• Dreamers + Doers: New York Art Book Fair

    Dreamers + Doers highlights emerging artists, entrepreneurs, and up-and-coming ones to watch. Whether it’s starting a new business, creating something beautiful, or just daring to do things differently, we stand behind those taking steps toward something new. 

    The New York Art Book Fair
     is an annual explosion of independent art books, zines, and journals that comes together every September at PS1. For lovers of art and design, it's basically three days of inspiration overload with all the movers-and-shakers of independent publishing coming together to share what they're working on and producing. Basically, if you're in NY this weekend, just go to NYABF! Trust us. 

    A handful of our talented in-house designers and writers have pieces that will be in the fair (check out graphic designer Ian Rousey's work with Packet Bi-Weekly, work by designers Ted Guerrero and Namik Shwarz with Catalogue, and content editor Leigh Patterson's synonym journal at Printed Matter.) 

    In addition, we spoke with five of our favorite small presses from different parts of the country to learn more about what goes into having an independent print project — from the moment inspiration hits to the sweat that goes into making it happen to the personal significance of making work like this come together. As Chris Nonsenzo from Packet Bi-weekly explains it, "It's funny: I think these side projects really are the more important things. They don't make any money, but because you do them in your free time you approach them as a joy. And they are more idealistic and naive because you choose to do them — not because you have to, but because you want to. "

    Packet Bi-weekly

    Brooklyn, NY

    1. What is the Packet Bi-weekly elevator pitch?

    I say, "We're a biweekly art publication focusing on new, half baked, informal, and lazy art practices" and they say: “Biweekly?" And I say “Yeah, every other week.” 

    2. Talk about the moment you realized you wanted to start your own publishing imprint.

    It came together slowly in my mind. When I graduated school a few friends had started a monthly "crit" to show new work and talk about what we were making. Seeing all the great work people where making, I wanted us to have a platform to present things. At the time I was working at NYT Magazine and was really getting into this hyper-fast and super immediate way of producing something. This all made me want to do something with rigor and regularity, hence, the biweekly. The theoretic/aesthetic/structural ideas of Packet go back to the "course packets" we all got in high-school and college: just a collection of readings and materials all bound together with a staple at the corner. I guess it all began with my affair with the Risograph in college. What a beautiful machine!

    3. What are some challenges that come with the project? 

    The biggest challenge has been getting people to understand what it is. In the beginning we knew what Packet was in our mind, but it was hard to figure out what words to use to tell other people. Persistence has helped this a lot. In many ways that’s truly the hardest part: keeping up with a biweekly cycle...Pulling together good content fast has a great rush to it though. At the end of of the day there’s this great pleasure/pain of making a huge pile of 8.5x11 sheets. Putting out over forty issues has paid off, and now when we explain to people what Packet is at book fairs they get impatient and say “Yeah, yeah, you can stop, I know what Packet is.” 

    4. What's the best book you've seen or read recently?

    I'm reading Delilo's White Noise right now which is great so far. 

    5. What are five other things you're interested in right now?

    1. FKA twigs "Kicks"

    2. Hatch Valley green chiles (was just there last week!)

    3. Cold brew

    4. Night Slugs

    5. Comme des Garcons shirts

    Read more about Packet Bi-weekly here

    Kutztown, PA and Los Angeles, CA

    1. What is the elevator pitch for what you do with Gottlund?

    We produce limited edition books and multiples by hand with artists working today.

    2. Will you be debuting anything new at NYABF — or exclusively for the fair? 

    We are working on a few new projects. The book fair is always a great place to introduce a new book and sell a good number of copies right off the bat. We are reprinting Peter Sutherland's Even in the End book. Rather than a straight second edition, this version is essentially composed of 600+ unique monoprints, stickers, pressed flowers, and spray paint. No two books are the same. We are also debuting a new book we did with Letha Wilson. Her book also has a lot of intervention and hand work in each copy. She has folded, punched, cut and torn almost every page in the book to create a multi-layered field of nature-based imagery. Finally, we have worked with Suzanna Zak to create a bootleg or alternate version of her book, The Chain.  It's a small book which pairs her photographs of rural southern California with images from the collection of the L.A. Public Library.

    3. Do you play a part in the physical design and format of the books you publish?

    Yes, I do everything from designing and conceptualizing the book with the artist to folding paper to mailing and distribution.

