The young and the aged converge on Randall’s Island for Frieze Art Fair mania.
Ivan Seal, Carl Freedman Gallery (above 2 images)
These little paintings are my favorite for the second year in a row.
Unknown (above 2 images)
Unknown (above 2 images)
Raffi Kalenderian, Galeri Peter Kilchmann (above 2 images)
Borden Capalino, Ramiken Crucible Gallery (above 3 images)
Gardar Eide Einarsson
Graham Little, Alison Jacques Gallery (above 2 images)
Jim Lambie, “Metal Box,” 2013, Sadie Coles
Ricarda Roggan, Galerie Eigen + Art
Neo Rauch, Galerie Eigen + Art
C. Nicolai, Galerie Eigen + Art
If you happen to be in Minneapolis you should check out this exhibition:
Sonnenzimmer at The MCAD Gallery
The Minneapolis College of Art and Design
January 18 – March 3, 2013
More info here. Sonnenzimmer website here.
From the MCAD website:
Sonnenzimmer is the Chicago-based art, design, and print studio of Nick Butcher and Nadine Nakanishi. Merging backgrounds in typography, fine art, printmaking, and publication design, the couple’s commissioned and self-initiated work has been exhibited nationally and internationally, including a recent exhibit at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago. Known primarily for their idiosyncratic take on printed matter, especially the screen printed poster, Sonnenzimmer has carved out a niche for their small commercial art studio, servicing an array of clients as varied as the Poetry Foundation, The Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Sub Pop records, and numerous free jazz groups. Their work has been published by Gestalen, Rockport Publishers, and Princeton Architectural Press and is in the collections of the Art Institute of Chicago’s Design and Architecture collection and the Museum of Design Zürich’s poster collection. Founded in 2006, Sonnenzimmer sees a bright future for the graphic arts as a new generation of image-makers emerges.
My favorite poster.
Went on a Chelsea and Soho tour this week in search of some inspiring art, here is what I found (and liked) during my wanderings:::
Barney Kulok at Nicole Klagsbrun Gallery
Exhibition runs from September 13th — October 27th. More info here.
Barney will be speaking at Aperture this coming Tuesday, find out all about it here.
And an Artforum review.
Ahmed Alsoudani at Haunch of Venison
Exhibition runs from October 4th — November 3rd. More info here.
James Welling at David Zwirner
Exhibition runs from September 7th — October 27th. More info here.
Renaud Regnery at Elizabeth Dee Gallery
Exhibition runs from September 22nd — October 27th. More info here.
Kraftwerk box set, DAP
FW Books, Dutch Contemporary photo books
Paper Monument-Saddest ashtray ever
Jonah Freeman and Justin Lowe – Marlborough Gallery
Swiss Room (one of my favorite rooms, above 5 pictures)
Desert Island Comics
Happy Birthday Andy!
Untitled (Mirror Image, #18), Oil on Orange Mirrored Plexiglass, 48” x 36”, 2008
Cheap & Plastique interviews Brooklyn-based artist John Jurayj for Issue 9.
C & P: Your work deals with events that have taken place in Lebanon and how war and internal conflict have affected the country and its people. Your parents emigrated from Lebanon to the US before you were born. Have you been to Lebanon? Do you still have family in Lebanon?
John: My father’s family still lives in Lebanon, both in Beirut and in Kousba to the north. I have visited regularly since the end of the civil war in the early 1990’s.
C & P: I see that you have shown your work in Beirut. Is the reaction to your work different in Beirut than in NYC?
John: I think that the work is read differently depending on where it is shown. The viewer and his or her background, knowledge, and experience alters the work’s meaning. Certainly when the work is shown in the Arab world, and in particular in Lebanon, its resonance is different. The ostensible subject matter is fore fronted by the viewer’s subjectivity.
Untitled, Installation View, Participant, Inc., NY, 2011
C & P: You just showed your work at Participant, Inc. Gallery in NYC. Could you speak a bit about this show.
