Back in the late 90’s I move back to the area of Maine where I grew up. After 4 years of college I felt stifled by small town life. During that time I started publishing my ‘zine “To Avoid Suffocation” and bought my first desktop computer. It opened a world up that just would not have been accessible to me otherwise. While I was in school a friend introduced me to the bulletin board system and the magicial world of listserv. Oh my.
I started designing fliers for feminist and lesbian groups. The fliers were specifically made to be cheaply reproduced in halftone on a photocopier to look spectacularly shitty. Think punk posters drawn with sharpies and graphic ripped off of websites, manipulated in paint and stuck together in the magic of some forgotten lotus program. They were saved as bitmaps and distributed via the listserv, email, and zines everywhere. I must’ve made a good 50 or so designs and put them all out there under a pseudonym. I have a few hard copies of some of the designs and frankly they are terrible. Horrible stuff, but effective in their messaging. Which, is, I suppose the purpose of all posters.
While visiting my ex at her University I would manage to make a hundred copies of the posters, which at regular letter size fit easily into a regular bag. A spaghetti sauce jar of wheat paste and a cheap brush allowed me to quickly and easily slap all hundred copies up in a short period of time, and dispose of the evidence. I pasted them up alone and without my ex’s knowledge. While I waited for her to get out of class I’d flier bomb the restroom of whatever building she was in, the nearest dormitory, or the library. I wasn’t picky but I had a goal of putting up 100+ fliers each time I visited and I did. I realize now that I single handedly caused thousands of dollars in cleanup* effort, I kept the maintenance men very busy for a semester.
I was never caught. My disguise was that I looked like a student and I routinely was carrying some of my Ex’s books about so the look was complete.
I look back and wonder at my fervor at getting my message across. I suppose it’s the same passion that drives me to maintain this blog, though the messages are vastly different the drive is the same. I’ve got thoughts I need to put onto the screen, for whatever reason I do this and I enjoy it.
I should scan in some of the least offensive and terrible posters and put them up. Though, what is the statute of limitations for damage to public property?**
I found this gem of a sketcher's blog via doodlers anonymous's twitter(@doodler). I really like this person's style, quick sketchy but over layers of background and just wonderful coloring. It's just a sweet bi-lingual blog. Also I found the site Issuu through them which is a site that lets you publish a book free online, particularly nice for sketchbooks, because it lets you almost thumb through the sketchbook and see each set of pages just like you'd look at it in person very nice, better check out Lapin's stuff on there, it rocks.
I wanted to write a little bit about originality. The topic came up on a discussion group I’m in because someone made a book with an unusual cover and someone else asked a related question using a related material. In this case the book was made with a cassette tape cover and the question was if one could use the actual tape to bind a book. Someone in the group responded immediately with the response of “Don’t make a cassette tape book, someone else in this group is already making one.”
First off I think the purpose of being in a group online is to gain ideas, learn new techniques and for inspiration. This person became INSPIRED by the previous poster’s materials and was using that as a springboard for their inspiration; in my mind exactly why one might join a group. Secondly, in terms of originality, we’re talking about a centuries old art/craft that is gaining a revival but that means that in some terms it’s all been done before. This wasn’t the first time I’ve seen a cassette tape book and I’m sure it won’t be the last. It’s been done before but that doesn’t mean that it can’t be done again in a new and original way. In this case- the 2 halves of the cassette were taken apart, attached to board and decorations placed on the board, original.
If I got my undies in a knot every time I saw a limp leather long stitch book, my feet wouldn’t have any circulation; ya know what I’m saying? The simple fact is that when working with a centuries old art/craft you can’t get upset when you see something similar on the net. I’ve been putting my work online for over 6 years now and I’ve seen blatant rip offs of my patterns and designs, and I get pissed momentarily and realize that’s the permeability of the web, one of it’s great features. If I don’t want someone ripping off my design I shouldn’t put them up on the ‘net. When I gain inspiration from someone I try and give them credit and I think that’s simply courtesy.
My main point is here is that bookbinding is a centuries old art/craft and essentially with the exception of a small handful of us, it’s all been done before. Even if you’re attaching something unusual to the covers of a book it’s been done. So can we all untwist our undies and get back to making and enjoying books?