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Exhibitor Profile: Mark Kelner

Meet Mark Kelner.

Washington, DC

Mark Kelner is a visual artist and filmmaker based in Washington, DC.  

Tell us a little about your project.

2017 marked the centennial of Russia’s October Revolution and it just felt ‘timely’ to embark on a series that touches on themes of violence, migration, displacement, disinformation – all the while ironically seeming pretty to look at and ready-to-hang.  By repurposing well-known and rare Soviet posters, “Solaris” attempts to evoke a very specific and simple metaphor: that among the many false representations of his failed revolution, Lenin promised the sun and everything under it – and delivered nothing.

Later, the Communists perfected the art of agitating mass culture by means of multiplying their message.  All art had to serve the State and the ideal of their utopia was symbolized by remaking the sun (and its worship) into a logo of sorts.  By removing almost all figurative elements, all traces of text, all which is ‘happy’, all that is left are empty, minimal, and absent images.  These new works evoke a sense of ambivalence and incongruity, something unfinished, and something unsaid. To present this series as a catalog of sorts invites a satirical interplay between ideology and the language of advertising.

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What was your introduction to the world of art book publishing?

Long before I ever made one, I was a collector of art books.  I especially was fond of work by artist/poet Vagrich Bakhchanyan, whose 30-year practice was essentially self-published books and book-like objects.  Getting to know him rather well, his influence on my own critical thinking is undeniable. At the same time, the reverence I have for text, lettering, and books themselves as a medium for pulping and recycling plays into the making of this project which is a debut -- “Solaris” is my first art book. 

Why art books? How do you define art publishing?

As a text-based artist, I came to art from writing.  My academic focus was always on film and literature, yet when the occasional magazine assignment would come up, visually that meant “small black letters on a white background.”  I was always interested in expanding the role of text and the relationship between words and objects in my visual practice and bookmaking perfectly allows for that. And unlike paintings or prints, to say nothing of installations, artist books are portable!

As an artist yourself, do you see publishing as an extension of your practice? 

My work is less experimental than it is purposefully designed.  In many ways, publishing allows for more risk taking and that’s something I’d like to explore.  While I can’t call it an extension, as I just printed my first book, I would like to play around with Risograph printing and the use of older Xerox toners depending if a specific project for it is right.

Are there any organizations or people in your community that have been particularly influential to you and your project?

Dennis O’Neil at the Hand Print Workshop International (HPWI) remains a mentor in art and life and he’s been especially supportive as I’ve moved from traditional screen printing techniques into poster making and the digital world for this specific project.  As “Solaris” is rooted in a very specific Russian-American framework, the practice of art-duo Vitaly Komar and Alexander Melamid is always close to heart. I recently shared some of the pieces with Vitaly and told him that he might, for instance, find something familiar in the silhouettes of Lenin.  He replied that’s only a compliment and then said, “All the Cubists look alike too...” Which, actually sounds better and more poetic in the original Russian, though.

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Your favorite art-related publication or art exhibition from the last year?

I want to answer both.  Though it’s been a little more than a year since it was published, Tom Sachs’ “Space Program: Europa” (an edition of 200) was gifted to me in July -- so technically it’s been less than a year since I’ve seen it.  As for my favorite art exhibition of the year, Ragnar Kjartansson at the Hirshhorn came in second. By sheer coincidence, I happened to be in Iceland when I walked passed the Reykjavik Art Museum to discover “God I Feel So Bad,” his first museum exhibition in his native country.  That show probably takes the cake because… you know, Reykjavik!

Do you have any upcoming projects you would like to share?

I’m working on lots of things, but right now, I’m geared for a project that focuses on barcodes, which I hope to finish toward the end of the year.  I’m also still in active practice on “Signs and Wonders,” which is a long-gestating series that centers on the distortion of everyday landscapes and ubiquitous mass -- flags, oil and gas station logos, and fast food signs, among other touchstones.  The barcodes idea is a natural extension of that.

Exhibitor Profile: The Visual Arts Center of Richmond

The Visual Arts Center of Richmond (VisArts) has helped adults and children explore their creativity and make art since 1963. Each year, the organization touches the lives of more than 33,000 people through its classes, exhibitions, community outreach programs, camps, workshops and special events. Each year, VisArts offers more than 800 visual and creative arts classes in clay, wood, fiber, painting, photography, glass, metal, drawing, writing, decorative arts and other visual media. VisArts is also home to a letterpress studio, a printmaking studio, and bookmaking classes. 

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What is VisArts' relationship to the world of art book publishing?

VisArts does not publish art books. However, we do align with the world of art book publishing a few other ways. We publish professional catalogs of the exhibitions in our gallery. Our gallery focuses on artists using elevating the materials and processes represented within our studios. We also support artists and offer classes, workshops and studio access to our community. Those who create books can learn more about bookmaking, paper-making, letterpress, printmaking, digital media, photography and other related processes and topics to inform their bookmaking practices.

Why art books? 

For the purposes of our project and exhibition for CURRENT Books, we are being generous to participating artists and inviting them to categorize their work as a book, zine or book-inspired object in the way they see fit. We predict to see many handmade artists books in miniature form as well as zines, as well as some book-inspired arts objects that may fall somewhere in between. We think artists books are a unique art form with a long and varied history that should be celebrated. Publishing is an important practice for artists, just as exhibiting may be. Creating an artist book or zine is an intimate way for somebody to interact with and own a piece of art.  

Are there any organizations or people in your community that have been particularly influential to you and your project?

Part of VisArts’ mission is to elevate the work and voices of artists in our community and educate the public about art and how it’s made. CURRENT Books provides the perfect way for VisArts to participate and fulfill this mission by highlighting local artists, both emerging and established, who are working with the book form within their work. This project is also a way to re-introduce Richmond to the Art-o-Mat.

Our Art-o-Mat at VisArts is one of many refurbished cigarette machines across the country that sell miniature works of art. As an organization, Art-o-Mat encourages art consumption, expands access to artists’ work, and innovatively combines the worlds of art and commerce by presenting miniature works of art that are progressive, yet personal and approachable.We are excited to be able to offer an accessible and affordable way for Richmond to collect handmade zines and books.

