Summary report on a community creative project funded by Alexandrina Council through their Vibrant Communities Grant initiative
What is a zine?
A zine is a hand-made booklet with almost no rules.
They can help you share your story, or navigate experiences and emotions.
Zines are low technology, low barrier, hand-made magazines.
They get their name from magazines.
Zines require few skills or resources to produce.
They are usually made by hand, and have about 8 to 16 pages.
Zines are shared between people who who are in the same community or have shared interests.
Zines are a popular tool of creative expression among multiply marginalised communities and young people.
What is grief?
Grief is a heavy human experience.
Grief is bearable when shared and released.
Carrying and releasing grief are learned skills.
We co-create lessons in how to bear and release grief together, in community.
The Zine Your Grief workshop series took place during October and November 2022, on Ngarrindjeri land in South Australia. Individual workshops were held in Milang, at the Milang Old School House Community Center, and in Langhorne Creek, at the Langhorne Creek Hub/Community Centre. Ten participants joined the workshop host, Dr KJ Hepworth, over three afternoons to learn how to make and distribute zines.
In this workshop, zines were used as a vehicle to explore the two faces of grief: loss and renewal. While participants told stories of grief they carry or have carried in the past, most of the making and conversation was more general, with references to loss and renewal interspersed with discussion on creativity, the supplied tools, and life generally.
Theory speak, or the formal description of what we did
The workshop was loosely structured, and based on a social constructivist methodology. This approach focusses providing the conditions for participants to feel comfortable and empowered to share with, and learn from, each other. Steps we took to set up optimal learning conditions included:
- Setting up a sensorily accommodated learning space around a communal work table
- Providing a separate, soothing sensory space for attendees to retreat to when needed
- Providing bottled sparkling water (good for modulating distress, it acts on the vagus nerve or “soul nerve” inside the mouth), hot drinks and snacks for participants
- Providing each attendee with their own, personal kit of basic zine-making supplies and templates
- Creating the workshop structure and content of personal kits with the supervision of a qualified mental health counsellor, to ensure an ethical approach
- Making additional, shared zine-making supplies available within reach along the centre of the communal table
- Interspersing zine-making supplies on the table with sensorily-regulating fidget toys, and demonstrating their use
- Demonstrating the use of each of the zine-making supplies, and showing how they might be used in zine making
- Ensuring the facilitator was appropriately accommodated and resourced to host the workshop well
- Seeking guidance and contributions from a qualified mental health practitioner in between sessions to ensure ethical approach and caretake participants as best as possible.
Workshops were evaluated by participant self-reporting using a post-event survey and visual reflection practices by the facilitator.
Overall, participants really enjoyed these workshops. Sharing a nurturing creative and conversational space together, and creating with a range of accessible tools were the most commonly mentioned aspects of the workshops. In terms of constructive feedback, some participants said they’d like short bursts of more focussed creative exercises interspersed throughout. The experience of hosting these workshops, combined with the participant feedback, suggest there is an ongoing need in the community for additional empowering and inclusive creative community events.
The facilitator really enjoyed these workshops, too. They far exceeded the facilitator’s expectations, in terms of the sense of community fostered during the series, and the collective creative reflection all participants engaged in.
You can make a zine right now with what you have around you!
For example, one of my all-time favourite zines was made for me by a dear friend, who tore up newspapers (it was the 1990s, they were a plentiful and free resource), glued them back together in a collage, and drew and wrote over them with a cheap pen.
Steps to making a zine
1. Find one or two sheets of paper and a pen (add as many drawing, collage or pattern making supplies as you like!).
2. Make a blank booklet by folding some paper (A4 or A3).
- Sandwich zine instructions infographic: https://www.flickr.com/photos/withjulie/4081808449/in/photostream/
2. Draw a cover on the front page.
3. Fill the pages with your story, drawings, writing, or a combination of them.
Steps to printing a zine
They are often copied using simple printers at home and photocopiers, and assembled by hand by folding, glueing, and cutting.
Hosting a zine workshop
After you have a little experience with making zines, share what you know with people you care about. Hosting a zine workshop can be a simple as inviting some friends over, putting a pile of markers and paper in the middle of a table, making some tea, and getting to work.
