Intro to Zines!



Zines have:

A DIY approach, cut and paste style, a chaotic design, hand lettering or computer generated lettering, like-minded fans.

Zines are:

self-made, independent, Immediate and informal, Very low cost, can be made collaboratively, Not slick like magazines, Outside the mainstream, anti establishment., usually Responding to a theme.

Zinesters are:

People who make zines, less concerned about spelling, grammar, punctuation.

An artist can share their work by replicating it.

You can break the rules.

History of Fanzines

The first zines were science fiction based. They were called fanzines, first named this by Louis Russell Chauvenet, as they were made by the fans of science fiction. They allowed fans to communicate about subjects that the mainstream was not interested in. They were first printed in the 1930’s, there were no photocopiers back then but they had other means of copying the pages.

They contained poems, letters from fans, fan drawings and quirky stories. Some were based around Star Trek, which was popular at the time. The Comet was the first ever zine in the USA and Futurian was the first UK zine.

Next came the comic book zines:

These featured fantasy characters and superheroes.

Music zines

In the 1960’s, music zines emerged. These were mainly around rock and pop music of the time. They featured Elvis Presley, Bob Dylan, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Doors. They used cut out photography and photocopiers. Music fans would cut out articles about their favourite bands from newspaper and collect them together into these zines. Crawdaddy! was an American zine and the most popular music zine of the time.

This article is from earlier this year (2021) and celebrates 55 years since the start of Crawdaddy!

1966-1978. A true legend among rock mags, the New York City-based Crawdaddy!‘s first 14 issues were printed on an old mimeograph machine. Crawdaddy! differed from other magazines of its era in that it took rock ‘n’ roll very seriously. In its first few years, it tended to focus on politics and the radical views of the time. Each issue contained a number of music articles and interviews, as well as many ads for new albums.

These are my favourite Crawdaddy! front covers. They are bold and inventive. I like the limited use of colour and flat texture:

Punk zines

In the punk era Sniffin’ Glue was one of the most popular punk zines. Punk started in the 70s and carried on until late 80s. Punks were anti-establishment. Starting in Britain’s economic depression, people were angry and against the politics of that era.

They embraced any sort of anarchy. The way they were dressing and thinking about politics connected them. They generated the graphic language of resistance, rejecting what was mainstream.

Sniffin’ Glue was started by Mark Perry in 1976.

“Fanzines embraced punk’s do-it-yourself attitude. As one member of the punk community reflected, ‘our fanzines were always clumsy, unprofessional, ungrammatical, where design was due to inadequacy rather than risk.'”

Fanzines by Teal Trigg

With the layout there was no rules, it was chaotic and they experimented. Each zine looked different from each other. Some used felt-tip hand writing. Every zine has its own identity but all shared the same approach/ attitude.

In another punk zine Chainsaw ,each issue was different.
This front cover of Cobalt Hate uses intentional mistakes. I like the amount of small details cut from newspapers. They have used multiple staples to bind the pages together.

Post-Punk zines

The Black Panther movement

Working for the rights and freedom of black people in America. To fight for justice, access to decent housing, better education and to fight against police brutality, free meals for children. The Black Panthers education people about their legal rights.

The weekly newsletter Black Panther was printed from 1967-1980. It was a way for the movement to spread their message and unite people across the country.

Special notice must be paid to Douglas’s amazing facility to combine black plus one spot color on each cover to rich, diverse effect.


Archigram was a Group of architects in the UK. The zine opened architecture to popular culture. They had a utopian way of designing buildings. The group were critical of modernism. They were Inspired by comic books and science fiction books of the time.

All images from


Psychedelic and garage rock zine from the 1980’s. Introducing colours and a lot of patterns.

Cover of Issue 6

Freakbeat was not published in any regular intervals of time.

In the layout there was a generous use of Op-Art and psychedelic patterns, which is great, but it can also be annoying , as it makes reading quite difficult.’

words and images from:

Contemporary Zines

Contemporary fanzines have re-emerged since the 1990s. The craft tradition re-emerged in this time and zines along with it. The world saw a re-fashioning of crafts. In the 21st century, people seek an escape from the digital world. I believe people will always want something that can be held and experienced ‘in the flesh.’


Ker-bloom! is a contemporary zine created by graphic designer Artnoose. Their method is time-consuming, as they use a letter press and lino printing for their zines.

Artnoose began letterpress printing the zine Ker-bloom! in the summer of 1996 and has been making it every other month since then, never late, never missing one.

