The Age of Self Publishing

Caroline Docwra, HCP’s programs assistant, recently organized and assembled HCP’s first self-published catalogs. Below she comments on the experience and self-publishing in general

There's a huge misconception that books are a dying art. Even though the Kindle is the new black, self-publishing gives new hope to the future of books and other printed publications. With self-publishing tools becoming more readily available through publishers like Blurb, Lulu and Shutterfly, photographers and writers can gain process and create a book with their own hands — well, their hands and the click of a mouse.

Jessica Auer is one such photographer who created her own publication with an independent printer and the help of her gallery, Les Territoires. Her forays into publishing were not working in her favor, so she found an independent printer and took publishing into her own hands. In Unmarked Sites her serene landscapes of Newfoundland and Labrador come together in her own design to tell the story of her travels. Flipping through the pages, you feel as though you're flipping through your field notes. Then, you unfold the pages revealing these breathtaking landscapes. Through her words and images, Jessica takes you along on her journey reconciling the area's complex history. With her innovative layout Jessica has created a one of a kind artifact, something impossible to do through digital media.

HCP recently ventured into the world of self-publishing with the print-on-demand company Blurb. At the close of Will Michels' HCP exhibition, Made By Will: Selections from Four Portfolios (2010) we began the discussion of creating a catalog. Our goal was to create a book that mimicked the intimate feel of the exhibition. I began the coordination of the catalog and our team worked for several months crafting a layout and creating a flow between the thoughtful texts provided by Madeline Yale and Will's soulful images. Antonio Manega's brilliant design keyed in on the feel and there was a moment in the process when we chose the cover design that something clicked and we could finally see where everything was going. After staring at these images for months there's something different when you stare at them in the actual catalog, they start to stare back.

I can't tell you how rewarding this process has been. I've worked with some amazing people, from the start of this venture with Susan Hayre Thellwell's inspiring Blurb course to sharing the news that we had been nominated for PBN's People's Choice Award with Antonio, Will, Bevin and the HCP family. HCP has blossomed from this experience as well. Will's catalog is the prototype for future exhibition catalogs and we're in the process of offering more self-publishing courses to share this experience with our students.Both of these publications are now a part of HCP's John Cleary Library. You can also purchase each of these books online. Jessica Auer's Unmarked Sites can be purchased through her gallery www. lesterritoires.com and Will Michels' Made By Will: Selections from Four Portfolios can be purchased on www.blurb.com.

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