Archive for the ‘Artists Books’ Category
COMMENTARIES ARISING FROM THE SLQ SIGANTO FOUNDATION SEMINAR
The trouble with artists’ books
State Library of Queensland – May 4, 2013
The quote “artists’ books … as popular as tatoos” was an opening remark by gallerist Noreen Grahame
All great seminars, forums, conferences and meetings stir discussion and commentary; The trouble with artists’ books seminar was no exception. We approached a number of artists book people to contribute to this blog post responding to the stimulus created by the event – I have included their responses after my introductory comments.
In Volume 7 of the Bonefolder e-journal I reported on the dual artists book events of the 2010 Artspace Mackay Focus on Artists Book V, event and the 3rd Libris Awards. In this report I commented on the speaker’s presentations and reviewed the artists book award. I then concluded that these events were integral to the development and maintenance of a community of practice for those who make artists books in this country. Three years on the energy and enthusiasm for artists’ books remains however the Mackay Focus event has been abandoned and some awards events have slipped from their usual place in the yearly/bi-yearly calendar.
We are indeed indebted to the Siganto Foundation and the SLQ who in 2012 made possible the Keith Smith and Scott McCarney workshop and seminar, and this year the The trouble with artists’ books seminar. It seems to me that artists book community in this country has a great appetite for information, connecting with the heroes and heroines of the discipline, learning about methods and techniques as well as participating in camaraderie with their peers. My concluding words in the Bonefolder report recognised the importance of events such as Artspace’s Focus on Artists Books and the Libris Awards as they invigorate the discipline and the art of artists books … The significant response to this seminar indicates that the pace and frequency of artists book events should not slacken – we want more!
The Bonefolder report concluding comments were:
Awareness of the origins of the discipline of artists’ books and the Australian context as well as issues of contemporary and emergent practice is a unique outcome for FOAB. Where else in Australia this year would one be able to experience, or participate in a program where issues as diverse as Avatars making books in their second life, the death of the book/author, wild books and zoo viewing of books, propositions for new perceptive literature, mail art and the products of psychometry being resolved as artists’ books? Perhaps attendees should be warned of the ride that they would encounter.
Central to need for the FOAB, as an event, is its ability to pull together artists’ book interested people and provide a forum for them to be a part of something bigger than themselves. Artists’ bookmakers are individual artists, sometimes collaborators, librarians, academics, gallerists and collectors are isolated as islands of interest in their usual place of activity. But at FOAB they meet, greet, mingle, chat, discuss, argue and get down to the flensing-out of ideas, polemics and concerns about practice and the book as a work of art. This blend of interested parties forms the nucleus, the hub, of the discipline within this country – without it, there would only be individual soliloquies in the wilderness
Julie Barratt – Artist
I guess really briefly what I got from ‘the trouble with artist book ‘ talk if I was going to quote is ” it seems the trouble with artist books is that there are too many to love!!!” On a more serious note I guess for me it always comes down to how we talk about/define an artist book, as an ongoing discussion.
Almost on a daily basis when I had the gallery (I always had at lead a few artist books on display) people would ask what these books are! How to define them without quoting Johanna Drucker? Should there be categories i.e. Sculptural, digital etc etc. How do we expect the audience to understand them if we as practitioners have difficulty talking about them? But how do we agree on a definition?
That’s what I imagined the forum to be about because ‘isn’t that the trouble with artist books’? Having said that I thoroughly enjoyed the forum and think there need to be many many more of them when in fact there seem to be less (Mackay forum? ) so that the discussion can continue….
Its always a pleasure to catch up with the artist book community, feels like a reunion every time!
Maureen Trainor – Photographer and QCA Masters student
I found these presentations to be very informative and inspiring.
The content and sequence of the presentations were dynamic.
By breaking down the delivery into the three different viewpoints the three Keynote speakers were engaging and thought provoking.
Starting with Helen Cole presenting ‘the Librarian’s view’, Noreen Grahame presenting ‘the Gallerist’s view’, Jan Davis presenting ‘the Artist’s view’ and ending with an interactive audience time for ‘questions and answers’ was right on target with information.
The Hearsay team discussing their project was fantastic. Combined with humour and wit they certainly kept the attention of a diverse audience.
I truly enjoyed the afternoon and felt I could of stayed into the night with more speakers and presentations.
Monica Oppen – Artist and collector
The Trouble with Artists’ Books (and the Libris Awards)
Coming away from the SLQ seminar where the attendance was so strong and having attended the opening and announcement of the Libris Award at Artspace Mackay the conviction that has risen strongly in my mind is that there is a real need for events such as the SLQ Siganto Seminar. The strong attendance not only indicates a real interest in the topic but a desire of artists to reconnect with others working in the field. As Helen writes in her post about the Libris Awards, and I can vouch for it, there were very, very few artists there but also no other significant persons from the institutions who have an ongoing interest and involvement in artists’ books were there. The tyranny of distance and the associated costs of travel and accommodation will only be overcome by creating an event that is worth travelling for.
