Tique | art paper asks eight questions to an international art book publisher about its motivation, practice and role today. This week: Highchair Editions.
What motivated you to start publishing?
There are a few different motivations. Initially it came out of having a few years worth of work archived away and essentially doing nothing other than existing online.
By making publications it made them real and finished, the physicality is a major factor in this. It is a great way of distributing work with full control over the how it is seen, and for the most part where.
There is a lot of work being produced as more and more people pass through art institutions and therefore less gallery space and opportunity to show work so the book and other printed matter is a very logical step, especially for photography, as it is made to be reproduced and allows for very different and varied approaches, it is not bound by being an original work.
How would you describe your role in the creation of a publication?
As self publishers we are involved every step of the way from production of content to final publication and everything in between – editing, design, material choice, printing, binding, making, distributing, promoting, selling. So everything! The presentation is always led by the work to ensure that the approach/format/materials are suitable for the work, we build the book around the work rather than put the work into a book so that in the end the book is part of the work.
What do you look for in a project?
Clarity and simplicity of vision and presentation but something that can withstand multiple viewings and continue to develop.
What advice would you give to anyone planning to make a publication?
Creatively I would encourage a strict approach to editing, I firmly believe less is more, and from a design point of view really think what best suits the work, to marry the content and form of the final publication to enhance both elements. Practically and economically I would think carefully about the edition size and the logistics of distribution, a lot of the boring stuff but all important.
What do you consider to be your biggest challenge?
Creating and maintaining a visible presence without having to shout too loud! There are a lot voices out there!
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?
We do nearly all of are selling at book and publishing fairs but we do still work with a few shops so they are an important part of the process and in many ways still the best way to encounter the work. We are certainly operating in something a niche field so the audience is already fairly small and without the shops getting smaller, online as potential but you still have to find us, you are not going to just stumble upon us. The audience is something I spend more and more time thinking about, specifically as to the size of it and therefore the subsequent sustainability of the publishing landscape.
What do you find the most rewarding?
Seeing the first finished fully realised version of a publication.
What does the future hold?
To continue to make books and publications but to focus on smaller editions and artist books and printed matter.