We are thrilled to be working with Art-o-Mat and its founder, Clark Whittington, on this project. We were inspired by the accessible nature of the Art-o-Mat, the unique buyer and viewer experience and the necessity for artists to innovate their book and zine pieces to fit within the parameters of the Art-o-Mat.

Exhibitor Profile: Amelia Blair Langford

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Meet Amelia Blair Langford.

Richmond, VA

Amelia Blair Langford is an illustrator, graphic designer, educator, and muralist who has produced works that can be seen stretched from California to Germany. Langford creates illustration and print work, titled “The Treasure Hunt Project” inspired by ecological narratives and curiosities for the hunters and seekers within us.

 What was your introduction into the world of art book publishing?

I was introduced and inspired through the Richmond art community while attending book and zine festivals. I created the Art of Amelia Langford book as a form of a log and narrative when The Treasure Hunt Project illustration series began.

Why art books? How do you define artists' book/zine/publishing?

I define art books are a tool to interconnect and open dialogue to discover and inspire. The physical motion of touching and turning the page of a book will never fade for me.

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Are there any organizations or people in your community that have been particularly influential to you and your project?  

Places that have influenced the narratives behind The Treasure Hunt Project include Richmond, Virginia; Baltimore, Maryland;  Grinnell, Iowa; Pickens, South Carolina and the Pacific Ocean.

 Your favorite art-related publication or art exhibition from the last year?

My favorite art exhibition from last year was the Craft + Design Show presented by the Visual Arts Center of Richmond at Main Street Station.

Do you have any upcoming projects you would like to share?

I have a number of wonderful projects coming up this year such as the release of my upcoming coloring book. I am also looking forward my Artist Fellow residency at The Rensing Center in South Carolina where I will be completing on-site ecological research and illustration studies for The Treasure Hunt Project.

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Exhibitor Profile: Athena Naylor

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Meet Athena Naylor. 

Washington, DC

Athena Naylor is an artist and illustrator based in the Washington DC area. 

Why zines? 

Self-publishing zines feels like a more sophisticated version of stapling a whole bunch of printer paper together and scrawling across the pages: aka, my favorite pastime since age four. There’s just a basic pleasure in being able to present your work to someone through a physical object they can handle and interact with.

Are there any organizations or people in your community that have been particularly influential to you?

So many indie cartoonists have influenced me to draw the kind of comics I do: Jillian Tamaki, Gabrielle Bell, Kate Beaton, Meredith Gran, Sarah Glidden, Lucy Knisley, Eleanor Davis… I am inevitably going to leave out too many.

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 Your favorite art-related publication or art exhibition from the last year?

Because of both the company and the exhibitors I found that I really enjoyed the Durham Zine Fest last year (my friend who recently moved to North Carolina invited me to check it out with him and I am glad I did!)

Do you have any upcoming projects you would like to share?

I’m currently planning to debut a new comic soon about when I visited Richmond for the first time, so look out for that (Current Books is going to mark my second time visiting the city).

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Exhibitor Profile: Mindy Burgess

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Meet Mindy Burgess.

Richmond, VA

 Why art books? 

I was drawn to the intimacy a book can bring to a concept as well as the sculptural aspect of a book and how its form can be  manipulated to control the reader/viewer’s experience beyond the basic book form. A far as defining them goes, I would say intent is something I think about a lot, whether it be a book, zine, or a publication of some sort.

I see publishing and making books as my practice. It’s a really accessible way to get my art and ideas out in the world where they otherwise may not. I’ve done gallery work before, but a book can kind of be like a gallery and treated as an exhibition space that you carry around and show whenever!

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 Your favorite art-related publication or art exhibition from the last year?

I was in Miami last summer and caught the exhibition of Toba Khedoori at the Perez Art Museum. The scale of her work is so large and opposite from books, but still feels so intimate.  

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Do you have any upcoming projects you would like to share?

Right now I’ve been really interested in collaborating with others to bring their work into the form of a book. I have a couple projects in the works right now that I’m hoping to bring to the event. One is of mostly textual content of a close friend’s poetry that I’m excited about working on.

More work can be seen on Mindy's website here. 

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Exhibitor Profile: Saint Lucy Books

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Meet Saint Lucy Books.

Baltimore, MD

Saint Lucy Books is the publishing wing of the online journal Saint Lucy, which is dedicated to writing about photography and contemporary art.

What was your introduction into the world of art book publishing?

The independent art publishing world is thriving and democratic. I have loved the New York Art Book Fair for years, and I decided to join the revolution.

Why art books? 

Art books are books that explore / contribute to visual culture in some way. Usually in ways that the large publishing houses cannot afford or are not interested in.  

As an artist yourself, do you see publishing as an extension of your practice?

Yes, my knowledge and experience as a photographer, installation artist, performance artist, curator, writer and teacher, are all utilized in my role as publisher.

Are there any organizations or people in your community that have been particularly influential to you and your project?

A-Jump Books, Dear Dave Magazine, and Conveyor Arts are notable inspirations.

Your favorite art exhibition from the last year?

The Jimmie Durham retrospective at the Whitney was my favorite exhibition.

Do you have any upcoming projects you would like to share?

Saint Lucy Books has a new book coming later this spring, ‘Friends, Enemies, and Strangers’ by Oliver Wasow.

Exhibitor Profile: Jake Lahah

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Meet Jake Lahah.

Richmond, VA

In a couple of sentences, please describe the mission of your publishing project.

Some of the ideas my work touches on are self-portraiture, issues in queer communities, counterculture, and the impact societal norms have on us. My most recent zines have been centered around uncovering some of the truths behind queer sex education. My goal with these zines are showing that sex education is actually more dynamic than we think it is. I want people to question their perceived notions of stigmas associated with sex education, as well as let my practice be a means for education on these subjects.

 What was your introduction to the world of art book publishing?

My first introduction to artist books, was when I was working as a photography intern for Al-Mutanabbi Street Starts Here DC 2016, under the guidance of Helen Frederick. The project commemorates the 2007 bombing of a bookselling street in Bagdad. It involved intensive examinations of artist's books centered around standing in solidarity and in support of free speech and expression in countries where that may be hindered. I think this is when I was first able to wrap my head around the book as an art format.

