As part of the background work for developing the ZELP workshop sessions, we sent out 3 surveys to different groups within the zine community: those who attend zine workshops, those who engage with zines generally and those who facilitate zine workshops.
Our aim was to find out about people’s experiences engaging with zines, what best practice for facilitating zine workshops and events are – and most of all, what people love about zines.
What do people find impactful about zines?
Of those who responded to the survey for workshop attendees, the majority shared that the most impactful thing about zine making is the opportunity to explore new art forms. Similarly, on the engagement questionnaire the majority of respondents shared that the art form is what makes them engage with zines.
This suggests that there is something about the art-form of zine making that really stands out to people as a unique process.
Other factors that encourage people to engage with zines and the broader zine community are:
Meeting new people
Learning about new topics
themes of zines or workshops
Method being explored
Getting feedback on their work
What do people like about zines?
Across all surveys, workshop attendee’s, facilitators and engagers alike shared common things that they valued about zines. These were that zines:
Don’t require any expertise for engagement
Are inherently inclusive of different people, abilities and allow marginalised people to have their voices heard
Can help you to organise your thoughts
Create community and opportunities to connect with others
Are low cost to make
Allow for and promote creative freedom
“MAKING ZINES HAS BECOME A KEY WAY FOR ME TO TALK ABOUT THE THINGS I DESPERATELY WANT TO SHARE BUT KNOW NO ONE REALLY CARES ABOUT. I WRITE A LOT ABOUT GRIEF AND STORIES OF MY LOVED ONES WHO ARE NO LONGER WITH US, AND CONTRIBUTING TO AND MAKING MY OWN ZINES HAS MEANT I GET TO EXPLORE THAT AND MAKE SOMETHING TANGIBLE OUT OF THOSE FEELINGS.”
Why are zines a good way of engaging with mental health topics?
Across the surveys, there was a consensus that zines are a great way to engage people in conversations about mental health because:
They provide a creative outlet
They’re a way of communicating with others and connecting with others with shared experiences
They can help to distil big questions into something tangible
They facilitate activism and help you to practise finding your voice and sharing your experiences
“SOME PEOPLE MAY BE QUITE SHY TALKING ABOUT MENTAL HEALTH OUT LOUD, BUT WHEN IT COMES TO DOING SOMETHING WITH YOUR HANDS, IT GIVES ANOTHER ROUTE TO EXPRESS THAT.” – ZINE WORKSHOP ATTENDEE
What might you need to be aware of if using zines to talk about mental health?
While there was wide spread agreement across the survey responses that zine-making is a great activity to use to talk about mental health, there were also some common things highlighted that facilitators should be aware of. These were:
Some people might find it hard it hard to open up and share openly in a group setting
The content could be potentially triggering for some people
As zines are so accessible, there is a risk that misinformation about mental health could be communicated – either intentionally or unintentionally
Zines don’t suit everyone – not everyone will enjoy making zines or engaging with them
“ZINES ARE A GREAT WAY TO EXPLORE MENTAL HEALTH ISSUES, BUT THEY MIGHT OPEN UP A WELLSPRING OF EMOTIONS THAT KIDS AND PEOPLE THEN WANT TO SHARE BUT FIND DIFFICULTY DOING IN THE CONFINED NUMBER OF PAGES OF A ZINE. THERE MIGHT BE A NEED TO HAVE A LIST OF MENTAL HEALTH RESOURCES AVAILABLE FOR ADULTS AND PARENTS OF CHILDREN IF NEEDED.” – ZINE WORKSHOP FACILITATOR
Why might zines be good to use with children for emotional wellbeing and literacy?
Those who completed our facilitators questionnaire had experience working with a variety of age groups, but all had a consensus that zines are great to use with kids and young teens. This is because at this age they are open to trying new things, they embrace the format easily, they are developing creatively and are spontaneous in their creativity.
When asked how zine making could help with emotional literacy, respondents replied that zines could help as they:
Help to provide a new way for talking about topics
Provide a non-judgemental space for expression and creativity
Provide a visualisation of abstract concepts that might otherwise be hard to understand
Provide a place to practise self-expression and develop emotional language
“ZINES ARE A GOOD OPPORTUNITY FOR INTERGENERATIONAL COMMUNICATION. THEY ARE A GREAT STARTING POINT FOR CONVERSATIONS, ALSO HELPING PEOPLE TO REALISE THEY ARE NOT ALONE AND ENCOURAGING THEM TO REACH OUT AND VERBALISE THEIR FEELINGS”
What makes for a successful zine workshop?
Making sure you have enough time is an important aspect of any workshop. The majority of workshop attendees reported that 1.5 hours is a good length of time for a zine workshop while over 50% of our facilitators suggest that a workshop length of over 2 hours is an ideal amount of time.
Across surveys, people suggest that the best places for hosting zine workshops are:
places easily accessible by public transport
places with large tables
quiet spaces that are good for focusing
Online zine workshops
There was a consensus that where possible in-person sessions are ideal for the purposes of demonstration, providing support and building community. However, online options are great for increasing accessibility to those who may not be able to attend in-person sessions.
Who answered the questionnaires?
The following graphs show the demographics of the people who completed our surveys, with a 39% majority identified as white, female and living in the UK.