The topic The Trouble with Artists Books is pertinent and complex and was way too big to handle in one afternoon; a multi-day conference could have been structure around this topic. Time restrictions meant that Jan Davis and Noreen Grahame could only touch on, hint at and introduce the work/books from which a broader discussion could have expanded. The sense that there is a need for these seminars (judging from the attendance numbers) also hopefully indicates a need for more rigorous, mature critical discourse around the genre, a breadth of conversation and argument. Does the constant discussion of definition and the non-committal responses from ‘those who should know’ arise from this lack of discourse? I don’t consider the definition ‘if the artist calls it a book, it is a book’ to be an adequate, exciting nor empowering definition unless some force is allowed to work in opposition to it, that demands a justification, demands some critical analysis. The lines will always be blurry but this could be an energizing force and contribute a dynamism to the genre. By not taking a stand are we in fact leaving definitions to the gallery? Surely the gallery as a medium is the antithesis of the (artists’) book. The gallery is exposed and extraverted; the book is enclosed and introverted. Always it comes up, the problem with exhibiting artists books— this is because books are not meant to be exhibited, they are meant to be read. What are the implications for the genre if books are only viewed in the gallery, and more seriously if the gallery maintains a ‘no touch’ policy? Ironically, making a (artist’s) book was originally about abandoning the gallery; about the subversion of the commercialism of the art object. The book was meant to be a free-floating object in wider society. Where is that rebel spirit?
A hundred more questions could be asked. I hope the SLQ seminar is not a one-off but gives an impetus to more symposiums throughout the country.
Monica Oppen 14/5/13
Judy Barrass – Artist
THIS COMMENTARY COMES FROM JUDY’s BLOG – ‘Critical Mass’ http://www.criticalmassblog.net/2012/?p=2568
No one can agree on what they are, or even where the apostrophe should be placed, but a seminar on artists’ books at the State Library on Saturday drew a crowd.
It was a rare get-together of artist book makers and officianados, with attendees travelling from other states and regional Queensland just to attend the two-and-a-half-hour seminar and catch up with old friends.
According to the speakers, librarian Helen Cole, gallerist Noreen Grahame, and artist book maker and academic Jan Davis, artist books are problematic. That’s not just because no one seems to be able to agree on a definition, but also because they are hard to store, hard to display, and are not usually included in mainstream collections or exhibitions. They attract mostly a smallish group of makers and collectors and don’t sell in large numbers. Despite this, artists’ books draw a passionate audience of makers and supporters whenever they are on show (or whenever there’s a seminar).
Queensland has been a leader in the artist book phenomenon. The Queensland State Library is a significant collector, and Grahame Galleries took an early leading role. Artspace Mackay and Noosa Regional Gallery added public gallery support to exhibitions and collecting.
Someone suggested that it’s an inbred audience made up almost entirely of artist book makers, but a show of hands in the crowd on Saturday debunked this myth since at least half the attendees were not makers. Still, as Noreen Grahame remarked, artist books are a sort of ‘underground’ movement outside the mainstream.
I can’t help wondering if this is merely a question of naming. By calling these artworks ‘books’ they are relegated to the collections of libraries rather than art galleries, or they exist in a no man’s land between library and gallery. Nonetheless I have seen many works in public art gallery collections that could (or perhaps should) be called artist books. The boundaries are thin and flexible, and this was evident at the seminar. The mantra seems to be that if the artist calls it a book then it is a book.
One of the more interesting questions on the day was about the growing number of artist books that exist only in digital format. Helen Cole said the library was considering how these books might be collected and preserved, but indicated it was extremely difficult, particularly as technology changes so rapidly and formats and software become obsolete. Noreen Grahame solved the problem by referring to digital books as ‘ephemera’, and Jan Davis thought the number of artists working in the digital realm was small.
Following the discussion, a very chatty audience enjoyed a scrumptious afternoon tea and the launch of Hearsay, a large format collaborative artists’ book by artist Euan Macleod, printmaker Ron McBurnie, and writer Lloyd Jones. They apparently didn’t worry too much whether or not their work was or was not an artist book, but have sensibly hedged their bets by also producing the pages as a portfolio of unbound prints (in case anyone thought it wasn’t art, or more probably because the portfolio might be more saleable than an artist book ).
The seminar ‘The Trouble with Artist Books’ was sponsored by the Siganto Foundation through the Queensland Library Foundation.
The State Library artist book collection is part of the Australian Library of Art.
(Thank you Judy for allowing this re-posting in this blog)
Wim de Vos – Artist
‘The Trouble with Artists Books’
The lecture sponsored by the Siganto Foundation was very well attended by a large audience of art practitioners, administrators, and lovers of Artists Books, and was introduced by the new head of the State Library, Janette Wright. The speakers were Helen Cole, Senior Librarian of Special Collections at the Library; Noreen Grahame, Gallerist and long time respected promoter of the Artist Books within Australia and Internationally; and Jan Davis, Academic, and practitioner of Artists Books at Southern Cross University, Lismore, NSW.
