Zine Making: Where Did It Come From and How Can You Make Your Own?

For decades, zines and zine making have been synonymous with counter-culture and anti-authoritarian subcultures, most notably the global punk scenes of the late 70s, early 80s.

Nowadays they can be found everywhere from online to amongst the marketing arsenal of big brand giants. Despite their boom in mainstream culture, we still love them; whether they’re shiny print publications or digital reincarnations of their original cut and paste style.

But there’s more to zines than this…

Zine Making - 70s Punk Fanzines
CC, Wikimedia by Jake

Let us take you through the history of zine culture: from its sci-fi origins; its rebellious punk phase; and to its modern-day reinvention within the graphic design and illustration scenes; before following our step-by-step guide to making your first zine.

Zine Making


  1. Zine Making: A Brief History of the Zine Movement
  2. Join the Zine Culture: How to Make Your Own Zine
  3. Big Brand Zines
  4. The Digital Age of Zine Making
  5. Zine Design Fairs

Zine Making: A Brief History of the Zine Movement

Zines actually originated in the late 1920s, when sci-fi fans would create and distribute DIY publications containing illustrations and stories related to their favourite sci-fi stories and characters. Sci-Fi zines saw a renaissance in the late 60s with the release of Star Trek fanzine ‘Spockanalia’, which included letters from the show’s stars themselves.

Zine Making - Sci Fi Fanzines
“The Reign of the Superman” short story by Jerry Siegel, illustrated by Joe Shuster. From Science Fiction #3

The late 70s saw the punk revolution adopting self-publishing to promote otherwise under-the-radar bands. The first fanzine of this genre was published in New York in 1975 and was named Punk, the name later being attributed to the scene as a whole. A year later the most recognisable UK punk zine Sniffin’ Glue was published.

Zine Making - 70s Fanzines
British and American punk zines, 1994-2004

The punk zines of the 70s and 80s reflected the visual style of the scene: DIY, handwritten, collaged. Advances in printing technologies since the earlier sci-fi zines meant a rise in copy shops and a large drop in production costs – many of the punk zines were made by simply handwriting and manually cutting and pasting images and type before being photocopied en masse and distributed either free or cheaply.

Join the Zine Culture: How To Make Your Own Zine

Ready to join the zine culture? There are many different techniques for creating zines: online, printed, folded, staple-bound etc. We’re going to run through a quick and easy method for which you need little more than a sheet of paper and your imagination…

You will need:

  • A4/A3 piece of paper
  • Pens, pencils, paint or collage materials (newspaper, magazines, scissors and glue)
  • Photocopier or home printer

Step 1

Fold your piece of paper in half once widthways and twice lengthways. Fold back out again.

Zine Making - Step 1

Step 2

Cut along the two centre sections as shown in the diagram below.

Zine Making - Step 2

Step 3

Fold the paper in half lengthways along your pre-made crease. Fold the centre sections out in the middle.

Zine Making - Step 3

Step 4

You will now have an eight-page booklet with a front page, back page and six inner pages as shown below.

Zine Making - Step 4

Step 5

The tricky part is working out what pages go where when folded out. Here is a handy guide for you to follow. Apply the text and designs to your zine while it’s folded to avoid confusion!

When you open your zine out, the pages should be ordered as shown here:

Zine Making - Step 5

Step 6

With your zine folded out, you can photocopy it in a standard home scanner-printer. You can do this manually, but Double sided printing makes this easier.

Zine Making - Step 6

Big Brand Zines

Nowadays, zine making is still an inexpensive and creative way for collectives and communities to share information, spread messages and nurture communities. Many big name brands have cottoned on to this, and have harnessed the medium to portray a more down-to-earth, hands on vibe to their customer base.

Zine Making - SHEET zine by Urban Outfitters
SHEET zine by Urban Outfitters
Zine Making - SHEET zine by Urban Outfitters
SHEET zine by Urban Outfitters

Urban Outfitters produce monthly zine ‘SHEET’ in newspaper form. The largescale, loose leaf format and visual focus of the publication lends the zine to be tacked up on walls as posters. This essentially provides free advertising and increased brand presence for UO.

To achieve this newspaper effect yourself, The Newspaper Club specialises in small-run print jobs.

Zine Making - YEEZY zine by Kanye West
Kanye West’s YEEZY zine

Kanye West utilises the format to produce an accompanying zine to his YEEZY clothing line, and other big names include ‘The Daily Note’ by Red Bull; and Nike’s ‘20th-anniversary F.C. collection’ online zine experience.

The Digital Age of Zine Making

Zine making has always the perfect soapbox for the everyday person to get their voice heard. Couple this with the power of the Net and you have a killer combination for getting your message out there. The internet has essentially given zine-makers a megaphone to amplify their voice and gain further reach and traction.

Zine Making - Cherry online zine
9th Edition of Cherry zine on Issuu

With no print costs, its no surprise that zines are migrating online, such as Cherry and Plasma Dolphin. They’re being uploaded to sites such as Issuu, Tumblr and simple homemade websites, and today’s zine makers are taking advantage of social media to promote their publication and grow their following.

Zine Design Fairs

All is not lost for the printed zine. With the focus moving from Sci-Fi to Punk music in the 70s, modern-day zines are more often art and design related. Students and collectives utilise the medium to showcase their work.

Whereas the earlier zine scenes were focussed around a fan base or music genre, this shift towards design zines instead centres around the design, visual content and often print methods, innovation or even production value.

As a result, although you can still find many a sci-fi zine at your local Comic-con, the shift towards design-focussed zines has resulted in the popularity of zine fairs, celebrating the design and ingenuity of the zines themselves:

Zine Fairs (UK)

More (Worldwide)

We hope you enjoyed this article and feel inspired. Let us know what you think in the comments section below, and don’t forget to share:

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