With some pens, paper, scissors and a little imagination, two good friends seek to change the world—and have some fun along the way—one zine at a time.
The scene is reminiscent of crafts time in a kindergarten classroom. Strewn across the hardwood floor are vibrant pages of collage—magazine clippings and construction paper spilled from a plastic box. Twenty-somethings Hurley Winkler, wearing a black shirt with a feminine scoop neckline and sleek glasses, and Aysha Miskin, in a Boho blouse with her hair in a loose bun, sit cross-legged on velvety pillows, lovingly looking over their assortment of scribblings and paper cutouts.
They talk excitedly about what is to be done with each page. Winkler and Miskin are working on their fourth installment of Nickname, a Jacksonville-centric, small-batch publication featuring short stories, poetry and original illustrations: A zine, if you will.
The two met in 2014 in Jacksonville at the sales rack of the Urban Outfitters department store a day after the Hobby Lobby trial, in which the national arts and crafts chain fought against providing birth control to employees under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993. They were, as Miskin describes, “pissed-off-shopping.” Despite their frustrations, they made plans to hang out.
They soon discovered they had two big things in common. One: both had found that people believed their first names—Hurley and Aysha—to be pseudonyms. And two: they both love zines.
Winkler—a writer who has published articles in local publications, including Folio Weekly, Jacksonville Magazine, and First Coast Magazine—earned her MFA in Creative Writing at Lesley University. Her mother named after her mother’s last name that she no longer has. Miskin, meanwhile, is currently a student at UNF. She finds inspiration, she says, for her various drawings, paintings, murals, and embroidery projects murals in the imperfect and unconventional qualities of beauty. She was named after a Steely Dan album, Aja, but her parents later re-spelled her name because it didn’t look right to them.
Both women spent their childhoods answering similar questions. ”But what’s your real name?” “Are your parents hippies?”
“Simply put, we have uncommon names,” Winkler says. “And people always ask us if they’re our nicknames. It’s funny when that happens, and I think it’s informed our identities.”
The duo has now collaborated on three issues of Nickname, gaining momentum with each, as the zines have been popular sellers at local shops such as Chamblin’s Bookmine and SPACE 42 gallery. Taken as a whole, the three issues explore the woes and joys of life as a 20-something woman.
More importantly to Winkler, making Nickname has been a fun way to be creatively productive with a friend, she says. “As an adult, I’d forgotten what it feels like to create spontaneously without expectations. The zine has brought that feeling back into my life.”
Winkler and Miskin ran us through the process of making their zine, from inspiration to curation to production.
Step 1: Grab a Friend (or not)
Hurley says it’s definitely possible to create a zine by oneself, but those people she jokes, “must be terribly lonely.” They both express that it’s helpful to find someone who you want to be creative with, but it’s important that that person can also keep you creatively accountable.
“It just felt really natural with [Hurley] and didn’t have the need to impress her. It’s been a really interesting relationship where we have grown together so much, not only as people, but as two people who are creative in separate fields,” Miskin says.
Step 2: Set Goals
It helps to have a goal in mind while creating a zine, says Winkler. The duo’s first issue was more experimental since they were getting their feet wet in the zine-making process, letting their ideas flow naturally.
“I’ve learned a lot about just sitting with your ideas for awhile,” Hurley says. “To let the ideas form on their own is an organic thing.”
Winkler and Miskin have focused some of their topics on womanhood. For their recent issue released in March, Nickname explored the concept by including words of wisdom from their mothers and a poem about Melania Trump.
“You just have to make something and put it into the world and allow it to be there and exist,” Miskin says.
Step 3: Crank out the Content
After the brainstorming, Winkler and Miskin write and draw whenever they have free windows of time. Usually, Winkler says, the writing precedes the visuals. But for their second issue, Miskin’s illustrations came first and acted as inspiration for Winkler’s writing.
Step 4: Cut. Paste. Copy. Repeat. (About 200 Times)
Traditionally, zines are made on copiers, using black and white ink, Miskin explains. The process tended to be the most affordable and common for zine creators. The duo wanted to stay true to that value when they developed their zine, which starts with pages pages soaked in color.
“We always like to see how the color transfers to black and white, and we have to think about that as we’re laying everything out,” Winkler says.
Winkler and Miskin take their precious pages to a copy machine at a UPS store in Jacksonville Beach. They spend roughly two hours laying out the raw pages and printing them on the copybed.
“It’s just about leaving everything up to chance,” Miskin says. “I think that’s one of the most beautiful things about this project. That there’s this room for chance and fate.”
Everything is printed on eight by eleven sheets, then folded over to create a five by seven booklet. The original proofs are made into copies that are then stapled those copied pages to produce each booklet.
Step 5: Trade Your Zine
Once you’ve produced a one-of-kind zine, it’s time to show and grow by finding other zine-makers, trading your cool zine for a copy of theirs. Collecting more zines builds up a library of inspiration for still more zine-making.