Making Zines: Part Punk, Part Nerd

-written by Laura Meilman

I have been looking forward to this Hearth Dinner for months now, ever since Miranda invited me to help out with a zine making focus. In anticipation, I have been making zines based on directions I found online, but I did catch myself wondering, “am I punk-rock enough to make zines?” while typing ‘zine + templates’ into a google search bar and feeling like a big nerd.
 
654630eb-c21a-450c-be5c-71127048e2d3The association between zines and the Punk subculture of the 1970s is strong, and it might sounds silly but I was initially unsure if I was cool enough to attempt a zine. I made one anyway, just for practice, and I was struck by how accessible the medium is, by how easy it was to put a zine together with just a pen and a folded-up piece of paper. How simple and powerful it is to create a tiny booklet and fill it with whatever you want.
 
I made a zine that told a funny little story from my life, another zine was just pictures of birds I drew. A few days into experimenting with zines, I had an incredibly emotional conversation and found myself channeling my feelings into another tiny DIY book. There was something very raw, truthful, and immediate about it.
 
Miranda and I came up with the concept for  “How to Zine” based on a prompt in our monthly creative writing gathering Write a Passage. The prompt was to write a set of directions about how to do something. We thought it would lend itself well to inspiring content for our zines: “How to build a bike,” “how to make cupcakes,” “how to stretch a canvas.” Then came this week’s election results at the end of a very long and polarizing presidential race. I think we’re all searching for appropriate responses to a change in leadership that will surely mean big changes for our country as a whole. I want to invite you to channel some of these thoughts into creating some zines with me. Share some thoughts and ideas. “How to organize your community,” “How to stand up for what you believe in,” “How to make our voices heard.”

 

The 1970s punk rockers were using zines was as a way to assert their individuality, align themselves with their community, share ideas, challenge norms, self publish, and distribute information directly. These aspects of zine making are feeling especially relevant now. Whether you feel more like a punk or more like a big nerd, I think there is a lot of heart and a lot of power in these little homemade books. They don’t have to be polished or edited or even particularly artistic. They just have to be whatever you want to say, whether it’s “How to knit a scarf” or “How to change the world” and that is pretty punk rock. 

See you tonight! I can’t wait to see what you make!

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