Technically the lecture was informative, ran smoothly and was very well presented.
It was great to see so many practitioners (well over half the audience) and the general public, as this event facilitated a forum – to share, and some time to catch up with friends and colleagues. This has over the last few years become non-existent with the loss of the Art Space Mackay Artist Book Forum. Also the Noosa Regional Gallery’s ‘demise’ of the Artists Book annual exhibition was a sad occurrence. In addition, both venues offered successful workshops with renowned National and International Practitioners in the Visual Arts to nurture the visual arts and the book.
Many aspects of the development of Artists Books were addressed. Helen Cole addressed the ‘Trouble with Artists Books’ from a Librarian’s point of view, in that, because they were ‘Artists Books’ and diverse in so many ways, the logistics of preservation, cataloguing and storage were ‘Troublesome’. Furthermore, it was stated that the ‘Galleries’ had passed the Artists Books onto Libraries to display and make use of them, and by making Libraries the custodians of the ever-growing phenomenon of the Artists Book.
The concept of Artists Books is generally not an easy topic to present. It is in fact generally not understood at all. A friend recently pointed out, ‘I didn’t even know that an artist book existed, but as I have learnt through the language of art over time, I can say, I view this process as Book Works by Artists.’ A major exhibition of books of this nature: DAS BUCH was presented at the Queensland Art Gallery in association with the Museum of Contemporary Art in Sydney and the Goethe Institut in Germany during 1992. This was, I’m sure, a huge influence on art practitioners and the public. At the time, it placed an emphasis on the ‘Book as Object’ in a context never before experienced in the Antipodes. There has been no major exhibition of this type in a public gallery in this State, since.
As I am a practising artist and maker of prints, paintings, and sculpture, and work with a wide variety of materials, the book as object comes naturally as a medium to extend my practice. It has in fact tied together all my processes of making art, including text, giving me the freedom of story telling on many levels.
I observed, as the afternoon progressed, that in the presentation not all aspects of Artists Books practice was being fully covered and explored by the presenters. This became, indeed, troublesome. There is actually content within books, books with text, images and text, objects and materials, and so on. There was very little mentioned on the subject of the Sculptural Book or the Photo Book. A visual list WAS presented with images of the types of books that were in the collection of the Library. But no further elaboration was offered to those in the audience that were not already ‘in the know’. The State Library of Queensland has one of the largest collections of Creative & Historical books in the southern hemisphere.
Let it be said that we can be proud of a comprehensive, diverse, eclectic and public collection of books – particularly in the collection of Contemporary Art practice in Queensland and beyond. It is promoted that it ‘may be visited at any time, by appointment’.
I recognise that there is not time to cover everything fully. This made duplication and repetition even more irritating. Time may have been used more productively.
The lecture continued with the history of the Artists Book and it’s growth within Australia over the last 30 odd years. This painted an impressive picture of collections and practise over that time. Artists were mentioned who were instrumental in its development, but presenters did not go far enough on this issue, and failed to mention key motivators: artists both local and international. There was a ‘flow of words’ promoting a few artists over and over again. When the presentation of ‘Favourite Artists Books’ was introduced the theme of the lecture was totally abandoned. We were presented with a self-indulgent diversion as to what the book may mean only to the ‘literate Artists Book fans’ present.
It would have been more useful to give the audience an indication of how they may wish to learn more about Artist Books through the public and private system. There was enough talent and experience behind the microphone to impart this information. It seemed much of this lecture was preaching to the converted.
Afternoon tea on the terrace was followed by the launch of a collaboration of an Artist Book created by two well-known visual artists: Ewan McCloud and Ron McBurnie, and the writer Lloyd Jones. This was a very good presentation chaired by Suzi Muddiman: Director of the Murwillumbah Regional Art Gallery in NSW. This gave the opportunity for the layperson to experience the processes of collaboration in art making.
As there are no indications of any follow-up lecture or activities relating to Artist Books, it would be worthwhile to plan something on the promotion and educational aspects of Artists Books. I am sure it would be a great success.
A ‘large bouquet’ to Helen Cole in particular, and the State Library, for organising this generally informative and pleasant afternoon. We look forward to a more expansive event in the future.
Wim de Vos
Peter Lyssiotis – Artists book-maker and photomonteur
A vodcast for the event is available at http://www.slq.qld.gov.au/audio-video/webcasts/recent-webcasts/siganto-seminar
© Of all texts resides with the authors
Photograph of the SLQ Theatre, Julie Barratt, Monica Oppen, Wim de Vos © Doug Spowart 2013. Self-portrait of Maureen Trainor ©2013. Judy Barrass portrait supplied by Judy.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
RUNSHEET & OVERVIEW:
Momento Pro/HEADON Event: The Future of Photo Book Publishing
6.00 pm Panellists arrive on stage
6.10 pm Doug Spowart: Welcome and good evening.
