A to Zine

A to Zine - student project

This will be my first attempt at a traditional paper zine. I got my hands on a copy of Adobe InDesign a while back, and did experiment with making a six-issue digital zine, which, as it turns out, is a whole lotta work! (http://tinajett.com/spoon) I can already see lots of other topics that can incorporate illustration, collage, and photography. It's the perfect way to flesh out ideas I have that, until now, haven't found the right medium.

This first paper zine is tentatively called "A to Zine: A Useless-Trivia Look at the Alphabet". Over the course of more than a year, I sporadically illustrated each letter of the alphabet using a topic that started with that letter. They were done digitally on a blackboard image, and I lessened the opacity of the illustration a bit to make it look more like chalk.

A to Zine - image 1 - student project

I thought about the usual course of making prints of each letter, but then it seemed that turning the project into a zine some day also made sense. So, here we are!

I'm envisioning one side of the spread to have the illustrated image, and the other side to have both a general fact about the topic, and then a "Did you know?" tidbit that's a little more zeroed-in.

A to Zine - image 2 - student project

What I know so far:

  • The pages will be made with a copy machine, on regular paper, in black and white. Crossing my fingers that the chalkboard effect actually comes through.
  • The overall size will be roughly a quarter-page, 4.25" x 5.5", depending on how it is bound.
  • I'll need 14 pieces of paper (7 full-sized sheets, printed front & back, and cut in half). This will give me 56 counted pages inside the cover.
  • The cover will be on white card stock.
  • Initial run of about 10 copies to see how it goes.
  • If all goes well, I hope to sell this (and maybe individual letter prints) in my shop.

What I don't know:

  • How to best bind it. Because there are 14 sheets + the cover, I could staple them, but then the edge will be uneven as the inside pages creep out due to thickness. I could cut off this edge to make it smooth, but then it would also affect the layout on the inside, as some pages would essentially be more narrow than others after cutting. This I shall explore!

A to Zine - image 3 - student project


Finally got back to working on (and finishing!) the zine. Here's what I ended up doing:

  • I added a digitally drawn wood frame around the illustrations, plus a little line border and pencil to the top and bottom of the fact pages. I layed everything out using InDesign, which is great for a large booklet and repeating layout. Once finished, I converted the file to a .pdf for printing.
  • The cover was printed at home using recycled paper. The striped spine border was also digitally applied with clipart to give it a composition notebook feel.
  • The inside pages were printed at Staples, by them, using their 28pt paper. This paper has a thicker feel than standard copier paper, and is what they use for double-sided printing. At first, I wanted to just use the cheap stuff, but with one side of each page having so much black ink, I opted for the 28pt. It only cost a few cents more per page and is more opaque than standard.
  • For binding, after cutting the sheets in half and folding them to quarter size, I paired them up in twos and stacked each set of two on top of each other. The amount of paper is too thick to staple on one fold, not to mention I would have had to trim down the edges and then ruin the layout of the inside. By stacking them, I was able to keep the open edge cleaner without needing to trim.
  • I used a heavy-duty stapler to bind close to the edge in three places. I just used the stapler that Staples had in their self-copy area, though the staples it was loaded with were, essentially, too long for my project. They ended up curling back around through the front of the book, which I just crimped down flat with a jewelry crimper I have on hand. I was going to buy my own heavy-duty stapler with the correct length staples, but that would have cost me close to about $40, which I didn't feel like spending right now for only ten zines.

A to Zine - image 4 - student project

Aside from the too-long staples, I am really pleased with the way the zine turned out. The remaining first-run batch is up for grabs in my Etsy shop.

A to Zine - image 5 - student project

A to Zine - image 6 - student project

Thanks to Grace for a great intro to a huge field of possibilities!

Tina Jett
Artist & Vintage Dealer