Outside the Lines: Digital Zine Design

By Talius ChickeringDecember 5, 2016Last updated on June 18, 2021Editorial

Zine Design Inspiration from Digital Zines on Issuu

The world of zine’s (pronounced zeen) is filled with a vast array of beautifully constructed content, with almost limitless possibilities when it comes to the topic, creative process, and physical construction of the zine itself. For many creators, the process of creating a zine is truly one of passion, and the end result is often fuelled more so by self expression and creativity than generating profit on a large scale.

But what exactly is the difference between a magazine, and a zine?

At first glance it is easy to say that a zine is just a shorter magazine. But when you really dig into the history and creative process of zine creation the differences begin to emerge. The long history of zine’s begins in the 1700’s and often reflects the ground breaking ideas of counterculture movements and marginalized groups. Zine’s also are much more of a free form style of publication, as zine authors are not obligated to stick to any specific format or template. Ultimately, zines can become whatever the author desires!

Due to the extremely flexible and creative nature of zine’s, the zine world is constantly expanding and growing to include different types of creators, new content ideas, and new technological innovations-- such as publishing a zine on Issuu for an environmentally friendly way to distribute your content!

Let’s take a closer look at some of the different types of zines:

Collage Zine Design

Collage style zines are a classic way to put together a zine. They’ve been created this way by hand for decades, and more recently digitally as well. These are zines that put together different visual elements to create collages. Viewers are guided through said zines with eye-popping imagery and busy visuals. You can put these together by hand with scissors and adhesives, or digitally in Photoshop and similar photo apps. The topic of this particular zine reflects the massive popularity of zine’s in the punk movement of the 70’s and 80’s and presents an extremely interesting contrast with hand-cut and pasted clips being transferred to a digital flipbook format.

Journal/Sketchbook Zine Design

Some zine makers choose to turn their journals or sketchbooks into a zine. In a digital format, this involves scanning in pages that are hand-drawn and handwritten and compiling them. For physical zines, they tend to be photo copied for distribution. This format is a beautiful way to create zines with a hand-crafted feeling. This specific zine truly allows you to take a look inside the artist’s head, and gives you access to the beginning stages of their work. In many ways the zine feels intimate and exclusive.

Minimalist Zine Design

Many zine’s can be quite hectic, with a variety of artistic elements pasted together in interesting ways. However, certain zine creators choose a different approach. Some zines are quite minimal in their design, featuring only a limited color palette and one major design element per page. These are perfect for those who are working on digital zines, or for those authors who truly want to make a clear and concise point. The focused theme of this zine allows the reader to easily digest the information without having to wade through an overwhelming amount of stylistic elements.

Photo Zine Design

Photo zines are great for sharing from a specific photo series. Whether it is a collaborative effort or a single photographer’s work, photo zines tend to be quite minimal and good for showing off a single body of work, or theme of work. This format also allows smaller photographers or models to expand their audience and showcase their work on a micro-level without having to be a part of a large scale publication or firm. As this zine author highlights, digital photo zine’s can be the perfect place to include Instagram handles or external links to your social media account, website, or blog, using Issuu’s add links feature.

Comic Zine Design

As previously mentioned, zines often deal with the expression of meaningful artistic ideas or groundbreaking counterculture movements. However zine creation can often be much more of a lighthearted process. In many ways, zines are the perfect short-form format for a humorous comic or short story that only takes a few minutes to read and elicits a laugh in the reader. The zine below is the perfect example of an illustrator that chooses to make comic book style zines that tell a story, or a bunch of little stories that are very lighthearted and quite funny!

Freestyle Zine Design

Haven’t found a zine style that suits you best? That’s fine! The greatest part of zine culture is that there are truly no rules, find something that inspires you are create a zine in whatever way you would like. This is typically called freestyle zine design-- a combination of styles all put together to make one zine. These are for the creators who don’t want to stick to just one style for their zine, or collaborative groups with multiple styles coming together to create a zine. It’s the perfect non-style of zine design!

Zine’s are the perfect way for individual creatives or smaller groups to get started in the publishing world. Simply explore your passions and let your imagination go wild! 

When you have created a zine you love, publish it on Issuu to easily distribute your zine worldwide, implement the add links feature to link back to your social media/website/blog, use digital sales to generate some profit, and keep the creativity flowing!