The Art of the Zine

“Not Quite a Pittsburgh Zine” // Carnegie Library, Pittsburgh Pennsylvania

Zines present a really unique outlet for anyone interested in presenting an idea or thought. These mediums give people of all ages with differing opinions and backgrounds a voice that is not always possible through mainstream publishing companies. No longer are authors contained and controlled by their publishers. Zines provide everyone with the equal opportunity to present their thoughts and choose how to market their work.

The zines we looked at in the Carnegie Library’s collection expressed the personal ideas of individuals whose ideas were unique or underrepresented in mainstream published works. The zines were all shapes and sizes, and covered all kinds of topics from politics, to mushrooms, to comic art. The thing that made these prints so different was the freedom allowed by the format. No two books were quite the same, and each one reflects the creativity of the author and formatters. By a formal standpoint, the zines do not exactly fit in with other books in the library, but that is part of what makes zines so unique. They are their own kind of publication with their own “personality,” and that is something very unique in a literary work.

Zines do try to imitate some aspects of traditional books. The physical makeup of a zine is generally bound in a similar way as traditional books. Some zines look like they could be manufactured and printed by large publishers, adding to their “mainstream” look. But for the most part, the inside of zines are where they differ the most from traditional books. Zines use their content, production, and formatting to set them apart from traditional books.

By considering the way zines are made and the content they produce, we can get a better idea of the overlying purpose of zine production. Zines are handmade and personal, reflecting one individual’s style. There can be misspellings, misprints, or flaws in design that differ from copy to copy and creator to creator, but that makes zines unique. Zines are wholly the author’s work, a direct product of the author’s thought pattern, interests, and personality. With zines, we get the author attached to the work as a bundle, rather than just getting the disconnected writing of an author we know nothing about. As for the content they produce, zines are able to present ideas and concepts that are more directed to a community, interest or purpose. They are distributed for a reason and are intended for an audience who is interested in the subject matter. As stated in the article “A Brief History of Zines” by Chloe Arnold, “zines are as much about the community as the product” (Arnold). Like Arnold says, the zine is about the act of producing content, but the community reached and the content produced is just as important, if not more important.

Arnold, Chloe. “A Brief History of Zines.” Mental Floss, 19 Nov. 2016,

1 thought on “The Art of the Zine”

  1. The freedom of style that comes with zines is indeed impressive! I agree that this is a selling point to making zines. Now that I think about the cut-and-past nature of some zines, I cannot help but wonder if the experience of sharing a zine is similar to that of making or sharing a meme in some cases.


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