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Assignment 1: Your zine

For my first book design assignment, I was asked to create my own A5 fanzine publication. This initially sounded like a daunting task, but I had the advantage of the majority of content coming from the work I have already been doing in the other exercises in part one. With that in mind, I took on this assignment in the role of a creative editor with a small existing library of content to collect, curate and redesign into the form of a booklet.

I started by looking at the topics suggested by the assignment that I could include and broke them down in my sketchbook by taking brief notes on relevant exercises and information that came to mind for each area. After a while I had come up with the following list of topics that I wanted to include in some way.

Introductions / Previous work.

An introduction about myself giving a bit of background on why I am doing this course. I wanted to take the opportunity to feature some of my work relating to book design from my illustration unit too, such as my Secret Diary Of Laura Palmer book cover redesign from key Steps In Illustration .

Formative Books

The content of this section would come from the first exercise 1.1, where I looked at the books that had influenced me growing up.

Global Influences

A small look at one of the influences on the gothic inspired fiction I read as a teenager, with Dracula featured in particular.

Artist Books / Fanzines

Another set of pages directly derived from my previous research, I imagined a contrasting style for each as they sit opposite each other on a double page spread.

The Future Of The Book

This section would be the most unchanged, as I had already created a double page spread design in the previous exercise 1.7, and I intended to reproduce it by hand with minimal changes.

Don't Judge A Book By Its Cover

Although not my strongest work, I wanted to see if I could support this concept better in my booklet as a pull-out centre section that looked like its own book, while still containing a similar version of the layout I had designed in exercise 1.7.

From this I could then further divide up content and estimate how many pages would be needed per section. I thumbnailed my options on loose paper that I could rearrange to see how they would look as pairs when read in my final zine.

Planning content and thumbnailing layouts.

Small scale mock-up.

Rather than a fully digital production, I wanted to make each page practically, so once my sections were decided, I made a small scale mock-up with sketches of any additional visual details that I wanted to see. These sketches were more defined roughs than before but still loose enough ideas to have some flexibility as I wanted some room to improvise with my collages and arrangements.

On my computer, I then collected all the visual content that I wanted to include into separate folders for each page range. This way I could estimate how much physical space I would need for each section to resize objects in photoshop as printed sheets of collage materials. As well as images, I also collected extracts of text from my previous blog posts and trimmed anything that I felt was too long, or re-wrote new titles and sections if required using fonts that I felt suited the content.

Managing content in folders.

The task stated that my zine didn't necessarily have to follow the punk trends, but should still embrace the cut and paste aspect to to produce something quickly without worrying about precision and I was more than happy to take this approach as I found it liberating to work with collage techniques in exercise 1.3. To help with this aesthetic, I used some of the leftover cut text and random images from that exercise to support my more curated printouts.

Assembling printouts.

Assembling everything was a longer process than I thought it would be, but it was still an enjoyable experience as all the elements started to come together. I was pleased that my decisions had translated well into the designs and by mixing together content from a number of different sources as I really wanted to give each section its own unique personality with alternating media, layout styles and colour schemes.

Completed pages.

Some of my favourite examples of mixing and reusing media included the covers, where part of the front cover reused my website logo and colour scheme, and the back was an inverted version of some of my practice pieces from when I designed the logo several years ago. I also had fun bringing in cut-out screenshots from film and television shows on the twin peaks and gothic fiction pages as this kind of image appropriation that drives many fanzines.

The assembled pages were then scanned as individual A5 image files which I could then combine into a full set within a single PDF document. In this format, my zine could be easily read and distributed by digital means while also being in a format that can be quickly produced as a physical booklet on any printer.

Full zine page layout.

From printing out book chapters to study in previous exercises, I knew that Adobe Acrobat had a printing feature that takes care of the pagination, so I produced my own physical editions of my zine on four pages of double sided A4 paper each with one in black and white and one version in full colour.

The final booklet.

I feel the pull-out middle section also ended up looking effective. The jacket was scanned from an unassuming old blank book cover I had lying around the house that I edited to have the first half of the phrase on the front as Don't Judge A Book... which would then be continued inside in the article title as …By its cover. The information for the article needed the most additional research of any page in my zine as I had only used placeholder text in my 1.7 design.

'Idioms Explained' pull-out middle section.

I like how my zine has come out and I hope that I've captured the spirit of homemade zines in my layouts and designs. It's also worth noting that the process was more nonlinear than I have shown it here as I bounced between pages to gather content as I conceptualised what I wanted and in the production stage I would have to make repeat journeys back to the pc to find and print elements that supported an idea I had had in the moment.

There are still parts that I would improve as some of the pages don't not feel as cohesive as others, such as the handwritten My Creative Process page which in hindsight could have been expanded and better explained over two pages rather than one. I also would have liked to have included more experimental artist book designs but limited myself there as I was thinking of the fanzine approach of making something that could easily be reprinted.

I am overall proud of this piece though as it can sometimes be tricky for me to get a handle open briefs without a clear goal in mind, so I'm looking forward to seeing what my tutor thinks of my efforts and how I can improve myself through the rest of the unit.



Cramer, M. (2020) What Does Don’t Judge a Book By Its Cover Mean At:


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