Who are you? Where are you based?
My name is Isa Alvestegui, I am half Bolivian and half German, and I was born in “West-Berlin” 8 years before the wall came down (yes I am that old!), I lived in many places (Switzerland, Guatemala, Bolivia) including 4 years in the Himalayas (in India) to study Buddhism and now I am back in Berlin for more than a year.
What are zines to you?
Freedom to express me and to share ideas, knowledge, art, and inspiration.
What was your first encounter with zines?
I was looking for a gift for my friend and suddenly I had my first Zine in my hands, in that very moment I fell in love, I bought two including a book in Zine culture and made my first Zine.
What’s the name of the book you bought about zine culture?
I am not 100% sure but it could have been, Stolen Sharpie Revolution: a DIY Resource for Zines and Zine Culture.
Tell me about your zines. What kind of zines do you make?
I started a little Zine called Za-Zine. The main idea of Za-Zine is to discuss and inspire meditation, teach about the mind, and provide a break from our daily routine. When I write a Zine, I do it without much preparation. Instead, I use the inspiration that strikes me in that very moment. Which is why every Zine is a little different, according to the moment and the inspiration I felt that day.
I try not to force myself, as I feel the Zine should reflect “this moment of inspiration” rather than a “forced content”.
I chose to draw it by hand, as I am trying to work outside the realm of corporate designs. It should have mistakes, something unbalanced, something unexpected. This, by itself, is a mind training (it gets our mind out of a numbing system that pretends to be perfect).
Years ago, I wrote my final thesis on Moche Fineline Paintings, a culture from Peru that always incorporates a tiny mistake into their paintings. Just to balance the harmony with a little chaos. I was very impressed by that idea, which is why I want to use it here, by creating imperfections with my own hand.
There is not only beauty in imperfection it is also a state of mind.
Do you have any advice for someone who wants to create a zine but is drawing a blank?
you could start with brainstorming using a mind map and see what starts forming… or if you want to do a more abstract artistic zine you could just sit and meditate on the pages and slowly start drawing forms, dots, what ever you feels wants to come out … without any idea or construct… and let yourself be surprised by the result.
What inspires you to create zines?
Usually, I suddenly feel an inspiration and an idea forms in my mind, once it’s ripe, I sit down and write it down in one go (with a pencil). Afterwards, I only make small adjustments when relining it with a pigment liner. The drawing and images usually come last.
My motivation is to help people get out of their minds routine, feel a moment of peace, a break from their usual reality.
I like my zines to be interactive, not just something to be consumed. Which is why they usually have space to be filled in, or they actively ask you to do something (with your mind).
What’s your favorite thing about zines?
That there are no rules, I could even start a zine in the middle and let it go to the outer pages and it would be fine.
From all my years of studying the mind, I feel it is very important to disrupt habits as a form of healing the mind, which is why the zine is the perfect platform.
Do you recall your first zine ever, what was it about and what inspired you to create it?
Yes it was Za-Zine No.1 (a graphic meditation)
My first Za-Zine happened to manifest as a “graphic meditation”, it shows symbols and forms for you to meditate on and feel the difference in your mind when relating to them.
I wanted to create something that would help people notice their own mind and how it works, how it can feel different from one minute to the next, and how practicing this would allow you to learn how to “control your mind”.
Tell me a little about your zine-making process.
Once an idea has ripened I fold a few papers into my Zine size, number the pages, and start writing it down with a pen. Afterwards, I reline the entire Zine and erase the pencil. Once it is done, I go out to make a few copies. Usually about 12. Back home I add some stamps and stickers to make them more unique and then I give out some of them to friends who like them and the rest I hide in places for people to find them.
What do you hope people get out of your zines?
The realization that your mind is not fixed, and that, if you learn how to pay attention to it and what it does, you will gain more power over your own life.
Do you have any advice for new zinesters?
I was very shy when I did my first Zine, and another Zinester wrote me “just do it you will love it” and luckily I listened to her because it really is a wonderful process, just the making itself. And getting feedback from people is really great too, which is what I was worried about most… how will people react?… but I only got positive reactions so far, and I am happy I dared to share them. So yes, just do it! …even if you feel shy, you will love it!
Is there a zine website or resource you would recommend new zinesters to check out?
I tried to find the book that I bought but unfortunately, it is gone. But you will find a lot of good videos to learn how to make zines if you search for ” how to make a zine” on youtube, or you can check out: https://thecreativeindependent.com/guides/how-to-make-a-zine/
Isa’s social media links:
My Patreon page for people who would like to get my zine:
Isa has included two Za-zines on here for you to download and enjoy. Check them out:
Interview conducted by Solansh M.
Pictures and zines provided by Isa I.