John: I have been working for a number of years on two different projects that are inter-related yet formally different. Undead furthered my explorations of “disrupted representation”. A non-profit and, in particular, Participant, Inc., allowed me a lot more leeway to show what I needed as opposed to what might work in the market.
C & P: The show included a video work, (Untitled) We Could Be Heroes, who are the figures in this video? Is this your first time working in this medium? Do you think you will create more video work in the future?
John: This is my first video but since its creation I have continued to explore this medium and have a large piece in my current show at Alberto Peola Gallery in Torino Italy. Untitled (We Could Be Heroes) is a piece sampled from my early paper and screen print work of the same title. It is an anthology of significant political players of the Lebanese Civil War, including American politicians. All the “men” are equalized when their eyes and vision are disgorged.
Untitled (Luggage), cast gunpowder and plaster, 14.75″ x 21.25″ x 7.25″, 2010
C & P: Your sculptures of luggage, (Family Baggage), made of plaster and gunpowder, have been referred to as “ghost objects.” Do you intend these objects to function as memorials in any sense? If so, are they meant to evoke memories of people or of broader concepts?
John: As opposed to a memorial which has the intent of commemorating, these objects are shadows or ghosts that float alongside the present. They are the darkness, the other side of what we see.
C & P: Given that the sculptures are of luggage and contain gunpowder, have you had any trouble shipping the works for exhibitions?
John: Not yet…
C & P: I imagine they might not easily clear customs.
John: You would think, but they always make it through. Maybe things are not as tight as they say.
Untitled (Boy With Shorts), Gunpowder and Ink Screened on Polished Stainless Steel, 67” x 44”, 2011
C & P: Can you speak about your use of mirrored surfaces/stainless steel in place of traditional canvases? Is this more of an aesthetic choice or is it intended to give rise to an interactive element in the work, as the viewer sees their image reflected back at them from within? With this particular series, Untitled (Undead), the reflective quality of the work seems to drive home a sense of not only being a witness after the fact but also of participation or complicity in past events, as the viewer sees themself with a “ghost image” of a dead figure.
John: Mirrored stainless steel is commonly used in psychiatric and penal institutions for safety purposes. I find this popular use important to the meaning of the work. Of course mirroring is a critical phase in child development and its absence can produce a rupture of self. In the case of painting, the mirror dissolves the privileged and separate space in which viewer stands, participation and implication is not a choice.
Untitled (Girl With Shorts), Gunpowder and Ink Screened on Polished Stainless Steel, 67” x 44”, 2010
C & P: The figures in Untitled (Undead) are painted from images of those killed in the Lebanese Civil War. Where do these images come from? Newspapers? Are they published images? Are these people strangers or do you have
a personal connection to them (are they relatives or friends of your family)?
John: The people are anonymous and are sourced from journalistic archives. It is important that their anonymity be the bases of the attempts to give them dignity through verticality.
C & P: Do you always work from photographic sources in your painting?
John: No, my abstractions are pure material as representation.
C & P: The subjects in Untitled (Undead) bring to mind Robert Longo’s Men in the Cities drawings from the late 70s. Interestingly, the figures and poses in both end up looking very similar although the intentions behind the work are completely opposed. Longo’s figures are jumping into the air, celebrating being alive, whereas your figures are fallen men and women, lifeless. However, your subjects seem to take on an almost triumphant air of reanimation when removed from their original context and placed upright and vertical. Could you talk about your decision to present the work like this? Have you looked at Longo’s work as a reference point?
John: Longo is not a reference point though I am conscious of the reflection. That said, I am interested in my work echoing the history of other work, whether recent or the deep past.
I think that it is best to let go of the anxiety of influence and play with the productive possibilities of aesthetic recycling. Whereas Longo seems to celebrate motion and the city, I am more interested in an attempt at changing time and altering space. Whether that is possible or not is also part of the work. It could be a heroic failure.
