We Make Zines

a place for zinesters - writers and readers

So...college and beyond. This is my 'I-really-really-want-that' dream that I want to pursue: Become a 'pro-zinester'...My own publishing, buttons, organize events, the works...ect. Is there a certain major in college I should go for?? What did you guys do?

Tags: college, future, the

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I dropped out of college twice and just made zines and indulged in relationships with other people who created zines. I got involved and volunteered with zine stuff like the IPRC and the Portland ZIne Symposium. Over the course of about 15 years it all just developed organically from who I am and what my values are.
I have only an associates degree in Social Sciences and i have a 40 hour a week gig to pay the bills as a loan auditor for a credit union. Zines are my total extracurricular. I rejected taking creative writing classes in college because the reason I write zines is because I hate the rules of "proper" writing and I don't want to follow them. I spend nearly all of my free time researching zines, reading zines, contacting zinesters and I have been doing that for about the past 13 years. Now that i have the stable job with stable hours and my own home and such, I decided that i had the time and energy to open a zine distro. Not to mention how much work I've put in with Sarah the past three years on the Richmond Zine Fest... which i can tell you... can be quite backbreaking... and there is NO class that can teach you how to juggle that sort of thing.

The problem with following a schooling plan because you are interested in zines is the simple fact that zines exist to overcome and overturn "right" and "wrong" ways of writing, layout, design, sales, distribution, etc. And well... school exists to teach you "right" and "wrong" ways of doing things.

The best way to learn how to write zines is to just DO.
this post has got to be a joke.

that said, i majored in creative writing in college. i actually think i did learn things from my classes that i have applied to my writing 10+ years later. i know nicole said above me that she writes zines because she rejects the rules of "proper" writing, but...proper writing is awesome & i wish to god that more zinesters paid attention to grammar, editing, show-don't-tell, maybe don't be hackneyed & cliched as a writer, etc. but whatever. some of that shit, you can't teach, as i learned the hard way workshopping in college.

i run a zine distro now & i have toyed with the idea of going back to school & getting a business degree...partly because i really like math & would like to learn how to do accounting & business plan stuff for non-profits & other radical groups, & partly so i can better understand the financial aspect of running a distro. no one can teach you how to pick out zines & package orders--you just have to do it & go with your gut. but learning accounting can be helpful when, like me, you are dealing with hundreds & hundreds of dollars every month. i work it out without any degree at all, but...maybe someday.

with all that said...zines are one of those things you just have to DO, & the only place you are likely to learn anything is maybe in zine workshops or talking to zinesters. no college degree is going to help you be a "pro zinester".
I suppose if your goal is to start any sort of business a degree in business would be a good idea. However trying to make a living via zines is like trying to make a living playing Scrabble or Donkey Kong. It's not that it can't be done, it's just that it's not terribly likely and a lot of things would have to fall into place for it to happen.

As for creative writing classes vs no writing classes at all- I know of some great writers who just operate off of pure instinct and I know of some awful writers who have degrees and can do everything right technically but are just boring to read. i took one community college creative writing class and the key thing that i learned was that a lot of people enjoy writing but just aren't terribly good at it. It was an easy A and I enjoyed being the star of the class, but the best way to learn writing is to just write.

Though I do wish my grammar was better. That'd be good to know.
well add me to that list of 2 people who give you respect!! man, the zine world....well, not just the zine world - the publishing world in general, is crazy-hard to break into, yet you did! that's really cool. and you totally described my town to a 't': there is NO punk scene, (punk, to 'our type' is driving a ford vs. a chevy...) there are no zine-fests...my zine was the first in the area...and when it came out people asked me what a ZYNE was...like - pronouned so rhyme with SIGN!! Haa...it's kind of funny to think back on the weird culture-difference.

Sarah said:
Please tell me you're joking.
Become an English major if you want to focus on the writing. Art if you prefer design.
For everything else, I dunno, a business major? Although I've never met a zinester with a business degree. Most have English or Art degrees, if they have degrees at all.
Just be sure you want to go to college. You don't need to spend thousands of dollars of your parents/the government's money if all you want to do is make zines and buttons.

You just go out and do it. Just keep an eye on quality please, and understand that event organizing in particular is a lot of hard and oftentimes frustrating work, especially if you do not really live in a city or town that is zine-oriented, full of lazy haters, or there aren't a lot of DIY/punk spaces in general. It's not glamourous, it isn't going to make you automatically popular, and it's pretty fucking thankless actually. I put a good 6 months of work by myself for the first year of the Richmond Zine Fest before the core group was formed, and the core group did not form until roughly 4 months before the first zine fest. Now with most of the core group intact + some new people, we're going into the third year. Granted, everyone in the group has been making zines from anywhere between 4 and 15 years, and we want to do the best job possible each year.

Just understand that if you're going to try to do all this while in college, something is going to get sacrificed. I sacrificed most of my college years dropping in and out of college for setting up punk & hardcore shows and running a zine distro and occasionally putting out zines and teaching zine workshops. I went back to college last year at the age of 27 to finish my BA because this shit doesn't pay the rent...that, and I found what I actually want to do with my life, and it involves having to go to grad school to achieve it.

