Printing a zine of my favorite 2019 Instagram stories


Why I chose to invest time and money in this venture

In 2019, I got really into stories as a media format. I did some academic writing about them, I posted a bunch of them, and at the end of the year, I felt like I'd done some (kinda) interesting work in the space. 

But social media stories are inherently digital and ephemeral. While I can appreciate that as a constraint, I also think preserving work you've done and letting people who don't have social media accounts see it is worthwhile. I've spent a lot of time around people who are into zine culture but had never really dabbled in creating one. So, I decided to take what I'd done in a different format, and recontextualize it. 

Creation process

I started with an audit of my social media stories from 2019. On one hand, I kind of liked the idea of putting everything in the zine and making it a complete package. But, as I looked at how much I posted, that was gonna turn into a book. Plus, I thought something that called out highlights was much more consumable, and true to the zine ideal.

I picked out a selection that covered most of the year, looking for a range of activities, perspectives, and meme-style themes that I'd maintained for an extended period. Then, I saved screenshots, and laid them out horizontally to track the progression. I noted location, date, and time for added context.   


Then, I added a Instagram-gradient motif to the stories, so that a single story followed the gradient from start to finish, with specific posting dates denoted on it like a timeline. 


After playing with placement, sizing, and considering the heirarchy I wanted the page to have, I ended up making images larger, placing the timeline on top, and reducing the number of fonts I was using. 


With a little more iteration, and some print tests at home, I was ready to print a "real" version of the zine at a quality I couldn't achieve using inkjet printers. 

I put together some print-ready files, and sent it along to Mixam, which seemed like a solid combo of quality and price for the 50-issue printing I was looking to do. 

Roughly a week later, I was finely able to tangible hold the Instagram stories that had been trapped inside my phone. I mailed out copies to friends, handed out copies to coworkers, and generally made every attempt I could at convincing those around me to be interested in studying new media formats.