Grrrl Zines A-Go-Go doesn’t just want to encourage zine making, we also hope to inspire other groups of like-minded folks to start running workshops in their areas too. These sorts of workshops are easy to put on as long as you have a few people willing to share the responsibility of getting resources together and share their interest in self-expression with others.
Grrrl Zines A-Go-Go stays energized by keeping it simple, and by working in a variety of circumstances. Currently five members, the group remains small to ease communication and organizing. We also work with other DIY groups in San Diego like the S/he Collective and The Independent Media Center, as well as out-of-town visitors like The Bookmobile Project. We’ve also worked in the academic world, helping San Diego State University develop their West Coast Zine Archive. These varied interactions provide fresh energy and perspectives, and offer new venues to infiltrate with the groups DIY ethic.
This DIY ethic is the cornerstone of the political aspect of Grrrl Zines A-Go-Go. We believe zine-making embodies the phrase “the personal is political” by encouraging active participation in the creation of one’s own culture, and independence from mainstream media. This is especially important for teen girls who discover a new avenue for expression that is uncensored; something that they can produce alone, without the need for experts or expensive tools – their tools are their mind and a pen – anyone can do it. It is a truly democratic form of media, everyone who reads a zine can create one. Every reader should be a writer, and zines make this possible, removing the fear of writing and emphasizing the process for each person.
While there is a political motive to the group’s activities, we also like to enjoy ourselves, hosting a “Zine Picnic” as a get-together that inevitably produces a collaborative zine by the attendees. Our “Go-Go” attitude is also evident in the workshop process, in which our favorite moment is watching people dive into the “Scrap Lounge” and start cutting, pasting, and writing. We bring a manual typewriter as well, sometimes having to help the young girls use the archaic but very handy device.
Most workshops culminate in the production of a compilation zine in which each participant has designed a single page. The resulting publication represents a unique moment in time, a collection of ideas that run the gamut from profane to poetic. The group has learned to expect the unexpected, as junior high girls produce moving pages of text and imagery, confirming the need for just this kind of creative activity for the youth of today.
Here are a few tips and tricks from Grrrl Zines A Go-Go on how can you start a zine workshp group yourself:
Forming and organizing the group and workshops:
- Find other like-minded zinesters in your city (via word-of-mouth, the library, co-ops, zines at book and record stores, music venues, and the Internet). It is best if you have enough members so that you can rotate in providing workshops (we like to have at least 2-3 at each workshop)
- Organize your workshop tools. We always bring: A typewriter, scissors (more than one pair), glue sticks, pens (ball point and sharpie), blank paper, a stapler (a saddle stapler is best), and a scrap box with a variety of newspapers, magazines, clip art, rub-on letters, decorative paper, string, and other bits that can be used in making a zine. You can ask for donations, or “borrow” stuff from work.
- Identify organizations interested in zine workshops such as youth, women’s and LGBT centers, feminist organizations, high schools, girls clubs, festivals, bookstores etc.
- Present your idea about doing a zine workshop at the selected venue. Asking your friends is often a good way to get started. Ask if the venue can provide some compensation or contribution of materials, and if it can provide a photocopy machine or free copies.
- When arranging for a space for the workshop make sure it has enough tables and chairs, and that it allows cut and paste activities.
- Decide on a time frame for the workshop. We usually allow 1.5 to 2 hours for the workshop itself and another hour for copying and stapling the workshop zine.
- If the workshop is open to the public (and not only for a specific group), make flyers and distribute them widely in the community and among your friends. Make use of activist email lists and website in your community too. You should probably keep the number of participants under 20.
The workshop itself:
- First we introduce ourselves and our zines. Next we talk about the definition of a zine, zine history, the current “zine scene,” our experience making and distributing zines, and the basics of how to make and distribute zines. We always have resource guides available (a zine itself) that repeat this material.
- Most of our workshops consist of making a zine in which each participant contributes one page. We make digest-sized zines, which are letter-size paper folded in two (so that each page is 4.25” wide by 5.5” tall). We suggest you have them draw a border approximately one-half inch around their page as a guide, so that their work doesn't get cut off when copied.
- Be sure to point out that color can be tricky when making black-and-white copies (red becomes black, for example), and encourage image-making that will copy well. Discourage pages with a majority of solid black as this tends to create paper jams when copied.
-Then it's DIY time! It's important to allot the majority of the time for them to work on their page. It can take some folks a while to get comfortable, and some do multiple versions. While they're working on their pages, the organizers can make a cover, an ad a page for your group (and for any upcoming events - a good way to balance out the number of pages if you need to) and a contributors page. Have them sign the contributor's page when they turn in their page, and allow them to identify themselves as they wish, but do suggest email addresses if they wish to keep in contact with your or other workshop participants.
-Assemble the master copy of the zine as pages are submitted to demonstrate how this is done. They will give you a half-sheet of paper, which you will then glue onto a creased full sheet of paper. Do consider the order of pages when you do this, and try to juxtapose contributions in an interesting manner.
-Before the workshop ends ask the participants to sign up for a mailing list if they want to be informed about future events. Consider using this mailing list to elicit feedback on the workshop too.
-Remember that you may not have a copy machine immediately available, in which case you will need to make arrangements for getting the zines to the workshop participants. If your workshop is part of a conference or festival, try to schedule it early in the day so that you can arrange a pick-up point for them later. You may need to provide envelopes for mailing, in which case it's a good idea to ask for postage costs from either the participant or the organization sponsoring the workshop. Sometimes it works out for participants to go with you to make copies, in which case they can learn about copy techniques and get their zines right away.
- When copying a zine with lots of images, select the 'photo' button on the copy machine for best quality of gray tones.
- To staple the zine it's easiest to use a saddle stapler (one designed to reach in to the center of paper). If you need to use a regular stapler: make a pile of newspaper, open the zine face down on top of it, open the stapler and staple down through the zine's spine, then manually fold down the ends of the staples.
Voilą! The zine is ready to go!