Coming in to this unit I had previous experience of making my initial Albatross book. I used this book to exhibit at the MPF, as a portfolio piece at Photomeet and throughout all my other meetings from this point. Finally, I sent this dummy to the Unseen Dummy Award, it was not accepted.
After all of this travelling around the dummy itself has become quite worn (not to mention the dent from Martin Parr dropping it). I have decided to resign this copy to my bookshelf as it means quite a lot to me. During the summer I also had time to consider this book and what changes may need to be made to create a slightly amended book. I still had the printed pages left to make three additional books and I thought about what the most pragmatic way to go about this was. I needed one copy of the book that looked impressive in terms of craft for the QEST Scholarship interview and I need two copies to act as dummies/submission pieces. As such I made one hardback with sleeve and a specialist binding that is slightly visible and highlights the craft of the book, and then two copies of the book without the clothbound hard cover which can make the work appear totally finished and a little precious. These copies have more of a feel of a dummy. One of these is included in my hand-in. The other dummy was used to be included in my submission to C/O Berlin talent Award.
I ended up taking a slightly different approach to getting my work published than I set out in the proposal due to a meeting with Victoria and the various thoughts that spawned from this meeting. Having spoken to Victoria initially after her presentation to the course I came to realise the importance of the Folly work to me and my practice. Above and beyond Albatross I felt like this work was very much my work in a much more complete way. I prefer the work and I feel it has more potential to be published by the level of publisher I am aiming for. When starting this unit I set out creating a list of publishers I would like to work with that I have included below (In rough order of current importance to me).
- Silas Finch (now closed down)
- J & L
- Nazraeli Press
- Twin Palms
These eleven publishers were selected from a much larger list however as I have not moved through them as options, I will focus on these. Although getting Folly published and out into the world is more important to me, I still wanted to exhaust the most important of these options. The only option to get the work across to Steidl was their PDF submission, so I sent a PDF of the amended book and I am yet to hear a reply. From the initial meeting with Victoria I had followed her advice to only contact one publisher at a time to avoid any frustrating situations where two publishers may offer opportunities, this could end up in burnt bridges which I am careful to avoid.
Following from not hearing a reply in over a month I will submit the amended/well-made artist book to the Mack First Book award. I did submit a very early iteration of Albatross to the previous Mack Award however I feel the changed edit/text and huge increase in quality provide a good reason to submit again, especially at a time when Folly is not yet ready to send across.
In my second meeting with Victoria we spoke about Folly. We had made the Mack First Book award an aim and getting the book made before Christmas the timeframe. Within this meeting I felt very rushed and certain things that were said jarred with my ideas of how I would like to go forward. It came to light that Victoria was pricing this dummy creation project very high, even including costs for things that I personally could do myself like the binding and print proofing. When I said I could do them Victoria seemed frustrated and that they would have to be done properly. I understand Victoria is a professional and is probably used to dealing with people with much higher budgets. In an ideal world I could pass on everything to others and pay out thousands of pounds. However, this is not my situation and I have to be considered in how I work through it. It seemed that if I was to use Victoria the book would have to be published one way or another (even planning for a crowdfunder in advance of trying with publishers so the project could be completed). I know the reason for this would be to assure that the book would be published, and Victoria could get her fee, however I was not sure how inclined I was to crowdfund the book. The meeting left me feeling a little disenchanted with the idea of working with Victoria, there was much less interest in the work, and I was not sure that she would be the right fit for the design. I did however want to take some time to consider this.
I understand the importance of being pragmatic in the business side however before meeting Victoria I was very happy to take more time with the work ( A thought echoed by both Tim Clark and Rodrigo Orrantia). The collection of images across the summer had really expanded the work and given me a better idea of the scope of the work. I felt I could add photos to give the work a little more presence and if I was going to get this together for the Mack First Book award and if I was to rush this it would bely the searching nature of the work itself, it could become rushed. In addition to this I also was given professional work which I had to take because of my financial situation, this took up a lot of the days I had free and made the idea of putting it together quickly untenable. I got in touch with Victoria to let her know and said that I would be in touch in the New Year with my position to talk about future plans.
I have spent the last few months doing what I can towards the work. Gathering a few more images, testing papers and materials for the work and starting to consider sequencing. This now feels a better pace to finish the work.
I have been thrown a curveball in that I have only just been told that Louise Clements from Format Festival would like to exhibit the first artist book of Folly. This means I have been given a two-week turnaround of an artist book for the festival. I am going to set limitations for the book that I can create because of the limited time I have.
I will aim to make a book that is roughly 15 – 25 pictures long. This book should feel like entering the world of the ex-prisoners through the images, feeling somewhat like a conversation. It will be called Folly. It will be black with some form of design or image on the front. It will be 10x8”.
This is a perfect opportunity to try and get the work published. I will be able to use the exhibiting of the artist book at Format as an excuse for going to publishers with the work to consider it for a wider reach publication. This could either be considered as the length it is in the artist book or ideally a larger edit of images (if I was to have more time to shoot). At this point I will take the Folly work and go to each publisher systematically to see if anyone would be interested in publishing the work.