  Self Prey,  2017, 4.25” by 5.5” risographed magic book zine (folds out to 11” by 17”), ed. of 50

Self Prey, 2017, 4.25” by 5.5” risographed magic book zine (folds out to 11” by 17”), ed. of 50

 Why art books?

In a way, books can be an opportunity for people to interact with work in a different way than more traditional media. I believe books can be more accessible (not only in the fact that they may be cheaper), but that almost all humans understand and are familiar with books and how they function. To me, a book artist considers the book as a way of informing their work.

 As an artist yourself, do you see publishing as an extension of your practice? 

My practice involves artist books all the time. Most of the time a body of work will come out of a zine or a book, from which I can develop a stem of other pieces that are then informed by it. Sometimes I consider the book as the single or sole body of work (maybe even a collection of works that manifest in the book format). Other times my body of work is a set of books or one massive large sculptural book. The important thing about all of these different notions, is that there is an underlying investigation about the artist book/printmaking as a site for performance in my work. I’m interested in how the book is constructed, how it can be handled or interacted with, and furthermore, how the work can be circulated in a community. I try to let the books and work that I am making be informed by the imagery or print process I’m working with.

More work can be found on Jake's website here. 

  Post Modern   Queer Sex Ed ., 2017, 8.5” by 11” (20 pages), Risograph zine

Post Modern Queer Sex Ed., 2017, 8.5” by 11” (20 pages), Risograph zine

What is a Zine?

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What is a Zine? 

Image courtesy of Celina Williams. 

Richmond ZineFest organizer Celina Williams joined us to produce this informational guest post. Richmond ZineFest has been operating since 2007 and is still going strong. From the website: "The zine fest is not just for zine creators and distros. It’s an open event for all ages with tablers selling zines as well as other DIY items, informative and fun workshops throughout the afternoon, and good times, food  and conversation in general." Here, Celina gives us some insight into the world of zine-making and sharing: 

 

What is a zine and how are they produced?

This is the big question that should be so easy to answer, but I find myself overwhelmed and stumbling every time I answer it because zines are and can be so much and EVERYTHING. Zines are typically independently produced publications created in a variety of styles on any number of topics with a limited run and without monetary gains being the (primary) goal. Typically. There are exceptions, of course, to anything, especially zines.

Many people still picture the black and white, xeroxed zines full of beautiful errors, collages, and bold confessional musings of the 90s, and there are still plenty of those around. But there are also glossy full-color zines, artist zines with hand-sewn bindings and screen printed or risograph covers, newsprint zines, audio/visual zines, and even … ::gasp:: digital zines! It took me awhile to get here, but I’m finally coming around to the idea that zines don’t have to be physical to be a zine, which is a controversial opinion to have in this scene where printed matter is a thing we hold dear.

When I was first working with zines in a professional capacity at VCU Libraries’ Special Collections and Archives, I had to make firm decisions on what would qualify as a “zine” versus a “newsletter” versus “comix” versus “independent paper” versus “magazine” versus “chapbook” or “artists’ book.” We couldn’t keep everything, and some donations shined best in other collections (VCU Libraries has one of the best Comic Arts and Book Art Collections on the east coast, FYI, and is available to view by appointment). As much as I would want a particular zine to be with the zine collection, I’d be forced to admit it would be best housed with book art or with comics. Other times people would call something they made a zine, and I’d scrunch my nose and shake my head and go, “Nope nope, that’s not a zine. That’s a student organization’s newsletter.” Now that I no longer work in an archival setting, I’ve loosened up on my definition of “zine” and how I apply it these days.

How are zines circulated?

I prefer buying and/or trading zines directly from the artists at zine fests like Richmond Zine Fest and DC Zine Fest or from their websites/shops/etsy if they have one. I also regularly browse/purchase zines from online distributors and shops like Brown Recluse Zine Distro, Stranger Danger, Doris Press, and Quimby’s. In Richmond, Velocity Comics has a small area for comic zines that I like to check out when I’m able. I’m sure there other ways to get zines and shops I don’t know about. I’m not sure if this still exists, but the first zine I ever purchased was found through a livejournal community for VCU students. It was 5.5x4.25 and had lovingly hand-sewn binding and a cover made from a repurposed map. I responded to the post and met some girl on a street corner near my dorm. Probably not the safest way to get zines, but it was a cool moment and I loved that zine. Years later it was stolen/never returned after I did a show-and-tell with zines from my personal library. I wouldn’t be surprised if similar methods of discovering and sharing zines are still in practice, like if you scrolled #zines on instagram, you’ll probably come across zines for sale. We use whatever we can. It’s one of the reasons why zines have never disappeared despite the number of badly researched zine comeback articles that pop up every five years.

  Exhibitors from Richmond ZineFests past. Images courtesy of Celina Williams.

Exhibitors from Richmond ZineFests past. Images courtesy of Celina Williams.

What is the distinction between a zine and an artists’ book?

I kind of got at this above. I don’t think they are mutually exclusive, but the distinction between the two lies in the pricing and the maker’s intention. A huge part of zines for me will always be accessibility in pricing for the audience that you’re centering. If you’re making a zine for low-income folks, and the production method requires that you price it at $5 or more, is it really for them? If those of us who promote zines as a way of reclaiming space for marginalized people, and we look around our events and see mostly cishet white men, have we really done anything that steps outside of academia and other elite and mainstream circles? I want zines to be more accessible for would-be makers and readers, which is one of the reasons why Richmond Zine Fest established a print stipend for zine-maker, who are POC, LGBTQ, women, and/or have visible and invisible disabilities. As much as I love artist’s books, I still see them as often being inaccessible in both their production and pricing. I’m grateful for libraries that have the means to purchase them and provide access to book art to the public though.

Why zines? 

There’s nothing quite like holding a new zine from a friend or a  stranger in my hands, or someone telling me that my own zines have resonated with them on any level. Making a zine can be about self-exploration and sharing parts of yourself in a way that feels safe, while reading another’s zine allows you to think beyond yourself and hone your ability to empathize and learn better ways to value and love ourselves and our communities. It’s a type of connection that I imagine traditionally published/displayed creators get, but it’s also raw and vastly different. It’s potentially accessible to everyone to create/distribute/acquire. I love that.

