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Make a Mag workshop shows visiting students how to self-publish in an afternoon

Written by
Helen Carney
Published date
29 April 2016
Earlier this month, LCC invited students from UAL and elsewhere to spend an afternoon getting creative in a practical self-publishing workshop.

Event organiser and MA Publishing Course Leader Frania Hall reports on the day.

Make a Mag

On Thursday 7 April LCC hosted a Make a Mag workshop – setting the challenge to make a magazine in an afternoon. Students from UAL, Middlesex and UCL came to try their hand at making a magazine from scratch. Inspired by the ‘fab lab’ concept of coming along to learn and share, this project aimed to help people get creative and try something new within a short time frame.

Self-publishing in an afternoon

While some attendees had stronger InDesign skills, which was used for laying out the magazines, the session was designed to be accessible to those who had never used InDesign at all.

Senior Lecturer Keith Martin set up a template for those who had no experience so they could quickly get to grips with the software to produce a very professional looking product in an afternoon. For those with some knowledge it gave them the opportunity to see what they could do without a lot of experience and to get more confident playing around within InDesign templates.


Looking at magazine formats

Creative inspiration

UAL Library Services staff Leila Kassir and Caitlin Verney brought a selection of magazines and zines from the Library’s special collections as well as a great range of books about magazine design and making your own magazines. They talked the students through the selection and they could browse to get more inspiration.

Due to time constraints, everyone worked on a 16-page A5 mini-magazine. They all brought ready prepared content which we had briefed beforehand. They could play around with layouts and make choices around visual and textual elements. The pages were printed and they could also select from a range of papers; some experimented with printing on different colours while others tested out effects with translucent papers.

All participants then went to the binding room to fold and bind their projects with Print and Type Support Technician Arianna Tilche to help them and to do any final trimming.

A mix of magazines

The range of projects reflected the aim for the afternoon to use magazine media to communicate something personal: for one it was the story of her experience as a student in London having lived in a small rural community in China; for another it was a reflection of the concept of waiting in words and sketches.

A photojournalism student recorded the ‘Jungle’ camp in Calais, before and after its dismantling, while others were looking for ways to reflect their wide-ranging creative portfolio or to make use of their gorgeous digital photography to record their travels in print. One student tried a prototype for content marketing as a trial for her advertising project.

At the end there was the opportunity to show and talk about their projects to each other and inspire each other with what range of projects could be achieved in a short space of time.

Experimenting with magazine media

We are now looking at ways to make this a more collaborative experience. Longer term we are looking at ways to improve the template to ensure it is flexible for beginners while looking at other options in terms of binding styles and paper choices – to expand the creative possibilities of the afternoon.

This also might include things like zine-inspired handmade elements such as collage covers – so combining technology of publishing systems with craft. We also want to use the template for producing on-the-spot zines/newsletters as well as a way to record events while they are happening in a physical media.

The feedback from the day showed overwhelmingly that the participants loved the fact that they could see the whole process from beginning to end.

Make a Mag

The Make a Mag class celebrate with their finished work

Words by Frania Hall

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