Creative Corner | How to make your own quaran-zine

The Pitt News is partnering with student ambassadors from the Center for Creativity to bring you some simple crafts you can do at home. Caroline Kulczycky, the creator of the Feminist Math Zine, shares tips for putting together a simple zine.

Being in quarantine is weird. 

Like most people, my experience with self-isolating has been all about adjusting. Adjusting to online classes, adjusting to working from home, adjusting to not seeing my friends and family in person, adjusting to not being able to admire Cathy 50 times a day … You get the picture. 

Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy to do my part to #FlattenTheCurve. It’s just that sometimes, I need to spice up my day and take my mind off school, work, the pandemic, missing my loved ones and Netflix shows. Whether I’m feeling bored and need something to do, or I need to take a break from working from home or completing academic assignments, doing something creative always does the trick. 

Today, I’m going to show you an easy way to tap into your creativity while being stuck at home: making a zine.

What is a zine, you might ask? I like to think of it as kind of a self-published mini-magazine. It’s like a little booklet of which YOU are the author. You design how it looks, how you go about making it and the content inside it. Embrace the DIY!

Here’s how to make your own zine in five easy steps.

  1. Collect supplies

Literally all you need to create a zine is a pen and some blank paper. Of course, feel free to collect as many other supplies as your heart desires. I personally like to use markers, colored pencils, magazine and newspaper pages, scissors, glue sticks and a stapler.

  1. Construct the booklet

Line up your sheets of paper so that they are one behind the other. Fold in half hamburger-style. Now you have a little booklet! I like small zines, so I usually cut my booklet so that it looks more like a square. If you want, staple the edge of the booklet (or unfold it and staple it in the middle) to keep the papers in place.

  1. Brainstorm

Ask yourself questions about how you want to proceed with your zine. What will your zine be about? One specific topic? Lots of random topics? What are your interests? What do you want to learn more about? What do you need to vent about? Do you want to draw? Write? Both? What do you want to include in your zine? Poetry? Sketches? Photos? Memes? Quotes? Do you want to use color? Black and white? What aesthetic are you going for? Sleek? Cut-and-paste? For how long do you want to work on your zine? One day? A week? The rest of the semester? Do you only want to make one zine, or a bunch of them? So many questions!

  1. Start adding to your zine!

Here is where you can let your personal creativity shine through. There are no explicit rules when it comes to zinemaking: you can go about it however you want! So write your essays and poems and reviews, draw your comics, take your photos, perfect your long-winded written rants. Are you in the mood to cut and paste from newspapers and magazines? Go for it. Do you want to write a quarantine diary entry on each page? Great! Can you add stickers and glitter? Of course! Anything is possible. You do you.

5: Share your zine with the world

Now, all that’s left to do is to get your zine out there. Sometimes, zinemakers like to make copies of their zines (by hand or with Xerox machines) and then distribute them. I don’t know about you, but I don’t have a Xerox machine lying around at home and I can’t go to Hillman to use the scanner. If you’re like me and don’t have access to these resources, you can still share a zine with your family, friends and the rest of the world! Send one in the mail to brighten your loved one’s day. Do a zine-reading over FaceTime, Zoom or Skype with your friends. Take pictures of the pages and post them to Instagram. (Check out @pittsburghzinefair on Instagram for ideas.) You can even make a completely digital zine with the help of photo and text editors!

Zinemaking is about the process as much as the final product. So have fun, embrace your creativity and be safe, quaren-ziner!

For more information on how to create a zine, check out this guide.

Caroline Kulczycky is a student ambassador for the Center for Creativity. She is a math major/studio arts minor with a passion for graphic design, soccer and math proofs. She created the Feminist Math Zine and enjoys exploring art museums in her free time.