14 Zine Artists & Curators Making The World A Better Place

A person in a white shirt creates a zine with yellow and green paper. A pair of scissors sits atop their workspace.

Art has long been used as a tool for activism — from Picasso’s anti-war “Guernica” painting, to the iconic Guerilla Girls, who were known for their anonymous feminist and anti-racism work in the art world.

The Tate, a British museum collective, says the aim of activist art is to “create art that is a form of political or social currency, actively addressing cultural power structures, rather than representing them or simply describing them.”

There is one form of social currency — or specific art medium — that comes to mind when we think of activist art: zines

What is a zine?

Zines are self-published, non-commercial print works that are often created in small batches and developed in DIY ways. They are also easily reproduced, with a “master flat,” which is then photocopied for folding into simple pamphlets to be distributed or sold within a community.

Writer Dorothy Hastings described them perfectly in a PBS article about LGBTQ+ zine creators. “Somewhere at the intersection of the academic essay, a diary entry, a self-portrait, and a notebook doodle, exists the zine,” she writes. 

A diagram shows how to make a zine
This diagram shows how to create and fold a zine. Illustration by Johnathan Huang/Good Good Good

The zine community is a global one, and people use them in all kinds of ways. Whether it’s to disseminate information about social movements, share resources at protests, or simply create something from two human hands, zines put the power in the printer of the creator.

Sarah Mirk, a graphic journalist, editor, and teacher in Portland, Oregon, said she’s been making zines since she was a kid, before she even knew they had a name. Now, she rides a Zine Bike and teaches zine workshops all around Portland.

“What’s cool about zines is that everyone has the power to publish their own work,” Mirk said. “You don’t need permission to get your voice out there, or convince gatekeepers that something is worth writing about. I always tell people: if you don’t like what’s in the media, make your own media.”

Here are a few of our favorite zine artists, printers, and libraries creating and curating their own media for good.

14 Zine Artists Making a Difference

Jenn Woodall

Jenn Woodall's zine 'Ghouls' has a colorful, cool-toned color.
Jenn Woodall loves to use fantasy settings to depict queer and feminist themes. Photo courtesy of Jenn Woodall

Jenn Woodall is an illustrator, comics creator, and zine artist based in Toronto, Ontario. Her award-winning work often depicts queer and feminist themes, in conjunction with fantasy or adventure landscapes, often following women through time and space as they seek important truths. Her zines include titles like Magical Beatdown, Marie + Worrywart, and Seance

Woodall’s first graphic novel “Space Trash” will be released in Summer 2022 and tells the story of three teenage girls who attend high school on the moon. 

Woodall self-publishes her comics and zines and also distributes and publishes through Silver Sprocket, based in San Francisco. 

Woodall is also on Patreon, sending supporters prints, zines, and comics.  

Cyclista Zine

A copy of Cyclista Zine sits on a table surrounded by buttons and stickers.
Cyclista Zine confronts the intersectionality between social issues and cycling. Photo courtesy of Cyclista Zine

Cyclista Zine is an intersectional, radical feminist zine responding to the cycling industry. Printing quarterly, the zine is focused on sharing knowledge, art, and stories of BIPOC and women, trans, femme, and non-binary folks in cycling. 

Though run by zinester Christina Torres, Cyclista Zine is a collaborative zine made up of submissions, acting as a printed guide from writers and artists who submit tutorials, stories, and advice for “feminists wanting to shred the patriarchy.” Aside from zine production, Cyclista Zine also hosts events, discussions, and a massive list of resources for activists

Editions and events include topics like handling police interactions when biking and walking, colonialism and infrastructure, ableism in transportation, and bike liberation

“The personal is political and cycling has a long history in creating great social change and oppression in our communities,” the Cyclista Zine manifesto reads. “Cyclista Zine is meant to function as a bridge between virtual safe spaces and in-person activism for the current and future generations to explore cycling their own way.”

Queer Zine Archive Project

A screenshot of the Queer Zine Archive Project archive.v
QZAP aims to chronicle a living history of queer zines. Screenshot of the QZAP zine archive.

Launched in 2003 by zinesters Milo Miller and Christopher Wide, the Queer Zine Archive Project (QZAP) was developed to “establish a living history” of past and present queer zines and encourage current and emerging zine publishers to create.

QZAP has a free online searchable database that allows users to download electronic copies of zines, many highlighting topics such as queer love stories, sex education, queer media, and queer history. The project runs on donations from supporters and the love of about six contributors, who scan and archive thousands of zines. 

