Organize Grrl Zine Workshops

Have you ever wanted to create your own small publication, in print? Whether you think of them as fanzines, zines or ezines (which are not in print) the ideas for holding a zine workshop are great for getting together with a group and trying to create something of your own on paper.

From GrrlZines and GZAGG originally:

Forming and organizing the group and workshops:

+ Find other like-minded zinesters in your city (via word-of-mouth, the library, co-ops, zines at book and record stores, music venues, and the Internet). It is best if you have enough members so that you can rotate in providing workshops (we like to have at least 2-3 at each workshop)

+Organize your workshop tools. We always bring: A typewriter, scissors (more than one pair), glue sticks, pens (ball point and sharpie), blank paper, a stapler (a saddle stapler is best), and a scrap box with a variety of newspapers, magazines, clip art, rub-on letters, decorative paper, string, and other bits that can be used in making a zine. You can ask for donations, or “borrow” stuff from work.

+ Identify organizations interested in zine workshops such as youth, women’s and LGBT centers, feminist organizations, high schools, girls clubs, festivals, bookstores etc.

+ Present your idea about doing a zine workshop at the selected venue. Asking your friends is often a good way to get started. Ask if the venue can provide some compensation or contribution of materials, and if it can provide a photocopy machine or free copies.

+ When arranging for a space for the workshop make sure it has enough tables and chairs, and that it allows cut and paste activities.

+ Decide on a time frame for the workshop. We usually allow 1.5 to 2 hours for the workshop itself and another hour for copying and stapling the workshop zine.

+ If the workshop is open to the public (and not only for a specific group), make flyers and distribute them widely in the community and among your friends. Make use of activist email lists and website in your community too. You should probably keep the number of participants under 20.

The workshop itself:

+ First we introduce ourselves and our zines. Next we talk about the definition of a zine, zine history, the current “zine scene,” our experience making and distributing zines, and the basics of how to make and distribute zines. We always have resource guides available (a zine itself) that repeat this material.

+ Most of our workshops consist of making a zine in which each participant contributes one page. We make digest-sized zines, which are letter-size paper folded in two (so that each page is 4.25” wide by 5.5” tall). We suggest you have them draw a border approximately one-half inch around their page as a guide, so that their work doesn’t get cut off when copied.

+ Be sure to point out that color can be tricky when making black-and-white copies (red becomes black, for example), and encourage image-making that will copy well. Discourage pages with a majority of solid black as this tends to create paper jams when copied.

+ Then it’s DIY time! It’s important to allot the majority of the time for them to work on their page. It can take some folks a while to get comfortable, and some do multiple versions. While they’re working on their pages, the organizers can make a cover, an ad a page for your group (and for any upcoming events – a good way to balance out the number of pages if you need to) and a contributors page. Have them sign the contributor’s page when they turn in their page, and allow them to identify themselves as they wish, but do suggest email addresses if they wish to keep in contact with your or other workshop participants.

+ Assemble the master copy of the zine as pages are submitted to demonstrate how this is done. They will give you a half-sheet of paper, which you will then glue onto a creased full sheet of paper. Do consider the order of pages when you do this, and try to juxtapose contributions in an interesting manner.

+ Before the workshop ends ask the participants to sign up for a mailing list if they want to be informed about future events. Consider using this mailing list to elicit feedback on the workshop too.

+ Remember that you may not have a copy machine immediately available, in which case you will need to make arrangements for getting the zines to the workshop participants. If your workshop is part of a conference or festival, try to schedule it early in the day so that you can arrange a pick-up point for them later. You may need to provide envelopes for mailing, in which case it’s a good idea to ask for postage costs from either the participant or the organization sponsoring the workshop. Sometimes it works out for participants to go with you to make copies, in which case they can learn about copy techniques and get their zines right away.

+ When copying a zine with lots of images, select the ‘photo’ button on the copy machine for best quality of gray tones.

+ To staple the zine it’s easiest to use a saddle stapler (one designed to reach in to the center of paper). If you need to use a regular stapler: make a pile of newspaper, open the zine face down on top of it, open the stapler and staple down through the zine’s spine, then manually fold down the ends of the staples.

Grrrl Zines A-Go-Go – is an all-women workshop group based in Southern California. Since 2002 we have been facilitating workshops in community venues and college campuses in our region. We focus on the empowerment of young women through the production of fanzines and self published works.

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