It’s one of the reasons why I’ve come around to embracing any method of sharing and publishing zines. Yes, even online publishing, because printing costs are high and some people want to remain paper-free for environmental/political reasons, and that is justified (while others want to be internet/digitally free, which is also justified). So many things (try to) fit in neat, stifling boxes and definitions, and I love that zines continue to push against any rigid boundaries of what they are or aren’t. I think that is why they will always find a new audience and continue to matter because we only have to look around us to witness the dangers of becoming stubbornly one single thing.

 

Celina will be generously opening her zine collection to the public for viewing during our panel talk on March 30th from 7-9pm. Be sure to drop by to hear about the latest book she's reading, plans for ZineFest 2018, and to check out her amazing collection!

Exhibitor Profile: Alyssa C. Salomon/Blue Skies Workroom

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Meet Blue Skies Workroom. 

Richmond, VA

In a couple of sentences, please describe the mission of your project.

Relative Medium is bookbinding as collection and as visual experience.  Covers, dimensions and construction methods of all these books are identical but the contents for each book is unique.  Comprised from decades of accumulated paper, the books are part utilitarian journal for use by the buyer and part color study as hand-bound artist book created by me.  

As an artist yourself, do you see bookmaking as an extension of your practice? If yes, how so?

I use hand bookbinding extensively as a teacher.  The tactile processes are seductive and easily reveal foundational lessons about creativity, mindfulness, and viewer experience.

This project is the first time in almost two decades that I’ve used book forms and bookbinding to realize a body of finished work for exhibition. As Jews, we call ourselves “People of the Book”.  I read Ann Hamilton describing herself “I am a reader”.  These are self-identifications that fit how I see myself in the world. 

I made a series of portraits once called “Bibliographies” which were daguerreotypes of selections from the subjects’ personal libraries.  We understand the world through what we know about the world and a big way we know about the world is through books - words and pictures and the hand-eye-mind process of going through them. 

Are there any organizations or people in your community that have been particularly influential to you and your project?

VCU Special Collections and its librarians are a limitless resource.  I have been fortunate to teach a bookmaking elective in VCU School of the Arts Department of Photography and Film, working with engaged, I would say electrified students, who are drawn with passion to books and publications as methods to build and experience ideas.  Of course, with students, I go to Special Collections a lot.

And Tim Eads!  In studying with Tim at Penland School of Crafts this summer, my inhibitions about surrendering to my love of color and pattern were snapped free.

Your favorite art-related publication or art exhibition from the last year?

Exhibitions:  Philadelphia Museum of Art exhibition about the textile company Vlisco; and Parched|Inverted Landscapes by Susan Goethel Campbell, Penland Gallery

Publications:  I have been going back to Josef Albers’ Interaction of Color to examine my reactions to and preferences for color combinations and rhythms.  The title of the project I will have at CURRENT Books comes from Interaction of Color … “Color is the most relative medium in art.”

I’ve also been thinking about Dieter Roth binding up everything into books or things that are placeholders for books.  In 2001 we saw an exhibition in Barcelona that included his sausage-cased shredded newspapers - I keep the poster in my studio.

Do you have any upcoming projects you would like to share?

At CURRENT Books, I am debuting my newest project, Relative Medium, and am thrilled to be able to present this experimental exploration of color and paper in book form within the context of a book fair.

One of the exciting things for me about developing Relative Medium has been designing and screenprinting the book covers using a paper-based, leather-like fabric.  The material is washable, made from plants, manufactured in Germany, and beginning to be used by a few accessory designers.  

 

Book Arts Glossary

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Book Arts Glossary

Image of hand-bound books produced by Ink Press Productions.

 

Book-based art, often simply referred to as book arts, is a growing and thriving arts practice that even many art lovers and connoisseurs have had limited exposure to. Book-based art covers a range of media, topics, and formats. Through CURRENT Books and our exhibitors, we hope to expand the public’s understanding of book-based art and its significance to the evolution and innovation of artistic expression and conversation. CURRENT Books is excited to provide a platform for artists pushing the boundaries of the arts publishing and print media worlds to engage with the local community.

To help visitors navigate CURRENT Books, we’ve created a general Book Arts Glossary to help clarify specific jargon and processes often encountered in arts publishing:

 

“Archival” 

It’s important to understand that many art books are intended to be archival objects, meaning they are high-quality artworks that break the mold of commercially-printed paperback or coffee table book. If something is made with “archival paper,” that generally means that the paper is acid-free and has a neutral pH, resulting in a longer-lasting print. Books made with archival materials are intended to last but are nonetheless art objects that require proper care and conservation.

“Artist’s Proof”

An artist’s proof is an impression of a print taken in the printmaking process to understand the progress of the plate an artist is currently working on. These proofs can also be used to test and show colors that will make up the final print, however, most commonly the artist’s proof is used to simply view how the image is going to translate once printed. These proofs are not given place in the limited-edition count, but many art collectors often seek them out due to their relative rarity. They are generally marked “AP” or “Artist Proof” and can sometimes be remarqued (when an original mark or drawing by the artist appears in the margin), making the print even more desirable. Editioned objects like books may also have artist’s proofs.

“Editioned”

Within the medium of printmaking, an edition is a number of prints struck from one plate. Exploring the term further, artists can categorize objects into open editions or limited editions. Open editions generally refer to prints that are only restricted once the plate wears from use or age. An artist can continue to print as many of the same print or photograph as they want.  Limited-edition items are most common among contemporary artists, where a fixed number of impressions are produced with the understanding that no other copies will be made later. In terms of book publishing, an edition refers to all copies of a book printed from the same setting of type.

  Chris Kardambikis ' "Sun at Your Center" has been produced in a [limited] edition of 10.

Chris Kardambikis' "Sun at Your Center" has been produced in a [limited] edition of 10.

  Jake Lahah 's "Post Modern Queer Sex Ed" is an open edition, meaning the artist may elect to continue printing as many editions as they chose. 

Jake Lahah's "Post Modern Queer Sex Ed" is an open edition, meaning the artist may elect to continue printing as many editions as they chose. 

“Letterpress”

Letterpress printing is when multiple copies of an image or text are produced by repeated, direct impressions of an inked, raised surface against sheets or a continuous roll of paper. Put more simply, ink is applied to the press rollers or directly to a “form” (what becomes the image or impression) that lays on the press bed. Paper is pressed onto the form by the platen or the cylinder, and the pressure produces a print. There are several different kinds of presses, but the basic principles of each remain the same. Though letterpress printing has gone through many evolutions, it is still revered as a process that creates extremely high-quality work. Letterpress printers have continued to develop innovative printing methods, including creating “polymer plates” that use photosensitive plastic sheets to make letterpress forms of digital images.