Photographers and those who make photobooks are storytellers – and – with this in mind – I would like to acknowledge and pay respect to the traditional owners and story-tellers of this land on which we meet; the Gadigal people of the Eora Nation.
This evening we will discuss the photobook and consider the opportunities for its future in Australia.
My name is Doug Spowart, I make artists books, photobooks and I have a research interest in photography and the form of the photobook.
This evening I’m joined by an eminent panel of book people with a wide range of knowledge and expertise on the topic.
The order of this evening will begin with an overview by me about the photobook. Then each of the panellists will discuss their involvement within the book and photobook world. Following that the panel will be presented with a range of questions – some sent in from attendees. Towards the end of the forum we have set aside time for your questions and comments to the panel. The forum will close and be followed by refreshments and networking opportunities …
At this juncture I would like to thank our Sponsor Momento Pro and the Organizers of the HeadOn Photo Festival, and the Museum of Sydney for this opportunity to engage in dialogue about this growing and evolving medium …
AN OVERVIEW OF THE PHOTOBOOK
Photobook luminary Martin Parr states:
… that photography and the book were just meant for each other; they always have been. It’s the perfect medium for photography: it’s printed, it’s reproducible and it travels well. (Parr in Lane 2006:15)
The photobook is indeed the ‘perfect medium’ for photography and its history, the history of photography are inextricably linked with that of publishing. In fact some of the earliest experiments in photography made by Hércules Florence (1804 -1879), Nicéphore Niépce (1765 -1833) and Henry Fox Talbot (1800 -1877) were to discover methods and processes that would enable the copying and printing of texts or designs by capturing and fixing camera obscura images.In March 21, 1839, Talbot, the inventor of the negative-positive photographic process wrote to fellow researcher Sir John Herschel, about the potential of his calotype research work. In this letter he predicted that photography would make ‘Every man his own printer and publisher’(Talbot 1839). Talbot within four years set up a printing works at Reading where he printed the images for The Pencil of Nature, his treatise on the photographic process. This was published as a serialised form of text with tipped-in calotype images.
Books illustrated by photographs as a genre of the publishing industry flourished. The photographic image could operate as a storyteller, a precise document of truth, a device to entertain and, at times, a carrier of propaganda. Early photography book works consisted of travel, geographical and military expeditions, trade catalogues, scientific and ethnographic documentation.
Although some photographers, like Talbot, may have established their own publishing ventures, usually the photographer was a supplier of images for a publication that was commissioned by someone else – a publisher, benefactor or government agency. The publishing of a book was, and still is, a task requiring the specialized skills, the entrepreneurship and financial acumen found in the worlds of publishing, marketing and bookselling. Books are created for a purchasing audience: it is a mercantile process where return on the investment in a publishing project is a necessary outcome.
What is it about photographers and their need for photobooks?
Martin Parr describes the influence that photobooks had on his own practice by stating that:
I’m a photographer and I need to inform myself about what’s going on in the world photographically. Books have taught me more about photography and photographers than anything else I can think of. (Parr in Badger 2003:54)
Parr is not alone. The publishing house Aperture – a well established international publisher of contemporary and historical photographic essays and monographs – acknowledges in their organization’s credo that:
Every photographer who is a master of his [sic] medium has evolved a philosophy from such experiences; and whether we agree or not, his thoughts act like a catalyst upon our own — he has contributed to dynamic ideas of our time. Only rarely do such concepts get written down clearly and in a form where photographers scattered all over the earth may see and look at the photographs that are the ultimate expression. (in Craven 2002:13)
So photographers seek inspiration for their work by building their own reference libraries: have you ever visited a photographer and not had discussions about books or been invited to see their library? It then makes sense that photographers will want a book of their own. Photobook publisher Dewi Lewis exclaims: ‘I have yet to meet a photographer who doesn’t want to see their work in book form.’ (Lewis and Ward 1992:7).
Photobook commentators and publishers of the book Publish Your Photography Book, Darius Himes and Mary Virginia Swanson claim that this need is universal and emotive:
It almost goes without saying that every photographer wants a book of his or her work. It’s a major milestone, an indicator of success and recognition, and a chance to place a selection of one’s work in the hands of hundreds, if not thousands, of people. Plus it is just plain exciting to hold a book of your photographs! (Himes and Swanson 2011:26)
It seems that this ‘rite of passage’ is an important step of professional recognition as photographer, photobook maker and writer – Robert Adams – makes the following statement in his book Why people photograph:
I know of no first-rate photographer who has come of age in the past twenty-five years who has found the audience that he or she deserves without publishing such a book. (Adams 1994:44-5)
Does it then follow that every photographer of note or the creator of a significant body of work deserves a book?
It is not that easy. Amongst others the photobook publisher Dewi Lewis argues that the market for photobooks is limited – where he identifies that: ‘photographers themselves are the largest purchasers of photobooks’ (Lewis and Ward 1992).