Untitled (Mirror Image, #27), Oil on Yellow Mirrored Plexiglass, 48” x 36”, 2009
C & P: Are you a fan of Michelangelo Pistoletto’s work, particularly the Mirror Paintings? Have these works influenced your decision to paint on a reflective surface?
John: I am a fan of his materials and some of the possibilities that his work opens up, though I am not interested in the seeming passivity and politeness of his work.
Untitled (Marine Barracks, 1983, #2), Oil on Linen, 74” x 84”, 2006
C & P: You studied architecture as an undergraduate, when did you decide to pursue artmaking rather than a career in architecture?
John: Architecture was a compromise with my parents. It allowed for me to have some aesthetic expression while maintaining the illusion of stability and social acceptance. It really wasn’t me. I have never functioned well in compromise and group settings. What drew me to architecture as a kid was my inability to distinguish between destruction and construction.
C & P: In your earlier work you paint pictures of buildings being bombed using a very colorful, day-glo palette, even though the paintings depict somber subject matter. Your newer works are rendered in much more subdued tones. Can you discuss this change in palette?
John: The nature of the materials actually changed—from traditional oil to silkscreen. And then there is depression which is always at my edges.
C & P: Do you mix gunpowder in with the paint/silkscreen ink in all of these works? How did you first begin working with gunpowder as a medium?
John: Yes, gunpowder is in all the screen printing and casting. I was looking for a medium other than standard ink or plaster to actualize instability, corruption, and volatility.
Untitled (Purple Diptych, #10), Digital print on watercolor paper with burn holes and purple mirrored plexiglass, 58.25” x 74”, 2011
C & P: Your paintings seem to have progressed from using buildings and architecture as their primary subject matter to using images of people. Can you talk about this progression? Is it indicative of a shift in your interest in subject matter or something necessitated or dictated by the particular cycle of work?
John: The work moves between source material which is public and spaces which are very personal. I think this is a continuous circle.
C & P: Do you paint specific buildings in Beirut? Do each of the buildings that you depict have their own story?
John: Yes and no. In general, anonymity prevails, yet certain moments such as the bombing of the U.S. Embassy or the U.S. Marine Barracks are iconic and unavoidably knowable.
Untitled (Orange Diptych, #8), Digital print on watercolor paper with burn holes and orange mirrored plexiglass, 56” x 73.5”, 2011
C & P: What painters/artists having you been looking at most recently? Past? Present?
John: When I paint my paintings, I look at myself. Otherwise, Warhol seems to always shadow me.
C & P: You teach at both SVA and Cornell, how does teaching influence your practice?
John: It allows me to be on the front lines. Thinking and rethinking what is pertinent, what is possible, and what is the point.
C & P: What are you working on right now?
John: I have been working with bricks cast in gunpowder and am thinking about a large scale sculptural installation to honor my father, and reflect his death.
Above spreads from Chapter One: Down The Rabbit Hole, Unique Silkscreened book,
33 x 46 cm, 2010
C & P: How did Bongoût begin? How did you start collaborating with Anna Hellsgård? When did you open the Bongoût art space/store? Who runs the Bongoût store? Are the shop, the graphic design/illustration business (Re:Surgo!), and the artist representative agency (Bellevue Illustration) all run by the same people, in the same space? Is this all you and Anna Hellsgård?
Bongoût/Christian: I started pretty punk. My first silkscreen atelier was in a huge alternative warehouse project across the Rhine, in Kehl (Germany), that was hosting rehearsal spaces, recording studios and event spaces. I was publishing silkscreen hand-printed artist books in a very DIY matter. Some of my friends started a small garage punk & noise label, so I would design and print the record covers. Meanwhile we organised concerts, exhibitions, raves and parties, So I was in charge of doing the design and print to advertise the events.
When I met Anna in 2001, we started collaborating and eventually our work became more structured and sharp. We relocated in Bordeaux for a year and a half. We quickly moved to Berlin. In Berlin we’ve had three different locations, and we’ve been in the space on Torstrasse since early 2008.
