July was International Zine Appreciation month. Although it is officially August now, and I feel obligated to write a little about zines & what they mean to me. First I will start with a perfectly reasonable question: What are zines?
Zines are DIY publications. They are unique mini books that are photocopied or made by hand in some way. Zines are a way for alternative opinions to get a platform and for marginalized people communicate their point of view or issues of importance. This is my definition of zines anyway. But maybe it is best to just show you some zines. Here are a few that I picked up a few years ago in Colombia, South America.
Both of these little booklets were gifted to me by a friend, Gia, who lives in Colombia and attends many craft fairs. She makes and sells drawstring bags of all sizes and is always open to trades. I gave her a zine or two of my own and she gifted me with these! The first (on the left) is about tropical fruits of the Americas. Below I have a little snippet of one pages about avocado trees which are called Aguacate in most of Latin America (or Palta in Bolivia, Argentina and Chile). Each spread has a illustration of the tree for identification as well as the fruit, seed and leaves. The text includes info about the medicinal and culinary properties of the fruit in question. Very informative!
The next zine is all about cycles of life: both the calendar of the year and the harmony of the female menstrual cycle. This zine too is full of useful information as well as a more spiritual pieces of wisdom. It encourages the owner of the zine to note her own menstrual cycle and pay attention to her fertility. This booklet was key in learning about my own body, cycles, and understanding a bit more about the fertility awareness method – which is a practice that takes years to master.
Not all zines are so information heavy though! Plenty of zines are filled with images, poetry, and other forms of art meant to inspire the reader. Others are about political or social justice issues. Many of the zines I make have collages, art, and information about gardening. Really there is no limit to what a zine can contain. Unlike more formally published literature, you are in charge of the artistic direction of your own publication – so let’s get creating! I cannot wait to see what zines you make.