fold zine

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SKETCHY BEHAVIORS | Heather Benjamin (RH)

Through her dense and detailed packed line drawings to her more focused ink brush pieces, Rhode Island based artist Heather Benjamin’s work is visceral, cathartic, and autobiographical. It offers a completely unapologetic and unflinching look into an artists’ own struggles with life, body image, self confidence, and sexuality.  We find her and her art to be inspirational, honest and badass.

We recently ran into Heather at her booth at the LA Art Book Fair and caught up with her a few months later to ask about her art, her experiences at RISD, her influences, and her thoughts about her work and her life. 

Photographs courtesy of the artist.

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anonymous asked:

Hello, do you have any zine making tips or tricks for a novice?

hi anon, yes I do! the process of making zines is one of the most empowering and healing things I’ve ever taken on, I’m really glad you’re even thinking about. 

  • tap into your favorite influences + inspiration from others but remember that the most magical part of a zine is that it’s your individual input. your personal touches and ideas are what make the zine special. as many parallels run through our experiences, your individual mind is one of a kind; don’t be shy to highlight that.   
  • there is no official format or template that you have to follow. mini-zines (folded from a single sheet of 8.5″ by 11″), large poster zines, standard size zines (made from folded 8.5″ by 11″ paper), fabric zines, etc. you can stick w/ tested tried formats or you can also just make up your own. honestly, no one can stop you. 
  • not every zine you make needs to see the light of ‘public’ day. it’s ok to make a zine and realize, eh, maybe this is just for me. I have a really big collection of personal mini zines that I never intend to zerox or distribute. 
  • work with things you’ve already got lying around. the best part about making zines is that they can be made with a found pen and found paper — you don’t need to spend any money on the process (unless you decide to make copies/distribute which, in my opinion, is the absolute most boring part of zine making). I nearly always make the templates for my zines from used/found paper and old magazines (for collage material). It’s a great way to give new life to stale stuff that’s maybe considered trash but is really just zine fuel. 
  • silence those crushing judgements from your inner critic. if you listen to every negative thing you tell yourself during the process (the following is from my own inner dialogue, not trying to impose any negativity) “ugh, this looks stupid / that drawing is dumb / I hate this ____ / etc.” then the zine will never get to do its thing. unless you’re already self-supportive + kind to your own output (which is so rad!) then don’t be hard on yourself as you begin to un-learn being your own worst critic. zine making is a great meditation on confronting + healing from your own internalized pains/judgements towards yourself.
  • this is cheesy af but I need to say it: have a really great time making your zine. zine making is a chance to express yourself, idea(s), visions w/ 0 filter or censoring. it’s a chance for you to be in control of how/what you say. yes, you can have fun! 
  • with that last point said, if you decide to publish your zine: you are RESPONSIBLE for your output. yes, you’re free to do/make anything you want, but that is not a license to put out toxic shit. your energy/output has effects on people, believe it or not. I really hope this is not the case, but if you’re creating offensive, hateful, problematic material, by having created that output, you need to be held accountable + responsible for what you’ve put out into the world. please be mindful and respectful of the communities in which you circulate your material. zines have a real potency and ability to affect people’s minds - use that energy for good, not harm. 

goodnightgoodnight  asked:

How does one make a zine? Or, alternatively, do you mind explaining your particular zine process? I'm interested in making my own

Y’all don’t even know how happy I am when I get this question.

Okay, so, if anyone doesn’t already know, a zine is a wish your heart makes magazine/pamphlet/book-type creation. It’s usually self-published/published small-scale, and either sold, given away, traded, given to a distributor, or even just made for yourself. Because of the way they don’t require any outside permission or input to be made, they can and are made about pretty much anything under the sun. Poetry, diaries, art, collage, fiction, reviews, propaganda, advice, etc, etc forever. 

Sooo, given the individuality of zinemaking, there are about ten million ways (approximately) to make them. You can probably find tutorials online that go into detail with sewing, gluing, stapling, or whatever.

My personal favorite zine process is the folding method. I’m a college student/librarian who doesn’t often have access to a lot of office supplies or special sized paper, so it’s nice because you don’t need staples or anything else like that, just paper and something to write/draw on it with.