Our shop, design & print studio are all in the same location—we occupy the entire lower floor of Torstr. 110. Our illustration agency, Bellevue, is in the 4th floor in the same building. Anna and me run the graphic design studio and silkscreen studio together. We run the publishing company and shop with our partner Alain, and Bellevue is co-run by us and Jakob Hinrichs and Katia Fouquet.
C & P: Is there a silkscreen facility on the Bongoût premises? How often is the press in use?
Bongoût/Christian: The silkscreen print studio is in the back of of shop. Hardly a day goes by when we don’t print.
C & P: The Bongoût web shop sells photography, sculpture, paintings, handmade books, zines, limited edition prints, t-shirts, music, and more. Do you sell as much of a variety of products in the store? Who curates what is sold in the store and online?
Bongoût/Christian: Yes, in fact you can regard it as a sort of select shop—we carry things we like, mostly print publications (from polished offset artist monographs to DIY limited edition zines) but also prints, posters, apparel, vinyl records, and even chinaware designed by artists, and of course original artworks.
Biographical Chapter 12, Silkscreen print, 150 x 200 cm, 2011
C & P: Do you regularly have exhibitions in the space? Are the exhibitions always of people’s work who you sell in the shop?
Bongoût/Christian: For the last three and a half years, we had on opening every month and were having exhibitions non-stop in constant rotation. But we’ve had to focus more and more on our own work as well as the books we are publishing, and needed more space for the office and studio.
We moved them into the former exhibition space and are now having smaller shows every third month in the shop part of Bongoût. It’s not only people whose work is in the shop, but it will often be of artists who we’ve worked with in the past in some form. The connections come about quite naturally, and we develop the concept for the exhibitions together. When we were using the exhibition space we would approach it as a very flexible and modular space, and it looked different for every exhibition—adding temporary walls, changing the lighting, painting the walls different colours… each exhibition had a very unique character.
Loomings Chapter 1, Silkscreen print, 150 x 200 cm, 2010
C & P: Could you talk about the process of working with an artist/illustrator on a book or an art print? Do you silkscreen the book/print or does the artist silkscreen their own work? Or does the process vary from artist to artist, project to project?
Bongoût/Christian: We have very often worked with other artists—in fact, collaborations are an essential part. Each project defines a new set of rules, and in general we have a very good chemistry with our project partners. It’s comparable to making music with different people. It creates a good balance and challenges between our different projects.
C & P: Do you only print limited edition, hand-silkscreened books and prints in house? Do you ever send a project out to an offset press to print a larger edition of a book?
Bongoût/Christian: A few years ago we started to publish offset books. We now have a catalogue of over 15 offset publications, books & catalogues. We are currently working on three big offset monographs: a painting book by ATAK, a book of Marilyn Manson’s watercolours and a photo book with Natacha Merritt.
Given, 72 pages silkscreen book, 93 colours, 40 x 30 cm (above 3 images)
C & P: What is the most involved/complex project you have ever undertaken in Bongoût’s print shop?
Bongoût/Christian: We just finished Given, a huge collective silkscreen book. Three booklets in a cardboard box, 30 x 40 cm, 72 pages, and a run of 145. We used 93 screens for it. We asked 35 artists (Seripop, Tara Mc Pherson, Pakito Bolino, Gregory Jacobsen, Manuel Ocampo….) to submit images and we printed the whole project this summer. It´s massive.
C & P: How do you find the artists/illustrators/comics that you work with and/or represent? Are most of the Bongoût stable friends and/or acquaintances? People who have submitted work through your website? Or people that you have scouted out at schools and in other publications? Are they mostly German?
Bongoût/Christian: The connections happen naturally. The artists we work with come from all over the world. After 15 years of being active, we have a pretty good network, but we are always excited to discover new young talents to collaborate with.
C & P: How many projects do you work on at a time?
Bongoût/Christian: We always multi-task and work on several projects simultaneously. That’s how we can keep on being productive and avoid lulls. It is not unusual that a project goes over a time frame of three-six months (sometimes it takes a year or two to put everything on place), so if we were focusing on only one at a time it would be very slow and frustrating. This way we keep ourselves busy and have a steady output, its’ exciting.