Hiring a workshop facilitator
You can also hire someone else to run a zine workshop for a group of people or an organisation you’re involved with. A growing number of people offer zine workshop-hosting services, in-person and online. Some of the local providers include:
Note about cost: If you are a group of people with low income or high barriers to accessing art knowledge, some people and organisations may offer workshops for you for free, or for a very small fee. If you are an organisation, whether it be a not-for-profit, social enterprise, or for-profit enterprise, the standard industry rates apply, as set by the National Code of Visual Arts (NAVA). You can find up-to-date information about current rates here: https://code.visualarts.net.au/.
Attend a zine fair
Zine fairs tend to be small and friendly events, focussed on trading zines and low-cost sales. There are several zine fairs held in South Australia each year. Because they are generally run by volunteers, and often barely cover costs, where they happen and how to find out about them can be unpredictable. It might take a bit of research to find out where the next one is. But if you fall in love zine making, this will probably be time well spent.
Zine fairs are free and open to anyone to attend. People who go to zine fairs often make zines, are fans of zines, or are generally enthusiastic about meeting and supporting local artists. People tend to be relaxed and friendly at zine fairs, and they are a good way to get to know artists and learn about the stories behind their work. They are also a good place to make friends!
- Zina Warrior Print Fest – for details, email email@example.com
- Zinetopia – for details, see their instagram profile @zinetopia
- Zine Market – for details, see the Index Adelaide instagram profile @indexadelaide
Visit a zine store
Adelaide has its very own zine store! The store is called Index Adelaide, and you can find zines from many local artists there. They focus on stocking zines by queer and BIPOC creators. You can visit Index Adelaide in Charles Street Plaza, Rundle Mall, Adelaide.
Follow zine makers on social media
Many prominent zine makers share their work on social media. Sometimes zine makers will post videos of flip-throughs of their work, but often they will just show the cover or a single page of their work.
Learn about zine culture
Zines were invented in the punk communities of the United Kingdom in the 1980s. Many of the first zine creators had very basic supplies, and made and shared their zines with what they had around them.
Past and present zine culture is rich with visual examples and powerful lived experience and resistance themes. Perhaps learning about this history will inspire you to make zines. Or if you already make them, perhaps it will give you ideas of other techniques or approaches to try.
- A good big list of free writing about zines: Zine History and Culture – https://autisticzines.home.blog/zine-culture/
- Book: Fanzines: The DIY Revolution (book) by Dr Teal Triggs – https://openlibrary.org/works/OL19337323W/Fanzines?edition=key%3A/books/OL26794892M
Land and waters
This workshop series was developed and run on Ngarrindjeri land and waters. It would not have been created in this form, or run so smoothly, without the care and influence of these lands and waters. I recognise the contribution to the creativity and camaraderie of the workshop organisers and participants by this land and water. I acknowledge the cultural authority of the Ngarrindjeri people who take care of this place so we all may benefit from them today. I pay respect to Ngarrindjeri Elders past and present.
This workshop series was a work of love and trust. To all the people who saw potential in this idea, tended to it and fed it with me, collaborating and building togther until it happened, thank you.
- Access supporters: Tracey King, Prue McDonald, Amber Black
- Organisational supporters:
- – Colleen White, Stuart Jones, and Vivienne Maher at the Milang Old School House Community Center
- – Leah Grace at Alexandrina Council
- – Anne Scutchings at Langhorne Creek Hub
- My care team: you know who you are 💜
Assorted coloured paper and card
Assorted mark-making supplies, including: stamps and stamp pads, textas, paint markers, jelly pens, coloured pencils, crayon rocks, and shape drawing templates.
Assorted assembly supplies, including: spring scissors, regular scissors, glue sticks, glitter glue, scalpels, rulers, and shape cutting templates.
KJ Hepworth’s ‘Lighten Your Load’ zine template was a key resource in this workshop.
Ruby Allegra’s ‘How to make a zine’ zine template was also used as a resource in the workshop.
Alexandrina Council graciously awarded this project a Vibrant Communities Grant, without which Zine Your Grief would not be possible.
About the Host
Dr KJ Hepworth (they/them) is a disabled artist and researcher who loves storytelling using zines. They have been making zines for two years, and are deeply passionate about intersectional solidarity, disability justice, and healing justice.