    4. What are some challenges of running Gottlund? What comes easiest?

    The easiest part is what is the most beautiful part — thinking about the why and how of a given book. What I mean is the consideration of the structure and design of the book, determining the materials involved... That for me is the core of what we do and the most fun. The most challenging aspects relate to keeping up with demand. Because of the way we work and doing it all by hand, it's obviously a slow process. This puts me in a difficult position often when it comes to fulfilling shop orders and whatnot. Distribution and mailing is the least glamorous aspect, but it is satisfying to send books out into the world and know that people enjoy them.

    5. What's your favorite place to buy books?

    The Internet. That may sound dumb, but I honestly like buying older catalogs and art books based on little cover images alone and the mystery associated with that. I also love the bookshop and gallery Karma in New York.

    Read more about Gottlund

    Sister Sister
    Northampton, MA

    1. What's the Sister Sister elevator pitch? 

    Sister Sister is a publisher of collaborative zines and short-run photocopied artists’ books. Everything is printed on a copier I initially got for a collaborative publishing project, HQ Press, which I ran with some friends out of our underground storage-unit gallery and event space, HeadQuarters. When we moved out of HeadQuarters, I took the copier to my studio, which is where I print and bind Sister Sister books.

    2. Will you be debuting anything new at NYABF?

    Sister Sister is a new project, and I’ll have the first two books, JOY, and Drawing from Photographs, both collections of my own artwork, at NYABF. In addition to publishing books, I’m also a printmaker. I make a line of hand-dyed and printed T-shirts. I’m printing a few new t-shirt designs and some tote bags (perfect for carrying the books you pick up at the book fair) as well as some silkscreens on paper.

    3. What are some challenges of running Sister Sister? 

    I love the technical challenge of designing a book and also troubleshooting the equipment. Getting really comfortable with my photocopier has been hard, but worth it. I know it’s strengths and limitations, and now I can get it to do some beautiful things. Memory Full Volume 4 came out in June and we were in the middle of a heatwave here in Western Massachusetts the week that I wanted to print 1700 pages to finish the 100-book edition. The humidity was really messing with my registration and the copier kept jamming. It was frustrating, but I learned why offices are air-conditioned!

    4. What's the best book you've seen or read recently?

    I recently got an “Instant Zine Collection” set of three books by Conor Stechschulte from Booklyn thhat I love. It includes Water Phase, Lurking/Nocturners, and a sketchbook zine. All three books deal with the medium in some way — experimenting with form and structure. When I first opened the package, they really blew my mind.

    5. What artists, photographers, or other periodicals are on your radar right now?

    I’ve really been enjoying Noah Van Sciver’s Fante Bukowski “Struggling Writer” comic series, which he’s been posting on Tumblr page-by-page. I’ve been turned on to some fantastic artists by Domino Books, a publisher and distributor of artists’ books and comics run by Austin English. Emma Louthan’s hand-drawn gifs are really great. Every six weeks or so, I get a very special package from Latvia with my kuš! subscription inside. kuš! is a comics anthology featuring Latvian and international artists. The editions are pocket-sized and always beautiful, often touching.  

    Read more about Sister Sister here

    Colpa Press
    San Francisco, CA

    1. What is Colpa Press?

    We specialize in hand-made art books and limited edition prints. These publications challenge the relationship between printmaking and concept, creating objects in a reciprocal dialog with the way in which they are produced. 

    2. What are your thoughts on the value of creating art books and being an independent publisher of work like this?

    I know that we provide an opportunity for artists to make an object that can be bought by their peers. Every art book publisher does this in their own way. I think that is important. I want to participate in the art community I belong to in every way. Not just be a spectator. Or a producer. I think [we] started Colpa because we wanted to buy art and couldn't afford to. 

    3. Tell us more about what new projects you've been working on.

    We are very excited to bring a live project to NYABF this year that is a culmination of a traveling book series we have been working on called The Riso Book. [The newest one, New York, is] the fifth installment of a traveling publication project and exhibition between Los Angeles, Marfa, San Francisco, Portland, and New York. The series standardizes the conditions of production underlying artist publications and presents the book as exhibition. The Riso Book, inspired by the format of Seth Siegelaub and Jack Wendler's 1968 Xerox Book, is a geographic survey of contemporary artists with varying practices across several cities. Each artist is given 20 pages within the monochromatic 8.5 x 11 inch book. All 100 pages will be bound into a single publication in an edition of 100, to be presented for sale during the fair.

