How to make a living from artists' books on a remote island.
It must have been fate which brought me here on an island on the remote west coast of Ireland.
When I decided to move nearly 10 years ago from Luxembourg to the most westerly part of Europe I was well aware that I would have to change my practices of producing books and those of marketing and selling them.
Back then in Luxembourg I was publishing poetry, theater plays, novels, some art books and hand printed editions with fancy book binding. On a daily basis I was meeting authors and artists I was working with, overlooking production at printers and bookbinders and make deliveries to bookshops.. my office rooms, the printing studio and the attic were packed with boxes full of books on pallets.
Now here, in my old stone cottage overlooking the Atlantic there is no space for pallets, and unless you travel 4 hours, there are no paper suppliers, no book printers, no book binders or decent book shops. I decided to operate as a hermit on a self sufficient basis.
All my books are printed here on my ink jet printers or my laser printer, not more than 5 copies at a time and hand bound. The stock is kept at a minimum. The screen printed editions are bound on demand. Papers most frequently used are ordered in London or Luxembourg and special papers for specific projects are bought in smaller quantities in Seoul and sent by post or carried in the luggage.
I still love to collaborate with other artists and publish their works, in addition to my own artists' books, I chose to publish in a very narrow field, a small niche, which would allow me relatively quickly to know worldwide artists practicing in this field as well as getting known and recognized by collectors, libraries and institutions interested in this very same subject. I launched a new collection of books of visual poetry and works inspired by fluxus.
Since 2005 Antic-Ham from South Korea joined me and we operate from Achill Island as well as from Seoul, traveling back and forth a few times a year. Each one is doing his own artists' books and together we are doing common projects under the name of "Franticham".
Very recently we started a series of Fluxus boxes, each assembling signed and numbered contributions from 23 artists.
Of very big importance of course is a well maintained website and a continuous contact through newsletters with collectors, institutions and libraries. The possibility of online ordering with Paypal is of great advantage.
Essential also are the many artists' book fairs we participate yearly. Many collectors following our work, specially for the expensive hand printed editions, prefer to visit us at fairs and see the works before eventually acquiring them. Fairs are of course the unique opportunity of meeting new customers.
Following are the cities where we attend those fairs: Leeds, Manchester, Glasgow, Bristol, Oxford, London, Paris, Mainz, Frankfurt, Seoul and New York.
Finally, the most effective way of selling books to libraries and institutions is to take an appointment and visit with a selection of books. We just did it occasionally in Paris, Basel, New York and Tokyo. Each visit was very successful.
This article was published in april 2010 in Barcelona in the book "Human Book" at the occasion of the "Human Book Festival"