 "A Knife Moved Him" is a letterpressed, hand-bound artists' book by Ursula West Minervini of Pellinore Press. Exhibitors  Pellinore Press  and  Ink Press Productions  specialize in letterpress printing, and the  Visual Arts Center of Richmond  also offers letterpress classes.

"A Knife Moved Him" is a letterpressed, hand-bound artists' book by Ursula West Minervini of Pellinore Press. Exhibitors Pellinore Press and Ink Press Productions specialize in letterpress printing, and the Visual Arts Center of Richmond also offers letterpress classes.

“Monograph”

A monograph is a book that focuses solely on one subject, or an aspect of a subject, traditionally written by one author. Prevalent in academic circles, monographs are used to present primary research and original scholarship. Differing from serial publications, monographs are catalogued as independent volumes. In the world of art books, a monograph features one artist or one body of work created by a single artist or collective.

 CURRENT Books exhibitor Vittorio Colaizzi will be tabling with his  monograph on Robert Ryman , pictured here. 

CURRENT Books exhibitor Vittorio Colaizzi will be tabling with his monograph on Robert Ryman, pictured here. 

“Photocopying”

A familiar term in the workplace, photocopying is the production of copies of original documents. Photocopying remains the preferred medium for many DIY publishing projects and zine makers. Zines produced by photocopying are often the lowest pricepoint artists' books. 

“Risograph”

Risograph (or riso) printing was first released out of Japan in 1986, gaining in popularity as a digital duplicator designed to handle high-volume copying or printing. With ink less expensive than toner and no need for additional heat to set the ink, risograph printing is an economical choice for artists who hope to keep production costs low while still maintaining quality. Risograph printing relies on a layering technique to produce multi-colored prints. Though color choice is quite limited, printing on top of existing layers creates an unpredictable and exciting array of possibilities. 

 CURRENT Books exhibitors GenderFail and Clown Kisses Press specialize in risograph printing. Above is a wall of test prints from Clown Kisses Press that shows the variety of effects that can be achieved with risograph printing. Other exhibitors like Jake Lahah and

CURRENT Books exhibitors GenderFail and Clown Kisses Press specialize in risograph printing. Above is a wall of test prints from Clown Kisses Press that shows the variety of effects that can be achieved with risograph printing. Other exhibitors like Jake Lahah and

“Screen printing”

Screen printing is a form of printing that is used widely by artists and book artists. Screen-printing (also known as serigraphy) is a technique that involves the passing of ink through a mesh or screen (traditionally made from fabric-- silk or synthetic) that has been stretched on a frame. A light-sensitive emulsion is then applied to the screen. Once dry, the screen is exposed in an exposure unit with a stencil on top to block out specific areas of light. The stencil ultimately determines form and composition of the image. A squeegee is used to force the ink or paint through the open parts of the screen and onto the paper, producing the desired image.

  Mindy Burgess ' "How Far From Me" book is a screen printed artists' book. 

Mindy Burgess' "How Far From Me" book is a screen printed artists' book. 

“Relief Printing”

Relief printing is a process that involves cutting or etching a printing surface, covering the remains of the original surface in ink (making sure no recessed areas are touched) and applying that to paper or another material. It’s imperative that a significant amount of pressure be applied, ensuring a smooth transfer of ink. Other relief techniques include woodcut, relief etching, rubber stamp, and so on.

Our friends and hosts at Studio Two Three specialize in screen printing, but are also home to a hand proof press for letterpress printing and recently acquired a risograph. For more information about different types of printmaking, drop by Studio Two Three or take one of their classes! Studio Two Three will also be hosting special book-arts related programming the week of CURRENT Books, so stay tuned for updates.

Exhibitor Profile: Airprint Press

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  Meet

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Airprint Press is dedicated to open access to art books. They make limited print runs, and encourage viewers to read their books online or download files to print your own copy. They welcome sharing their books for non-commercial purposes. Airprint is one wing of The Airplant Project, a think tank exploring how to grow and sustain contemporary art outside of urban centers, based in Mathews, Virginia.

 What was your introduction to the world of art book publishing?

My partner Justin Hunter Allen and I (Lucy Kirkman Allen) began making exhibition catalogues in 2012 to document projects at Studio DTFU, our experimental gallery in Dallas, TX. We loved making books and valued having the catalogues once the exhibitions were over, but found we were lucky to break even on the cost of printing. Our new project Airprint Press focuses on online viewing and self-printing to reduce the overhead costs of producing books.

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Why art books? 

I find that making catalogues is an asset because they are mobile, carry the breath of the curatorial vision, and let someone in the future to ‘know’ a show. The Serendipity: Williams House (S:WH) series came about as we invited artists from across the USA and abroad to install artwork in our studio, a room in a farmhouse in rural Onemo, VA. Because of the gallery’s isolation, these exhibitions were conceived and documented to exist solely in book form. We want to present the opportunity for anyone to pick it up and familiarize themselves with, or participate in, the conversation.

How does your publishing relate to your personal art practice?

We work primarily as a painters but consider curating to be an invigorating extension of our practices. Just as a painting composition is an arrangement of forms, curating an exhibition is an arrangement of other people’s works applied to a room. Publishing gives us the opportunity to tell a fuller story than can be seen in one instance. We are both interested in the book as "work," rather than simply "document." Books are especially satisfying as tactile and time-based objects.  

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Are there any organizations or people in your community that have been particularly influential to you and your project?

Working with SCAB, a network of artist-run spaces in Dallas, made a great environment for throwing ourselves into the DIY ethos. I appreciate the thought-provoking letters of Michael Corris and [art historian] Michael Dorsch, who sends us the most remarkable art books (you can read their essays in our book project, Correspondence).

Your favorite art-related publication or art exhibition from the last year?

I loved Botticelli and the Search for the Divine at the Muscarelle Museum.

Do you have any upcoming projects you would like to share?

