When you surround yourself with creative friends, you're constantly exposed to new websites, creators, and projects. In the summer of 2015, my best friend Francine told me she was making zines for an online company that she worked for. I wasn’t really sure how much information you could get in a small booklet with only six pages, but nonetheless I was interested.
And so began my love for zine making. I had always been a fan of collaging, writing, scrapbooking, and making things with my hands. Making zines allowed me to combine all four of those interests and compile them into a tiny publication. The first zine I ever made was called “Self-Care for Today’s Activists.” It was a small, one-sheet zine (which I will explain how to make shortly) with a lot of colors and a few short sentences about detaching from social media. I was able to convey a very simple message using visuals, and I was loving it.
Francine taught me how to make small-scale zines using a single sheet of paper. The directions are incredibly easy and you don’t need a lot of magazine cut outs, stickers, or other embellishments to make it. You really only need a sheet of paper, a writing utensil, and scissors. Here are the directions for making a standard, six-page zine with front and back covers.
The Beginning Stages
The following summer I came home from my first year of college. Within a week of my return, I had an idea for a zine. What if I opened up submissions for people to send me their work? I could make a platform for women, PoC, and LGBTQ+ individuals to tell the stories of their growing pains. I decided this is exactly what I would do. The zine would be called Lessons Learned. Here is the flier that I posted on all my social media, extending the submissions to anyone who identified as female or non-binary.
For weeks on end I worked tirelessly on the zine. I chose not to design the publication online or through a digital program. Instead, I wanted to work with my hands. So I went to Michael’s Craft Store and stocked up on scrapbook paper. I pulled out old stickers (some were donated from the Mom Store, so thanks Mom) and anything I could find that would decorate the bare half pages. I pressed flowers, scoured my magazines for pages to cut out, and printed out every single submission that was emailed to me.
I loved every minute of it. There were some days when I couldn’t work on the zine anymore, I was just too tired and I dreaded the final steps where I would have to organize the pages chronologically. But I enjoyed the process as a whole and I stuck to my decision to complete the project independently.
After I had scanned the physical pages and put the JPEGs into one single PDF file, I uploaded it to issuu.com. This was three months after the initial start in May. Now I had to figure out about how I would get my own physical copies. With the guidance of my parents I eventually decided to pull some hundred dollars from my savings account. And it was with that money that I was able to purchase the first batch of zines.
If you’re interested in purchasing a copy of the zine, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I am currently in the process of ordering a second shipment. This means I will add you to the waiting list. Once I order that second shipment - sometime after August - I’ll send out an email asking if you still want to purchase your copy for $12. Sound cool? Cool.
Until then, you can view the whole thing for free here.
As you can see, it took a lot of work for that small zine to travel from my hands to yours. You may want to stick to small-scale zines, or perhaps you want to recruit a team of people to help make your large-scale dream come true. Whatever decision you make, I wish you inspiration and success. If you ever have questions, you know where to reach me.
It's been an extremely rewarding three month journey working on this zine. I couldn't have done it without the endless support from 21 contributors, my parents, and my friends. Thank you for helping bring this initially small-scale project into a "mini revolution!"