Micropublishing: Obsession Zines


For your first full-scale zine project, you will create a 12-page zine designed completely by hand. In other words, you will cut and paste each element onto the pages separately, much like what we saw in the videos on Monday (1, 2).

  • You MAY digitally set blocks of type, but no more than a column at a time. (example)
  • You MAY crop and scale images to the appropriate dimensions, and adjust brightness/contrast.
  • You MAY NOT use Photoshop for anything more than scaling, cropping, or adjusting Brightness/Contrast of images.
  • You MAY NOT design an entire page or set of pages digitally, and then print them out, cut them up, and re-assemble them as though you had done it by hand in the first place.
  • You MAY NOT use color. Your zine will be entirely black and white. Consider contrast, texture, visual balance, and other design elements.

The theme for this project is OBSESSION. Interpret that how you will, but know that your zine should be your voice, and your point-of-view. Make it compelling in some way. Your obsession may be something completely boring to everyone else, but how can you make it interesting?

Remember the zine about the guys and their pigeons? I’m not particularly interested in pigeons, but I’m very interested in a smartly designed zine that gives me something weird to ponder.

It’s easy for these zines to become very image-heavy. However, I want you to try to balance your pages with text. Write about your obsession. And write in such a way that it engages the reader.

Regardless of what your obsession is, you need to make it relevant/interesting to a causal reader. Maybe they won’t share your obsession, but they can at least be entertained by it. For example, I think the Helvetica documentary makes typography seem kind of interesting to someone not particularly interested in design.

What is your OBSESSION?

  • Abandoned Buildings
  • Music / Your Favorite Band
  • Technology
  • Vegetarianism
  • Conspiracies ☠️
  • Sports
  • Feminism
  • Celebrities/ Movies / Television
  • Travel
  • Politics
  • Thai Food
  • The Mall
  • Art
  • Architecture
  • Something else?


Thr 8/31 – Get started / Brainstorm / Start writing & collecting images
Tue 9/05- Work.
Thr 9/07 – View progress / Discuss print production techniques
Tue 9/12 – Turn in finished zines (5 copies + original)

Type + Image: Typographic Rhythm

F. T. Marinetti
F. T. Marinetti • via RIT

Just as music has rhythm, so to does typography. Good type has soul, feeling, emotion, beat, tempo. Type can be happy or sad, meaningful or silly, disturbing or inspirational. A good song effects you in some way, so should good typography. It can be fast paced or slow paced, upbeat or melancholy. Learning to understand the rhythm of type is essential to a graphic designer.

You will each be given a song. There are many styles available. Listen to the lyrics.

Your task is to interpret the feel of the song using typography. It can have visual meaning, but this must be accomplished with type. Using only lyrics from the song, typeset and choose typefaces that seem fitting. Use as much of the lyrics as is necessary to achieve the feeling you wish to convey. Use color, texture, letterspacing, weight, leading, point size, etc. freely to help convey the message. The basic rules of typography such as horizontal scale, baseline, alignment, etc. are of no concern for this assignment. BE CREATIVE. Think of yourself as a visual conductor.

• to increase your ability as a planner and form giver
• to develop an awareness of the relationship between design and meaning
• to increase and improve the quality idea generation (quality & quantity)
• to increase conceptual skills
• to increase your understanding and appreciation for the subtleties of typography

You will be required to maintain thorough documentation of your process throughout this and all assignments in this class. Keep a collection of everything pertaining to this project (research, sketches, thumbnails, copies, etc.) and bring it to each class meeting. This collection will be turned in at the completion of this assignment and will be part of your final grade.

