Fun Awareness Tactic: Make a Zine!
Last week I had the pleasure of facilitating a breakout session for the Portland chapter of the Young Nonprofit Professionals Network. The session was called “Advocacy 101” and I presented some top-level strategies for getting started. It was a fairly casual gathering of wonderful nonprofit folks. Before the event, I was asked to prepare a short handout, but I wanted to make sure that I provided something of lasting value for attendees, so… I made a zine!
I’ve been making zines for years, but this was the first zine I had done that related to advocacy in any way. That’s actually kind of strange considering that activism was a key component of why zines were made popular in the first place.
If you’re unfamiliar with zines, here’s a VERY brief description and history. A zine is typically a self-published magazine of sorts, generally in small circulation and given away or sold for very little. Many zines are hand-written and drawn. The earliest zine can be traced back to as early as the 1930s, but zines really got their big start in the 70s as copy shops made reproducing zines something anyone could do. In the 70s and 80s, zines became a critical part of the punk scenes in London, LA and New York. Well through the 90s zines also played a key role in women’s movements and various types of activism as an inexpensive way for groups to spread awareness about their causes. Today, zines are much more widespread, encompassing fine art, literature, activism, graphic novels, comics, and more.
A zine is a really fun and creative way to present info to a small group, and with a copy machine or printer, you can reproduce them quite easily. Here are just a few formats that can be done really easily at home or with a quick trip to the copy shop. With all of these formats you’ll want to create a “master” first, then take it apart in order to photocopy and assemble your copies.
1. Simply fold in half!
The absolute easiest zine to make is the half-sheet. All you to is take a few sheets of 8.5×11 paper (and a light card stock for the cover if desired). Simply fold the paper lengthwise, and put one or two stapes in the seam to keep it together. If you have a lot of pages, sometimes you need to trim off some excess paper if the body of the zine peeks out from behind the cover, so it’s best to keep it just to a few pages so you don’t need to trim.
As for content, you can either put the zine together and then add content by hand with a pen, paints, markers, etc. You can get fancy and type your content and print it (just make sure you look up collating your pages so they’re in the right order when you print) or you can go full zine superstar and cut out pictures from magazines, print things from your computer and cut them out, or just cut out pieces of colored paper in nice shapes and paste them in. Then you just photocopy from there.
This format can be jazzed up by stitching the binding rather than stapling, doing a color cover, and more. It’s simple, easy, and awesome.
2. The 8-fold zine (like the one I made shown above)
This is one of my favorites because it’s so compact and easy to do. Basically, you draw 8 frames (including a cover and back cover) on a single sheet of 8.5×11 paper with a template, then fold, cut, and fold again, and you’ve got a tiny zine that’s easy to copy and easy to transport. I managed to find a perfect how-to and template for this zine here! Check it out.
3. Wide zines
I really like zines that are almost square. This effect can be had by using 11×17 or even longer paper, and then following the steps for your basic fold-in-half zine.
There are lots of great resources out there for how to create zines, so read up if you’re interested! And then, bring your activist zine to your next rally, protest, petition delivery, etc. and share it with the world!