Let's talk about packaging...

I thought I’d kickstart a new series of articles called JUST A THOUGHT. The general premise is whenever you’d like to share something that’s on your mind, that isn’t quite a project or an announcement, you’ll share JUST A THOUGHT.

Today’s JUST A THOUGHT concerns packaging. Now if you’ve already sold a product by post, you’ve probably already considered packaging. If you haven’t sold something, or you have but not considered packaging, then this article is for you.

I first want to talk about Apple. Whether or not you like Apple products, or the price tags that come with iPhones and MacBooks, you cannot question the presentation and service that come with their products. Whenever you purchase a product, it comes excellently packaged, with perfectly fitted accessories. They opening experience of such a product is rather special. The same could be said for Huawei or other devices, but I think Apple do this exceptionally well.

Why am I talking about this? I’m drawing your attention to the experience. Would you feel that excitement if your brand new iPhone was clumsily packaged in an ugly carrier bag? Of course not. The product is still the same, but it’s presented differently. I think that we, as creators, should take the same considerations into account when we’re selling our work.

Let’s take a look at a few examples of zines I’ve received: two good, and on not so good.

The first is Nick (Exposed) Mayo’s Sketches of Light. I will preface this with a recognition that this zine is smaller than most, and thus could be easier to package. Nick’s zine was sent from the US to the UK, thus needed to be packaged well, and it was. The zine was presented in a small clear bag with the front of the zine facing you as you opened the package. It was reinforced with a small backing board that added a nice weight and rigidity to it. The zine was in pristine condition, and the packaging used felt premium. It was an enjoyable experience that further added to the excitement of opening such a product.

The second great packaging experience was Rui Esteves’ não vão daqui a pensar mal disto. If you have read my recent article on this zine, you would know of my fondness for the presentation for this zine. The presentation was completely unique: a brown envelope with the zine’s title handwritten on it and a wax seal securing it closed. You have to appreciate the craft that goes into any zine, but this one in particular felt so lovingly presented. It made the experience of opening it that extra bit special.

Not all openings leave you with that excitement though. Now that I’ve reflected on two memorable openings for the right reasons, I’ll reflect on another that was a little disappointing. If you’ve read my other articles, you might know that I like to be positive on here, and build up the community. For that reason, I will tell you about this experience, but not name the creator that it involved. The person involved respected my disappointment, and resolved the situation, so I have no complaints. That being said, I think it’s important to reflect on such experiences.

As you might expect, when the zine arrived, the envelope encasing it was barely holding itself together, and a lot of the zine was already exposed. Once I opened what was left of the envelope, it zine itself had creases and scuffs on it. The insides were fine, and the zine itself is brilliant, but the experience has already been tainted slightly.

So why am I talking about this? Who cares? Well, I think we all should: what’s the point of producing a great zine, and then not putting the same effort into the presentation? It’s like taking a beautiful photo, and then printing it on your standard office printer.

Now, if you’re still reading this, it’s probably because you do care about packaging. That’s great. I’m now going to talk about my experience with packaging my debut zine: LIFELESS. This is something that I was complimented on by a number of people, so I thought I would impart my knowledge on the subject. Here are a few tips that you might want to consider:

  1. Spend money on packaging. We all want are zine to be well priced, but don’t be afraid to spend a little bit extra on packaging. Better packaging at the cost of about 50p is worth it.

  2. Size matters. When your zine fits perfectly in a clear sleeve, it makes it that little more professional.

  3. Use a bag. Having a clear plastic bag is brilliant as it advertises the cover of your zine, whilst protecting it from liquids in transit. Also, they’re cheap, so why wouldn’t you?

  4. Protection is KING. Nobody cares about your packaging if it doesn’t protect your zine. There is no point including card if it doesn’t provide extra rigidity.

  5. Use premium materials. This might be obvious, but using nicer materials is always better, and doesn’t increase the costs drastically. For example, scotch tape has a nicer texture than normal sellotape, and it is reusable, meaning your zine will be preserved for years to come.

  6. “DO NOT BEND” stickers - use them. I needn’t say more. Just use them.

Here you can see images of how I packaged my zine. I purchased most of the products through smile.amazon.co.uk. Below you can find links to each of the products. The links are deliberately not affiliate links - if you would like to support us, then merely use tag @YOUR_EXHIBITION in your images and use the #YOUREXHIBITION hashtag. You’ll notice that I purchased acid-free comic book sleeves, and backing boards. These products are designed to protect printed works already, so they’re ideal for your zines.

Well I think that about covers my JUST A THOUGHT. If you have any further questions about packaging, get in touch - I’d love to hear from you. Also, if you disagree with what I’ve said here, then let me know also. I’d be keen to hear your thoughts.

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