A creative lying in bed with a cup of coffee brainstorming ideas on how to make a zine.
Photo by Ketut Subiyanto

Every year, thousands of artists come together to showcase their work at zines and art book fairs. One of the pulls of these events are the products you can buy: art prints, enamel pins, comic books, acrylic charms, earrings, bookmarks, and of course zines! Here’s a guide on how to make a zine.

This year due to safety restrictions, the annual Canzine event happened over a virtual platform hosted by Broken Pencil Magazine. Broken Pencil is a Canadian magazine based in Toronto, founded in 1995, focusing on zine culture and independent artists. It features over 250 vendors from around the world, from Ontario, British Columbia, New York, Barcelona, and more.


Normally, Canzine is held at the Art Gallery of Ontario, entry is free, and it provides workshops and talks given by artists. Topics range from introductions to book binding and printing, to how to market your art. The fair is separated into three levels, where the main floor consists of vendors and breakout rooms, and the basement level consist of even more vendors. If there’s a particular artist whose work you take a liking to, it’s common practice to take a business card and note their name as well as visit their website. The artists love it when you talk to them about their inspirations, and the creative process that goes into producing their work. For more information on the online Canzine 2020 event click here.

History of Zines

The word Zine is derived from the term “fanzine”, which acknowledges the fans who made them. Nowadays, fanzine has shortened to zine and cab include various topics outside of fandoms. Zines are usually smaller in size than a regular magazine, inexpensive to make, and often prices are set at less than $10. Zines can be self-produced and all you really need is a printer and an idea. There is no guideline in what the zines are supposed to be about, therefore, there are no rules in what you put into a zine.

An old image of an original Spockanalia zine, for inspiration on how to make a zine yourself.

An old image of an original 'The Comet' zine, for inspiration on how to make a zine yourself.

Fanzines have a rich history related to science, and science fictions. It all started when the first fanzine was produced, called The Comet. It was published in 1930 by the Science Correspondence Club in Chicago. The second and third issue were published later on in the same year. This initiative has sparked the start of the sci-fi fanzine trend in North America. In 1967, fanzines gained even more recognition when the first Star Trek fanzine, Spockanalia, was published. Surprisingly, it is extremely easy to create your own zine. Here are a few easy steps to creating your own zine:

1. Come Up With an Idea

First, come up with an idea, any idea that you want to write about. The topics could be anything from academics to economy, or “how to make the perfect tea” and even “what’s in my bag?”. Try to close your eyes and imagine the most exciting and curious ideas that you could come up with. If you are having trouble in getting an idea, here is a list of questions that you could write and think about for inspiration.

2. Designing Your Zine

Now let’s consider the design, and this by no means needs to be fancy, it’s about having fun! Ask yourself what format appeals to you. Do you want it to be pocket sized or novel sized? Other things to consider are colour aesthetic and whether or not if you would have illustrations/your own personal drawings. Don’t worry if you’re not an artist, literary zines exist!

DIfferent Zine formats for inspiration on how to make a zine yourself.

3. Start Making It!

After figuring out your topic and style, you can start making your zine! Software programs such as InDesign, Illustrator, and Photoshop are your friends and you should utilize them. They provide exceptional functions when it comes to designing your first draft, but if this is not accessible, you can always take the traditional route of drawing and writing it yourself. Or even use a mixture of the two! See this tutorial below for design tips.

4. Printing

A big part of printing a zine involves considering the kind of paper/material you want your zine to be presented on. Prints can include: matte, glossy, thick, or thinner paper (the cover page is usually thicker while the inserts are thinner).

5. Book Binding

Lastly, put it all together by binding it, stapling is the most cost-effective method but you can also sew it together! Here is a book binding tutorial from YouTube that is very useful for beginners.

Creating your own zine can be a fun hobby to pass the time, or even to give them as gifts to friends and family. Who knows, maybe this article might inspire you to enter your local zine fair as a vendor! Whether for fun or for profit, zine making is a an easy and creative way to express yourself and share it with the people around you. What would you create your first zine about?

Click here for some painting classes and workshops in Mississauga.

Upcoming Zines/Art/Book Fairs

Vancouver Art Book Fair

Toronto Comic Arts Festival


For a complete list of Zine fairs around the globe, you can visit the website here.


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