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Hey all,

I'm just starting to get back into zine making after a several year hiatus. Working on my first one now and I'm just about ready to start doing layouts, but I'm stuck trying to figure out what to do about background patterns or images.

My aesthetic preferences tend to veer in polar opposite directions -- I either like things to be super minimalistic and clean, or I like them super busy and complex and overloaded. But I'm worried the former approach might look too boring and the latter approach might be too distracting.

So I wanted to ask some advice and hear everybody's thoughts on background patterns and images. Some topics to get started...

 - what do you typically use for backgrounds in your zines?

 - do you stick to only abstract patterns or have you used photos, illustrations, etc as backgrounds?

 - anything you recommend or don't recommend?

 - what kinds of looks are you drawn to in other peoples' zines?

 - any particular favorite examples?

 - are you less interested in looking at or buying a zine if it only has plain white backgrounds?

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I just created my first zine, and not having much to go on, I purchased a 6x6 scrapbook paper pad that had different designs in black and white. There were only about 4 backgrounds I could use, and ended up using lined paper for the other 4 pages, but stamped patterns over the sections that were blank.

I did actually just do one page as an illustration of a dragon I drew and that was the feature of that page, added some lines to the background to make it interesting and done.

I personally think, and I've only seen a few other zines in real life (not on the computer monitor), that if a zine has plain white as a background, then the whole zine would benefit from plain white backgrounds. 

I'm not sure if this helps or not, but good luck regardless :)


Why not have both?

Alternate and mix it up?

I've seen both ways done to good effect. Have you tried googling 'zines' and clicking on the images command on the page's toolbar? It shows a nice wide variation.  You can do zine searches in Pinterest too.  Plus they have zines up on etsy.com now as well.

Go with what you think works best for what you're putting together.  I just did a weird 'alternative family history' yesterday (took 5 hours from search to final paste up, it's going to the printers today) where I have old 1920's photos of my supposed family doing restaurant work using Trilobites they harvested from Lake Michigan. 

It was a LOT of fun, and got longer than I anticipated (5 pages double sided but I couldn't cut it down smaller, the pictures I found were too good!).  At 10 cents a page one side, it'll cost me $1 a set but I'm sending it out to family members tomorrow.  They already think I'm weird, the whole point was to be creative and do a fun project. 

Elaine said:

old 1920's photos of my supposed family doing restaurant work using Trilobites they harvested from Lake Michigan.
hahaha this sounds amazing

It was a blast!  I started with one photo of ladies making bread and implied they were flouring the trilobites.  It sort of grew from there.

I've used lots of images that aren't just abstract. You could also make one really big and pixilate it. The only thing I recommend is allow white space, or space that isn't cluttered. The first thing that will make me not read a zine is if it's all convoluted, hard to follow visually or if the text is too small.

This was definitely something I went through last year when creating my first quarter and half sized zines. I totally get the desire to go in so many directions (that is my life). What ended up working for me was taking magazine images that I liked and using that as a background with the title and date pasted over (all printed in black and white). Printing the images in black and white helped to take down the business of the images and potential distraction from seeing it as a cover and moving forward.

Ultimately, you should do something that satisfies you. If it appeals to you, it will likely appeal to people like yourself who would enjoy your zine. Or those of us who just want to consume whatever we can get our hands on.

things that work for me:

security envelopes are always a go to, wallpaper that is high contrasted and inverted then photocopied again in a lighter tone.

Really its just about finding good texture and learning how to manipulate it thru the photocopier without making it take attention away from the text.

As a zine reader, either way is fine with me -- as long as the type is readable. Of course, I expect zines to use cutting edge/experimental graphic design, but I do expect there to be a design sense in charge (any, design sense). Preferably, with some empathy for the reader. Though, I know that is always the case and sometimes THAT can work too.

As a zinester, I am pretty meek; black type, white paper. I prefer a zen aesthetic. What is the sound of one page turning, grasshopper?

I've always been one to lean toward less, but I recently made a friend with a zine and cut up a tattoo magazine for backgrounds. For my first collages, I think they're pretty good. 

I like a lot of different things when it comes to zines, as long as it suits the overall creation. But I will say I get a little less interested when I see very little text on white. An all-text zine or no background is fine by me, but when something that could have fit into a mini-zine is double-spaced, given huge margins, and stays at a small font... That looks wasteful to me. 

(I really don't want to offend anyone by saying that, though. To each their own, and I've still read and enjoyed zines that had that look.)



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