• one 15″ x 20″ print
• one process notebook
• The finished print will be a 15″ x 20″ print mounted on foam core

Project Timeline

8/31 Begin Project. Listen to songs. Research. Start sketching.
9/05 Print lyrics / Look for typographic cues.
9/07 Develop 3 concepts in Illustrator
9/12 Critique digital comp (3 hi-res PDFs) / Continue with best concept
9/14 Implement changes from critique
9/19 Refine concepts
9/21 Project Due – 15″ x 20″ FLUSH MOUNTED ON FOAM CORE ✭

These are the songs:

  1. Search and Destroy – The Stooges
  2. Uncontrollable Urge – Devo
  3. Crapa Pelada – Quartetto Cetra (English translation)
  4. Motörhead – Ace of Spades
  5. Dent May – Don’t Let Them
  6. Elvis Costello –  I Want You
  7. Nick Lowe – I Love the Sound of Breaking Glass
  8. Public Enemy – Fight the Power
  9. Willy Wonka – Wondrous Boat Ride
  10. The Mooney Suzuki – Electric Sweat
  11. Rollins Band  – Do It! (Pink Faries cover)
  12. Guided By Voices – Hold On Hope
  13. R.E.M. – It’s the End of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine)
  14. Neutral Milk Hotel – Holland, 1945
  15. Portishead – Wandering Star


Type + Image: Object Type Book

Type is everywhere. And the more obsessed you become with typography, the more you start to see it all around you. The pair of concrete posts with an iron crossbar in the photo above may not look much like a lower-case U, but it’s there if you look for it. And so the more you look, the more you will find.

Your assignment is to photograph objects that could be said to look like letterforms, one for each letter of the alphabet.

Then print and bind them as a 8.5″ x 5.5″ booklet. The interior should be fairly straight-forward, but you should design a creative cover. Make sure your name and class section are on the inside back cover.

The finished booklet is DUE THR OCT 19 at the beginning of class.
Put it in your calendar now.

There will be a lot of trees with Ys and telephone poles as Ts, but try to look for more obscure or interesting options.

The shadows on the Art building make a kind-of-a W…

It’s a bit of a stretch, but it could work in context.

There are a lot of letters in this cracked mud…

Welcome to Fall 2017

Hey everyone. Welcome to Fall 2017.
This is where I’ll be posting projects, links, videos, and other relevant information.

My office location is ART B20.
My email is dennis.schmickle@ttu.edu.
My phone number is 806-834-6325.
My office hours are Tuesday and Thursday from 3:00pm-4:00pm and by appointment.

This semester I am teaching Type + Image and Micropublishing. Please download the syllabus for your class here:

Type+Image Syllabus | Micropublishing-Syllabus

Throughout the semester we will make exciting and meaningful work. If at any point in the process you are confused, stuck, or just not sure what is going on… please get in touch with me by any of the avenues listed above. I’m happy to help, but you gotta let me know!


Bernd & Hilla Becher • Blast Furnaces • Image via C4gallery.com

Your next zine will reflect the theme of COLLECTIONS.

Not everyone has a collection, but some people collect records, beanie babies, baseball cards, stamps, cars, books, posters, houseplants, or a million different things.

However, for this assignment, I don’t want you to just go home and photograph your collection of Breaking Bad bobbleheads. Instead, think back to artists like Bernd & Hilla Becher (1, 2), Kate Bingaman-Burt, and Ed Ruscha (12, 3, 4).

You will choose an object or subject to photograph, draw, or otherwise document, and create a 12 to 24-page zine about that collection of objects, with commentary. Whatever the subject, I want there to be text and images. You will write about the things your are documenting: where did you find it, describe the context, the date/time, people involved, etc…

And once again, it can be set digitally, but the zine composed by hand. There should also be some consideration given to a special production technique of your choice: a page that folds out to reveal a bigger image, hand-added color to each copy, block printing, emboss, colored paper, vellum, … something else? It could be as simple as using a different paper stock for the cover than the interior.

Project Components:
1 Paste-up Original
5 Photocopies (with an interesting production element)

Project Timeline:
Thr Sept 28: Begin Project / Brainstorm / Collect images over weekend
Tue Oct 03: Review Images / Work
Thr Oct 05: Critique
Tue Oct 10:Revisions
Thr Oct 12: Project Due