Ultimately unsold books are remaindered – something even Magnum photographer Martin Parr experienced. His first book Bad Weather (1982) sold poorly and was remaindered at 40p. In an essay on photobook publishing Peter Metelerkamp reports that:
Parr himself bought in as many copies as he could at that price (very much below the cost of production) (Metelerkamp circa 2004:7).
But while remaindered books can be a great way to acquire a low priced library they represent a loss to the publisher, who may then be wary of undertaking future photobook ventures.
The photographers who are successfully trade-published are usually either well known and/or are those who produce work that is of interest to a broad audience. Most notably in Australia this has included celebrated photographers such as Harold Cazneaux (1878-1953), Frank Hurley (1885 -1962), Max Dupain (1911-1992), Jeff Carter (1928-2010), David Moore (1927-2003), Peter Dombrovskis (1945 -1996), Rennie Ellis (1940-2003).
In contemporary times other avenues of photobook publishing as a documentary/art project have emerged and include photobooks by Tracey Moffatt (1960- ), Max Pam (1949- ), Matthew Sleeth (1972- ), Stephen Dupont (1967- ), Trent Parke (1971- ) Michael Coyne (1945- ) and Wesley Stacey (1941- ) and many others. The field of contemporary pictorial photobook books could be represented by the likes of Ken Duncan (1954 – ), Peter Lik (1959 – ) and Steve Parish (1945 – ). Then there are so many more …
So what about the photographer doing it for themselves?
Historically, the self-publishing of photobooks was a huge investment of time and money – an individual photographer’s access to the required production and printing facilities was a major barrier. Also those who have financed their own publishing exploits generally lacked the distribution and marketing connections that were attached to the major publishing houses.
Access to printing facilities were overcome by the photographer having contacts in or working in the printing industry such as American photobook-maker Ed Ruscha did with books like Twenty-six Gasoline Stations (1963). In Australia Peter Lyssiotis was able to produce: Journey of a Wise Electron (1981) and other books by participating in a co-operative that accessed a commercial printing press during down time or on weekends. But these access points were not available for everyone who wanted to publish a book.
Nearly 35 years ago American photographer Bill Owens, publisher of Suburbia (1972) and other books made the following introductory statement to his info-guide – Publish Your Photo Book (1979) – a statement that may resonate with the experience of today’s photobook publishers:
Had my photographic books made lots of money I would not have written this book. I wouldn’t need to because I would be part of the establishment and enjoying its privileges. (Owens 1979:3)
It has been a long time coming, but 175 years later with digital technologies including DIY book design software, print-on-demand presses like HP Indigo, the self-published photobook is fulfilling Talbot’s prediction. It’s never been easier for anyone to make a photobooks.
The photobook discipline now has commentators and critics, there are awards, linkages with the artists book, supporting independent groups like Self Publish Be Happy, The Photo Book Club and the Indie Photo Book Library.
However just making a book, even your own, does not guarantee success – whatever that might be. But at this time, what are the barriers and opportunities that we in Australia need to consider and respond to as this boom in photobooks continues?
What ideas, social and political mechanisms and appropriate structures do we need to create to nurture and support this emerging publishing paradigm?
Let us now pose some questions to the panel …
INTRODUCTION OF THE PANELISTS
See invitation blog post for bios http://wp.me/p1tT11-MT
A SELECTION OF THE QUESTIONS POSED TO THE PANEL
- What is the recipe for the perfect commercially viable photo book?
- Are Awards/Fairs/Festivals/Exhibitions important to or essential for photo book sales and marketing?
- It’s often stated that the basic market for the photo book is photographers themselves – how can this market be expanded so that the photo book can become more popular for a broader audience?
- Is the Australian photo book consumer more interested in Euro/USA content than homegrown books?
- Is there a market for Australian photo books overseas? Are there mechanisms in pace to support photo books as export? Are our photo books internationally competitive?
- If, as a publisher, you were approached by a photographer with a photo book idea – What would you expect them to bring to your meeting with them.
- What kinds of books/themes or content would an independent or niche publisher take on that a mainstream publisher wouldn’t?
- In the photo book genre, as with other special interest low volume publication sales, will print on demand publishing become a viable option – thereby doing away with the practice of remaindering?
- How can we nurture, inspire and develop the Australian photo book market?
A SYNOPSIS OF THE DISCUSSION WILL BE POSTED SEPARATELY:
In conclusion … I’d like to see, and I guess you would as well, that the photobook break from the publishing paradigm that Bill Owens spoke of before.
Let’s hope that as a result of, or perhaps more modestly, that this forum will contribute to a future where photographers and their photobooks will be recognized, revered and financially rewarded for their contribution to telling their stories, our stories and the stories of humanity and of life on this planet and beyond.
