October 9, 2009

Adventures in Letterpress: Sneaky Peeky

It is October 9th. On October 26th, I have to deliver the contents of my book, "Adventures in Letterpress," to my publisher. I originally pitched a letterpress how-to book, which I hadn't realized wasn't really MBP's type of book, so we altered the idea to be a collection of contemporary letterpress from around the world. Writing a how-to book would have been difficult, alot of work. When we shifted the idea to a mere collection of imagery, I bragged to MBP editor, Buzz Poole, that I could write this book with my eyes closed. Maybe that's why I pushed working on the book to a less busier time for Blue Barnhouse, which happens about mid-September. But here, now, with 15 days left, I realize how wrong I was. It is a hell of alot of work, seeking out the very best that the letterpress world has to offer. Submissions were in the hundreds, images I've looked at were in the thousands, and narrowing it down to 200 images is no small feat at all. My brain melts everytime I sit down and spend an entire day trying to compile the list of images, presses, trying to remember who did what so styles don't overlap, directing our in-house photographer, Lydia See, as to what to shoot, how to shoot it. Etc.

Lydia See shoots a piece by Asheville Artist, Andy Farkas in Version 2.0 of our homemade light studio (we are now on Version 3.2)

Well now we are in the home stretch, and I say we because I'm not the only one working on it. I trust the people I work with, and they have convinced me to include some things, they have shot down things I wasn't sure about. Lydia is shooting the photography, and is a huge part of the editorial process. Antonio Del Toro, who no longer works with us but is still a friend and had apprenticed with us, is my editorial assistant, he's doing the hardest work on this book, organizing, indexing, editing the text, hunting down presses that I might have missed, contacting people for various reasons, collecting his favorite images when I don't have the time to scout out a press myself. I've watched reactions of our crew as we look at new stuff that comes in, and made mental notes to myself.

Yesterday I finished making a list of presses I am interested in using that submitted via email. That was a huge step, the one that was really making me bite my nails. But still, only 30% of that group has been contacted, because I'm still not sure what is the best of the best of the best. There are mountains of mailed submissions in the back of the shop that I have accepted, and I still have to catalogue those, and then count how many images I have, how many presses, look at photos of everything I've selected. Then there are bios to collect, contracts to send out, designers and photographers to credit, photos to color correct, oh yeah and I have written one sentence of my 2000-3000 word introduction. And I believe I'm about to make a whole lot of presses go apeshit to rush their images to us.

Currently I've counted about 60 presses to be included that have been catalogued, but there are easily 20-30 more that I haven't listed just yet, and in the last three days I've found and contacted 5 more presses I wanted to use by mere accident. It seems we have about 100 hours of work still ahead of us, but the strongest work is in the bag. Here is a sneak preview of some images we will be using in Adventures in Letterpress. I'm in a bit of a rush so I'm not going to provide links to these studios. Look'em up your damn self!

A beautifully executed print by Slow Print

An awesome idea by Canadian Kurmudgeon, Phil Ambrosi, who printed some business cards on Currency from an Eastern European Country. Notice the presses on the money? Hands down, Phil is the funniest printer lurking on the letterpress listserv. He doesn't even know we've selected his work but I guess he will here in a minute.

Quirky stuff, as always, from Oddball.

We have to reshoot this one as this was one of our testers for lighting and how we wanted the photos to look. This is from a long time friend and fellow ECU almnus, Andy Farkas, who is currently illustrating the commemorative poster that will come with the book.

From Bowne & Co, the oldest existing company in New York City that has not changed its name.

Trying hard not to scratch our own back in the book, but I can't resist putting this one on the permanent record.

A macro shot of one from Boxcar Press, who is rumored to be the folks who will print the above mentioned commemorative print at their $#@!$ China rates.

From another Asheville studio, Hand-cranked.

We decided to shoot all the posters in their natural setting. This is from Yee-Haw, our friends across the Tennessee border.

This one was just destined for me, I can't think of a more fitting poster to live by. From my old undergrad professor at ECU, Craig Malmrose, who owns Trade Union Press. I failed out of Art School, and had to switch to English. And now I am publishing my professor's work. Revenge!!!

Shutting up now. Work to do. Is it too late to send me stuff? Probably. But you'll never know unless you try.

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