Self-made: zines & artist books

Plan your visit

colour photo of two men in T-shirts holding books

Hours: Mon-Thurs 10am–9pm; Fri–Sun 10am–6pm

Friday, 11 August 2017Sunday, 12 November 2017
Blue Rotunda, Cowen Gallery

Visit our exhibition

This bold exhibition delves into the evolution of do-it-yourself culture, from limited-run artist books to cut-and-paste photocopy fanzines.

Discover science fiction fanzines from the 1940s, ground-breaking 1970s punk zines, Australian underground press publications, and artist books designed to defy tradition and buck the commercial gallery system.

Guided tours

Join a free, 45-minute guided tour of the exhibition to gain further insights into the world of underground publications and artist books.

Guided tours run three times a week and bookings aren't required. Choose from:

  • Tuesday at 12.30pm
  • Thursday at 6pm
  • Sunday at 3pm

Note: there will be no tour on Melbourne Cup Day (Tue 7 Nov).

Curator floortalks

Painting of a blonde woman in sunglasses and three young people

Jessirose Streker, Portraits I painted of inspirational figures from around thw world, Melbourne, Part/Time Press, 2015

Enhance your visit to Self-made with an insightful 30-minute floortalk by the exhibition's curator, Monica Syrette.

Go inside the do-it-yourself world of fanzines, ezines and artist books, and step behind the scenes of the exhibition.

Book now

  • 12 October, 1pm
  • 17 October, 6pm

About the curator

Monica Syrette attended the Canberra Institute of the Arts in the late 1980s, when the city was a major centre for artists books in Australia. In the 1990s she worked at Sydney independent music retailer Waterfront Records, ordering zines from local and international makers and distributors.

Monica was archivist at Arts Project Australia and assistant curator at the Grainger Museum, founded by composer and pianist Percy Grainger. Most recently she curated the exhibition Wharfies support! Social justice activism from the Melbourne Docks at Library at the Dock.

Zine-making: words + art + identity

materials including scissors, glue and paper cutouts being prepared for a zine

School workshop

Book your secondary students into our hands-on zine-making workshop – learn tips and techniques, and take a guided tour of the Self-made exhibition.

Exhibition partners

This exhibition is supported by the Visions regional touring program, an Australian Government program aiming to improve access to cultural material for all Australians, and Creative Victoria.

Touring partner

Program partner

Focus on artist books

Collage of a woman and a bird

Gracia Haby and Louise Jennison, A deck of salvaged relatives (detail), 2015

Browse the exhibition with curator Monica Syrette, followed by a behind-the-scenes viewing of selected artist books from the Library's extensive collection.

Booked out

Zine scene

close-up of scattered zines and magazines

Zine scene takes you on an exclusive behind-the-scenes viewing of rare zines from the Library's History of the Book Collection, led by exhibition curator Monica Syrette and State Library librarian and Sticky Institute Chair John Stevens.

Booked out


Gracia Haby and Louise Jennison, I think all the world is falling (detail), 2017

Head to the La Trobe Reading Room to see Looped, a unique installation of artist books in the round by artists Gracia Haby and Louise Jennison, from 4 August to 26 November 2017.

John Stevens on zines

Take an in-depth look at our collection of quirky and one-off magazines and fanzines with the Library's expert on all things zine, librarian John Stevens.


F*EMS are Freya Alexander, Anna MacNeill and Tegan Iversen: Females for Equality Making Stuff. They publish their zine three times a year, and include all submissions received from female-aligned or identifying people from all over the world. Watch the video to hear more about the simple but powerful messages their self-published zine gives a voice to.

Zines collection

blue background with cassette and

The Library collects all forms of popular culture, including of course zines, comics and graphic novels. Find out more!

David Wadelton

David Wadelton is an artist, painter, photographer and leader of the Northcote Hysterical Society, a Facebook group celebrating the vernacular, everyday and often-overlooked aspects of inner-Melbourne life and history. Watch the video to hear more about how David, an acclaimed exhibited artist, took up the camera after a hiatus of 40 years to become an accidental historian and alternative news source.

Kenny Pittock

Kenny Pittock's playful artist books, sculptures and drawings respond to Australian culture, exploring the idiosyncrasies and dilemmas of modern-day life. There are plenty of examples of Kenny's artwork in this video, including his ceramic sculptures of books.

Jon Campbell

Jon Campbell is a Melbourne artist whose unique artworks combine his love of music, graphic design, lettering and slang. In this video, he discusses zines, self-publishing and his book of handwritten setlists from the early 1980s.

Media release

Gracia and Louise collage of animals

Read the media release about the exhibition in our news blog.

Artists books

Feather and prey, Peter Lyssiotis, Masterthief Entrerprises, Melbourne, 1997

Feather and prey, Peter Lyssiotis, Masterthief Entrerprises,  Melbourne, 1997

Be inspired by examples of artists books held in the Library's Rare Books Collection.

Des Cowley on artists books

Watch a video with Rare Printed Collections Manager Des Cowley and discover how artists books are rare works of art expressed in book form.

Sasha Grishin on printmaking & artists books

Hear from Professor Sasha Grishin in this video, discussing how Melbourne is a centre of printmaking and artists books in Australia.

Research guide

Jonathan Tse, Portrait of an Australian, Robertson, J Tse, 1998

For DIY tips, browse the Library's research guide to zines, graphic novels and more.