We are excited to debut catalogues from exhibitions at #FFFHEX, a “white-cube” gallery that held exhibitions in Mathews Courthouse from September 2016-September 2017 at CURRENT Books. They include shows by artists Zack McDonald, Travis Iurato, Joe Allen, Eli Walker, Jack Banks and Hunter Banks. Beyond that, Airprint Press co-founder Justin Hunter Allen will have a solo exhibition of his new work this summer at Basketshop Gallery, an artist-run space in Cincinnati, OH. Airprint will release a book to accompany the show.

Exhibitor Profile: Zatara Press

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Meet Zatara Press.

Richmond, VA

Zatara Press is a press run by Andrew Fednyak and based in Richmond, VA. Zatara endeavors to create photobooks around the idea of a uniquely designed and collaboratively considered process using the minimalist wabi-sabi Japanese aesthetic as a framework.  Each of their photobooks is a unique art object as well a book, and they allow each project to dictate the form and function of the book in order to work in conjunction with the final design. As such, their designs, choices, sizes, editions, and practically every step become different for each book.

What was your introduction to the world of art book publishing?

While I had been creating photobooks before the creation of Zatara Press, I attended the Hartford Art School Limited Residency MFA Photography program, which is centered around the photobook as a theme.  My love of the photobook only skyrocketed from that program.  The first two Zatara Press books were of my own work, which is how many small art book publishing companies start,  but I knew I didn't want the company to be about my own photographs. After meeting Nate Grann of Emptystretch (a former photobook zine publishing company), and having some long conversations, I decided Zatara Press should be made into a larger company so that I could promote other photographers' projects which I felt needed to be seen by our photography community. From that point onward, Zatara Press has only grown bigger every year.

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Why art books? How do you define artists' book/zine/publishing?

Zatara Press designs, produces, and manufactures fine art photobooks. A photobook could be loosely defined as a book centered around the sequential arrangement of photographs that bring about a desired intent or experience to the reader (this varies from each photographer to photographer). Photobooks can be artists' books but they can also be more traditional monographic coffee table books (both ends of the spectrum). Thus, photobooks can be understood as a subcategory of artists' books.

Your favorite art exhibition from the last year?

The Diane Arbus: In the Beginning exhibition at the MET Breuer last year was an enjoyment to experience.

 

Exhibitor Profile: ICA Shop

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Meet the ICA Shop. 

Richmond, VA

The new, as-of-yet unopen Institute for Contemporary Art at Virginia Commonwealth University will feature a museum shop. CURRENT Books is pleased to have the ICA shop at our art book fair previewing the kinds of objects they will stock in advance of the institute's opening on April 21, 2018. The ICA Shop will offer a range of art objects, mindfully-considered products and reading materials that aspire to circulate creative thought and ongoing critical discourse. The shop is committed to offering the most relevant art writing and scouts products from local makers to international brands. It aims to be aware and to engage with its community. In this Q&A, retail manager Egbert Vongmalaithong gives us an inside scoop. 

Why did the ICA decide to foray into the world of art publishing?

The decision for the ICA shop to carry artists’ books and zines is inspired by the memory of people going from table to table at the Richmond Zine Fest. The energy of everyone discovering new content is so special. It’s like forming a crush on the work. We went to the New York Art Book Fair this past fall and interacted with so many talented thinkers and makers. It’s undeniable that Richmond needs spaces dedicated to the community of art book publishing because it really is a channel for the exchange of information and ideas on a human scale.

Why art books? 

Art books and zines are accessible and more easily distributed. Small presses are platforms for under-represented artists’ voices and are crucial in the exchange of nuanced thinking.

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 Are there any organizations or people in your community that have been particularly influential to you and your project?

The Richmond Zine Fest, Ulises Bookshop, and many other concept stores across the world have served as models for this shop and its mission.

Your favorite art-related publication and art exhibition from the last year?

Mucus in My Pineal Gland by Juliana Huxtable and Speech/Acts at the Institute of Contemporary Art in Philadelphia, PA.

Do you have any upcoming projects you would like to share?

The ICA’s inaugural exhibition, Declaration, and the ICA Shop open on April 21st!

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Exhibitor Profile: Pellinore Press

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Meet Pellinore Press.

Baltimore, MD

Ursula West Minervini and Jonathon Poliszuk have operated Pellinore Press in Baltimore, Maryland since 2004. Some of their work is collaborative, while at other times they work independently. Pellinore Press allows the pair to consolidate their disparate artistic productions under one banner. They specialize in letterpress printing from handset type and woodcuts, producing books and prints that explore wordless narratives, surrealist games, and the absurd.    

What was your introduction to the world of art book publishing?

We began by making woodcut and letterpress-printed stationery, prints, and novelties, which we sold at craft fairs. However, as our vision for our work developed and we considered Pellinore Press less as a business venture, we began making more of the work we wanted, such as prints and comics/artist books. Eventually, this led to showing at book and print fairs.

 Why art books?

Implied, explicit, or abstract narratives are central features of our work. Books are a satisfying tactile container for those narratives.

As artists yourselves, do you see publishing as an extension of your practice? 

Publishing is an extension of our practice; we try to attend to as many of the details of the production as possible by making our own woodcut/letterpress covers and doing the binding and trimming ourselves, only outsourcing large digital printing for the comic interiors. 

Your favorite art-related publication or art exhibition from the last year?

We particularly enjoyed a small Saul Steinberg exhibit at the National Gallery of Art. His use of absurdity to humorously comment on culture interests us.

Do you have any upcoming projects you would like to share?

Jonathon is working on a large reduction woodcut depicting a Sisyphean journey, which should debut at CURRENT Books.

Exhibitor Profile: GenderFail

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Meet GenderFail.

Richmond, VA

GenderFail is a publishing and programming initiative run by Brett Suemnicht featuring the perspectives of queer and trans people and people of color. The project looks to build up, reinforce, and open opportunities for creative projects that focus on printed matter.

What was your introduction to the world of art book publishing?
In 2010, I was living in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and I was active in the DIY music and arts community in the city. During my time in that community, I was involved in various community spaces that had a large collection of self-published zines by artists, activists, and community members. One space in particular, the Cream City Collective, had a collection of over 1,000 zines by folks around the country. My experience in these spaces helped me realize the power of self-publishing and influenced my decision to self-produce my own publications.

