Natalie Minguez, playlister and photographer at the local upstart music publication AltAngeles, presses forefingers and thumbs and leaves the smallest space between them to demonstrate the space that a zine takes up.
"Zine itself is that short, monosyllabic word that you can just eat," says Minguez. "It's the size of a snack right from the start."
Technically, AltAngeles doesn't take up any space at all. The all-digital zine is among a growing number of publications led by Gen Z that defy the fixed spreads and polishes of traditional magazines and instead view social media as more than a promotional tool. This new zine breed, which shares DNA with forerunners like Tavi Gevinson's rookie Mag, is growing a close-knit community of like-minded young people, especially on Instagram. Spotify playlists, diary entries, and class doodles posted on Zines' feeds invite followers to feel part of a group of friends rather than just readers kept at bay.
AltAngeles was founded in May 2018 by Editor-in-Chief Donna Borges to raise the profile of artists who may not get into the press in other publications, with a robust Instagram presence and a Patreon to keep making money. “We wanted to create a platform for underground artists and local artists that we really loved and that we felt were more advertising,” says Borges. The content on AltAngeles is eclectic, accessible, and reflects Gen Z's sensitivity to a high degree.
Minguez describes the release as "scrapbooking, music zine … spoon-fed (reader)," a concept that works with the patchwork structure of Instagram and the shortened style of many other social media zines.
Founded in May by local high schoolers Charlie Slan and Allana Campbell, Saturdaze Magazine has expanded its fan base to platforms like TikTok, but has a physical problem in the works. Despite the foray into old-school printing, the co-founders say their main influences are other small zines run by high school students rather than legacy magazines.
Lina Christopherson-Jeong, editor-in-chief of online and print artist Zine All My Friends Zine (AMF), believes the tables are turning and that the past glories will be geared towards the new generation of small, shabby publications. "Vogue and major publications really liked this traditional cookie cutter." That's the way things are done, that's Vogue style, "she says." I feel like they had to notice these smaller releases … (and) they realize that people on Instagram don't want the perfect norm anymore . (People) want that kind of ragged, lifestyle, laid back feel and I think I've definitely seen that in video productions (big magazines) – it makes them funnier and casual and simple and colorful and fun. ”
AMF is occupied almost entirely by students and is heavily influenced by a Gen Z aesthetic. Although the aesthetic is rooted in nostalgia for a time before the so-called iGeneration, it also serves as a common ground for young people crossing a new frontier.
"We all have just one strange, similar thing – how we process life and emotions," says AltAngeles founder Borges. "I think it has to do with having social media and being exposed to so much more things than we probably would at such a young age (in previous generations)."
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