Thursday, July 22, 2010

The Eddystone Press

Over the last year or so I've been thinking more and more about starting a small publishing press. I've thought about making hand-bound letterpress and etching wonders, or simple photocopied multiples. I've considered just about every format possible, from the one-off artist's book to the mass produced paperback.

I've come to the conclusion that whichever way I do it I am extremely unlikely to make a penny out of it, so I might as well please myself! The liberating thing will be the creative freedom. No more changing this-that-or-the-other to please somebody else's idea of how your work should look. No more waiting for feedback and getting frustrated because all I really want to do is scribble, draw and paint all day.

I have so many stories and ideas which will never see the light of day if I rely on finding a commercial publisher for them. They are officially 'uncommercial'. So here goes... Maybe they will be rubbish! Maybe they would have been better with a publisher's art team behind them, and maybe this is an act of fantastic folly. The worst I can do is fail, and as an artist I do that every time I make something, so what's the worry?

First up will be A Bird's Song as a 32 page full colour picture book. I wrote this story years ago, and it's been in many forms over the intervening years. It's lyrical, poetic, obscure and lovely. I need to finish the artwork but I am aiming to have it ready by the end of the year. There are a couple of self-publishing websites now which offer fairly reasonable full colour printing, and I am in the process of researching isbns, pdfs, bleed sizes, spine width calculators and generally getting confused. I'll be ordering a proof to see what the quality is like.

I will post more news as the venture progresses...

Thursday, July 01, 2010

...and a Happier Day

Boy with Morris Owner magazine of May 1927, collection Tom Phillips.

For the last three months I have been working with Tom Phillips on a series of postcard books for the Bodleian Library. He has an extensive collection of private real photo postcards dating from the turn of the century to the 1940's. They are going to be held in the Bodleian Library Archive and they have decided to publish collections of the postcards in small volumes, each covering a different subject matter. The first two books will be Readers and Women & Hats.

There can be a little research involved when trying to date the cards, so when Tom came across this card of a little boy holding a Morris Owner magazine he gave it to me to investigate. As a long time Morris Minor owner I was excited to find the card and sent a scan of it to Nicola Parkins, the new editor of the Morris Minor Owners Club magazine. When I enlarged the card I discovered, to my great surprise, that the cover featured two military tanks!! I wondered to Nicola if Morris had built tanks. She came up trumps and in this month's Minor Matters there is a fantastic article about the magazine the little boy is holding (from May 1927) with the history of the one-man Morris-Martel tankette, a colour reproduction of the original magazine cover, AND I get my name splashed about all over my favourite subscription!

Minor Matters Vol XXXII no 1 July/August 2010

Meanwhile, my 'tankette' has failed her MOT on some worn out bushes. Nothing serious but I'm not sure I'll be fixing them in the spare room...

The van (Elsie), Kitty, Joey and Ralph in Topsham, August 2009.