Zines and Small Press Publishing

Pictured: A couple of pages from the art zine "Some Assembly Required."
PICTURED: Two-page spread from the art zine “Some Assembly Required” (2016).



  • Zines are small self-published magazines produced as a labor of love, with no regard for profit.
  • Originally produced as photocopy art, the cut-and-paste aesthetic of the zine world was the result of zine publishers laying out the pages entirely by hand: a combination of line art, found art, Scotch tape, and glue sticks.
    • My interest in collage art grew directly out of my experience making zines.
  • Zines are not precious art objects, to be displayed under glass. Zines are interactive: they are meant to be handled (and traded); to be read on the bus, or folded-up and carried around in your back pocket.
3 Meat_Raffle_Zines
Art zine: “Meat Raffle” (2013)


I first discovered zines via punk rock in the late 1980s, and it wasn’t long before I started contributing articles to underground newspapers and my friends’ xeroxed fanzine (Renegade Press).

As a member of Youth Against Militarism (YAM), I was part of the editorial collective behind Free Association, a quarterly political zine, which was written and edited by high school students. Free Association lasted for roughly five years (1990-1995). By the time it folded, most of the original writers had already graduated and moved on to other projects.

In 1992, I began publishing a zine called the J. Cruelty Catalog, together with several friends and contributors.

J. Cruelty lasted for a dozen issues, and was even featured in the Alt.Youth.Media exhibition at the New Museum of Contemporary Art (NYC).

It was around this same time that I discovered Factsheet 5, a comprehensive review zine and social networking tool that predated (and prefigured) the advent of the World Wide Web. Through Factsheet 5, I was introduced to a global network of independent publishers trading zines back-and-forth through the mail.

J. Cruelty was followed Paper, Scissors, Clocks (1997-2001), a much larger zine, which was printed in an edition of 1,000 copies on newsprint.

I also contributed articles to Punk Planet, Maximum Rock n Roll, and other zines.

In the year 2000, I received a grant which enabled me to publish Wipe Away My Eyes, a book-length zine “…about the size of a small phone book.”

In 2004, I co-founded the annual Twin Cities Zine Fest with Gerald Prokop as a way of giving back to the community. Thirteen years later, the festival is still going strong.

In 2013 –after an 11-year hiatus– I returned to zine-making with the art zine Meat Raffle. Three years later, I published another collection called Some Assembly Required.



Thanks to a global network of independent publishers, my zines have been distributed internationally in Europe, the Americas, and New Zealand.

In the process, I made connections (and traded zines) with people from all over the world.

It wasn’t long before I had amassed a collection of zines big enough to fill an entire storage unit. Many of these publications were produced in extremely limited quantities. I realized that this could be an important resource for researchers and scholars.

In 2014, I donated a collection of 1,052 zines to the University of Iowa Libraries. The Erik Farseth Zine Collection features small press publications from 20 countries, spanning the years 1970-2013.

GALLERY: 30 Years of Zine-making by Erik Farseth