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The advent of low-cost printing and the widespread use of the internet have radically democratized the publishing process and it’s now easier than ever to self-publish and find yourself an audience.

I’ve been self-publishing zines of my photography and writing for years and I’ve always found the process rewarding.

The DIY ethos of zine-making has translated into my other creative works and I’ve done a number of other projects in a similar way. I run a gallery called B Rad out of the hallway of my house and I’ve curated a number of shows in there and elsewhere.

Recently, in collaboration with Iklect, I curated the Grip Thumb show in London, which was an exhibition of art on grip; an often overlooked art within skate culture.

I also run a skate zine called Radulthood, which I started as a reaction to traditional skate media. Instead of having a magazine filled with images of the biggest, hardest new trick at a notorious spot, I wanted to create a zine which was tethered to the philosophy of skateboarding and in particular the relationship between the skater and his local skate park. All the collaborators, whether visual or written, had strong ties to skateboarding and instead of having glossy photos of tricks at the park, I chose to feature illustrations inspired by the skate park space instead.

As well as that, I’ve also recently released my first photography book, Second Adolescence, which launched at Doomed Gallery in April. I released the book through a publisher called Blue Monday Press that I set up. I’m hoping I can use it as a platform to publish mine and other artists work in the future. As I write this, I’m in a Blue Monday Press hosted pop up shop in Brighton which is selling a variety of zines, books, tees, and prints, and hopefully this will be the first of many more.

That’s enough background on me, back to the original question. Why self publish? Well, there’s a lot of reasons really.

Firstly, it’s easy. The hardest part of self publishing something is the actual content inside and making sure it’s something you’re happy with. The steps you take once you have your content are very simple.

Next, you’re able to work at your own pace and to your own schedule. There are no deadlines, except the ones you set yourself, and no-one is telling you this needs to be done by a certain time. You are free to release it when you are happy with your final product and it’s ready as soon as you say it is.

You don’t need any approval to self-publish something. You don’t have to wait around for a publisher to give you a green light or edit your work to someone else’s standards. It can look exactly how you want it and you can put whatever you want into it.

You set your own budget. This means you can decide how big your print run is and how much you think your project is worth. Not only that, if you’re fronting the money to get something made, you know you’re going to really have to be desperate to put it out and you won’t waste your time and money making a half-arsed project.

Also having a physical project makes you more likely to find your audience. A physical object is easier to appreciate and a much nicer way to experience a project than as a digital file on a computer screen. A physical product is much more memorable too, unlike the constant array of digital images we’re exposed to every day. An object is likelier to stick in the mind.

Moreover, you will learn how to create a body of work as opposed to a great single image. Often in art, the emphasis is placed on one singular great image but people are not taught how to construct a coherent body of work. If you’re working within the confines of the book structure, you will need to create a central theme or narrative that will run through-out and tie everything together.

Finally, and very importantly, self-publishing will make you into a do-er as opposed to a talker. There’s no point talking about that project you wish you could do if you had the money if you never plan to back it yourself. Figure out your budget and do it as best as you can within that. At least you’ll have done something.

Now, you’ve decided that you want to self-publish a project. What do you do? Well, there’s no limit to it.

You should make something you want to see that will combine your passion and your craft. My first zine was called Concrete Canvas and combined my passion for skateboarding with my craft, photography. I wanted to publish my skate photography with an essay setting the context for the images so they could be understood by a wider audience than only skateboarders. I wrote an essay laying out my theories on skateboarding in relationship to the urban environment, to explain my view of skateboarding as an art of movement in reaction to the urban space. Combine your craft with your passion to make something you would be excited to see. If you love poetry and nature, write yourself an anthology of nature poems.

You should make something difficult. I’m by no means a natural writer and I found it hard to write the essay in Concrete Canvas but it’s important that you earn your project. If you’re not excited by what you’ve made, why would anyone else be? Don’t just put out a zine of some drawings you did, set yourself a hard project that you will be proud to finish and share.

With regards to my photography, I have two rules for photo projects. I want each individual photo to have an implicit narrative and I want there to be a narrative built into the zine or book so you take the audience on some kind of journey from beginning to end.