C & P: Are there other publishers in Berlin doing something similar to what Bongoût is doing? How about elsewhere in Europe?
Bongoût/Christian: In Berlin I’m not sure. Over the years I saw a few publications that go in a similar direction, but rarely anything consistent. Since the 70´s here is a long tradition of underground art publishing in France, which is part of my background, l´APAAR, Elles sont de Sortie, Le Dernier CRi, United Dead Artists… just to name a few.
C & P: Do you ever collaborate with other independent publishers?
Bongoût/Christian: We carry other publishers’ books in our shop and web shop. We did a few straightforward collaboration too.
C & P: Do you sell Bongoût product anywhere in the USA?
Bongoût/Christian: Cinders Gallery and Booklyn Artist Alliance, both in Brooklyn, are carrying our silkscreen artist books, and in terms of distribution, DAP and LAST GASP are distributing some of our offset books in the USA.
C & P: How long have you been creating artwork? Have you always used the medium of silkscreen?
Bongoût/Christian: I started to publish graphic zines under the name Bongoût in April 1995, and I met Anna in 2001. We essentially silkscreen, but we also paint, draw, photograph, do installations and play in several bands.
Chapter Two: A Pool of Tears, Unique Silkscreened book, 40 x 60 cm, 2011 (above 3 spreads)
C & P: I saw the book Down the Rabbit Hole at the New York Art Book Fair last year and was absolutely blown away by it. It was definitely the most beautiful book I saw at the entire fair, unfortunately I could not afford to purchase it. There is only one copy made? And this year you produced a similar book, A Pool of Tears, which The US Library of Congress purchased. Could you tell me a bit about the process of making these books? Where does the imagery in the book come from? How long does it take to produce?
Bongoût/Christian: Yes, it is a unique book, there is only one copy. It’s a hard cover, with embossing (46 x 33 cm). The book is a mise-en-abyme of media and techniques and the title is obviously inspired by Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll. The beginning it’s very intuitive. The materials go through several iterations and transpositions until the final result is achieved. It just clicks, we know exactly when we have reached what we wanted. At the end it makes it hard to pinpoint one specific technique.
This book is part of a series, with each book being considered as a “chapter”. Each chapter is named after a chapter in Alice In Wonderland. We are currently working on Chapters 3 & 4. Chapter 1 is now in the Standford library collection and Chapter 2 in the US Library of Congress.
C & P: Do you ever take the imagery from a page in one of these books and reuse it to make a poster or present it in some other format?
Bongoût/Christian: Like I said, our work is a constant mise-en-abyme. A time-travel remix. We are reusing film, elements, found material, our own work (paintings, drawings, photos)… one work leads to the next one. The creative process reflect the dynamics of creation and inspiration.
C & P: What is your favorite thing to do in the neighborhood?
Bongoût/Christian: Sorry but I will not advertise them in a public discussion. (Ed.- Understandable, I might have the same reaction to the question in regards to Greenpoint/Williamsburg!) I hang out there with my friends and I want to keep these places genuine and tourist-free as long as possible. That’s why they are my favorite spots.
C & P: Do you feel that you will be able to stay in Mitte for a long time? Or is Mitte changing in a way that it will make it impossible for a gallery/artist run space to be able to operate there in the future?
Bongoût/Christian: Anna and I were discussing it recently. We’ll see what the future brings, but all together I don’t think that it’s changing that fast.
C & P: I just read that Tacheles was closed down this year and the artists who had studio spaces there were evicted. Is this true? How do you feel about the arts landmark being demolished and turned into high priced condos?
Bongoût/Christian: I never felt very close to the Tacheles community or spirit. Tacheles was a pale vestige of a Berlin that is long gone for me. Twenty years ago you had a lot of squats and artist spaces like this, and I loved that energy, but it is something that was particular to the 80’s and 90’s right before and after the fall of the Berlin wall. These creative community had as much to give as the established artists.