‘Issue number 126 of the letterpress zine Ker-bloom features a Giant Pacific Octopus linoblock on the front cover. It’s about the octopus, but it’s really about parenting and how exhausting it can be.’

I like the way the design wraps around from front to back cover.


Buffalo is a fashion (non-fashion) zine. They use images from archives, re-purposing images from the past. The zine explores ways of seeing fashion and beauty.

Images from Issue #2 at

Thought bubbles add meaning to an image.
Manipulation of magazine images.
hand-painted text.
I like the use of drawing to reflect the photographic image.

Hato Press Zine Series

‘Café Deco Frieze by Artists Harry Darby & Anna Hodgson is the ninth zine in the Hato Press zine series.’

I really like the combination of photography with illustrations. Text is placed subtly on these pages:

‘Based on paintings for a frieze in a restaurant interior located in Bloomsbury, this zine draws on Virgil’s The Georgics, a romantic poem about agriculture. With a playful approach and paying particular homage to Elisabeth Frinks illustrations of The Illiad for colour inspiration, the zine conveys Harry & Anna’s connection with the poem and restaurant space. 

Published by Hato Press, London

Printed on Evercopy 80gsm
Pages: 16
Dimensions: 14 cm x 20 cm
Format: Softcover / Saddle stitch binding’

Sofia Clausse

‘Argentina-born, UK and US-educated, Portugal-based Sofia Clausse makes work as colourful and varied as her nomadic life, as her bright, bold website shows. But unusually for us, it wasn’t the vibrantly-hued projects that most impressed us, but a seemingly unassuming monochrome zine. Entitled The Windy City Zine, Sofia’s creation is an ode to her time spent in Chicago. “The distortion of the building windows and the Cloud Gate sculpture served as inspiration for the warped images and type,” Sofia explains.’

Museum of the Ordinary

The study of Semiotics suggests that who is reading the image, is important in determining the message. Semiosis is the process of How we take meaning from a sign. Roland Barthes was a French literary critic and philosopher. He felt that the meaning of words as well as images are dependent on the viewer.

Denotation= The literal or primary meaning of an image.

Connotation= This is the meaning of a sign depending on our interpretations. This means the connotation is something that always changes.

Ways of Seeing- John Berger

As mentioned in a previous blog post, Writing & Research Skills. John Berger wrote a book and BBC documentary entitled Ways of Seeing, in which he discusses semiotics:

‘We never look at just one thing; we are always looking at the relation between things and ourselves.’

‘The way we see things is affected by what we know or what we believe.’

John Berger, Ways of Seeing

‘The photographer’s way of seeing is reflected in his choice of subject. The painter’s way of seeing is reconstituted by the marks he makes on the canvas or paper.’

In this quote, he is saying that a photographer is selecting and bringing attention to an element. He/she is showing something about their perception within this photo. A photo cannot be objective if a person is behind the lens.

An example Berger gives in his book is the painting Venus and Mars by Boticelli.

Sandro Botticelli | Venus and Mars | NG915 | National Gallery, London

Isolating a part of the image means you see something differently by the way it is framed.

If we frame just Venus’ face, the image looks like a portrait painting of a young lady. We need to see the painting as a whole to understand the context.

Open work- Umberto Eco

Umberto Eco Was an Italian philosopher, social commentator, and novelist. In his work, he speaks about the Ideal reader. This is someone who is aware of the possibilities of interpretation in a work.

From Visual Signs by David Crow:

  • ‘Eco prefers the term “encyclopedia,” rather than the more common term “code,” to describe the transfer of meaning through the use of signs. For Eco, a code implies a one-to-one transfer of meaning like a dictionary definition, whereas encyclopedia suggests that there are a number of interrelated interpretations and readers must negotiate their own path through the network of possibilities.’
  • ‘It is important to note that he sees information as something different from meaning or message. He suggests that the amount of information contained in a message depends on the probability of the reader’s already knowing the content of the message before it is received.’
  • ‘Eco argues that contemporary art contains much higher amounts of information, though not necessarily more meaning, by virtue of its radical nature. More conventional forms of communication—such as the road sign, for example, or figurative painting— may carry more distinct meaning but much less information.’
  • ‘If a newsflash tells me that tomorrow the sun will rise, I have been given very little information as I could have worked this out for myself. If, however, the newsflash tells me that the sun will not rise, then I have a lot of information as this is a highly improbable event.’
  • ‘Eco also points out that the amount of information contained in a message is affected by another factor: our confidence in the source of the message.’
  • ‘If a landlord were to tell me an apartment had damp problems before I rented it, I would be more inclined to believe him because he has nothing to gain by fabricating this message.’
  • ‘The amount of information is greater when the content or the source is improbable.’
  • ‘”Christmas is an annual festival.” This has a very clear and direct meaning with no ambiguity, yet it doesn’t add to our existing knowledge. In other words, although the communicative value is high, the amount of information is low.’

