DIY, social commentary & recipes for happiness @ Zine Week

Katie, our intern writes about running a free zine-making week at No.34.

What are zines? Zines are DIY, cheaply produced, photocopied magazines that can be made by anyone. Historically, zines have been used as a medium to express underground or repressed narratives, to share personal experiences or niche interests, to connect people in ways that the mainstream media cannot…

I wanted to introduce (or reintroduce) the people of Sittingbourne to zines, giving them an insight into their histories and to their possible futures. The zine-scene is still growing. But why are zines still relevant in the age of the internet? Perhaps in an age of social-media where we so readily share our personal experiences online, zines are in fact more relevant than ever. Instead of venting your frustrations onto Facebook, zines give you an offline platform to express yourself. You can say what you want, you can be abstract, you can be impassioned, you can be crude, and without the over-arching anxiety that social-media brings with it. There is no comment page, no beep of a notification to tell you someone ‘liked’ it, just pure unadulterated expression. Words and pictures on a screen are easy to scan, to glaze over. Printed matter is important because people take the time to read it, to take it in, or perhaps no-one needs to see it other than you.

“Children paid homages to their favourite pets and musicians, adults made cut and stick dadaist collages, wrote recipes for happiness”

Between 23-27 August I facilitated a week-long drop-in zine workshop, where people could come by and create zines at their leisure. Children paid homages to their favourite pets and musicians, adults made cut and stick dadaist collages, wrote recipes for happiness, film reviews and poems. Most people ended up staying all day, some even returned on multiple days. The process of making a zine frees up how we write and how we create, through using your hands, images, physical materials to put ideas down on paper, rather than typing onto a laptop, ideas flow more freely, new connections are made, fresh ideas are sparked.

For me, having a presence in the high street for the week, sticking things up in the window, felt dynamic, productive, and brought the space alive in a new way. Working in the window allowed onlookers to view the process from afar, and engage on whatever level they wish.

Disconnect to reconnect. This kind of creative process is quite therapeutic, and brings with it a level of power. With just a few simple materials, your voice can be out there in the public sphere, connecting with people in new ways.

Our intern, Jade,who helped run Zine Week says…

“Having a week-long event at Ideas Test was a brilliant change of pace for the long, lazy August days. There’s a certain rhythm to be gained from returning to the same event over multiple days and with the repetitive whirr of the photocopier flowing throughout the floor at No.34, rhythm was certainly in abundance during Zine Week.

The steady stream of intrigued attendees had the history of zines explained to them by Katie, who then talked them through the process of creating and paginating zines of their own. Zines are often full of self-reflection and social commentary, so with the workshop attracting a wide variety of ages, creativity and collaboration were in glorious excess. It was incredibly refreshing to see so many ideas flourish into fully finished zines, meaning there’s now an expandable zine library in-house at No.34!”

Take a look at this Flickr album of the zine creations!

Zine Week