But even if the building was amazing, over the last few years, the Tacheless turned more and more into just another tourist attraction. It’s a natural evolution, gentrification is inevitable. No big deal. When it happen move on and do something new.
C & P: I went to Berlin in early 2000 and again in 2005 and in just five years I noticed that the city had changed a lot… and now I assume it has changed even more. Do you feel that Berlin is a different city now than it was in 2005? Is it becoming more difficult to live cheaply there?
Bongoût/Christian: It might still take a while until all of Berlin looks and feels like Prenzlauer Berg though. Of course, once you’re settled or running a business, you’re pretty happy that you can walk along the sidewalk without stepping in dog shit and having to dodge the drunks. But people were saying the same thing in 1990, and again in 2000. I see tons of galleries and artists moving to Berlin because they think it’s the El Dorado of art. They heard about cheap rents and are hoping to make it big time here, but most of them quickly sober up and realize it’s not as easy as they thought. Financially, the city is still a nightmare—there’s a reason why the beer and the rents are cheap. Most people don’t make a lot of money here. But this is part of Berlin’s flair. And you could see this as a sort of freedom from economic constraints or the pressure of “making it.” If you have accepted that, you might as well do what you like. This creates the basis for the particular kind of vitality and creativity so unique to Berlin. Perhaps the established art world is getting bitter and running in circles, but there are a lot of extremely talented artists working on what they love to do, there are exciting off-spaces, hundred of concerts every night. It’s still really exciting what’s going on here.
C & P: Would you ever move to a different city/place or is Berlin the place for you?
Bongoût/Christian: Even if I could imagine moving to NYC or San Fransisco, Berlin is definitely the place for us. There is an energy in Berlin that you won’t find anywhere else. It’s always been like this. It is a city that is truly alive. This is why we love Berlin. It’s a city of paradoxes, and these paradoxes are its strength.
OOH LA LA!
CHEAP & PLASTIQUE 9!
Cheap & Plastique have been busily prepping for the Fountain Art Fair at Art Basel Miami over the past month. This past weekend Cheap & Plastique presented 4 artistes at Fountain (who were featured in Issue 8 of the magazine) and also had a brand spanking new issue on hand for Fountain-goers to peruse!
Everybody wants a copy of Cheap & Plastique in their Christmas sock! ORDER issue 9 today!
PAYPAL me (firstname.lastname@example.org) and you will receive one of these beautiful zineroos in your mailbox! Zine is $10, shipping $5. Printed on various fancy papers (silver and vellum—tres chic!), zine is 60 pages.
This issue features:
Paintings by John Jurayj, Andy Denzler, Elias Necol Melad, and Amanda Joy Calobrisi
Photographs by Ed Panar and Nicolas Wollnik
Video Art by Charles Roberts
Illustration by Zoran Pungercar
And studio features on Bongout from Berlin and NoBrow from London
In July, when I was in London, I stopped by NoBrow headquarters for a tour of their store and production facilities (and for a small shopping spree!) The space was great and there were so many amazing things to look at (I could have stayed there for days!) And even though Sam Arthur, one half of the NoBrow team, was having a very very bad week, filled with headaches (he was on the telephone dealing with finding a stolen van in Belgium, filled with freshly printed NoBrow books, when I first arrived), he kindly let me in, gave me photographic freedom to shoot anything I wanted in the space, and made the time to chat with me, enthusiastically, about NoBrow and the product they create.
This month Cheap & Plastique conducted a proper interview, via email, with Mister Arthur.
C & P: How did you decide to start NoBrow? Was it because of your love for the medium of illustration?
Sam/NoBrow: We started Nobrow because we love illustration and because we love beautiful books.
C & P: Had you been involved in any other similar projects/ventures prior to NoBrow?
Sam/NoBrow: Before we started Nobrow – Alex was an editorial illustrator and I worked as a director (mainly commercials and music videos), we had worked together on various animated projects, and although the end product wasn’t printed there was a similarity in terms of working with visual narratives.
