Meet this Zinester: Lauren Hamell

Who are you? Where are you based?
I’m Lauren Hamell, based in Wisconsin but one day hopefully in Chicago. I hope to be a full-time writer with a zine cafe, although the dream would be going into film. I love creative horror movies, and I’m a big David Lynch fan.

What are zines to you?
Zines are something that anyone can make. They say everyone has a book in them that they could write; well, I think a more realistic approach would be a zine. Zines can be as simple or extra as you want, with any topic. You write on a piece of paper, maybe fold the paper in half. If you say it’s a zine, it’s a zine.

What was your first encounter with zines?
My first encounter with zines, from what I remember, is I somehow discovered them on Etsy, and now I can’t get enough of them. But the funny thing is that I was making zines since I was very little without knowing what they were. Here’s one I made with my sister and my dad’s help when I was five about where we lived.

Tell me about your zines. What kind of zines do you make?
I make zines of whatever I want; Fanzines of my favorite shows, about my identity, things that bother me, politics, whatever. I can be very poetic about one topic while very sarcastic about another topic, even if they are very serious topics. I still have many I want to make and many to be released to the public.

What inspires you to create zines?
I’ve had this creative drive for a long time now. I’ve written a lot in my life but only recently have actually let the public see it. I’ve grown and want to step out of my comfort zone. I want to say what needs to be said and even stuff that doesn’t need to be said but that people will still enjoy.

What’s your favorite thing about zines?
My favorite thing about zines is that there are no rules. You can make a zine and never ever share. Or you can share it anywhere. I love that people are allowed to be as creative or non-creative as they want and are allowed to say what they want. The most important thing to me in the community is that you don’t have to be super creative. Being creative can be exhausting, and sometimes it’s just good to get things off your chest. The community is very fun and open-minded. I still have yet to educate myself on the history of zines, but I know it’s been around for a while, and I’m so happy that people still love it.

Do you recall your first zine ever, what was it about and what inspired you to create it?
I made my first “official” zine in college. I had written a lot of poetry, so I decided to make a queer poetry zine about my experiences.

I was just getting into zines, my only source at that time being Etsy. Not only was I a broke college kid, but I didn’t see a lot of asexual representation in zines (or anywhere for that matter). So I just did it myself.

Tell me a little about your zine-making process.
As of right now, my zine-making process consists of writing down things on a piece of paper, putting them in a certain pile, and saving for later. Then when I get very passionate or vocal about something, I will take everything I’ve written about it, try to figure out the layout. While doing this, I also like to draw out my covers. When I see how many pages it is, I have to figure out how to bind the book together. In my zine “The Dream Zine,” I spent about a month off and on just perfecting the binding. It’s incredibly thick, at around 60 pages, I think. It’s a very chaotic process, but I am a very chaotic person, so I think it suits me. I also get a lot of inspiration for design from other zinesters and book designs.

What do you hope people get out of your zines?
I’m not sure what I want people to get out of my zines. I’m very personal in them but very hesitant to share with people I know. I think that when people read them, I hope they understand me, understand themselves, understand the subject matter more, or are just amused.

Name two of your favorite zinesters.
JUST TWO??? Okay, Crash Reynolds, and Gina McMillen! They are both so wonderful and real in their zines.

Do you have any advice for new zinesters?
My advice for new zinesters: literally do whatever you want; Whatever topic, whatever design, whatever length. You don’t ever have to let others see it. You can make a zine for yourself. Definitely learn how to bind books because you might write something more than something you can just staple. Also, I would get a long reach stapler so you can staple easier.

Is there a zine website or resource you would recommend new zinesters to check out?
There are many books (and zines!) about making zines. Etsy is very good for buying zines and finding other zinesters, and a good place to sell! Another good place is your nearest zine shop. My favorite is Quimby’s. Also, for my fellow aces and whoever is interested, here is an article about zines and the ace community that I participated in.

Lauren’s Social Media:
Instagram @laurenhamell

Interview Conducted by Solansh M.
Photos provided by Lauren H.

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