Some of you may think of zines and attribute them with black and white images with collages of text all over in order to make art out of zines, but they have a lot of practical uses that we will examine further on.
For those of you who do not know, a ‘zine’ is a contracted name for a mini-magazine that can be self-published and either handcrafted or properly designed on the computer, that discusses various topics from guides to mental health awareness, to the latest fashion trends, to recording favourite playlists, to creative diaries and artwork!
But Why Make Them?
Not only do zines look like fun, but they are also oodles of fun to create yourself and be able to say “I did that!”. Drawing and designing your own helps to establish that zen feeling that allows you to relax in some down-time. They are also super useful to have during times of hardship to cheer yourself up, and this makes them perfect as gifts for your friends and family!
They can also be about moments in your life.
The Blurt Foundation, an online support network for people diagnosed with depression and struggling with their mental health, published free ‘Quaranzines’, you guessed it, zines made about people’s experiences during 2020 quarantines. These include documents and artwork from a small group of young people, about their hopes and dreams, fears, ideas, and unique views on their changing lifestyles.
Interview with a zine creator
To help me understand the process, inspiration, and motivations for zines, I asked the help of a shop called ‘maiirvineart’, led by Amy who creates positivity cards, stickers, and colourful zines, and who have over 300 sales on Etsy and over 100 5-star reviews for her creations. These vibrant zines include looking after yourself at university, kids’ editions of introductions to mental health, and guides to self-care. “[They’re] also a good distraction for me to put my mind to when I’m struggling myself,” Amy says, meaning that not only do zines create a coping mechanism for oneself, but also helps to promote awareness about mental health- helping herself while helping others.
“I started making zines a year and a half ago,” Amy says, after finding one on Etsy and after inspiration struck, she found it to be “a fun experience to create something new”.
Amy found that Bangor University’s counselling service offered a really helpful DBT (dialectical behaviour therapy) skills group to cope with her struggles with mental illness that started from an early age, where she received medication, counselling, and therapy. “In my zines, I try and write about a specific topic and include skills I have learnt through therapy” Amy reflects, “I hope [these]can be made accessible through my zines so that other people can use them too”. Have you ever been to mindfulness sessions from school or university? Reflecting on what helped you get through a tough time could be that positive message others might need for them to get through their own hardships.
“This year I have started making activity zines,” Amy says, “The two I have at the moment are to do with positivity and distraction in a crisis. These are zines that have some skills in like mindfulness and emotion regulation”. These include the latter two DBT skills in a fun-filled zine with word searches, self-care bingo, cute sloth pages to colour in, mini mazes, and sections that you can fill in yourself!
While writing this article, I found that creating zines by just folding an A4 piece of paper was perfect for spending five to ten minutes as a break from assignments. It also means that I now have these memories and pieces of art to look back on. You can make them as big or small as you want so that they fit conveniently in your bag for on-the-go projects, or for your bedside table as an evening read or pastime.
I think we can take a lot from the concept of zines, in that focusing our time into applying our creativity through times of stress and uncertainty can produce something highly beneficial to your mood, mental health, and ensuring that you spend time in the day to destress and do something for yourself!
I would highly recommend anyone interested to try making one yourself! You can even make one with siblings or friends and produce something relatable together!
If you have any ideas for zines please share with others by commenting below with your inspirations!
The Blurt Foundation’s Quaranzines: https://www.blurtitout.org/product/quarazines/
Amy’s Instagram: @maiirvineart
Amy’s shop: https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/MaiIrvineArt