Co-founder Miller spoke with PBS NewsHour in 2020 about their history with zines and how they impact the LGBTQ+ community. 

“There’s a really certain type of story that gets told in [the] media, and it takes a lot to go around that if you don’t have access, prestige, if you’re not the ‘right’ skin color, if you don’t have the ‘right’ economic background,” Miller said. “And zines take all of that and say, ‘to hell with that.’”

Kate Bingaman-Burt (and Outlet)

A colorful room filled with prints and zines. On the wall, a pink neon sign reads "printing." Two people stand in the room wearing masks.
Bingaman-Burt's shared studio space, Outlet, has become a community resource in Portland. Photo courtesy of Outlet.

Kate Bingaman-Burt is a zine creator and graphic designer in Portland, where she is the Associate Director of the School of Art & Design at Portland State University. She shares daily drawings and operates the KBB Mail Club, which sends subscribers zines and printed goods.

Bingaman-Burt also owns Outlet, a risograph press and art studio where folks can create zines.

Outlet is an accessible space for people to make prints at a high volume for a low cost. The space hosts a variety of workshops, from zine-making, to risograph and drawing basics, for makers of all kinds. Outlet is also home to a zine library with hundreds of contributions from community members. 

Bingaman-Burt is deeply passionate about teaching folks about print media and using her space to welcome social movements and leaders to share their messaging. 

“Print is a really powerful medium,” Bingaman-Burt said. “It can be accessed by so many people. It’s powerful for ourselves, but it’s also powerful to advocate for others, to make a publication I share, or a poster I put up in a window or take to a protest. It’s a medium that people can use in all the ways that make sense for them.”

Strongly Worded Letters

The Strongly Worded Letters logo
Stronlgy Worded Letters was created by "coworkers turned comrades" Gab Rima and Johnny Redd. Photo courtesy of Strongly Worded Letters

Strongly Worded Letters  is an Omaha, Nebraska-based organization dedicated to civic and social education, providing scripts, knowledge, and action items to build grassroots power for local politics.

Their content revolves around providing organizers and activists with easy-to-understand tools, like scripts for communicating with elected officials, updates on local legislation, as well as mutual aid and protest information.

While Strongly Worded Letters is most known for its Instagram education tools, Patreon subscribers have access to a quarterly zine created by founders Gab Rima and Johnny Redd

“I like how zines are easy to make and easy to digest. They make complex issues a lot easier to understand, they’re eye-catching, and you can distribute them at a low cost,” Redd said. “They’re also sort of like trading cards. People like having a physical object to read, and they’ve been a hit at events or high-energy rallies and help people stay involved once they get home.”

Hunter Ashlei Shackelford

A Black woman with dreadlocs wears a grey shirt and gold necklaces. She has on pink lipstick and smirks at the camera.
Hunter Ashlei Shackelford uses zines, and other writing and design outlets, to tell stories confronting racism, fatphobia, and other social injustices. Photo courtesy of Hunter Ashlei Shackelford

Hunter Ashlei Shackelford — also known as Hunter The Lion — is a writer and artist based in Atlanta, Georgia. She has created a number of zines for herself and other organizations that confront racism, transphobia, fatphobia, and many other social justice topics.

Some of their work includes Black Trans Futures, Ugly AF: An Introduction to Desire Politics, and Before They Kill Me First

Schackelford has founded two liberation organizations: Free Figure Revolution and Who’s Killing Us?. She most often writes and illustrates about the relationships between Blackness, fatness, desire, queerness, and pop culture. 

“I’m so grateful to the Black trans folks who made it possible for me to find myself in a world that demands you lose yourself the moment you enter it,” Shackelford shared in an Instagram post. “I am grateful for the ability to name my experiences and give birth to language just by existing beyond the binary.” 

Tiny Megaphone

A hand holds up a copy of the zine: "How To Promote Your Business Without Feeling Shitty About It."
Rutter's first zine: "How To Promote Your Business Without Feeling Shitty About It" discusses consent-based marketing. Photo courtesy of Tiny Megaphone

Tiny Megaphone is a marketing consultancy run by Joanna Rutter. She is a thoughtful (and hilarious!) marketing pro who wants to “rig the system” and make marketing work for underdogs. In a world where capitalism and burnout make social media and marketing feel impossible, Rutter hopes to make things work “for the little guys.” 

