Category Archives: opinion

How much it costs to make a zine

 

Making art is an expensive endeavor. Last year I started Catahoula Zine, a quarterly print publication that features eight to ten writers and artists reacting to a singular theme. Zines are the original self-publishing platforms. Anyone with access to pen and paper can make one and the beauty of zines lies in their DIY roots. However, you can also make your zine as fancy schmancy as you’d like. I like to collect all types of zines including beautiful risograph prints and ones that more closely resemble scratch paper.

I’m breaking down my expenses from my first year of zine-making in case anyone is interested in starting their own. I print with MagCloud, a print on demand service that offers high quality, perfect bound glossy publications. Depending on the pages and size, I pay between $4-$6 an issue and sell them for $8-$12. That profit doesn’t even cover my expenses though, which I’ve broken down below.

 

 

In 2016 I spent about $1,300 to print four issues, two supplementary issues, and some mini photo prints. I also attended three zine and book fests: Press Fest in Austin, New Orleans Comic and Zine Fest and the New Orleans Bookfair. You don’t have to spend as much as I did to start a zine, but prepare to fork over some cash if you plan on distributing them.

Expenses:

Shipping & postage: $162.34

Printing: $800

Business cards plus a vinyl banner for zine fests: $64

Festival fees: $68

Hotel for one night: $151

Uber in Austin: $35

Grand total: $1,280.34

Expenses not factored in:

Meals in Austin, gas, domain purchase, and monthly Adobe subscription. My true grand total is between $1,600 and $1,800.

Where I saved money:

The Austin trip was part business, part pleasure. I stayed with my sister a few nights (she lives an hour from Austin) so I saved money on hotels. I also have an Adobe student subscription, which gives me access to the programs I need (InDesign, Photoshop, Lightroom) for the price of one program.

Where I could have saved money:

I definitely overspent on dog.bites, the supplementary, cheaper zine I produced specifically to sell at zine fests.  I went to Kinko’s and shelled out more than I wanted. I originally wanted to sell dog.bites for $3 a piece but had to sell them for $6 to recoup my costs. I made about $1.40 off each one sold.

I paid for tables at three zine fests but I didn’t have to. NOCAZ offered free tables to locals and New Orleans Bookfair offered a sliding scale. I could have opted for the free table but decided to donate to the cause anyway.

Three of my four first issues had contributors. I sent each writer and artist one free copy of the zine. I could have just sent a PDF of the issue but since I’m not paying anyone I thought a print copy was only fair. This year I’m only accepting submissions for two of the four issues in an effort to save money on shipping and printing costs.

Where I made money:

The fests were my real money makers. I made between $130-$180 per day at NOCAZ (two days) and over $100 at the New Orleans Bookfair. I made $55 at Press Fest. It was the least lucrative fest but I met several people and it was an excuse to visit my sister. I also made money selling issues on the retail level (after the store takes a cut) and directly to readers at two issue launch parties, a pop up art gallery I hosted, and through the Catahoula website.

 

I hope this was somewhat helpful and the financial aspect of zine-making isn’t too discouraging. Money aside, I was introduced to lots of great people doing interesting things and really feel privileged that people trust me to publish their work. Drop a line at hello@catahoulazine.com if you want to chat about zines via email or IRL.

 

 

 

Gap’s DressNormal campaign is a cheap attempt to cash in on Normcore

Every time I swear off writing about fashion something happens that sends me rushing to my laptop, fastidiously pounding away on a cat hair covered keyboard instead of starting on my four page paper on British poetry that’s due on Monday. Get your lint rollers and canned air out for this one; Gap’s Dress Normal ad campaign has me feeling all type of ways.  




It’s not a shocker that the Gap has never been considered a fashion forward brand. You’re not going to snag a studded jacket or a minidress with sheer cutouts there, nor would you expect to.  Some might call the brand’s no fuss, simple garments wardrobe staples, or basics, where others might call Gap a snooze fest. 

So what’s the problem with basics? The word basic has taken on negative connotations in our pop culture; “basic” in slang terms means boring and ordinary, not exactly how you want to describe your dark wash jeans and fitted white t-shirt, is it? Enter Gap’s latest ad campaign, Dress Normal, which is riding on the heather gray coattails of normcore. 

Normcore is a “new” way of dressing for the fashion elite- think Adidas slides with tube socks- that rebels against the recent fashion trends of dressing extraordinary- more on that in a moment. Normcore is rebelling against rebelling, but you have to rebel in the first place in order for normcore to make sense. 

The problem with normcore is that it doesn’t take into account what people are wearing in cities that aren’t fashion hubs.  In other words, your average dude from Kenner wearing Adidas slides with socks and a grey sweatshirt and a baseball cap is unintentionally participating in normcore. It’s plain dressing with irony, yet excludes that guy that doesn’t dress hipster cool from the inside joke. 

Over the past few years the outrageous has been considered fashionable; the peacocks showing up at fashion weeks around the globe is a good example of this. Wearing a calf grazing tutu is the new norm, so how does one stand out in a sea of kookiness? The answer, apparently, is to dress “normal”. 

Look, I kind of get it. Fashion celebrates the over the top, the glitzy and the downright bizarre. Iris Apfel is a household name for fashion insiders and Lady GaGa has given everyone carte blanche to dress outside of their comfort zone. When everyone wants to be a rare bird, however, this unique sense of individuality isn’t quite so individual anymore, is it? 

But what is normal? That’s a subjective, potentially damaging word. What Gap really means is to dress simple, a bon chic, bon genre mentality (I’m giving them too much credit, really) that’s seeing a resurgence, albeit a resurgence through the hipster lens. According to Gap’s global chief marketing officer Seth Farbman, “Finding your own version of ‘Dress normal’ is an art. My normal is different from your normal, and that’s the essence of the campaign.” 
Confused? That makes about as much sense to me as trying to explain what normcore is in the first place. 

 The problem with the Dress Normal campaign is that it indicates that anything besides normal is abnormal. It’s a backlash against creative dressing which, let’s face it, has put the hurt on Gap in the past few years, as well as other ubiquitous mall brands. It’s not cool anymore to be average, to fit in, but when everyone is trying to stand out from the crowd, where does that leave us? The best thing you can do for yourself is avoid the pitfalls of trendy dressing altogether and wear whatever the hell you want. Fashion is in a flux right now; I’d rather sit out and just focus on doing me, which is the best, most normal thing I can do.

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