The narrative implied in the photo is very important to me. I like photographs that have a mysterious past and future. The photo on this slide is of an almost gladitorial scene. The lone skater facing a huge crowd about to take his run. You don’t know how the scence arose and you don’t know what happened afterwards but your imagination can conjure up both. I like that in a photo.

Narrative within a project is important for me to. I dislike books or zines which are simply a ‘best of’ album of a photographer’s work. It’s much more exciting to see a photo book which reads like a book and you can see characters evolve from beginning to end, even if it’s simply the photographer’s journey from a to b. I find it also sticks with me more if I read a book with a narrative. I find it easier to describe it to someone else, as opposed to simply saying I liked a certain single picture.

So, you’ve decided to self-publish, you’ve got all your content ready, now what? There’s a few different ways to do it.

The traditional way to make a zine is to stick your text and images onto a piece of A4 paper, make as many pages as you like, then photocopy it, fold it, and staple it. There you go, you’ve got a zine.

I like to use Indesign to make mine because I like having the ability to easily change the structure and images within a zine. Indesign is a simple programme to learn and I’d recommend it for all prospective book or zine makers. I will lay all my images out in spreads, export as a pdf, then send that file to a printer.

Alot of people print their own zines and I respect that a lot. I’m not a very precise or patient person when it comes to doing repetitive tasks so I don’t mind paying a little extra to have someone print and fold my zines. When ready to print, always make sure you shop around. Email a number of printers with your details (20 pages, color, 160gsm stock) and see which ones give you a good price. I’d also always recommend getting a proof. You don’t want to order 50 copies of your zine only to find you spelt something wrong on the first page.

For your first zine or self-published project, I’d definitely recommend funding it all yourself. With a budget of £50 you can still get a bunch of nicely printed black and white zines. I used Kickstarter for my Second Adolescence project because I knew my budget, knew I could deliver a nice product to my deadline, it was a project I had worked on for a year and was proud of, and I knew I had an audience who would be willing to back me. Fund yourself and make things until you get to that big project that you’re excited to give to people, and consider crowdfunding then but don’t do it until you’re ready.

Then what? You’ve published your first zine, you’ve got a box full of copies by your bed, what do you do now?

Do some trades! Find people who are in the same boat as you, they’ve made a few things, but they’re at a similar level to you creatively. It’s awesome to swap your art for other people’s art and it’s lovely when someone who’s work you like is excited to exchange it for your work. Coming home to a trade in the post is a great feeling.

Set up an online shop for your creation. You might not sell much at first but it’ll give people an option to support your art financially. People can’t buy something that isn’t for sale so give them that option.

You also should contact lots of blogs and magazines. People won’t know that you’ve made something unless you tell them. You’ll build contacts, build an audience, and spread the word about your work. Be careful who you send your stuff to though and know their audience. There’s no point sending a gritty street photography project to a high end fashion magazine. Accept that your work isn’t for everywhere and find the places that you fit.

Lastly and most importantly, get rejected and get better. If you want to make things and keep making things, you’re going to need to learn to handle rejection. People will say no, simply not like your work, and there will be a lot of sent emails that never receive a response. If someone doesn’t like your project, find out why and grow from that. When I first started making zines I tried to get them in shops. The paper was low quality, the images weren’t great and they said no. I took that on board and I’ve been more considered with the stock of my zines and the images featured.

It’s a long and steep learning curve to get better at your art but appreciate the journey and your next project will be your best yet.

Good luck!

Ben

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I made this little folding zine as an example to show some youth during a zine making workshop. I thought it was kind of cute so I actually made a few copies of it. 

Weird Plants is a folding art zine with illustrations of plants from the sewer. The zine has 8 pages, and folds out into a poster on pink marble patterned paper. 

Weird Plants measures 2.75" x 4.25". When unfolded the poster measures 8.5"x11".

Available on ETSY.

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MORE SCHOOL PROJECTS AHOY

Completed/started/finished this last night between the wee hours of 12-5:30am. I must be running on tea at this point. 

For the project, we were given the prompt “light and dark” and I chose to make a couple of superheros for it! The blonde one can sink into the shadows and the other guy can turn into light particles/create light balls.

This here is a silly one-page cut/fold-out zine about them! I cut out the pages for easy reading. Hope you enjoy!