Her zine, How To Promote Your Business Without Feeling Shitty About It is a game-changing tool for creative people, small business owners, and people who are just generally grossed out by traditional marketing practices.

The zine provides an introduction to consent-based marketing and works as a pep talk, workbook, media critique, and marketing strategy skeleton, according to Rutter. 

“If marketing is a megaphone, I’m handing it to the underdog to hear what they have to say,” Rutter said. “I made it [the zine] to encourage cool builders and dreamers in their quests to pay bills without compromising their values.” 

Microcosm Publishing

A screenshot of the Microcosm Publishing website displays a number of book and zine selections
Microcosm Publishing has been an independent publishing house since 1996. Screenshot from the Microcosm Publishing website.

Microcosm Publishing is a vertically integrated publishing house that “equips readers to make positive changes in their lives and in the world around them.” 

Founded in 1996, Microcosm specializes in DIY books, zines, and decks about topics like self-care, feminism, social justice, bikes, and more. The publishing house also has a mission of access, using sliding scale pricing and sustainable operations prioritizing high staff wages.

Stand-out titles include “How to Resist Amazon and Why,” detailing the importance of shopping and distributing ethically; “Consensuality: Navigating Feminism, Gender, and Boundaries Towards Loving Relationships;”and “It’s OK To Be Sad.”

“Microcosm focuses on relating the experiences of what it is like to be a marginalized person and strives to be recognized for spirit, creativity, and value,” the Microcosm Publishing website reads. “Microcosm constantly poses the question: ‘how can we remove barriers to success for marginalized people in our industry?’”

This Is A Zine

A colorful zine mockup shows a vintage TV against a gradient background and reads "Life In A TV Set."
Josh Eberhard and friends created a weekly zine between March 2020 and 2021. Photo courtesy of This Is A Zine

This Is A Zine is a collective of artists and designers creating zines to discuss the world around us and create positive change. Led by Josh Eberhard, the collective created and distributed a weekly zine exploring a new topic about design and the world we live in between March 2020 and 2021. Now that the year-long project has concluded, zines are published when the artists see fit.

Some editions include Violence, TV, Politics, Instagram, Justice, and Anxiety. Copies are free to download and print at home, but digitally enhanced zines are shared via Instagram. 

While some topics include more information, most of these topics are approached through a lens of creative design and artistic interpretation, acting as printed artifacts of a specific time in history. 

ArtsEverywhere

A screenshot shows a page of Refugee Zines on the ArtsEverywhere website.
ArtsEverywhere empowers people through creative projects about social justice and human rights. Screenshot of the ArtsEverywhere website.

ArtsEverywhere is a Canadian organization specializing in artistic journalism, highlighting artistic and creative practices as they relate to social justice and human rights.  

The organization works in a series approach, as creative projects convene under themes or issues that affect marginalized groups most. A collection of refugee zines outlines the value of zine-making on refugee communities.

The collection highlights projects like “The Zines of Terezín,” made by Jewish children who shared “secret zines,” acting politically in the face of Nazi terror; and “Plaza Girls: A Diary,” which tells the stories of teenage Afghan and Arabic refugee girls.

ArtsEverywhere writer SiddJoag said: “Lacking other resources, refugees and others on the move often use writing and reading together to cite their politics.” 

Zines & Things

Two women sit at a colorful table, smiling. A number of zines sit atop the table.
Rebekah Markillie (left) and Jessica Wadleigh (right) have created a safe haven for marginalized zine creators. Photo courtesy of Zines & Things

Zines & Things is a Portland-based zine team by Rebekah Markillie and Jessica Wadleigh. Both are passionate storytellers who love the zine community, publishing works that encompass gender, mental health, and poetry. 

The Zines & Things team works directly alongside writers and artists, partnering to provide an alternative to traditional publishing models.

Their program “Tell Me A Story” is a literary reading series that provides space for LGBTQ+, BIPOC, and women writers to connect and collaborate in a safe and creative environment. Zines & Things also publishes and sells works on their website, including a subscription program called The Zinester’s Digest

“We make zines to pay homage to their rich history of anti-capitalism and anti-oppression,” The Zines & Things website reads. “We make zines as a liturgy to possibility, liberation, and resiliency.” 

