Zines! (Wild Imaginings Project 2021)

This year’s spring after school program Wild Imaginings Project was focused on zines! The group met with teaching artist Sam Paolini and AIR staff twice per week on Zoom to create a collaborative zine based around AIR’s 2020-2021 program theme “Both/And: Celebrating Contradictions” and individual minizines on subjects of their choice. 

Portrait by Ana, Mythical Creature by Sarah, and Collage by Sienna

Zines (short for magazine or fanzine) are small circulation, self-published collections of original words and images. They can be focused on anything the artist wants them to be! To inspire our group, teaching artist Sam created slideshows of their own process for each project, instructions for what to do, and ways to incorporate different values and shading in their work. Though each project had “instructions,” the teens ultimately had freedom to choose how best to make their art and share their message Some of the projects we created for this zine were:

  • Portrait Project-  Using your Both/And: Celebrating Contradictions writing prompts, create a self-portrait. The idea is to make a visual brainstorm of your Both/And list – using either 2 traits, or all of them! Your portrait can be in any style: realistic, cartoon, sketch, bold, abstract, surreal – or any combination! Fold the paper in half (or draw a line) to split the paper into two sections, with your portrait in the middle. On each side, write or draw the characteristics that contradict. 
  • Mythical Beasts – Invent and illustrate a mythical creature by combining different animals together. Use your new shading skills to add value to your drawing. You can use any drawing tools you like, on cardstock or computer paper. You can name and label your drawing with the different animal parts or magical powers, or not! Your choice.
  • Collages – Create a collage using the magazine pages in your folder! Use inspiration from Maya’s writing prompt on Tuesday “My mental health reminds me of….” OR from Becca’s writing prompt “I am both ___ and ___” You may cut OR rip the paper. Or both! You may draw on top of the collage if you want!  Use your VALUE scales to translate colors to their shade. If you paste a 5 next to another 5, they’ll blend together! Make sure to paste different values next to each other so they stand out. 
Teaching Artist Sam Paolini overviews the Mythical Creatures project

Once we finished the projects for our collaborative zine, AIR staff went to each teen’s house to pick up their artwork in order to scan it, collate it, and create the final zine to showcase  all of their thoughtful artwork! When AIR staff picked up their artwork, we dropped off templates for our final work session where the teens were guided through making minizines on whatever subject they want! Here is a picture of teens and staff holding up the minizines they created:

Teens and staff share their minizines with each other

The work the teens created over the course of this program is very powerful, and we are so excited to be able to share it with you! You can read an online version of the zine here:


Why did we change the name of this program from Phenomenal Woman Project to Wild Imaginings Project? We wanted the name of this program to feel more inclusive and to represent the individuals who participate in our programs. While the former name was inspired by the incredible Maya Angelou poem “Phenomenal Woman,” this new title is inspired by SARK’s “How To Be An Artist,” in which she lists many vignettes of ways to ‘be an artist’ such as: “plant impossible gardens,” “believe in magic,” and “have wild imaginings, transformative dreams, and perfect calm.” Plus, the acronym for Wild Imaginings Project is WIP, which also stands for Work In Progress!


We still have a few spaces available in some of our 2021 summer programs for teens ages 13-18! Register here.

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