mean just about anything too! Truth be told, zines can be made on any topic.
A local artist here in Ames makes a collage zine that has no words at all. On the other hand, another local zine, the Ames Progressive, is almost completely text–political articles and literary arts.
Su Mwamba writes, illustrations, copies and stitches many of her zines. The hand-bound ones are made in limited runs because each one is pretty time intensive with a very handmade feel. She produces all the content for it.
Mixtape is produced by the maker, Justine Telfer + a whole team of creative folks. Justine has a lot of contributors to her zine, a larger distribution of 2000 per quarter (I think), and prints on an offset press. mixtape does a great job of residing in the gap between zine and magazine. With a larger distribution and professional printing, it feels like a magazine. But, she retains her full creative freedom by continuing to self-publish. I love it!
Zines can take all sorts of forms, from one off art books to a long standing series. They can be 1 sheet folded like my Collage IT! mini zine or 52 pages like mixtape. They can come out regularly, like mine, or published as the artist is inspired, like Su! You can read all about zine making on wiki here.
There is a book called Make a Zine!: When Words and Graphics Collide If you are interested in making a zine, you should go pick it up, it’s really great! I got it out in San Francisco and have read it 2 times now and am starting on my 3rd pass. I should post a review on that sometime.