Zines are cool. They’re creative, subversive, rooted in anti-authoritarian and feminist ideals, and easy to make. The hardest part, unsurprisingly, is taking the leap from thinking about making a zine to actually making one.
After years of “planning” different types of cool zines/blogs/publications, I created Cat Talk, a feminist zine. Cat Talk began in a flurry of creative inspiration and feminist exasperation (like many good things, I imagine).
Cat Talk has 7 published issues and, to be honest, has totally changed my life. There is a certain type of confidence that comes from taking an idea from wispy daydream-like thoughts to a real actual thing.
So, based on my beginner’s experience, here is my 5 Step Guide for Starting a Zine:
Step One: Decide on an idea, theme, style, or just think of one piece and work around it
When I started Cat Talk all I knew was that I wanted to start a publication and I knew I wanted to do it with my university’s Women’s Studies Department. I decided to focus on creating a zine that encouraged feminist discussion and open submissions.
Step Two: Are you going to make it alone? Cool, get your supplies Going to make it with a community? Cool, get your supplies
I choose to have a collaborative zine, as opposed to a solo zine, for a few reasons. One of which being creative communities are badass and being a part of a community often means help obtaining supplies! The printing for Cat Talk is partially funded by IPFW Student Government. Whoo!
Figure out your limits (money, time, etc.) and work within them. Work around them. Use your limits, your constraints, and make something new. Make something authentic and personal and creative and unique!
Step Three: Make your zine! You can paste pictures and write words on paper to copy and distribute or you can make it on the computer (or a combination of both!)
I use Adobe InDesign and Photoshop (along with some old-school cutting and pasting) to make Cat Talk. I’m not a graphic design guru but as a millennial I can work my way around a computer. I like using InDesign because it’s easy to edit and makes very professional-ish-looking zines.
Step Four: Decide where you’re going to distribute it—online, on an academic campus, local businesses?
I use jomag.com to host Cat Talk. It’s free (w/ payment options) and can be embedded on other sites. I post each issue on social media as well as distribute copies on campus and around town at local businesses. There are also options for selling zines on sites such as etsy.com. (You can check out my friend’s etsy with her for-sale zines HERE.)
Step Five: Keep making issues as long as you enjoy it!
One of the many awesome things about zines is that they are malleable. You can change the style, topics, and layout between each issue. Have fun and take risks!
This may seem a bit too simple but sometimes simple it best. Simple is, at the very least, manageable. Accessible. Less time consuming and terrifying.
Good luck with your zine making endeavors!