One of my goals for the year is to make and publish two illustrated zines. I’m proud to share that I’ve finished my first zine “The Dress”! It’s a 24 page risograph printed autobiographical story on the amusements and dilemmas of finding my wedding dress.
I’ve printed a limited run (50 copies) of “The Dress” and it is now up for sale on my shop! It would mean the world to me for you to read my labor of love 🤗
Note: If you are in NYC, you can skip shipping costs and opt for local pickup in Downtown Brooklyn by using code NYCPICKUP.
In this post I’ll be taking you through the process of planning and making my first zine, and next week’s newsletter I’ll go in depth about the trial and error of DIY risograph printing these zines as a beginner.
The idea for making a zine about finding my wedding dress originated from the below sketchbook spread I made last year, an observation on the absurd amount of fitting clips that were hanging off my back so I could look “snatched” (the sales person’s words, not mine) as I envisioned myself wearing a properly tailored version of whichever dress I was trying on for the wedding day.
Finding my wedding dress was not something I particularly romanticized, which is how my zine starts as well.
And yet I yearned to capture this process, a strange blend of performative femininity and presumed intuition on what dress I would choose clashing with my own values of practicality influenced by my family.
A few weeks after finalizing my dress last November, I started planning my zine via storyboard. At first I sought to incorporate more history and research of different types of dresses and how dress trends evolved over time. Later when breaking out the flow of the zine as a cohesive story, I ditched these parts to focus on the specifics of my narrative. Limiting myself to 20 pages of story (24 including cover/back), this project was an exercise in how to keep the story simple and tight, yet amusing and resonant.
Once I had the rough outline of the story, I finalized and divided up the text into separate pages. Then I started sketches for each spread (aka 2 pages). Because my friends and family had taken copious photos while I tried on dresses in various showrooms, I thankfully had tons of reference material!
I sketched directly in Procreate then moved straight into drafts, first using MaxPack’s Sketch brush. That brought a lovely texture but didn’t allow for much detail, so I switched to Slow Mind’s water brush pen which allowed for more detail and felt true to traditional materials. During the times I was consistently working on the zine, I would work on one spread for 50 minutes every weekday morning using the virtual coworking website Focusmate to keep me accountable.
Midway through this project I was losing steam and struggling with its middle. The crux of the story felt buried, and I wasn’t sure what my main point was. All signs pointed to asking for feedback! I got a second eye from my sister who reassured me all was not lost, and that I just needed to rearrange some spreads and emphasize certain points. Once I was ready to jump into revision, I set myself a deadline by booking a printing appointment at my local riso shop and tackled the finals of each spread one by one.
All in all, the zine making process took me 4 months (including a month long break), which seems quite long considering it is “just” 24 pages. But this was my first time tackling a self-initiated book project while still working a full time job! And what looks simple does not always equate to quick and easy. I share this in hopes that you also have ease and grace toward yourself and other artists. We all need time to shape and mold our creations.
Thank you to my sister Irene for helping me with story revisions and book assembly, and Lucy Knisley’s wonderful graphic memoir Something New which served as an inspiration for storytelling about the wedding planning process.
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Along with the zine, I’ve added a few new goods and prints to my shop, including this magnet of three bunnies that I absolutely adore! I haven’t done a shop update in a while so I’m thrilled to be able to share my art with you in a more tangible way. Thank you so much for your support, I am eternally grateful!
The family spread makes me laugh. That is such a classic Asian family moment!