I have... a lot of feelings. I experience deeply and strongly and sometimes that means having all these indescribable thoughts and moods that I just. can't. contain. As an self-labeled HSP ("highly sensitive person," as coined by the internet), my emotional outlet of choice are zines. Creating under the moniker gurliefries, concepts found in my zines are arrested development, self-love, and personal growth. Specific topics covered thus so far are dating, careers/unemployment and my Chinese roots. Each issue is borne out of my fears, neurosis and hopeful thinking, and it's my way of pen-palling with the rest of the world. They are meant to illicit smiles from a painfully relatable scene and maybe, the reader feels less alone afterwards. In the past, I've left stacks of gurliefries in coffee shops around Los Angeles and some have been included in grab bags for neighborhood, independent bookstores.
What are zines?
Basically, a land before blogs. Zines are self-published non-profit book/lets, papers or websites. These small circulation pieces oftentimes discuss provocative topics that are too controversial or niche for commercial media sources. They've been around for a while and Barnard College has the most extensive zine library in the country. Historically, zine culture is connoted with socio-political movements and subcultures like punk, feminist, queer, POC etc. Zines are indicative of their unpolished aesthetic, experimental nature and makeshift designs. The purpose of zines is that anyone (yes, anyone and that means you and everyone else you know) can share a personally illuminating message through this medium.
Armed with a xerox machine, zines are the foundation of independent publishing for those on the fringes of mainstream. Zines can be about anything but mostly it is about culture and the ways that one's identity is formed and their lived experiences. Do not censor yourself. As there is no right or wrong way to make a zine, it can be meant to only appeal to you. Zines may be about cherished, generational family recipes or what it means to you to be biracial or maybe, that zit that has been bothering your back all week.
What is important to y o u?
Modern zines can be a clean cut digital piece or a photocopied pamphlet. Personally, I prefer the old school type. It's just nice to be able to hold something that came from the hands of the artist/author.
Step 1. Think of a title that represents y o u
It helps to know what you want to achieve with your piece. What conceptual approaches and visual narratives will you implement? Choosing the right name may correspond with the genre. Maybe your issue is a per-zine (a piece that showcases the author/artist's personal life) or it's a group effort 24-hr zine (a zine made in 24 hours -this time constraint may push for a cool, ultra lo-fi &diy finish). Learn more about zine formats.
Step 2. Consider how your zine will be arranged
Zines can be found in all shapes and sizes. Start on paper and sketch where you want everything to go. Do you want it bound with a thread or stapled together? For low production costs and accessibility, zines tend to be smaller and formed out of a single sheet of paper that gets folded down. **For a quick cheat-sheet on an eight-page mini-zine.
Step 3. Choose a topic that interests you
Content Ideas for Your Future Zine:
- Short Story
- An Informative How-to-Guide
- Pop Culture Homage/Reviews
Lastly, zines are a great way to meet and support like-minded folks.
Zine fests are held all over the United States and there are smaller, local workshops year around. At these events, a community of zinesters, writers and artists congregate in booths to present their works. Look up the nearest zine fest near you -the Los Angeles chapters are usually during spring or early summer.