C & P: Are you planning to expand NoBrow in the future or start any additional endeavors?
Sam/NoBrow: We are always searching for new projects to publish, doing more books and expanding into new markets is always going to be a challenge. We are going to be working with Consortium Book Distributors in the US starting in 2012 so our books will be more widely available in the US and Canada. We are also working on some translations of our books for the French market too.
C & P: NoBrow has existed since 2008. And you have had the shop and gallery for a little over a year and 1/2. Have things changed for NoBrow since the shop was opened? Are a lot more people aware of the NoBrow brand now?
Sam/NoBrow: We have had lots of opportunities pop up as a result of people coming into our shop, which is great. The idea that someone who didn’t know of us could stumble upon our shop and love our books is quite a romantic notion! However our shop/gallery was always intended to be a showcase for our products and the artists that we work with and in that way it has been really successful.
The amazing shop
C & P: Do you only sell NoBrow products in the shop?
Sam/NoBrow: We stock all of our own products, even some that aren’t available online, but we also stock products that are from producers and brands that we love and are ourselves inspired by.
C & P: Who is in the office on a daily basis?
Sam/NoBrow: Alex and I are always in the office unless we are away on business, and then we also have 3 full time staff members and that includes whoever is working in the shop.
C & P: How often is someone printing in the basement?
Sam/NoBrow: We don’t have the resources to be printing 24/7 unfortunately, but we usually have a new print edition every 6 weeks on average.
Silkscreening studio in the basement of the building
C & P: Do the illustrators silkscreen their own pieces, does NoBrow print the publications, or is it a collaboration?
Sam/NoBrow: We always print the editions – otherwise it wouldn’t be a Nobrow Small Press edition.
C & P: Are there other publishers in London doing something similar to what NoBrow is doing? Do you ever collaborate with other independent publishers?
Sam/NoBrow: Not that I know of – we work with lots of collectives and small presses but not so much with other publishers. We love publishers like Bongoût and Le Dernier Cri who operate in Europe, but there isn’t anyone quite as well established as these guys in the UK.
C & P: How about elsewhere in Europe? I saw the work of a Berlin based group called Bongoût at last years New York Art Book Fair who were selling similar wares (collectible silkscreened art books/objects). Do you know of them?
Sam/NoBrow: See above answer!
C & P: Do you sell NoBrow product anywhere in the USA?
Sam/NoBrow: We sell in places like Secret Headquarters in LA, Desert Island in Brooklyn and quite a few other cool independent comic books stores – next year we’ll be distributed by Consortium Book Distribution in US and Canada so it will be much easier for stores to get hold of our books.
C & P: Have you done any art fairs (like the Pick Me Up Contemporary Graphic Art Fair in London, where I first saw your work) in other cities?
Sam/NoBrow: We’ve done lots of shows and fairs all over the world (well mainly in North America and Europe) for example in the last 12 months we’ve been involved in shows and festivals in Angouleme, France, Toronto, Canada, Helsinki, Finland and we’ll be doing something in Madrid, Spain in November and also be at the Brooklyn Comics and Graphic Arts Festival in December.
C & P: The colors used in printing your publications have a unique look and feel about them and act as a common thread between all of the NoBrow library, making a group of NoBrow books look like a cohesive collection, despite the illustrator’s style. Is there a specific reason for your choice of colors? Was this color palette chosen because of any other publications/publishing houses that you admire? How are these super saturated, intense colors accomplished in both the silkscreen process and with the larger runs on the printing press?
Sam/NoBrow: We use a spot colour printing process with many of our large edition books that are printed with offset litho as opposed to silkscreen. The process is similar in that the colours we use are premixed and overprinted rather than made up of CMYK which is the more conventional way of printing things.
Sam showing me the difference between the screenprint version and the offset version of The Bento Bestiary book by Ben Newman
C & P: How do you decide whether to print a limited edition of hand silkscreened books in house versus a run of 3000-5000 at a press?