A piece of discarded material can become an artifact once it has been framed.

Umberto Eco

Framing brings attention to something e.g. cracks in the road spray painted to mark for repair. At this location, they have marked areas for drilling into, on the asphalt. This makes us aware of areas and focus on areas we otherwise would not notice.

Ground Penetrating Radar Utility Scanning – East Handover, NJ (
Frames within frames

In this week’s workshop, we were taking photographs around campus. I experimented with using a photo frame to draw attention to certain areas and then taking a picture of the same area without the use of a frame. I wanted to see what difference the frame would make.

Before the workshop, I wrote down a collection of words that related to my object, The Raincoat Girl. I then wrote words that did not describe the object.

I used these words as inspiration when taking photos around campus. It was challenging to find subjects and locations in a short space of time. (We had around 40 minutes for this task.) It was harder than I thought to find objects I was happy with.

I used the frame to draw the focus to the entrance of the building.

I placed the frame in a place that highlighted the fragmentation of the pieces of glass. I was relating this subject to the word ‘fragile’, since my object is fragile. I chose the blue and green area because my object is blue and green was one of the words I wrote to describe what my object was not.

I took this photo in the Richard Hamilton Building on campus. Two objects here are used for communication: a telephone and a fire alarm. Both objects are useful and even essential. I found that this contrasted with my object which is purely decorative and does not serve any vital or important purpose.

I chose to focus in on one object. I found it interesting that the phone looks old fashioned and would look at home beside my object. even though their functions are very different.

There is a lot going on in the design of this post at the exterior of Headington Hill Hall. It is old fashioned and decorative, like my object.

Framing one area of the pillar helps to focus in one one element of the design.

After taking the photos, we needed to place the photos in an InDesign document. InDesign was suitable because we needed to then add labels next to each photo. The label resembled the caption placed next to an artwork in a museum or gallery. It was fun to see the photos presented in this way. I liked the addition of the word next to the image as a title because it added more meaning to the image and helped present the message I had in mind when taking the photo.

InDesign process

I selected File>document set up. This gave me the option of choosing the number of pages in the document. In the same window, I could also unselect facing pages. This meant that I could view one page at a time.

I could use the page tool to change the page’s orientation, if one of my photos happened to be in a landscape orientation for example. This option is located at top of the page.

(The document needs to be on essentials classics for me to complete these steps.)

If this is not switched on, I can change this by selecting Window>workspace>essentials classic.

File> place to place an image in InDesign.

Before & After Photoshop

This week, I had a go at editing my photos on Adobe Photoshop. Being new to the program, this was a case of experimenting with the tools. My focus was on improving the images as best as I could.

Unfortunately, I did not use the layers tool within Photoshop. This meant that the changes I was making were being made to the photo itself. After saving the document, I was unable to see my previous steps in the history toolbar.

I opened the photos in camera RAW. This allowed me to make changes to the photo before making further adjustments in Photoshop. By then opening the final image in Adobe Bridge, I was able to see the adjustments I made in camera RAW.


I lowered the contrast to give a softer feel and made the over all image brighter. I wanted to create a dream-like image, like the figure is in the clouds.


I found the original image too dark. I didn’t like how the background was contrasted against the figurine. After adjusting the image in photoshop, the background had more texture and the colours of the Raincoat Girl popped.


I used the quick selection tool to select the figurine in this photo. I then added contrast so that the boots were more defined. Brightening the wall in the foreground, shows more texture and made the image more interesting.


I liked the way I composed this photo and how the figure gazes into the distance. I felt it looked too dark and gloomy. I lifted the brightness in the image. However, I would like to add more saturation to lift the colour in this image.


I added more contrast/ shadows to define the figure’s face. I toned down the colours and softened the sharpness of the sunflower.


The original photo contained a lot of yellow. This is due to the warm toned lights reflecting off of the material. I could turn the colour temperature down using the camera RAW program.


This image is not in focus, so the end result is not perfect, but I wanted to try editing a coloured image like this. I increased the depth of the shadows and improved the overall colour.


Increasing the exposure greatly improved this image, as the face became more visible. There is now more balance across the picture.