An art zine is a self-published magazine that typically has a specific focus on one certain medium or area of the art world. Zines are traditionally collections of drawings, written work, photos, and other artwork that are printed and distributed to people with the same interests. Some zines have developed a following of devoted fans and are as polished as any professional art magazine. The Internet has brought the art zine into the digital realm, and any artist or art enthusiast can easily create a zine with the potential to reach millions of online readers.
As opposed to most art books found in stores, art zines are self-published works. Their creators may or may not be professional artists, and some zines have open requests for anyone to submit unique material. The idea behind these art zines is that everyone has something of value to contribute. Some popular art media covered in zines include photography, mixed media, sculpture, and design crafts. Art zines can also range from family-friendly to X-rated, and their material can be as varied as different artists' ideas.
Tools for creating a do-it-yourself (DIY) zine are no longer limited to drawing supplies and a copy machine. Even beginner art zine publishers take advantage of digital creation platforms, including software for illustration, image editing, and Web publishing. Some online art zine issues include works of digital animation as well. Several Web-based publishing platforms allow zine publishers to create every step of an issue and immediately make it available for distribution.
One of the popular formats for art zines is that of an art comic book. Many of these zines focus on the style of Japanese animation known as anime. Artists who hope to publish anime graphic novels can gain exposure by submitting installments of their stories to a well-known anime art zine. Feedback from other zine readers and contributors can be just as valuable as that from a traditional publisher.
Well-executed zines have gained reputations as good sources of inspiration for artists of any level. A number of digital art zines include images or templates that readers are free to modify and use for their own creations. These readers are then encouraged to share how they used the original work with the rest of the art zine readers.
Some art zines have been around for years, growing extensive enough to have both printed and online versions. These zines often give equal importance to art and writing, with different material published in the two versions. These types of zines can also focus more on the local art scenes of certain cities or regions.