Skip to Main Content

Fine Art

Fine Art subject guide

What is a zine?

The word 'zine' comes from the word 'fanzine' so emerged originally from the 1930s as fans of science fiction produced these 'fanzines'. These non traditional publications are self-published (written/edited, illustrated, copied, assembled, and distributed); they are motivated by desire for communication or self-expression (not profit, fame, or a grade). They generally have their roots in social and political activism e.g punk, LGBTQ+ etc and are usually a small publication which tend to be produced from materials to hand by individuals, photocopied and distributed cheaply.  Zines have a small distribution (5-3000 copies) and are underground or alternative in content or flavour; they are free of paid advertising.   They are a popular medium in the art and design world but they are also produced for all sorts of reasons - music zines, travel zines, literary zines.  The modern zine bears little resemblance to it's cousin 'fanzine'.

Why are they important?

  • They provide an alternative point of view - something is said by someone who wants to express it.
  • Producing a zine allows individual expression - no editorial board - simply a direct link to an individual's opinion or artistic expression.
  • Zines provide insight into today's modern popular culture - a direct and unfiltered view of an individual's interpretation at the time.
  • Historically important - letters were a principal form of communication but in our digital world, a lot of this type of history is disappearing.  If we don't preserve zines, historians will have to write about our era from secondary sources.

Referencing zines

It might be more difficult to reference a zine as not all zines have all the details on the zine itself.  It may be worth searching online for more information about the zine publication.  If the zine is catalogued in the Library, you may also find more information on the Library catalogue record.  When citing zines, always respect the privacy of the author. Only use their name if it is on the zine itself.  They may also use a pseudonym which you can use in your reference.

Possible information may include:
  • Author name
  • Title of the zine
  • Issue or volume number if provided
  • Date created 
  • Place of creation - where did the author live when they wrote the zine
Example references:

Example of a zine with an author, date, and place of creation:

Berggren, H. (2022). Birdface [zine]. Glasgow, UK.

Example of zine without an author:

Afterlife [zine] (2018). Boston, MA.

Example of zine without author, date or place of creation:

I don't like it when you speak like that [zine].

Books in the Library

Zines reading list

zines reading list image

Suggest a zine!

Zine archives and websites