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What Is an Art Zine?

By Angela Farrer
Updated May 23, 2024
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An art zine is a self-published magazine that typically has a specific focus on one certain medium or area of the art world. Zines are traditionally collections of drawings, written work, photos, and other artwork that are printed and distributed to people with the same interests. Some zines have developed a following of devoted fans and are as polished as any professional art magazine. The Internet has brought the art zine into the digital realm, and any artist or art enthusiast can easily create a zine with the potential to reach millions of online readers.

As opposed to most art books found in stores, art zines are self-published works. Their creators may or may not be professional artists, and some zines have open requests for anyone to submit unique material. The idea behind these art zines is that everyone has something of value to contribute. Some popular art media covered in zines include photography, mixed media, sculpture, and design crafts. Art zines can also range from family-friendly to X-rated, and their material can be as varied as different artists' ideas.

Tools for creating a do-it-yourself (DIY) zine are no longer limited to drawing supplies and a copy machine. Even beginner art zine publishers take advantage of digital creation platforms, including software for illustration, image editing, and Web publishing. Some online art zine issues include works of digital animation as well. Several Web-based publishing platforms allow zine publishers to create every step of an issue and immediately make it available for distribution.

One of the popular formats for art zines is that of an art comic book. Many of these zines focus on the style of Japanese animation known as anime. Artists who hope to publish anime graphic novels can gain exposure by submitting installments of their stories to a well-known anime art zine. Feedback from other zine readers and contributors can be just as valuable as that from a traditional publisher.

Well-executed zines have gained reputations as good sources of inspiration for artists of any level. A number of digital art zines include images or templates that readers are free to modify and use for their own creations. These readers are then encouraged to share how they used the original work with the rest of the art zine readers.

Some art zines have been around for years, growing extensive enough to have both printed and online versions. These zines often give equal importance to art and writing, with different material published in the two versions. These types of zines can also focus more on the local art scenes of certain cities or regions.

Language & Humanities is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.

Discussion Comments

By whiteplane — On May 02, 2012

I had a friend who used to make his own art zine. It was basically a way for him to show his doodles off to people he didn't know. He did little sketches and comics, nothing that was technically that hard to do but all of it was funny or clever.

He ended up getting an offer to make a book of his comics and that led to a weekly gig with the alternative weekly in town. Now he is a minor celebrity in the local comics world and makes his living from comics alone. Not bad for having started with a homemade zine.

By gravois — On May 02, 2012

Art zines are a great way to see what is really happening on the avant-garde of art. The most forward thinking art never shows up in museums or major galleries or the big art publications. Like all challenging art, it exists in obscurity.

For this reason it can be really hard to know what is going on out there, especially in cities besides your own. Art zines art often the most careful and creative archives of a place and time that is largely going unnoticed. I have a pretty substantial collection of them from around the country and I would not sell them for a billion bucks.

By chivebasil — On May 01, 2012

I used to make my own art zine called Wide Ruled. I would include my own art, the art of my fiends, and anything related to the art scene in St. Louis where I lived. It was a lot of fun and I was able to publish issues pretty consistently every two months for about three years.

I finally had to stop because the printing costs got so high. The zine was always free and that was one of my most important principles. As long as it existed it would not cost anyone but me any money. It got to the point where I couldn't keep publishing it without running myself into the poor house so I had to move it online. Now it is a blog and it is free for all.

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