Once again thank you to our panelists …
Our sponsor – Momento Pro
The HeadOn Photo Festival
And to you all —–
You are now most welcome to join us for some refreshments and networking
8.15 pm Close…..
Bibliography for Doug’s Overview
Adams, R. (1994). Why People Photograph. New York, USA, Aperture Foundation.
Badger, G. (2003). Collecting Photography. London, Mitchell Beazley Ltd.
Craven, R. H. (2002). Photography past forward: Aperture at 50. New York, Aperture Foundation Inc.
Himes, D. D. and M. V. Swanson (2011). Publish Your Photography Book. New York, Princetown Architectural Press.
Lane, G. (2006). “Interview: Photography from the Photographer’s Viewpoint. Guy Lane interviews Martin Parr.” The Art Book 13(4): 15-16.
Lewis, D. and A. Ward (1992). Publishing Photography. Manchester, Conerhouse Publishing.
Metelerkamp, P. (2004). “The Photographer, the Publisher, and the Photographer’s Book.” Retrieved 12 March 2009, from http://www.petermet.com/writing/photobook.html.
Owens, B. (1979). Publish your Photo Book (A Guide to Self-Publishing). Livermore, California, USA, Bill Owens.
Talbot, W. H. F. (1839). Letter to Sir John Herschel, HS/17/289. The Royal Society. S. J. Herschel. London, UK, The Royal Society: HS/17/289.
All photographs © 2013 Victoria Cooper & Doug Spowart
Texts an Overview (except references as cited) © 2013 Doug Spowart
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
Thanks to Jo Kambourian of Lismore’s MS Browns Lounge a special edition of our Centre for Regional Arts Practice Artists Surveys will be presented as a zine for the event at the Sydney Writers Festival, Museum of Contemporary Art’s Zine Fair. Entitled The Lonely Artists Guide to Living in the Big City it presents a commentary of two artists and their experiences living in Brisbane for the month of April 2013.
A REPORT FROM JO IS AVAILABLE HERE http://msbrownslounge.com.au/unpacking-the-zine-fair/
The zine is an 8 page fancy fold and we made them up as an edition of 40 over the last few weeks. Here is what it looks like …
Handmade in Print. The MCA Zine Fair is back tomorrow from 11.00am (via Broadsheet Sydney)
Join the Facebook event here -> http://on.fb.me/13rY3P1
Presented in association with the Sydney Writers’ Festival
All photographs © Doug Spowart 2013.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
THE FUTURE OF PHOTO BOOK PUBLISHING FORUM
Presented by Momento Pro http://www.momentopro.com.au/events/publishingpanel
A Head On Photo Festival Event
Wed, 29 May, 6.00 – 9.00pm
@ The Museum of Sydney
Admission is free but please RSVP to email@example.com by 25 May
Join panelists and guests from the photography, publishing, print, book retail and creative industries to discuss local and international trends in photographic book publishing, and contribute to shaping its future. The panel discussion will conclude with open questions from the audience, followed by refreshments and networking.
Should you wish to submit questions for consideration please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Doug Spowart …..Moderator
Photographer & Academic
Dr Doug Spowart has been extensively involved in creative media areas for over 40 years — his practice includes: artists books, photobooks, artist, critic, judge, writer and teacher. He has completed a Doctorate of Philosophy at James Cook University researching issues of the contemporary photobook. Spowart’s work, as well as collaborative work with Victoria Cooper has found its way into many private, regional and state public galleries, national and international photography and artists’ book collections. Spowart’s photobooks have won the AIPP Queensland Photographic Book of the year on two occasions and he has twice been Runner-up to the national AIPP photobook award.
Sam Harris / Photographer
Sam Harris has been a passionate photographer and educator for more than 20 years. He started freelancing in the London music industry making album sleeve art then went on to shoot editorial portraits and documentary features for leading publications including The Sunday Times Magazine, Esquire, GQ and Ray Gun (USA).
In 2002 he re-evaluated his lifestyle to travel the globe with his family, until he settled in the forests of South Western Australia in 2008 where he shoots his on-going family diary, lectures photography, runs workshops and creates photographic books. His book Postcards from Home has received multiple awards including the publishing industry’s Galley Club Book of the Year and Australian Book of the Year Award 2012.
Kinokuniya / Art & Design Department Manager
Kinokuniya stocks an extensive collection of graphic novels, art, design and travel books and also features an instore Art Gallery which exhibits works from creative artists to help them develop their careers. As Art & Design Manager, Kim is versed in the distribution, sales, marketing and financials of art and photographic book publishing, the different publishing options available and the differences in reception from book consumers, critics and collectors.
Thames & Hudson / Publishing Manager
Paulina de Laveaux is Publishing Manager of Thames & Hudson Australia specialising in illustrated books on art, architecture, design, photography, fashion and other creative fields.