    4. What else are you bringing to NYABF?

    Here are some of the other projects we will have at the table: Let's Just Do It, U-Line, Warm Water Event, and The Life and Death of a Sandwich. We are also working on some limited editions that will only be available at the NY Art Book Fair. One will be a set of posters of fake Criterion movies taken from the book Chronic City by Jonathan Lethem. 

    Read more about Colpa Press here

    The Thing Quarterly

    San Francisco, CA

    1. What is the elevator pitch for what you do with the Thing?

    We publish objects.   

    2. Will you be debuting anything new at NYABF?

    Yes. We will launch Rodarte's issue #24. We also be launching THE THING THE BOOK, our monument to the book as object.

    3. What's the best book you've read recently?

    I've recently read The Savage Detectives by Roberto Bolaño. I loved it. 


    4. If you could own any book (that for whatever reason you don't, rare or otherwise) what would it be?

    I would own a 1st edition of Don Quixote. It's my favorite all-time book 


    5. Can you share five other things that you're currently really into?

    Ottis Redding, Manhattan cocktails, paperback books, newspapers, old school Italian restaurants. 

    Read more about The Thing Quarterly here

    New York, NY

    1. What is Hassla’s elevator pitch?

    Hassla is a New York-based publishing project by me [artist David Schoerner]. It was founded in 2007 with a focus on artists' books and catalogues. 

    2. Will you be debuting anything new at NYABF?

    Two new books: Sunsets and Other Things by David Schoerner and a new book by Heather Guertin published on occasion of her exhibition at Brennan & Griffin. 

    3. Do you play a part in the physical design and format of the books you publish?

    It varies from book to book. Sometimes I design the whole thing, sometimes the artist does it or the artist will work with another designer, and sometimes it’s a collaboration between myself and the artist.

    4. What are some of the biggest challenges of running Hassla? What comes easiest?

    The biggest challenge is financing all the projects. The easiest (and most fun) is picking artists to work with.

    5. What are some other things you're interested in right now?

    Sweden, my dog Sophie, Thomas Pynchon, a stack of old art books I found that belonged to my great grandmother, sandwiches

    Read more about Hassla here

    Draw Down

    Guilford, CT 

    1. Tell us more about Draw Down!

    Our moniker, Draw Down, is derived from offset printing. Ink draw downs are produced by commercial printers to test different Pantone spot colors on specified paper stocks. For instance, Pantone 300 Blue will look much different on a coated stock than on an uncoated stock— and it will look green if printed on yellow paper. This kind of testing ground, both formally and conceptually, is how we approach each publishing project whether its final form is printed or non-printed. We create and publish work within this framework of experimentation: we're as interested in the production process as we are in how the final publication turns out. Though our primary focus is on our own publications, we also curate a collection of well-designed works that we sell alongside our own titles. It's been a natural extension of our publication work, as we became aware of other publishers and designers whose work we admire. We're very interested in becoming a hub for printed work related to design exhibitions, type specimens, and work about and by graphic designers, especially titles that are produced in limited runs. 

    2. What are some of the most memorable titles you've published, either from the standpoint of the finished product or working with a particular artist?

    Gluekit "Made Photographs" was a really fun project to complete because it spans 12 years of work and it was fascinating to see the chronological progression. We are also super excited about our Cleon Peterson project as he's just been an amazing artist to work with. We never get tired of looking at his work. And this book will be our more ambitious printing project to date as it will be our first hard cover and also launch a new series we're calling "series mono petit."

    3. If you could own any book what would it be?

    We recently acquired a first edition of The New West by Robert Adams, first published in 1974. It really interesting to handle and see such an important work: the printing, the layout, the paper stock, the feel of the book as an object, but also knowing the effect it continues to have on the photography world four decades later. We also found a first edition of Suburbia by Bill Owens which is another gorgeous touchstone photo book. This first edition is a soft cover with a pretty modest design; there's an awkwardness to it that makes it charming, and the juxtaposition of image and text (mainly quotes) in the book is terrific.

    4. Please share five other things you're currently really interested in.

    1. Listening to anything by Hunx and his Punx
    2. Buying artist DVDs (like Trisha Brown: Early Works, 1966-1970)
    3. Throwing some white stoneware clay on the wheel
    4. The song "Goodlooking" by Burning Kitchen
    5. Trying new vegan restaurants (most recently The Chicago Diner and The Sweet Beet) 

    Read more about Draw Down

    Lead image courtesy of Colpa Press

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