Sam/NoBrow: We can take more of a risk with the hand made books as we are only printing 50 or 100 copies – also it may be something that can only be done with silkscreen. With the large edition stuff we can do more complicated bindings as we are using industrial production methods.
C & P: Could you talk about the process of working with an illustrator on a book? Does it vary from artist to artist?
Sam/NoBrow: It varies quite a bit from artist to artist and project to project. Sometimes we have seen something that is already finished and we work with the artist to adapt it to a book for us – other times we are approaching an artist with a project in mind, in which case we are all starting form scratch. Some artists like to have some direction or an editor to bounce ideas off, where as others are much more likely to bury themselves away. Everyone works in a different way and we try to find the best system for each project in order to get the greatest end product: a beautiful book!
C & P: What is the most involved/complex project you have ever undertaken in NoBrow’s print shop?
Sam/NoBrow: We did a really cool concertina book with artists Jock Mooney and Alisdair Brotherston – the complicated thing was getting the maximum length from the paper stock. This meant printing in two sections on one sheet and sticking them together – and then folding them. Sounds simple it was real brain teaser!
C & P: How do you find the illustrators/comics that you publish? Are most of the NoBrow stable friends and/or acquaintences? People who have submitted work through your website? Or people that you have scouted out at schools and in other publications? Are they mostly British illustrators?
Sam/NoBrow: Again – this is probably our most commonly asked question – it’s different for every single artist. We have met some people via friends but these people are in the minority, for the most part we have approached people when we have seen their work and have loved it. Generally this is because we have seen their work online or in a book or magazine or even on some food packaging! Often people send us examples of their work or links to their websites and we always try to check these out even though we don’t always have much time. It’s important for us to always be looking at new things.
C & P: How many illustrators do you work with on a regular basis?
Sam/NoBrow: It’s not an official thing, sometimes people ask if we represent artists/illustrators and we don’t. However there are at least 20 illustrators that I can think of that we have worked with more than a few times. Hopefully this number will increase as we go into the future.
C & P: Whose collection of vintage Japanese toy monsters is displayed throughout the store and office? When did you begin collecting these? Do you have a favorite?
Sam/NoBrow: Alex is an avid collector of Kaiju Japanese monster toys – it’s his collection and he’s been collecting for at least 10 years. I love anything Godzilla!
Japanese monster collection
C & P: What is your favorite thing to do in the neighborhood?
Sam/NoBrow: I love a pint in The Griffin over the road from our office and lunch at the Hoxton Grill is always a treat! If I want to go somewhere a bit more colourful – DreamBagsAndJaguarShoes on Kingsland Road is a great night out.
C & P: Are there any other galleries that you frequent in Shoreditch? Elsewhere in London? What are your favorites?
Sam/NoBrow: I’m always a sucker for The Tate Modern – it has to be the best art gallery in the world. In Shoreditch – Seventeen Gallery, 17 Kingsland Road, always has interesting stuff and there are loads of galleries on Redchurch Street and also Leonard Street that have great shows.
Ben Newman and Sam Arthur sitting at the conference table in the office
More cool stuff in the office
House of Gold: An exhibition of work by Butter was hanging in the NoBrow gallery when I was there in July. The NoBrow gallery is currently showing an exhibit of works by the artist, Ben Newman, who I met during my visit. Ben seemed super nice and is a fabulous illustrator/artist, go check out his work if you happen to be in London!
Work from House of Gold exhibition
A few of my photographs of Sam Arthur and the NoBrow space will be in this month’s issue of Form Magazine, available at the end of October.
Next weekend is the NY Art Book Fair and I am getting very excited! Last year was amazing (see my pics here) and I assume it will be either just as great or even better this year!
Printed Matter, Inc. presents
THE NY ART BOOK FAIR
September 30–October 2, 2011
Free preview: Thursday, Sept. 29, 6–9 p.m.
More info here.
22-25 Jackson Avenue at 46th Avenue
Long Island City, NY