I should make business cards that say "Professional former zinester" on it. I'm sure I would gain the respect of at least 2 people with that card.
i love that - "the best way to learn how to write zines is to just DO"....

not THAT should be on a button...:) wear it proud!!

NicoleIntrovert said:
I have only an associates degree in Social Sciences and i have a 40 hour a week gig to pay the bills as a loan auditor for a credit union. Zines are my total extracurricular. I rejected taking creative writing classes in college because the reason I write zines is because I hate the rules of "proper" writing and I don't want to follow them. I spend nearly all of my free time researching zines, reading zines, contacting zinesters and I have been doing that for about the past 13 years. Now that i have the stable job with stable hours and my own home and such, I decided that i had the time and energy to open a zine distro. Not to mention how much work I've put in with Sarah the past three years on the Richmond Zine Fest... which i can tell you... can be quite backbreaking... and there is NO class that can teach you how to juggle that sort of thing.

The problem with following a schooling plan because you are interested in zines is the simple fact that zines exist to overcome and overturn "right" and "wrong" ways of writing, layout, design, sales, distribution, etc. And well... school exists to teach you "right" and "wrong" ways of doing things.

The best way to learn how to write zines is to just DO.
I don't think you need a degree to be a zinester, certainly not a business one...that teaches you the skills of how to work in business and about other bussinesses...not really relevant, do whatever degree you fancy doing really, you don't need to have a specific goal, do what interests you and you're much more likely to get the most from it.
i'm thinking about journalism...

then maybe my master's in photography...

either way - i want to continue making zines for fun as long as i can...:).
totally - not a soul in my town/area/anyone in a 30 mile area had ever even heard of WMZ or how to make a zine...so this definitely isn't my best bet to get with locals. i got on here to make connections with the 'foreign lands'...like the big scene down in oregon and such. me and my friends are basically creating the zine-culture up here...and the more connections we can make, the better. there is no local scene.

i'm really diggin' the idea of leaving samples in coffeeshops and local businesses. we got asked to put a stack in our local quilt-shop...so that's a first step! :). i'll always be proud whenever i think of that old lady's shop...

Sarah said:
Yeah, um, actually I pretty much consider my zines the least remarkable thing about my time in the zine community. I'm just good at organizing/being organized.

Seriously, it's not something you break into. You just do it. If you do good work, you earn respect. Supposedly. I like to think so, but I've been proven wrong several times, which is kind of why I don't make zines anymore.

Richmond, Virginia has a punk scene (we are the home of Avail and the former home of Strike Anywhere afterall), but zines are/were given little respect. Almost the entire zine community here died out in 2001 when it became impossible to scam Kinkos anymore. From the Richmond Zine Fest from 2006-now, I've learned that 1) you never know who is making zines in your community because 2) not everyone who makes zines is an internet nerd who wastes time on sites like these.

So if you're trying to find more people who make zines in your town, fliers might be a good option. Or just leaving your zine around in certain places like coffeeshops or whatever.

I reiterate: not everyone who makes zines is an internet nerd. Do not depend on LJ and sites like WMZ to find people in your town. They're good to an extent, but not the end-all be-all for zine community stuff, especially local things.



Chloe Rambo said:
well add me to that list of 2 people who give you respect!! man, the zine world....well, not just the zine world - the publishing world in general, is crazy-hard to break into, yet you did! that's really cool. and you totally described my town to a 't': there is NO punk scene, (punk, to 'our type' is driving a ford vs. a chevy...) there are no zine-fests...my zine was the first in the area...and when it came out people asked me what a ZYNE was...like - pronouned so rhyme with SIGN!! Haa...it's kind of funny to think back on the weird culture-difference.

Sarah said:
Please tell me you're joking.
Become an English major if you want to focus on the writing. Art if you prefer design.
For everything else, I dunno, a business major? Although I've never met a zinester with a business degree. Most have English or Art degrees, if they have degrees at all.
Just be sure you want to go to college. You don't need to spend thousands of dollars of your parents/the government's money if all you want to do is make zines and buttons.

You just go out and do it. Just keep an eye on quality please, and understand that event organizing in particular is a lot of hard and oftentimes frustrating work, especially if you do not really live in a city or town that is zine-oriented, full of lazy haters, or there aren't a lot of DIY/punk spaces in general. It's not glamourous, it isn't going to make you automatically popular, and it's pretty fucking thankless actually. I put a good 6 months of work by myself for the first year of the Richmond Zine Fest before the core group was formed, and the core group did not form until roughly 4 months before the first zine fest. Now with most of the core group intact + some new people, we're going into the third year. Granted, everyone in the group has been making zines from anywhere between 4 and 15 years, and we want to do the best job possible each year.

Just understand that if you're going to try to do all this while in college, something is going to get sacrificed. I sacrificed most of my college years dropping in and out of college for setting up punk & hardcore shows and running a zine distro and occasionally putting out zines and teaching zine workshops. I went back to college last year at the age of 27 to finish my BA because this shit doesn't pay the rent...that, and I found what I actually want to do with my life, and it involves having to go to grad school to achieve it.

