How does your choice of publishing model (livre d’artiste / luxury edition model, handcraft / fine press model, low-cost / higher distribution model, etc.) shape the meaning of the book works your press produces? How does the printing or binding method affect the reader’s understanding of (as well as experience of) a text? What is the relationship of the process and the product?
Simon Cutts, Coracle Press
It’s less a question of model, than of idiom. Even the illustrated poetry book is an idiomatic object, owing much to the nineteenth century and one which is occasionally useful. But there should be no separable parts of text and image, but just an attempt to find a synthesis that precludes and overrides their separateness. It’s a question of finding the simplest approach within an understanding of the gestalt.
Carlolee Campbell, Ninja Press
I’d like to say, at the outset, that I work essentially alone. I design the books, set them in type by hand, print letterpress on a Vandercook Universal I on dampened handmade paper (in the main), and then bind the entire edition with some assistance in the bindery. Edition sizes hover around 100. This background should put my responses to the questions on a better footing. I don’t choose a publishing model. The publishing model is arrived at through the digestion of the text. It all starts with the text. The design is text-driven—when there is text. The effect that the printing and binding has on the readers understanding of a text cant be known. There isnt a common understanding, especially in poetry. The books I make present and represent my understanding, my experience of the text. What the reader brings to the book? One can only guess. The relationship of process and product is only everything.
C. Mikal Oness, Sutton Hoo Press
I make fine press books because I’m interested in publishing verbal text in concert with visual text. Most of my decisions about design are based on what I might think is interesting at the time about how meaning is made, not so much about what meaning is made. The latter always leads to contrivance. I suppose I can also say that one thing that is always on my mind when I’m making decisions like this is that my mode of production—the very labor and time intensive act of printing by hand—is something I like to push on, to taunt, as if to say, “Yes, this is a persnickety detail that many readers may not notice, and to do that for 200 copies is a little over the top, but I’m going to do it anyway to be sure the experience of this book is complete according to my vision for it.” The process, then, is the product.