Anybody can make a zine.
At least, that’s the idea. A zine is commonly defined as a homemade and independently created publication devoted to a specific topic or theme.
With the rise of the internet, almost anyone can self-publish their artwork or writing. However, the unique political roots of zines set them apart from other mediums that provide platforms for creatives.
Historically, zine publications were first used by members of subcultures such as punks and feminists in the 1970s.
Zines exist outside systems of conventional publishing methods and depict points of view that don’t exist within the mainstream, Spanish professor Christopher Conway said.
Conway assigned a zine project related to a class reading for the first time this semester in his Topics in Hispanic Culture - Women’s Autobiography class, where students make their own zines from scratch. He hopes the assignment format will allow students to explore feelings of self-empowerment.
“I want them to use the medium of the zine to make a statement about their own values and about overcoming adversity and prejudice,” Conway said.
Last June, Jessica Sanchez, visual communications design senior, started a zine called CHICLE with her friend Gisela Garcia. CHICLE chronicles the experience of the authors as women and Latinas through themes such as mental health, self-care, women’s bathroom culture and gender norms.
CHICLE is produced using design and illustration software, but Sanchez said all you need to get started is some scissors, paper and a magazine.
“You can totally break the rules. There’s no right or wrong way to go about it,” Sanchez said.
Empowerment in zine-making largely comes from the control authors have over content and publication, Conway said. Unlike most published work, they don’t have to undergo edits or creative influence from others.
The art of zine-making is not complicated. It is this aspect of zines that makes them accessible to anyone wishing to find an outlet for their art or message, said Chelsea Bonham, Fort Worth Zine Fest co-founder.
Every year, the Fort Worth Zine Fest attracts dozens of local artists and vendors, as well as hundreds of visitors from the Metroplex to celebrate do-it-yourself culture in the form of art.
The event began in 2014 and has since experienced major growth in attendance. In response, Bonham and co-founder Sarah Avakian have had to focus on maintaining the event’s “community DIY feel.”
Bonham said a major purpose of the event is to amplify the voices of marginalized individuals by providing a platform where they can share their work.
Creative control is not the only empowering facet of zines. They allow artists to see their art outside a digital screen and make it easy to share physical copies of their work without going through a commercial publication process, Sanchez said.
Sanchez passionately recommends zine-making to any creatively inclined person.
“If you’re not making a zine, you should start one right now,” Sanchez said.