I should make business cards that say "Professional former zinester" on it. I'm sure I would gain the respect of at least 2 people with that card.
I'm not sure why anybody would assume the question was a joke. A "pro zinester" is just a "small press publisher" who does it for a living.

Like a lot of other things, the best training is experience.
I grew in in Utah. My connection to the world was my post box. I hardly knew anyone who knew what zines were and the postal system was my life line. Zines aren't about "scenes", although being around other people who create zines is nice, but I think zines are about the individual people creating awesome publications on their own terms and then sharing them with the world.

Chloe Rambo said:
totally - not a soul in my town/area/anyone in a 30 mile area had ever even heard of WMZ or how to make a zine...so this definitely isn't my best bet to get with locals. i got on here to make connections with the 'foreign lands'...like the big scene down in oregon and such. me and my friends are basically creating the zine-culture up here...and the more connections we can make, the better. there is no local scene.

i'm really diggin' the idea of leaving samples in coffeeshops and local businesses. we got asked to put a stack in our local quilt-shop...so that's a first step! :). i'll always be proud whenever i think of that old lady's shop...

Sarah said:
Yeah, um, actually I pretty much consider my zines the least remarkable thing about my time in the zine community. I'm just good at organizing/being organized.

Seriously, it's not something you break into. You just do it. If you do good work, you earn respect. Supposedly. I like to think so, but I've been proven wrong several times, which is kind of why I don't make zines anymore.

Richmond, Virginia has a punk scene (we are the home of Avail and the former home of Strike Anywhere afterall), but zines are/were given little respect. Almost the entire zine community here died out in 2001 when it became impossible to scam Kinkos anymore. From the Richmond Zine Fest from 2006-now, I've learned that 1) you never know who is making zines in your community because 2) not everyone who makes zines is an internet nerd who wastes time on sites like these.

So if you're trying to find more people who make zines in your town, fliers might be a good option. Or just leaving your zine around in certain places like coffeeshops or whatever.

I reiterate: not everyone who makes zines is an internet nerd. Do not depend on LJ and sites like WMZ to find people in your town. They're good to an extent, but not the end-all be-all for zine community stuff, especially local things.



Chloe Rambo said:
well add me to that list of 2 people who give you respect!! man, the zine world....well, not just the zine world - the publishing world in general, is crazy-hard to break into, yet you did! that's really cool. and you totally described my town to a 't': there is NO punk scene, (punk, to 'our type' is driving a ford vs. a chevy...) there are no zine-fests...my zine was the first in the area...and when it came out people asked me what a ZYNE was...like - pronouned so rhyme with SIGN!! Haa...it's kind of funny to think back on the weird culture-difference.

Sarah said:
Please tell me you're joking.
Become an English major if you want to focus on the writing. Art if you prefer design.
For everything else, I dunno, a business major? Although I've never met a zinester with a business degree. Most have English or Art degrees, if they have degrees at all.
Just be sure you want to go to college. You don't need to spend thousands of dollars of your parents/the government's money if all you want to do is make zines and buttons.

You just go out and do it. Just keep an eye on quality please, and understand that event organizing in particular is a lot of hard and oftentimes frustrating work, especially if you do not really live in a city or town that is zine-oriented, full of lazy haters, or there aren't a lot of DIY/punk spaces in general. It's not glamourous, it isn't going to make you automatically popular, and it's pretty fucking thankless actually. I put a good 6 months of work by myself for the first year of the Richmond Zine Fest before the core group was formed, and the core group did not form until roughly 4 months before the first zine fest. Now with most of the core group intact + some new people, we're going into the third year. Granted, everyone in the group has been making zines from anywhere between 4 and 15 years, and we want to do the best job possible each year.

Just understand that if you're going to try to do all this while in college, something is going to get sacrificed. I sacrificed most of my college years dropping in and out of college for setting up punk & hardcore shows and running a zine distro and occasionally putting out zines and teaching zine workshops. I went back to college last year at the age of 27 to finish my BA because this shit doesn't pay the rent...that, and I found what I actually want to do with my life, and it involves having to go to grad school to achieve it.

I should make business cards that say "Professional former zinester" on it. I'm sure I would gain the respect of at least 2 people with that card.
i'm with alex. i grew up in ohio. i was the only person i knew who was making zines. even my closest friends, who were feminists & into punk music to some degree, thought zines were a self-indulgent waste of time. i didn't even tell them i made zines. i just mailed them to people & had pen pals. & slowly, as i grew up, i got to know more people in real life who made zines, or at least knew what they were & were interested in them. but even when i had a lot of "real-life" friends who were making zines, we didn't really talk about zines much. we would give each other zines & talk about really good zines we'd read recently, but our friendships were based on other things. when zines are really important to you, it can be nice to have people around you who at least have a clue as to what zines are, but a "local zine scene" really isn't necessary to still make cool zines & get your zines out into the world. mail is still your best friend in that respect.

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