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Zine-Nation: How to Make a Zine

What is a Zine?

Without knowing it, you’ve probably heard of, seen, or read a zine already. Zines are self-published collections of self-expression. This usually means drawings, prose, poetry, etc. It is your work – whatever you want – put into one supreme package of expression and creativity.

Basically, zines are an outlet for artists, writers, or passionate folk trying to get their work or opinions out there. They can also act as a resource for others to learn about peoples’ lives. Types of zines range dramatically, from “perzines” or personal zines, to thematic (ex. queer, poetry), to collaborations between friends or art collectives.


Finding Inspiration

Check out Etsy or tumblr for examples of zines. Usually zinesters (you guessed it – the people who create zines) hang out there, as they serve as outlets for selling, purchasing, or trading zines and “e-zines” (electronic zines). These are places to share and find inspiration, and discover artists.

Locally, you can check out Facebook to connect with other zinesters in your area. In Ottawa, there is the Facebook group “Ottawa Zines” that posts about zine fairs. People looking for collaborations or contributions to zines will also post here. It’s a great way to connect with like-minded people. The photo below contains zines all found at a recent Ottawa Zine fair.



 Where can I find zines?

Zines normally circulate in an “underground” fashion: through circles of friends, at zine fairs, etsy; circulation usually happens hand to hand, from people trying to get their own work out there. They can be found around music stores, bars, cafés, bookstores or newspaper stands, to name a few. In Ottawa, check out places like Pressed Café, which has a whole rack of zines for sale, along with Possible Worlds or Raw Sugar Café.

You can sell your zines in the above-mentioned places or online. However, if you are just starting out in the zine world, you should probably start a following by trading them at first or asking for a small cost ($0.50 – $1.00) to cover your printing costs. If you are printing in black and white, 40 copies of your zine should cost no more than $15.00 or so, so don’t worry too much about the costs! 


The Making of a Zine

There are two main ways to make a zine: through the computer or through a photocopier.

Using the computer: You will get a more refined, careful collection if you know how to use Adobe Photoshop or Illustrator. But if you’re just starting out, you don’t really need to have a refined look – the point of zines is the flow of raw creativity, which is reflected more so through the “cut and paste” photocopier method.

Using a photocopier: You can throw together a creative collage-style rampage with sketches, photos, etc.

Tips from a fellow Zinester

Start small. Making your first zine is terribly exciting, but it can be overwhelming (if you’re a perfectionist like me). I would recommend sticking to no more than ten pages. Don`t forget to plan your layout on a rough piece of paper before you start!

Keep in mind how the flow will translate in your booklet when printed back to back. I recommend printing a rough copy, because printers can be evil and it’s always good to edit. Having a tangible copy before you do your final print will help you avoid big mess-ups.

Most Importantly

Have fun with this. Remember that making a zine is supposed to be an empowering exercise. It is raw self-expression. Know that in making your zine, you will inspire others.

Creating your own zines will encourage others to realize that they can raise their voice, too. I decided to publish a zine after finding a random one in a record store – I was touched by its brutal honesty. This chain reaction can lead to a heightened understanding of other peoples’ lives – creating empathy and a culture where people are not afraid to say how they feel.

Zines are special because they are representative of a time, a place, and a point of view. They are a way of celebrating yourself and your words or point of view, which I think is important for everyone to remember. Everyone has something to offer.



Banner1, (Author’s own photo), 4

Just a 21 year old trying to tread lightly on this earth. I'm fascinated by identity and how technology is changing society. I split my time between tree planting on the west coast and studying international development. I like to draw, read, bike, drink craft beer, listen to music, and be with people. https://twitter.com/paige_inglis
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