Zine Re/production: Part I

Note: This is the second of a five-part workshop I am doing for a class on community writing this semester.

Today we’re going to build from making a mini-zine to something more complex. Today’s zine will be especially different because I’m also going to introduce you (in small groups) to the copy machine, where we can experiment with some basic reproduction techniques. But first…

1. Reflect on your experience making a mini-zine.

Last week you made a mini-zine in about 90 minutes, which allowed you to experience the entire process of zine-making: thinking up an idea, marking pages, making and folding multiple copies, and distributing them all over campus. So I’d like to start today reflecting on both the excitement of that process, but also its challenges. In short, what did you learn from making a mini-zine? And did you see Sara in the Daily Orange today?

2. Know the design-cost ratio.

While hardly scientific, DIY bookmaking essentially works on a simple tradeoff principle I’ve called the design-cost ratio. That is, the more you invest in the design of your book or zine, the more costly it will become — either in terms of $, labor, or time. At the same time, the more you invest, the wider your reach and more likely your zine will stand out among others.

design-cost ratio

I think of this, then, in terms of variables.

On the design side you have:

  • paper — size, color, weight
  • marks — cut & paste (collage, pen & ink, etc.), digital (typography, images, etc.), colors, margins, etc.
  • folds — landscape, portrait, middle, accordion, etc.
  • bindings — stapled, stitched, rubber bands, taped, ringed

On the cost side, you have

  • # of pages
  • # of copies
  • access to tools
  • methods of reproduction
  • means of distribution

These are just some of the things you need to think about when you decide to make a zine.

3. Basic tools.

I’ll introduce you to some of the tools we have available, although it should be obvious that there are many, many more than is represented here.


4. Practice.

Take the rest of our time together to look at the handout I distributed on the standard 1/2 page zine, the micro mini, and making copy-ready masters. Then start experimenting with prototypes. After 15 minutes or so, I’ll start taking some of you to the copy machine to show you how your prototypes will look when photocopied and in book form.