Why art books? How do you define artists' book/zine/publishing?
Art books, artist books, and zines as mediums have a level of inclusivity built into them. My interest in art publishing is the opportunity for people, regardless of their economic situation, to own an original work for an affordable price. I am interested in the power of dissemination, multiples, and the printed image.

As an artist yourself, do you see publishing as an extension of your practice? 
Absolutely, GenderFail is my art practice. GenderFail only exists through collaboration with other people, collective, and groups. I consider myself a facilitator rather than strictly an object maker. The programs we produce are focused on building up systems of support for queer people and people of color. One recent program we have been offering is free use of our risograph machine for queer and POC folks. I want to help people realize their projects without having lack of resources stand in the way of their projects.

 GenderFail's current installation at SEDIMENT, up through January 21, 2018. 

GenderFail's current installation at SEDIMENT, up through January 21, 2018. 

Are there any organizations or people in your community that have been particularly influential to you and your project?
I am really inspired by Press Press, a storefront studio and library in Baltimore, MD. Press Press does a lot of programming based on issues of race and racism in the United States. They continue to help pave the way so that immigrants and people have color have a voice in contemporary publishing practices. Pegacorn Press, run by Caroline Paquita, is another major influence for what we do at GenderFail. Pegacorn Press, in my opinion, is one of the most exciting risograph publishing project and one of the few that focuses on the perspectives of queer women and trans folks. I also love the work of Unity Press out of Oakland, CA. Unity is a queer skateboarding collective that also publishes works by queer people and people of color. They often times give away free skate decks to folks and provide free risograph printing to queer youth of color.
Their generosity is a constant inspiration, even though I have little to no interest in skate culture.

Your favorite art-related publication or art exhibition from the last year?
Pegacorn press recently released Edie Fake’s Gaylord Phoenix issue #8, and it's incredible. Juliana Huxtable released her first collection of writing, Mucus in My Pineal Gland, through Capricious and Wonder and it is unreal. If you don’t know about Juliana Huxtable you need to Google her and buy this book.
In March, I was in Mexico City for the Material Art Fair and I was able to see Ulises Carrión’s Dear Reader Don’t Read at Fundación Jumex Arte Contemporáneo. Ulises Carrión started Other Books and So in Amsterdam, which was the first artist-run bookstore dedicated especially to artist publications. His publications, writing, and video work have been very influential to my practice. Locally, I loved Nicole Killian’s solo exhibition that was at Sediment Arts. Nicole’s work really bridges a much-needed gap between fine art and design, and brings an important perspective to publishing as a queer woman.

Do you have any upcoming projects you would like to share?
I am currently in the process of working with a few artists on new publications including Pallavi Sen and Roxi Azar. Pallavi is working on a publication with her LUNCHY series, which will be an artist framed cookbook with various writings, manifestos, and recipes. I am working with Roxi on a risograph publication from her planet archive that she describes as “a mix of light magic and real life and sci-fi plants and minerals.” I am also continuing to work on two long-term socially engaged projects, The GenderFail Archive Project and the GenderFail Awards Project

GenderFail will be exhibiting at CURRENT Books 2018, and will also be generously exhibiting their collection with us during the CURRENT Books panel March 30. 

Exhibitor Profile: VALET + UDLI Editions

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Meet VALET + UDLI EDITIONS.

Richmond, VA

VALET is an artist run gallery that provides opportunities for emerging and underrepresented artists in the Richmond, VA community. Although they don’t produce any publications, they provide space, resources and an audience for artists to showcase their work. VALET will be sharing their space with UDLI EditionsUDLI uses DIY techniques, such as risograph, xerox, and screen-printing as a platform to exhibit their own artwork as well as artists from around the world promoting community outreach and collaborative practices amongst a diverse network of creatives.

What was your introduction into the world of art book publishing?

VALET’s introduction is CURRENT Books! Although we’ve sold publications at shows in the past, this is the first publication-centered event we’ve curated.

Why art books? 

We see art books as a way to share an artists ideas on a personal and often affordable level. They’re easily reproduced and can be distributed throughout communities much easier than larger works. Although digital copies can be created and distributed in a similar manner, the physicality of a published work creates a more personal connection to the artist and their ideas.

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Are there any organizations or people in your community that have been particularly influential to your project?

With VALET being a space for artists, we are always being inspired by the art community around us. There are so many groups, individuals and institutions that are either publishing great work or providing access to these works. SEDIMENT, GenderFail, Sink/Swim Press, Candela, VCU, and Studio Two Three are all doing things that we think are important to publications in Richmond. 

Your favorite art-related publication or art exhibition from the last year?

The press we’re sharing a table with, UDLI Editions put out a bunch of stuff last year that we loved, especially Heads #3. SEDIMENT Arts has a whole library of rare publications and showcased a lot of great works from GenderFail’s collection recently. Dialogue No. 4, published by Sink/Swim was a wonderful selection of Richmond artists.

Do you have any upcoming projects you would like to share?

We have A LOT of exhibitions and events coming up this year that we’re super excited about. Artists who are interested in using VALET to showcase their work are always encouraged to send us a proposal! If you want to know about our upcoming events, join our Mailing List or follow us on Facebook.

Exhibitor Profile: Adam Griffiths

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Meet Adam Griffiths.

Takoma Park, MD

Adam Griffiths is a cartoonist, illustrator, and artist living just outside of Washington, DC. Griffiths earned a BA from MICA in 2004, and has been working as both a professional artist and an arts administrator for over 8 years, contributing to the programming at organizations like the Washington Project for the Arts, Provisions, and more while honing his comic craft. 

In a couple of sentences, please describe the mission of your publishing project.

My goal is to make comic books with as few hindrances on my internal human morality as possible. The images, books, and artworks I’ve made in the past demonstrate the behavior of an imagination that is peaceful, confrontational, racist, universalist, political, amoral. A wildness that trusts.

 What was your introduction to the world of art book publishing?

I guess I’ve been trying to make comics for many years; I wrote a three-hundred-page graphic novel in high school, but didn’t return to making comics until a few years ago, when I began my writing and drawing my graphic novel project Washington White. I have a background in contemporary art which I’ve also managed to shove into this new suitcase that is my career and calling — a mix of: comics, multimedia and animation, illustration and of course, drawing. So, I’m a voracious reader who has probably thumbed through fifty-too-many very well made art books! 