Paulina is passionate about books, and familiar with what makes a photographic book artistically and commercially successful, what is popular with the mainstream consumer verse the cultural consumer, and has also been a judge for the Head On Momento Photobook Awards 2013 and the Most Beautiful Books Awards
Perimeter Editions / Director
Dan Rule is a writer, critic, editor and publisher from Melbourne, Australia. He is the co-director of Perimeter Books, Perimeter Editions and Perimeter Distribution, the co-publisher of Erm Books and an editor of Composite Journal.
He is also a weekly art critic and columnist for The Saturday Age, contributing editor and senior writer at Broadsheet Media and has written on art, photography, music and culture for The Sydney Morning Herald, Dazed & Confused, Oyster, Vault, Art Guide, Australian Art Collector and countless others.
Co-founder and Communications Manager @ Momento
Libby has enjoyed studying and working in communications and media production since undertaking a B.A. Communications at UTS and volunteering with interactive CD-ROM producer Pacific Advanced Media Studios in 1994. Since then her career has revolved around communications, events coordination and media production for creative industry pioneers including OzEmail, the Australian Interactive Media Industry Association (AIMIA), IPR Systems and most recently the Chippendale Creative Precinct.
Following her role in 1999 as Project Manager for the Australian Society of Authors’ e-publishing and digital rights management experiment, OzAuthors, she, partner Geoff Hunt, and colleague James Whitwell founded Momento in 2004. Momento was Australia’s first print-on-demand photo book service and the proprietary Momento layout software, lets anyone design their own coffee-table photo book easily, ready for printing. Momento remains the ‘finest’ service provider in Australia today, celebrating photography and photographers in all forms
Daniel Milnor is Blurb’s Photographer-at-large and inspirational bookmaker. Last week we attended presentation by Daniel at the Edge (SLQ) in Brisbane. Attended by an audience of around 80 the presentation, of three hours duration, told the story of how to make photobooks. Not just a bunch of photos in a catalogue or folio form but something that told a story – expressing a narrative.
Milnor is the consummate presenter and storyteller – adding to each technical concept and thing to consider in book-making his own personal story. And there were some amazing insights into Daniel’s career as a photodocumentary photographer of exotic places like South America and Sicily, but also of his own life. In one book he discussed, which was made entirely in his own home, he showed a picture of his shower curtain!!
In the presentation Milnor provided a step-by-step approach to the making of a book:
Step 1 Make/locate a body of work
Step 2 Give yourself time to edit
Step 3 Time to sequence
Step 4 Start the book using an online POD service – Like Blurb.
Step 5 Get the book
And – not really covered specifically although constantly part of his refinement of book ideas: Step 6 – Review it and re-do it better!!!
His little phrases and comments that stuck in my memory (or notepad include):
Photobooks that are driven by the photographer –“don’t make any money” unless you have a big-name and are chosen by Steidl. However “subject driven books” can be successful
“Leopard lighting” portraits made under a tree – dappled light
Unless you “Think about your work, write about your work, talk about your work and show your work – You are never going to have a connection with your work!”
Landscape “rocks and twig” photography
“The narrative arc”
“The perfect solution is YOUR solution”
“Don’t be afraid to play around…”
What interested me was the excitement he expressed for his own books – their concepts and development. Towards the end of the presentation he showed examples of books created as collaborations with artists, books that were ‘added-to’ by creative intervention whereby the outcome became a unique state work of art. A seminal book for him in his challenge to the ‘normal’ photobook is the book On Approach which has won much acclaim for him. He commented that a curator he had met casually had described him as a ‘conceptual artist’ he seemed excited by the title and that his work, as art, could enter another space – the gallery.
In the second last question of the day I asked him about the idea of the artists’ book and how artists can inform, as he had found, a new direction for photobooks – in his answer he spoke at length about the proposition — I think he agreed…
Thank you Daniel Milnor, and thank you Blurb for bringing some discussion on photobooks into this country. And the opportunity to engage with so many Australian photographers wanting to tell photo stories using the emancipating opportunities of print-on-demand indie publishing.
LINKS TO DANIEL MILNOR:
His Website: http://www.smogranch.com/
All photographs © Doug Spowart 2013.
As a departure from our usual format of WOT WE DID, we invited a Guest Blogger – eminently qualified Helen Cole, to comment on an event that we were unable to attend. Helen was the judge for the 2013 Libris Artists Book Awards and in this post she talks about WOT SHE DID, and provides insights into the awards and selects artists books to add to her commentary:
Artspace Mackay Libris Artists Book awards… some thoughts
The Libris exhibition, as always, looks fantastic in the Artspace gallery. The works are very varied, from codexes, scrolls, altered books, and boxes to woven and sculptural pieces.
The first thing that struck me when presented with the ninety books for the judging of the Libris Awards at Artspace Mackay was something that came up in our Trouble with artists’ books seminar last week- the inadequacy of the digital surrogate. Anna Thurgood, Director of Artspace Mackay had sent me images of each of the entries. Seeing them in the flesh mad me realize I had wildly mis-imagined the size of some of the works. For example, Julie Barratt’s The mourning after, perhaps 50 x 70 cm, I had imagined as a small hand-sized book. Conversely Julie Bookless’ (interesting name for a bookmaker and a potential title for her book as it had neither image nor text but was still a very interesting work) Audrey was a tiny 10 cm tall when I imagined it to be at least octavo size. Size does matter and it does have an effect on the impact of a book.
