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Rhode Island School of Design

Zines: Intro


ZINES: By the People, For the People

What is a zine? This definition from the Barnard Zine Library offers a nice summary:

Short for magazine or fanzine, zines are self-publications, motivated by a desire for self-expression, not for profit.

On display are zines and related works from special collections and artists' books at RISD, which represent the spirit of democracy in art. Most anyone can make or afford a zine. The materials and technology are inexpensive and widely available. Much of the appeal of zines lies in their immediacy and quirkiness, but every bit as important is the power they have to inspire the formation of community. Zines are generally traded amongst friends, and distributed in and amongst small, community-oriented shops, distros (zine distributors) and festivals. No matter how esoteric the subject, the thriving network of zine enthusiasts ensures the connections between zines, their makers and their readers.

As one can make and distribute a zine without relying on the power structures and market concerns of traditional books and magazines, they are a powerful tool for freedom of speech and challenges to the status quo. The internet, of course, promises this as well, but between ever increasing sophistication of data collection and spyware, and the vulnerability risk in subjecting oneself to a rogues' gallery of cruel commentary, zine makers often prefer the intimate, tangible, handmade properties of their communication tool of choice.       
- A. Bordeaux

RISD Library

Ariel Bordeaux
Special Collections
Senior Library Assistant

Exhibition Curator of
ZINES: By the People,
For the People

Ellen Petraits
Research & Instruction Librarian