History of Zines

DIRT 2 Release Party, Photograph via Dirt Media

Zines, since their conception, have been a way for people to publish outside of the constraints of mainstream media. By taking over control of the publishing process even the most marginalized voices can put their word out. Printed in small numbers and circulating in specific networks, zines are underground publications with niche audiences.

Zines started off by being called fanzines, short for “fan magazines”, focused on science fiction in the 1930s. These new DIY publications promoted collaboration on artwork, the creation of networks, the sharing of ideas, and creative writing. Later on, in the 1970’s the punk scene became the main hub of the zine culture. Compared to their predecessors, punk zines bolstered a grungier DIY aesthetic that reflected the culture they covered. Many of the early zines during this era were able to capture interviews with many of today’s most famous artists during their early years.

Photograph: Fales Library NYU / Feminist Press

Combining art, politics, culture, and activism, these publications helped redefine what a magazine was. Helping shape the counterculture of the punk scene and promoting the rise of activist artists, zines by the 1980’s had already solidified their spot in the underground.

Photograph: Fales Library NYU / Feminist Press

The 1980s not only saw a wide range of constantly evolving publications but it also saw a trend of revolt against authoritarianism. Provided with the opportunity to create and curate the content they want allows people to make some truly personalized zines. From the art selections and design to the writing, self publishing your own zine puts you in control.

We’re hosting a Zine making workshop series, featuring Dirt Media Founder Renee Marino, that includes first creating and hand-binding your own sketchbook and then learning how to make it all digital (and super pro) using InDesign. Sign up now!

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