On Publishing

La Houle

Tique | art paper asks eight questions to an international art book publisher about its motivation, practice and role today. This week: La Houle.

Publisher La Houle
Website http://www.la-houle.com

What motivated you to start publishing?

La Houle started as an idea in 2011, out of a will of associating our backgrounds in books. Jef had worked for a while in a publishing house and as a literary translator, while Marie was a trained graphic designer with an interest in editorial practices and already collaborating in artist’s book projects, as well as working as a bookseller. We launched our first publication in 2012, in collaboration with artists and authors we already knew, Adam Biles, Manon Rousseau and Béatrice Lortet. We started working only in print with what was possible for us to produce and diffuse in small range. Now we are interested in every format, and we have worked with sounds, digital editions, multiples, reading sites, and even raffles.

How would you describe your role in the creation of a publication?

Each project is taken separately in terms of design, conception, diffusion and distribution. The economic factor is also an influence that can shape the publication. We always try to find a solution to make a publication possible with the quality required in relation to the artist’s or writer’s work but also which are accessible and collectable, without being only limited or signed editions. The idea is to always play with the contemporary modes of production available and to reflect on the status of each publication (artist’s book, multiple, mail art, documents, poetry collection). Our role is to take care of the details at the different stages of the production and diffusion, plus dialogues and meetings around coffee as well as the unavoidable administrative duties.

What do you look for in a project?

To us, the most interesting projects are the ones with which you feel like you’re participating to an exploration of sorts. A project can generate many choices to make. Sometimes you have to probe a whole variety of questions just to go back to the initial one because it was the best starting point, sometimes you have to exhaust many possibilities before arriving at a satisfying for bringing the project a bit further.

What advice would you give to anyone planning to make a publication?

It has become a loaded question, and it depends on your definition of a publication. You have to decide whether you want to create a new work while exploring editorial question, or to publish a work and make it public. In fact, publication as a form of diffusion can take place through different channels, and today artists generally use the publication either as a medium, or as an alternative mode for producing, diffusing, disseminating, communicating, sharing, etc. So we would first question the form and its format(s).

What do you consider to be your biggest challenge?

Our biggest challenge is to find a (technical, economic, human) balance between an idea of making a project, the possible production and the challenge of diffusing publications while, paradoxically, means of communication seem to have never been easier than today.

As a lot specialised (art)bookstores are disappearing, is it harder to present the publications to a wide audience? Are you using new channels to reach them?

Today, more than going to fairs and stocking our publications in bookstores, we decided to work with a distributor to help in a wider circulation, but we also take care of always using all the channels available on the Internet today. A particular thing we’ve recently developed is a project called the Reading Room. It could be described as a mobile selection of books (our publications as well as loans and gifts from artists, writers and other publishers) and different formats pertaining to the multiplication and the circulation of art, and in the meantime, we see it as a space for reflection, a portable library that carries a lot of interrogations we wish to share when we are invited to travel with it.

What do you find the most rewarding?

New friends along the path.

What does the future hold?

Tomorrow never knows.

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