Where artists' books and the book arts meet online...
I would like to hear people's opinions on Print On Demand and their use and qualification as Artist's Books. I'm currently examining the realm of the Democratic Mulitple and would like to get an idea about people's attitudes, experiences and responses to POD, and how POD is being used in the world of ABs. Does anyone have major issues with POD being used to make ABs?
Any feedback would be greatly appreciated.
No response to this? My most recent book is sort of stream-of-consciousness abstract sequential art and one I'm printing soon is just drawings and poems, and I'm working on something that's just drawings (I think). I have used POD for all of these. Maybe what I do doesn't really go under 'artist's books'; my interest is more in disseminating 2d visual art in a simple 'mass producible' way that resembles the way in which writers, poets and musicians spread their art around. I'm not interested in creating a beautiful, custom-made book with fold-outs and transparent sheets etc. I like the idea of somebody being able to pick up a copy at the local bookstore for next to no money. Maybe, in my case, this way of publishing art is out dated though; digital is a much easier, more flexible way and maybe, today, a much more natural way of doing this, and maybe that is why what I do is not an artist's book. With an artist's book, the physical book itself seems to be absolutely essential, is (or is part of) the art itself; in my case it is just a sort of a carrier of the art. The only thing that brings me back to printing physical books is that I think that pure digital art is valued less by potential 'readers' and still somehow has an awkwardness or is not taken seriously (in comparison to a real book). Then again, I do not buy any artists books myself, who does? It feels a bit strange to expect people to buy my book but not buy any myself. Maybe I would if a large selection was readily available against paperback-like prices at the bookstore. I do buy books (novels & poetry). I think there is some other fundamental problem with artist's books and most visual art in general, but that's not what you are asking about here.
I think POD is great- as an obviously different form or version of an Artist's Book. Yes to Democratic Multiples and spreading the "vibe" of the book, while leaving room for the original to be treasured and preserved by those who can afford it- and in public museums. Just like other art. It can get the word out, like prints or bootleg tapes.
Using POD itself as the Artist's Book pushes the boundary for me... I'd like to see someone use it in a way that makes each copy unique or... ? Willing to be surprised, but yeah it's the difference between real handpainted shirts and silkscreened ones, to bring it to the craft realm, even a step removed from that because it's all computerized. More like having castings done from an original sculpture.
In the end POD is just self-publishing, not a hand craft. Goes to the debate about artist's studios set up to have the assistants do the actual painting, like in an architect's studio or so. Way too removed from the Mystery for me.
Books are great, everyone knows that, and POD makes room for us to Play. Artist's Books, for me, should really be another step, with the hand of the artist in every cm, Playing Further.
I've had a piece published in Sarah Bodman's Blue NoteBook that dealt with POD and linked to examples of POD entered in awards like the LIBRIS in Mackay - Check it out...
Thanks Doug, I'll check it out.
Frankly, for me there shouldn't be a distinction between 'real ABs' and facsimile ABs. I don't really see POD as a lesser form at all, just different. Within economic systems like selling and valuing art, or course craft is an extremely relevant factor having a major impact on commercial value, but within the other factors defining 'art'ness' of an object, or something functioning as art, i don't see the difference. An objects 'value' as a work of Art is irrelevant to price, but defined by how it communicates and expresses. I think the form of POD has a lovely 'voice' politically, socially and politico-economocally. The hand to me doesn't really matter. I think Koons is a great example of a conceptual artist with little to no hand, but his works are warm, humorous and bitey. He plays on sentimentality.
Someone else said it, don't know who, but I agree that there is a lot of really boring handmade work, and really exciting zines and other manufactured works. The same is true in reverse. I take a piece at face value, and go from there. I must say, the paper and construction of POD is dissatisfying, but at the end of the day, this is the medium - take it or leave it.
For that matter, what would people's opinions of professionally printed and tailored book sbe compared to POD? Where the artist selects paper and has more to do with printing with a professional?
From within the field of the artists book I do see the POD as a lesser form. Or perhaps irrelevant would be a better word. PODs have qualities all their own and some of them can, or hypothetically could, be well done enough to give pleasure. But the pleasure is of a different sort than the mark of the maker (which is itself not, I think, what you are calling "hand".) A book designed by Bruce Rogers or one printed by Arion are magnificent objects but they are at best livres d'artiste. I would be happy to own an Arion (!) but really, I would rather own Paszport by my friend Beata Wehr. I hope I can make these distinctions without trampling on the political and class issues here. Why does Koons have no hand? The other Abstract Impressionists snubbed Barnett Newman in 1950 and 1951 for not having what I take to be hand. We don't think so now. Every artist has it, just as everyone has Buddha-nature. It's the art which doesn't or does. The artist has failed or succeeded in capturing the qi of his subject. I agree with your last paragraph. I regard much in the book arts as little art, my own included.
Surely a fascimile is not the same as the original. The facsimile is a utility, for one thing. It has value, true. So do frauds.
There are damned good PODs and I stand in admiration at the work someone has done to make them, which is considerable. But PODs and artists books can't be theorized in the same way on the basis of good workmanship.
At Sarah's talks here in Melbourne last year most of the artists' books which she referred to were POD.
Nice thread, i was looking into this POD myself. And came to this web site. Turns out the term of artists books is altogether different from what I thought it was. But its very interesting & this is a cool web site, I had no idea there were so many related pages going on and it was such a big thing. I always wanted to collate my art into a book and figured POD was the best option to fit with the idea I had in my head.
The line you use 'POD and their use and qualification as Artist's Books' strikes me as odd. qualification? I figured if an artist puts their works into a form of print you can call it an artist's book.... I'm on a totally different page I guess.
you cvan spend years arguing about definitions of artists' books with the bookbinding purists - but I tend to agree with what you say...
I have concluded that artists books and POD are two different media that don't mix, like toast and enamel. The POD, if you can get one with adequate production values, which I don't believe you can, nevertheless strips away all the qualities that identify a handmade book -- tactile, little variations and twiddles which reveal the mark of the maker (the workmanship of risk rather than the workmanship of certainty), the pleasure of something to luxuriate in. Editioning an artists book is not the same as publishing it, much less PODding it. Benjamin pointed out 75 years ago that an etching (say) was not the same thing as a picture of it in a book, much less a unique painting. The art has aura, the reproduction, no matter its demotic value, does not. Have a look at Sarah Horowitz's latest (Wiesedruck) -- a handmade multiple. I would not call this published. It is definitely not PODable.