Tuesday, 22 March 2016

Ha! Have you ever seen a sign that says 'no drawing permitted'?

drawing by Craig Atkinson

One of the speakers and stall holders at Photobook Bristol this year is Craig Atkinson of Café Royal Books. Craig has famously published over 250 books in the last 10 years costing around £5 - £8. Mostly in black and white, the books tap into and revive a British photographic tradition dating back to the 1970s. They have become an archive in their own right in other words and have gained recognition as such.

For more information on Café Royal, read this interview with Craig at Photoworks.

In the meantime, we are going all Guardian here with a questionnaire that combines photography with Craig's world view and a little bit of Craig's own art (a possible influence on Grayson Perry and others) -  Point and Stare is a book of his drawings and you can buy it here.

You publish a book a week. How do you sell them?

40% CRB website 20% shops 20% various 20% give away. Ish.

What are the best places to sell a photobook?

It varies. People buy for various reasons, so gift shops, galleries, fairs, book shops, websites...All good.

You sell at both photobook events and artist book events? Where do you sell more books?

Artist book events. But conversation is good too; selling is only a part.

What are the differences between the photobook fair and the artist book fair?

There's an argument to say they're both the same thing, just photobook fairs are more niche. I suppose at photobook fairs there is more talk of the photographic image as a thing, or a sequence of images and their narrative. Art book fairs perhaps more emphasis on the book as a thing, as an art object or multiple. But each of those points could easily cross to 'the other side'.

Could the photobook world be more open in its outlook?

Absolutely. As could every book-world. I think terms are preventative. So, as soon as you say 'photobook', or 'artists' book' to someone, associations get in the way. I've always liked Fine Art, or aspects of it because it's a bit of a catch-all — fewer (perceived)  limits.

Can the photobook world be made any bigger? Does it need to be any bigger?

There needs to be a widely recognised definition of 'photobook' first.

What is the point of a photobook?

If a photobook is an artists book, then the book itself will provide a context within which to read the photographs. The form and function of the book, binding, folding, layout etc will all play a part in the way you read the images. If a photobook is a picture book, then it's a gallery, or a way to disseminate work quickly, affordably, internationally. It can be a collection, a history, a memory.

What is your earliest photobook memory?

National Trust pamphlets, roughly age 5. 

What is your earliest  memory?

Age 3, front room of newly-moved-into house being decorated. 

What is your most treasured photobook?

I've written loads of answers to this and deleted them all. I find it very difficult to treasure photobooks, or anything else material.

If you could be photographed by anybody, who would you choose?

 My kids. They have no baggage to interfere with taking the picture.

What did you want to be when you were growing up?

An architect. 

What is your guiltiest pleasure?

Pizza / chocolate 

Who would you invite to your dream dinner party?

 There are these tunnels in Liverpool. Williamson Tunnels. Williamson was a philanthropist who loved tunnels. He employed hundreds of people to make the tunnels for him. Then he invited them, and many friends and dignitaries to a dinner in the newly finished tunnels. There was a huge table with a vat of porridge in the middle. Lots of people were disgusted that they'd been invited to such a meagre dinner and left. Once they'd gone, he invited those who stayed, into the next tunnel. A huge banquet.

I'd invite the people who stayed.

What words or phrases do you use too much?

That's good.
Be careful. 

If you could edit your past, what would you change?

Nothing. I don't like regrets.

Which is better; photography or drawing?

Ha! Have you ever seen a sign that says 'no drawing permitted'? 

What is the most important lesson life has taught you?

Don't have favourites, or treasure material items, or have regrets, and work hard. And don't use clichés!

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