This past weekend, I attended a Feminist Zine Making Workshop And Pizza Party at HistoryMiami, our local historical museum (which I worked for once upon a time–they are awesome and you should totally visit, FYI). The workshop was part of EXILE Book’s Artist In Residence partnership with the museum. I made plans with my friend Jenny to attend and we rode the Metrorail downtown together (yay public transit! yay trips to the city!) and got in just as the party was getting started.
At first we were both a bit overwhelmed. I’ve been an on and off reader of zines since my teen years, and while I’ve occasionally attempted to create one (I used to try to challenge myself to participate in the 24 Hour Zine Challenge), I’ve never actually completed an entire zine project start to finish.
We walked in to a room filled with other rad folk working diligently at their tables. There were samples of feminist zines on the walls of the room, plus tables covered in random photocopies–some items culled from the internet while others were sourced from the museum’s archives. The purpose of the party was to create a feminist zine within those 3 hours and then leave it with the museum to make a copy for their archives (thus securing our place in feminist Miami history). I wasn’t so sure I’d be able to succeed at the task at hand, considering my previous failed attempts. Jenny and I grabbed some plain sheets of paper and some copies of articles and images and set to work.
We weren’t sure how to get started. Do we come up with a theme first? Just start cutting and pasting things? Come up with a title? I was expecting there to be more guidance, for it to be more workshop-based where someone would tell us what to do page by page, but in retrospect I think it worked just as well letting us loose with supplies, good music, and pizza for fuel.
My friend Kyriaki showed up later and it was nice to have an additional familiar face as most folks seemed to be heavily involved in their own zines. I was hoping for more of a meet and greet atmosphere, and I did get to chatting with a few other feminists at the table fortunately, but it didn’t turn out to be as big of a feminist networking event as I’d hoped for (maybe next time!)
After cutting and pasting a few images, I decided my feminist zine would be about both my Latina identity and my identity as a mother, which I often find missing from some feminist circles. I wrote a short piece called “Self Care For Warrior Mamas”, complete with tiny stick figure drawings by yours truly. I also included many images of women young and old, WOC, mothers and children. After the first hour or so, my zine really began to start taking shape, as did my friends’ zines. We all really got involved in the process of deciding how to lay out our images, what kind of text to use, and to basically flesh out the zine from the inside out. Turns out, feminist zine making isn’t so hard at all! It’s actually pretty awesome (especially when you’ve got others making zines alongside you and aren’t constantly interrupted by a wonderful but exceptionally needy toddler).
Once the 3 o’clock hour hit, it was crunch time and I wound up feeling rushed to finish my final pages. I wish I’d had just one more hour, but by then I probably would’ve wanted to start a new set of pages and well, I had to go home sometime. We turned in our zines and left on the high of having completed a project sans interruption.
Now, if you’ve never made a feminist zine, or any zine, I want to tell you that you should just go ahead and do so right now. Yes. This instant. There really is nothing to it. If you’re not sure where to begin, here’s a quick run-down to get you motivated.
FEMINIST ZINE MAKING 101
1. Print out materials: Go online and find articles and images that speak to you (preferably of the intersectional feminist variety). Run some random Google searches for feminist icons, funky patterns, animals, TV shows, plants, buildings, body parts, whatever. If you’ve got some of your own work on your computer you haven’t use (like half or fully finished stories, poems, lists, etc), print them out as well. Get on Tumblr or Instagram and print out some of your favorite images and quotes. Try to make sure you get things from the public domain and/or alter it enough so that there aren’t any copyright issues. Get yourself a nice stack to work from. Maybe print a few multiple copies of things you really like.
2. Search your home/your friend’s home for old magazines and newspapers to also use as source material.
3. Collect your tools: scissors (standard and maybe some funky shaped craft scissors, too), glue sticks and double-sided tape, pens and sharpies,rub on letters and art (these are so freaking cool), stickers, an exacto knife if you’re all about the precision, and your laptop if you want to write out other stuff and get inspired half-way through.
4. Put on some good tunes (Sleater-Kinney, The Breeders, Best Coast, The Chiffons, Alanis Morissette, Lisa Loeb, Beach House, Bikini Kill, and Mazzy Star would probably be among my top picks, though any feminist tunes will do)
5. Grab some snacks (pizza works, but so would mini chocolate donuts, vegan cupcakes, PB&J sandwiches, cheese and crackers, beer, or whatever else). Don’t forget to hydrate! Making feminist zines can be time consuming so you’ll want to have some readily available fuel.
6. Decide on the size of the zine. Most zines are basically a standard sheet of white paper folded in half (about 8×11), with more pages folded in half inside it. Keep in mind the layout of the pages (work with the pages in mind so you don’t accidentally start an image on one page only to have it cut in half by the inside pages…does this make sense?)
7. Gather some friends! They’ll keep you motivated.
8. Get to work! Smash the patriarchy! Have FUN!
9. Once you’re done, hit the copy machine and print out as many copies of your new, ultra-fab feminist zine as you like.
10. Hand them out or sell them online, or hit up a small bookstore to see about consigning a few copies! Congrats, you’re a published author!
I hope after you read this, you get a bit more inspired to go out there and make your own feminist zine. I’ll say this, I’m dying to have some extra time again to make another one. It’s a way more fun and creative experience than my usual article writing work, and I love how limitless it is. Some final notes:
• Check out the We Make Zines website to educate yourself further, find new zines to read, and connect with other zine makers.
• Rookie Mag also has a brief instructional piece on zine making.
• This article on making zines for the internet age, featuring London collective Born and Bread, is also pretty rad.
• And for my parent-friends, Make: Zine has a cute how-to post on zine-making for kiddos!