A noticeable difference between this and past awards was that, because there was no associated forum, very few of the artists who had entered attended the announcement of the award. This connection of the artists’ book community was such a wonderful part of the previous Mackay events and is perhaps the reason we had such a large attendance at The trouble with artists’ books seminar.
The quality of the entries this year was very high and any of a dozen works could have won the major prize. The winner Wave form by Michele Skelton looks simple (in a photo) but as I said a photo can be deceiving; the book is deeply thought out and faultlessly constructed. It appears sculptural but is actually a traditional codex form with spine, cover and pages. The cover represents the calm of the sea and the shore when the book is closed and when it is opened the pages sewn into the spine spill out as waves which can be arranged and twisted to represent a raging sea. The choice of paper is perfect to allow this. The waves are printed from a woodblock and this choice of technique works beautifully with the colour and subject to evoke the classic Hokusai image The great wave. It has the advantage that it is an artist’s book that can be seen as a whole while on display without handling.
Another work that does that is Caren Florance’s clever WYSIWYG (What you see is what you get). To enable the viewer to see the whole book without having to touch it, Caren letterpress printed a sheet multiple times then cut and bound the pages so that one line from each page is visible. They build up to a witty text written to the reader from the book’s point of view, stating that it understands the viewer’s problem and hopes it has solved it. And it has.
Helen Cole … Coordinator, Australian Library of Art, State Library of Queensland
Thank you Helen for this commentary
SEE THE OFFICIAL AWARD WINNERS AND IMAGES OF THE OPENING AND THE BOOKS FROM THE ARTSPACE MACKAY WEBSITE:
SEE ANOTHER BLOG WITH ENTRY PICS AND LINKS TO ARTIST’S PAGES.
All photographs © Helen Cole 2013. Copyright in the artworks resides with the artists.
FROM THE ARTSPACE MACKAY WEBSITE: http://www.artspacemackay.com.au/whats_on/news/and_the_winner_is…
On the evening of May 21 Victoria + Doug presented a talk and showing of their self-published photobooks and artists books. Entitled LOOKING GOOD IN PRINT: PHOTOBOOK, the talk connected participants with concepts and techniques on how to personalize and create photo-stories in the form of the bespoke self-published book.
Participants engaged in a lecture presentation that helped them to develop a broader understanding of what a photobook can be—extending them beyond just a collection of photos into a resolved personal narrative of high technical and aesthetic values.
The range of options for making photobooks was discussed and samples of hand-made, inkjet printed and hand-bound artists’ books, as well as print-on-demand books were available for viewing and handling.
The Intro Session included an overview of the following topics:
- Simple and advanced forms and structures of books
- The creative influence of artists books
- The image, sequence and the narrative flow
- Production and design issues for handmade/print-on-demand book
- Computer processing of the book
- Simple bindings for the handmade book
Unit 3/429 Old Cleveland Road, Camp Hill, QLD 4152.
Time + Date: 6.00 – 8.30pm, Tuesday May 21, 2013.
THE FEE: $ 75.
Bookings were made through:
All photographs + text © Doug Spowart 2013.
AT THIS TIME THE BLOG WILL FEATURE IMAGES OF THE EVENT
The podcast is available at http://www.slq.qld.gov.au/audio-video/webcasts/recent-webcasts/siganto-seminar
BLOGPOSTS ABOUT THE EVENT ARE AVAILABLE AT THE FOLLOWING:
Judy Barrass ‘Critical mass Blog’ http://www.criticalmassblog.net/2012/?p=2568
All photographs © Doug Spowart 2013.
The artists book Have you got your Chronicle Today? has been shortlisted for the 2013 Libris Awards – The Australian Artists Book Prize.
The Libris Awards are Australia’s premier national artist’s book prize. An intitiative of the Mackay Regional Council through Artspace Mackay, these biennial awards seek to develop awareness of council’s significant collection of artists’ books and to develop the collection further through the acquisition of new works by leading Australian artists working in this field. (from the Artspace Mackay website)
My book Have you got your Chronicle today? makes comment on how the tabloid newspaper is reliant on the advertising dollar to support the necessary communication of the daily news. This artists book is a mashup of the news with advertising. The collaged elements comment on content and the way the reader is directed by the newspaper design through the placement of advertisements, journalism texts, photography, community notices and sport. After deconstructing the newspaper, the book’s form changed as new associations of text/image/graphics determined the new structure. The flow through the book matches the newspaper it parodies as it also can also be folded flat for post-reading storage. Details and images of the book and its construction follow – Enjoy … Doug
View a video performance of the book – Click the YouTube image