Creative Process

Creating a Zine: A Domestika Project

Accordion book on wooden table depicting abstract art

The first class I bought from Domestika was Design and Illustration of a Fanzine with Violeta Hernandez.

For most of my life, handmade books have had a special place in my heart. Whether they are sketchbooks or small publications. In the 90s, I used to dream I was part of the Riot Grrrls just to be able to make and buy all the gritty, photocopied, handwritten zines.

Later, in the early 2000s, I learned how to make handmade paper and, I bought a book about making books. The sad thing is, this project has been relegated to the shelf of “one day.”
It sits behind all other projects because in my mind, I need to have the perfect story, the ideal THING to say.

But I do have a few zines I’ve made over the years. Again, thinking that unless I had something extraordinary to say, I couldn’t make them public. In the meantime, you see, I’ve been drawing, painting, and making a lot of work.

An eight-page scene depicting illustrations of victorian ladies in oil pastel
Victorian Ladies
A small zine on a wooden table depicting oil pastel drawings
Random Drawings in oil Pastel

This year though, I will publish at least one zine, but as with art, I was always swaying from one side to another: do I want to make artist books? Are they the same as a zine? Or should I make zines and not an artist book?

Does it have to be one or the other?
Why do I always get stuck between black or white?
Can it be a half-artist book, half zine?

This Domestika class is an exploration into Zines’ and a super detailed course on drawing with graphite. This time around, I understood so much more about the nuances of shading, aspects of composition, types of zines, possibilities plus a long list of resources to learn even more, including links, documentaries, reference images, etc.

A small zine standing vertical depicting a lighthouse in oil pastel
A light house in oil pastel

I decide to tackle this class in its entirety. If you’ve read my blog for a while, you might have read how I didn’t want project-based classes where you follow what the teacher does to produce a copy of the artwork. This is why comparing Domestika vs Skillshare, I prefer Domestika anytime. I’m not interested in painting or creating what the teacher is creating. I want to see the process and then apply the process to my own work.

My challenge is to do this class again, watching the lessons, visiting the resources, and doing each activity.
By the end, I intend to have an artist book/zine that I will be happy with.
Hopefully, it will also open the door to making them part of my body of work.

So why a Zine/Artist book?

In one word: independence. While I don’t want to use the word freedom, it is, in a way, the idea of not being limited by anything. You can make a publication with one sheet of letter paper or create sophisticated, artistic books.

A concertina or accordion sketchbook depicting abstract art
A concertina book with abstract art in acrylic and wax pastel

Also, you are free from financial pressure. You do not aim to live from your zine. You maybe even lose money, but this is freedom in itself.

Making art gives us this nagging feeling that we need to monetize it, either because we have individual aspirations or need a way to finance art materials. A zine is purely a means to combine what you want to say without many rules.

You make your own constraints, and you produce it.

In my case, I want to combine my own writing with my own illustrations. I’m not sure about the topic, but since

Zines offer certain privacy. They are physical objects; if you write about non-mainstream topics, it will be easier to explore a difficult topic than if you wrote about it online. For me, topics such as child freedom, the right for medical assistance to die, my own voice disorder, etc. are things I want to write about, but I don’t want to do it online.

A small zine depicting clouds and strormy skies with cut out poetry
Zine with cut out poetry

So when I bought this class, I hoped that it would magically make me publish my zine, but then I was in a different place. I focused the drawing part much more than doing the work of planning and working in stages.

A small zine depicting a forest with cut out poetry
Small zine with cut out poetry

While I completed other classes, I gained confidence in my drawing and painting. Now it seems a good time to revisit this one.

I will be sharing process photos and probably process videos on Patreon. I could use a little cheering! If I do this, I will finally say I made a zine.

Other Resources for zine and bookmaking:

Unconventional Book Structures

Daily Book Art Challenge: A month of book art ideas

Creation of an Illustrated Foldable Book (I will do this class again next month!)

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