How to Make a Zine: A Very Bay Area Tutorial

Alicia McCarthy and friends offer a 6-step lesson in collaborative zine making

June 2021


What is a “zine?” It’s a do-it-yourself publication often containing original text and images. Artists and activists have relied on the expansive format for decades, using it to share everything from poetry and drawings to crucial organizing information.

“All you really need is a pencil and paper,” says Oakland artist Alicia McCarthy, “and maybe some kind of friend that works at a Kinkos.”

For the museum’s Art Bash 2021 virtual celebration, McCarthy led viewers on a bike trip around Oakland galleries and art studios, asking friends she encountered to contribute to a new zine. The result is a touching six-step tutorial — and a very Bay Area relay that resulted in the creation of The All of Us, a free zine featuring work by more than 20 local artists.

Tune into the video above and watch the journey. Conrad Guevara and Kate Rhoades, from the collective Real Time and Space, offer tips and tricks on the many ways to fold, bind, and format a zine. Plus, hear their insight into how DIY publications have been used and traded locally. “That’s another thing about making zines,” says Rhoades. “You have ‘zine currency’ and you can trade for other people’s zines.”

Over at Pt. 2 Gallery, painter Chelsea Wong adds her own touches to McCarthy’s collaborative project and offers instructions on infusing personal flair into each page. “I’m interested in people, I’m interested in communities, and I’m interested in bringing joy to the world,” says Wong. “And I like to do it in a way where I don’t have to play by the rules of making art that looks realistic or true to life.”

After Wong’s work dries, it’s off to printing the zine, with help from Mollie Underwood at Irrelevant Press. The final stop comes with a trip to Dream Farm Commons, where Tosha Stimage of Saint Flora adds finishing touches.

Download the “The All of Us” for free below.