Tique | art paper asks eight questions to an international art book publisher about its motivation, practice and role today. This week: Brave Books.
What motivated you to start publishing?
Tom Mrazauskas: “Publishing has been around me for a while already, I worked as a book designer for 10 years. It’s an interesting job, but it felt like my professional life was missing an adventure. I see publishing as an adventure or a laboratory for me and the photographers I work with.”
How would you describe your role in the creation of a publication?
Publishing is team work, lots of people are involved in the process. It’s like a puzzle, in which one must connect all dots. That’s my job.
We find technical solutions with the printer and binder, we talk about images with the colour separation expert and I keep coming back to the photographer to explain everything in straightforward language. I believe that books belongs to their authors and they must be involved in the whole process.
So we talk a lot, we make dummies, we change our minds and in the end we go to the machines to print the book.
What do you look for in a project?
First of all, I am looking for something recognisable, something what is relevant for my experiences or memories. That’s the starting point and the next question is: where will this body of work bring readers?
For example, a dummy of “Shadows of the State” by Lewis Bush attracted my attentions as a collection of areal photographs. They were obviously taken from Google Maps, compositions looked great, images made strong impression, but what’s the story behind? I began reading texts and realised that the book is about numbers stations, short wave radio stations which are transmitting encoded messages. These broadcasts take place all around the world, but there is almost no official information to explain these signals.
All that looked like an imaginary world, but it’s real – one can open Google Maps and take a look (Or is this just a bunch of digitally manipulated images?).
I’m looking for works, which leave questions open.
What advice would you give to anyone planning to make a publication?
Take your time. Keep in mind that books we publish will live much longer than we will. It is worth spending time polishing details, readers will admire that extra attention.
Don’t be afraid to make mistakes, use your own voice.
What do you consider to be your biggest challenge?
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?
Print-runs of Brave Books are between 500-1000 copies. I am not sure if this is enough to reach a wide audience.
To be honest, I don’t know how publishing works. Curiosity brought me to publishing, I wanted to learn more. The initial idea was to make two titles a year. It’s slow process, so we have time to make dummies, to try various materials, to find what works the best for each book.
What do you find the most rewarding?
With time I realised that awards one could get in various competitions aren’t worth getting excited about.
By contrast competitions, which are aiming to introduce their audiences to the diversity of contemporary publishing is different thing. Each engaged reader is the best reward for a publisher, I think.
What does the future hold?