Later this fall, we look forward to welcoming Blyth artist Kelly Stevenson to the Mercantile's Creative Space for a three-part workshop series on Zines. The series begins Oct. 11, 6:30-8:30 p.m. But, of course, many have asked, "What is a zine?", so we asked Kelly to share more information on zines, what inspires her in her own zine-making, and what you can expect from the workshop.
WHAT IS A ZINE?
A zine is typically a small-circulation, self-published work that consists of mostly original work - either art or writing or both. There are a lot of different genres of zines including fan zines, political ones, chapbooks for writing and art zines. They can be made by individuals or groups and while some are themed, some are just a collection of work. Zines started out as being primarily photocopied but are also done now through printers, both commercial and more art-focused such as risograph printing. When the zine movement started they were typically produced and then distributed through mail but there are now a number of stores dedicated to selling them and a multitude of maker and zine fairs set up to give makers an in-person market and to celebrate the culture of zine making.
WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO START MAKING ZINES?
I started making zines because my friends were. Some created them for class projects and then continued to incorporate them in their own practice. I used to doodle/sketch a lot more in sketchbooks than I do now, and my work typically has a narrative to it, so the two kind of converged. I was encouraged to start putting them together and to create zines to tell stories through pictures. I also had some writing classes where the final project was to put together chapbooks - it isn’t something I’ve kept up but is on my zine to-do list to do some more zines that incorporate or focus on my writing practice.
TELL US ABOUT SOME OF THE ZINES YOU HAVE PUBLISHED
The first zines I did were the eight-page and poster zines from one sheet of paper - a friend of mine taught me how to make them. The first few weren’t perfect but, as usual, you’re the only one who seems to notice or care. My favourite from those first few is one that was created specifically for the poster image on the inside. I spent over 300 hours on this one drawing and was looking to maybe get more than one use out of it. So the eight pages are crops from the larger piece which is on the inside. My zines from the last few years have taken on a format more like a booklet of drawings instead of the fold out. It allows for me to include more images and play around with the story and sizes a little more. These ones include references of old family photos, a series of drawings I did for a show that then became a zine, and some character studies.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE PART ABOUT CREATING ZINES?
What’s been nice about having zines a part of my practice is it’s almost a break. You get to typically work smaller, which takes less time, and if you have a concrete idea, you can do all the work for one zine in about a week or two - the time it would sometimes take me to do one larger piece. Another reason I’ve continued to do it is I think art should be accessible. I can produce these booklets of work and sell them at a price that’s affordable and accessible to people who maybe like my work but can’t afford a larger piece. Due to a lot of my larger work being socially and politically based, I kind of feel like I have a responsibility then to make things that the average person can interact with and not buy into the idea everything needs to be high art and only one group of people should be able to appreciate and own art.
DO YOU HAVE FAVOURITE ZINES FROM OTHER MAKERS?
A large part of what I love about the DIY and maker culture is that a lot of people have different parts to their practice. Many of the people on this list started off making zines, and while some still do, they’ve also branched out into other parts of creating.
WHAT CAN PEOPLE EXPECT FROM YOUR CLASS?
What we’ll be learning is the eight-page zine that folds out into a poster. It’s the format I started with and one of simpler ways to layout a zine, especailly if you want to go directly from making to printing without using Photoshop and spending hours laying out and editing images. There’s a folding technique involved both in the beginning to determine where your pages go/line up and at the end to put the final product together. Participants will be encouraged to either draw or collage or write if they choose in the creating of their own zine. I’ll then be taking those finished sheets to the printer and having copies made to trade amongst the group in the hopes that there are still a few for each person to take home of their own.