As an artist yourself, do you see publishing as an extension of your practice? 

Publishing is ‘knowing to share.’ I make A LOT of work, and honestly much of it is utterly inaccessible! Publishing is a reminder to me to not allow my beard to grow past my ankles, to take a survey of what the brain produces and transmit it to a language of multitudes.  

What has been particularly influential to you and your project?

The following list of comics, illustration, and design were influences for my graphic novel, Washington White:

Artists and art that are inspirations to me include Winsor McCay’s “Dreams of the Rarebit Fiend," George Herriman, Julie Doucet, Mark Alan Stamaty’s "Washingtoon," David Wojnarowitz’s “Seven Miles a Second,” Gary Panter, Jim Nutt’s portraits, Artzybasheff’s machine age illo's, Barney Bubbles’ paste-up design.

Films that have influenced me include Ionesco’s “Rhinoceros,” “The Seven-Percent Solution,” "Putney Swope,” "The Spook who Sat by the Door," “The Strawberry Statement,” “The Adjustment Bureau," and “The Prowler." 

Your favorite art-related publication from the last year?

Right now, I’ve been quite liking Sarah Horrocks’ “Goro” series. Also, Connor Williumson’s "Anti-Gone," was a standout independent comic in 2017.

Griffiths is currently working on four new book projects - visit his table at CURRENT Books 2018 to see how they're coming!

Exhibitor Profile: Elizabeth Graeber

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Meet Elizabeth Graeber.

Takoma Park, MD

Elizabeth Graeber is an illustrator and artist based just outside of Washington DC who has produced illustrations for clients such as Warby Parker, NPR, the Washington Post, and more. Elizabeth produces zines, coloring books, and small guides that she sees as visual, fun, and unique objects.

What was your introduction to the world of art book publishing?

I self-published a book called An Illustrated Guide to Cocktails and sold it on my site. After that, I started making more zines and coloring books and visiting book fairs like the Prints and Multiples Fair at Open Space in Baltimore and the DC Art Book Fair.

 Pages from Elizabeth Graeber's "Drawing in Museums" zine. 

Pages from Elizabeth Graeber's "Drawing in Museums" zine. 

Your favorite art-related publication or art exhibition from the last year?

There is a nicely designed and colorful magazine from Australia called Hello Lunch Lady. Another was an illustrated zine called Fashion Forecasts by Yumi Sakugawa

Do you have any upcoming projects you would like to share?

I have a show at the Quirk Gallery in Richmond through February 18. On February 17th (and maybe 18th), I will be drawing custom portraits of people and animals.

 "Gathering of Redheads" by Elizabeth Graeber.

"Gathering of Redheads" by Elizabeth Graeber.

 

Exhibitor Profile: The Concern Newsstand

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Meet the Concern    Newsstand. 

Chapel Hill, NC

The Concern Newsstand is dedicated to preserving literacy in paper form in a dying market.  The Chapel Hill / Carrboro, NC area no longer has any used bookstores or magazine stores, for instance, and the Concern Newsstand's Temporary Kiosk offers this service to the community. The Concern Newsstand is an online store as well as a pop-up in local businesses in the Triangle area that sells hard-to-find publications, curated books, and local and international artists’ printed works.

What was your introduction to the world of art book publishing?

I have a background in art myself and later in arts administration as well as wholesale/retail business. This combination of experiences and connections made this project come about.

Why art books? 

Artist books & zines are generally of limited edition and are something very special. It is a tangible medium for one to observe an artists’ thoughts. I am selling art books because they are inspiring to me, and I think the ones I select could be to others as well.

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Are there any organizations or people in your community that have been particularly influential to you and your project?

The Internationalist Bookshop was an inspiration to me.  It was a volunteer-run bookstore in Chapel Hill/Carrboro for over 30 years specializing in alternative and small press materials that just closed last year.

Your favorite art-related publication or art exhibition from the last year?

I really love the Anni Albers Notebook 1970-1980 by David Zwirner Books.  It’s so cool to see how relatable her sketches were.  The quality of the book is amazing- like the real thing.

Do you have any upcoming projects you would like to share?

The Concern Newsstand will have a semi-permanent corner at Lump Gallery in downtown Raleigh starting in February. Lump has been around for over 20 years and just recently became a non-profit. It’s an honor to be a part of it. We will continue to have our online store and do pop-ups locally even so.  

Exhibitor Profile: AdHouse Books

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Meet AdHouse Books.

Richmond, VA

AdHouse Books LLC has been a boutique publishing juggernaut since 2002. Over the years, they have won and been nominated for awards within the comic profession (Ignatz, Harvey, Eisner) and the design world (AIGA, Communication Arts, Domtar Paper). Their library of publications is an eclectic mix of sequential and illustrative arts.

What was your introduction to the world of art book publishing?

Our first published title was Pulpatoon Pilgrimage by Joel Priddy. At the time, Joel was teaching at VCU. A mutual friend, Kelly Alder, made me aware of the work. We actually tried to get other's publishers to produce the book, but none of them got back to us. So, we took what knowledge we had garnered from freelancing and working at Eclipse Comics and made the jump into publishing.

Why art books? 

I prefer the visuals. I have always found words more challenging. I’m pretty open to what I consider art book/zine/publishing. So many tools can be used to convey whatever message a creator is trying to communicate.

As an artist yourself, do you see publishing as an extension of your practice? 

Back when I was doing anthologies, I would actually publish my own work. Nowadays, I’m either helping with book design or the other challenges facing small press publishers.

Your favorite art-related publication or art exhibition from the last year?

Just in December, I read In Pieces: Someplace Which I Call Home by Kurt Ankeny. Part travelogue (Massachusetts), part comic, part art book… it all added up to be an enjoyable read. Kurt has family in Richmond, so I got to enjoy a dinner with him over the holidays. One of my favorite art exhibits last year was at the MOCA in Virginia Beach - Wayne White had a show called Monitorium that was fantastic!

Do you have any upcoming projects you would like to share?

In 2018, we will be releasing the collected main story from Pope Hats called Young Frances. We will have at least one (and possibly more) copies of the book at CURRENT Books.  We hope attendees will stop by to take a look!