Are you okay? Mental health narratives and authorial illustration in Art Zines from the Zineopolis Collection

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This paper explores examples of art zines that contain visual narratives about mental health. The author is the curator of Zineopolis (University of Portsmouth, UK) and specific examples will be drawn from this special collection of art zines. This paper questions how visual narratives about issues such as GAD (General Anxiety Disorder), Burnout and PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) can communicate to a reader through art zines. It will consider authorial illustration within the self-publishing sector and how personal, private stories can been shared in an ultimately positive context. ‘Well-being’ has become a particular focus for higher education in the UK with many students struggling with issues such as anxiety and depression. Art zines have an immediacy and democracy of production that means many more voices can be heard and stories shared beyond what is available in the mainstream. Ethical issues of circulating these art zines within a special collection is also commented upon with reference to The Zine Librarians Code of Ethics (2015). Mental health issues have often been portrayed though the popular media unsympathetically creating stigma, whereas these selected art zines show care and understanding offering an alternative narrative.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-12
JournalThe International Journal of the Book
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2020


  • zines
  • mental health and wellbeing
  • Arts and cultural Policy


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