Sarah Mirk

Someone holds up a copy of Sarah Mirk's book: "A Year of Zines"
Mirk's "Year of Zines" includes 100 of her 365 zine creations from 2019. Photo courtesy of Sarah Mirk

Mentioned earlier, Sarah Mirk is a graphic journalist, educator, and zine-maker based in Oregon. Her comics have been published by outlets like NPR, The Nib, and Patagonia, and her graphic novel “Guantanamo Voices” won the 2021 Lynd Ward Graphic Novel Prize. 

Mirk also offers a number of free zines on her website, covering a wide array of topics like abortion, white privilege, and voter suppression. In 2019, she made a zine every day for a year and published 100 of them in a book. An avid snail mail lover, she is also on Patreon, where supporters can subscribe to receive monthly zines and “whatever else I feel like mailing.”

“Making zines is a lot about embracing imperfection and just making something happen,” Mirk said. “It’s not mediated by a company or profit-driven entity, and you’re not feeding into this larger algorithm that’s giving us ads. It’s something you share with another person, about something you care about.”

One Of My Kind

Three women stand in front of a wall covered in zines.
The OOMK zine time is made of Heiba Lamara (left), Sofiza Niazi (center), and Rose Nordin (right). Photo by Dunja Opalko

One Of My Kind (OOMK) is a London-based art publishing collective run by three Muslim women: Sofia Niazi, Rose Nordin, and Heiba Lamara

Together, they produce OOMK Zine, a biannual zine focused on women, art, activism, and faith. OOMK has become a collaborative effort that offers marginalized people a space to congregate around similar issues and concerns, sharing their art in an affordable and accessible way.

The OOMK team also runs Rabbits Road Press, a community printing press in East London, where they hold publishing events and discussions, in addition to hosting a local zine library. 

“OOMK takes inspiration from decolonial, feminist, religious, and punk movements in creating methods of self-organization,” the OOMK Manifesto reads. “OOMK supports alternative and traditional sites of knowledge acquisition and believes that critical thinking should be nurtured and developed.” 

The Sherwood Forest Zine Library

A screenshot of the Sherwood Forest Zine Library displays a list of Black Lives Matter zines to read.
The Sherwood Forest Zine Library regularly updates its list of Black Lives Matter zines. Screenshot from the Sherwood Forest Zine Library website.

While many public libraries offer digital and print catalogs of zines, the Sherwood Forest Zine Library based in Austin, Texas is home to one of the most robust curated collections of Black Lives Matter, policing and protest guides, and zines

The collection includes hundreds of works from various times in history, offering both academic and lived experience educational tools to help anti-racists on their social justice journeys.

Highlights include zines on mutual aid, tips for avoiding activist burnout, primers on white privilege, easy-to-read guides to staying safe while protesting, and much more. 

This collection is a great resource for anyone looking to learn more about activist spaces through zine literature and provides a wide array of perspectives and tools for organizers, by organizers.  

We are constantly inspired by creators who use their skills to tell important stories and make the world a better place. Although not a zine, our print Goodnewspaper is our rendition of creative storytelling for good. In fact, some of these artists were featured in the April 2022 issue of the Goodnewspaper: The Art Edition. Learn more about the Goodnewspaper and subscribe today for more good news.

Article Details

April 4, 2022 1:00 PM
From left to right: Black Widow, Thor, Captain America, Hawkeye, Iron Man, Hulk from the 2012 movie The Avengers

Watch how Mark Ruffalo assembled his Marvel co-stars to re-dub this blockbuster hit in Lakota

Disney Plus released a Lakota dub of "The Avengers" with members of the original cast. The project aims to reintegrate the language into homes, honoring and preserving the Lakota people's cultural heritage.
An illustration of a chorus with a leader at the front

This Israeli & Palestinian youth choir has sung together since 2012. Now, their voices are stronger than ever

Amid violence, loss, and devastation, this youth chorus made up of Palestinians and Israelis have found a shared humanity through music.
A birds-eye-view shows people working in long tables with green lamps inside a library.

Why Are Libraries Important? We’ll Give You 5 Reasons

Libraries are at the heart of social and physical American infrastructure. Institutions founded on education, access, and democracy, they are in need of funding and support.
A group of women stand side by side outside and smile

Art Is Helping Refugee Women Connect and Express Themselves

A new study in Australia has looked at the experiences of refugee and migrant women who shared creative art in community exhibitions. The women supported each other, learnt about each other’s cultures and taught each other new skills, including unique sewing techniques.

Want to stay up-to-date on positive news?

The best email in your inbox.
Filled with the day’s best good news.