Last year we ran an interview with Rob Peart and Gordon Armstrong, the two fine fellas behind Zineswap. Since then, we’ve featured a lot of fanzine-related articles and it appears as if, just like vinyl in music, niche print-based publications are enjoying a serious renaissance of late.

What’s more, it’s not something that has been confined to three people in a squat in Peckham either, with Zineswap being invited into the hallowed halls of the Tate to run workshops and generally show off a bit. This revival probably has something to do with people feeling left cold by the ephemeral nature of digital media and craving something tangible and tactile that they can hug at night. That, or maybe it’s just really good fun to make a zine about meat or wrestling (or both!) and show your mates.

With that in mind, we thought a little inspirational “How To…” piece on zine making might be useful. I put some basic starter questions to Rob, hopefully providing a neat jumping-off point for the uninitiated. Also included is a check list of DOs and DON’Ts, as well as a downloadable template for an A4 zine that only requires one side of printing, alongside a little folding and cutting - pretty much the easiest and most cost effective way of doing it yourself. Interspersed throughout are pictures of some of the better examples Zineswap have received over the last few years, hopefully spurring jealousy and motivation in equal measure.

If there’s anything you want to know, or feel should be added to this, put it in the comments box below (y’know, like you do at Pizza Hut and Virgin gyms). I recommend you listen to this song while you read.

Wow, I got all the way through that without saying ‘lo-fi’ once… Oh.

Popular Culture, Issue 3

How easy is it to make a zine?
Rob: It’s as easy or as hard as you want it to be. Really it depends on what you want to say and how you want to say it.

How did you get started?
Paper + pen + photocopier + stapler.

Is it expensive? How much do you have to spend to get your zine looking good?
Again this is down to who is making it. We have seen zines that are really beautiful that must have cost pennies to make, and also some pretty ugly ones which may have cost a bomb. Just because you have a bit of money to pay for printing, doesn’t mean your zine is gonna look amazing. You can’t polish a turd, as they say.

The question of beauty is one we don’t like to go into too deeply. Zines that work for us are ones where the overall object has been considered, and the method of execution is appropriate for the content and helps to convey its message. Having said that, stereotypes and cliches are awful.

Bereft of Foresight, Issue 4.

What are the most common subjects in zines?
I don’t think we’ve had a single one on the same thing. I mean, of course you get music zines, photography zines etc, but there is not much overlap in specific content.

Are there any issues/potential problems with printing that first timers should be aware of?
Not really. It’s a pleasure going to the copier or print shop and receiving an unexpected result, all part of it.

Should you charge for your zine?
Well, this is up to you. Of course, you don’t want your zine to bankrupt you, but you don’t want people to be put off reading it either. You have to bear in mind that in these days of free newspapers, free magazines, free blogs blah blah, people are used to free content. But at the same time, people are more likely to pay for something that is a little different to the usual. Don’t sell yourself short, but don’t overdo it either.

What’s the best way to get your zine read?
Get it out there! Send it to us and we’ll whack it in the archive and online, give it away at shows. People have been known to slip them into library books, whatever!

Is it important to print your zine, or can it just exist online?
It’s fine to have it online, but it’s a great feeling to be able to actually hold your creation, and it opens up many more avenues for exploring your method of communication. We both come from a print background—that’s what got us in to this—so we’re probably biased.

The Masters, Issue 1.

TOP 5 DOs:
DO Make a zine. Regardless of what the rest of this Top 5s thing says, just make one.

2. DO get people to read it/look at the pretty pictures. What’s the point in doing it if you’re only going to run one off the copier for you and your mum? You have the machinery of mass-production at your fingertips, and hopefully have something worth making a zine about, so get people reading it. If you haven’t got something you think people will be interested in, think again. That said…

3. DO start small. If you try doing a 64 page masterpiece that needs running through the copier 6 times for each page, and you’re doing a run of 5 million, you’ll never make another issue.

4. DO get involved with other people and their zines. There is a huge community based around amatuer publishing awaiting your contribution with open arms. The zine community can seem pretty exclusive at times, like all things. But just ignore the people that claim to have been doing it for 200 years/used own blood vessels to stitch it together/Trotsky owns my first issue blah blah blah… If they have been doing it that long they probably haven’t got anything worth saying anymore, hence the complaining/boasting.

5. DO swap. SWAP SWAP SWAP! It’s the best way of getting to see other people’s zines and getting yours out there. You know where to go….

Horse, Issue 1.

1. DON’T
cut yourself with the scissors. Unless that’s the look you’re going for.

2. DON’T miss out on all the excellent zine-related events happening everywhere all the time. There are gigs, workshops, talks etc etc. If you’re going to make a zine, why not have a launch party for it? Get involved.

3. DON’T be scared of committing your opinions to print. It’s so easy to casually align yourself with current mainstream opinion these days, by clicking ‘repost’ or ‘like’. Make a more permanent statement that requires you to actually explain why, or at least if anyone asked. Basically, HTFU.

4. DON’T be put off by the effort that can be required to write/interview/illustrate/photograph, then copy, staple and distribute. All that effort is greatly outweighed by the pleasure you get from interviewing your favourite bands or photographing your neighbourhood, then having someone tell you they want to swap their zine for yours.

5. DON’T forget to send it to us.



Brighton Zinefest

Fanzine Paper

Handmade and Bound

London Zine Symposium

Publish and Be Damned

We Make Zine

Zineswap run their next workshop at Jamboree on Saturday 13th Feburary. More details and tickets available here and here.