Doing It Yourself: Making Zines with Holly Casio

Holly Casio, Cool Shmool, Zines, Poplar Union
Holly Casio, Cool Shmool, Zines, Poplar Union


Today we welcome Cool Schmool Zines founder and Zine Workshop Facilitator, Holly Casio, to the Poplar Union Blog. Holly is here to introduce us to the wonderful world of DIY zines, so If you like the sounds of radical self-publishing, then read on!


Zines are self-published photocopied DIY documents rooted in a history of radical self-publishing and they can be about anything; music, art, football, politics, your daily life, anything!

I first started making zines to find my friends. I was 15, queer, and living in a small town in West Yorkshire. We didn’t yet have the internet in our house and all the queer culture was happening in cities far away from me. At least that’s how it felt. My town wasn’t all that bad in hindsight but when you are young and weird and bored it felt like a blackhole. Zines were my lifeline.

Back then I made zines to find my people and my communities, and that’s still the reason I make zines today almost 20 years later.



“I could see exactly how they were made. I could see the black marks left on the page by the photocopier”

The first zines I ever read were music fanzines which covered the various indie pop teen-c punk bands I was obsessed with. These zines which arrived through my letterbox in envelopes crammed with glitter and sanrio stickers were a dispatch from friends I hadn’t met yet and subcultures I wasn’t part of yet. And I finally felt connected.

The first immediate thought I had when I saw my first zine was ‘I could make that.’ Which is my favourite reaction to have to any kind of art ever. I love that kind of bravado where I think, yeah I could have a go and do something like that. Zines didn’t intimidate me with a glossy unattainable aesthetic. I could see exactly how they were made. I could see the black marks left on the page by the photocopier, I could see where someone had cut out a picture using scissors and had stuck it down using glue. I could instantly see that this required no special artistic or technical skills whatsoever, which is my favourite kind of art.

The zines I’ve made in the last 20 years all vary in style and content. The main uniting factor is that they are always made by hand having never bothered to learn how to use photoshop or illustrator, and they are always photocopied.

My zines are about the things I feel passionately about. I write and draw and make collages about the people who inspire me; I make zines about my life, my relationships, my mental health, my obsessions, my daily experiences, in the hope that someone else reading it will think ‘me too!’

Holly Casio, Zine Making, Poplar Union

“I feel like has given me confidence to create and push forward in other areas of my life”

I love going to zine fairs and zine libraries, or finding zines in indie bookshops, or being given zines at gigs. They make me feel inspired and connected to so many people through a photocopied little booklet which I can keep or share and pass onto others.

Making zines has been such a huge part of my life. The fact that I don’t doubt my writing or artistic skills and self-publish whatever I feel like has given me confidence to create and push forward in other areas of my life. And I also really love hosting zine making workshops and introducing other people to the magic of making their own zines. I’ve hosted zine making workshops at Tate Britain, The Barbican, and of course at the wonderful Poplar Union, and it’s amazing to me that although zines have changed so much over the years, zine makers are still pouring their hearts and souls and art and politics into zines.

• Visit to check out more of Holly’s work, or find her on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.