Last week we showed you 7 of our favourite zines. This week we thought we’d break down the process of actually creating a zine from scratch. 

As with any creative endeavour, there’s a lot goes into making a zine. But it’s simple enough that just about anyone can have a go. 

So don’t worry about your credentials or creative background. In the zine world there’s only one rule: get making!

Settle on an idea

First things first. What’s your idea?

The world of zines offers endless of creative opportunities. Really, if it can be printed on paper, you can turn it into a zine. Which makes the only problem actually choosing a subject.

Whether it’s music, politics, art, literature, or comics, let your passions lead the way. The key thing about zines is that, for the most part, they’re passion projects. They don’t have huge commercial appeal, and due to the DIY production methods involved in making them, they don’t necessarily suit large print runs.   

So choose a subject you really care about. After all, you’ll be putting a lot of creative energy into it. 

Find collaborators 

Maybe this doesn’t apply to you. But depending on the type of publication you’re looking to produce, you may need help from other likeminded creative individuals. 

Once you’ve decided what your zine will be about, and what’s going in it, you’ll have a better idea of the sort of contributors you may need to source. It could be that you need photographers and illustrators. Or maybe you’d like to create a literary zine and open it up to fiction and essay submissions.

Whatever the case, the next step is spreading the word. Tell your friends, find local creative groups on social media, and let the community know about your project. 

Note: when working with collaborators, make sure everyone involved is aware of any licensing issues that may come up (ie credits and compensation). There’s a useful article on the Creative Independent which details the ins and outs of creative collaboration.  

Choose a format

Before you start thinking about where and how your content will be presented inside your zine, you need to consider the basic format. 

The format itself will dictate to a large extent the aesthetic quality of your publication. It will affect the internal structure of the zine, and certain formats will actually open your zine up to different creative possibilities. 

Some classic examples of zine formatting include the Hot Dog Fold, Stitch Binding, Tape Binding, and the Accordion Zine.

There’s also size to consider. Do you want a big and bold A4 zine, or a pocket-sized A6 publication that’s easy to carry around? Again, size will inform content. So remember to bear in mind what’s going into the zine before settling on its final size.

Lay it out

The internal layout of a zine is one of its most appealing and important characteristics. It should also be one of the more time-consuming and thought-out production processes.

There’s a lot going on in the average zine. From magazine and newspaper cutouts to illustrations and poems. You need to consider how, aesthetically, all these elements will come together to create a product that’s greater than the sum of its parts. 

Here’s a great video on zine layout.  

Find a cost-effective means of production

If nothing else, Zines are generally quite easy on the budget. But, as with all physical creations, there are likely to be some costs associated with their production. 

The key is to consider your budget beforehand. This way you can set funds aside for the basics (paper and printing), whilst also budgeting for optional extras. 

Once you have a budget in mind, you can then decide on the feasibility of things like colour printing and the quality of paper you’d like to use. You’ll also get a better idea of how large your zine can be. It may turn out that you only have the resources for an 8-page publication. But, of course, it’s better to realise that before you go gathering content for a 40-page tome.    

                   Create a master copy

 This is the penultimate version of your publication. By creating a master copy, you’re giving yourself a sneak peak of the final product to see how it flows.  

Does the layout feel right? Are the images and text positioned correctly? This is the stage where you can iron out any creases. It’s an opportunity to double-check the paper type, typography, and binding. If something’s not working, or if it doesn’t feel right in your hand, you can alter appropriately.

                    The DIY designer 

Zines are the home of DIY design, and they’re an excellent tool for aspiring artists and designers to try their hand at creating a publication from scratch.

But when it comes to branding, the DIY approach isn’t always the best. To learn about the potential pitfalls of homegrown design in business, take a look at this article.