As an editor and book designer with special interest in art and artists’ books, I could see the beginning of a book project as the start of a thought behind a structural object that will support a story. I could mention which details make a publication a good one. The lines, the format, the invisible but impeccable grid, the font choice, the paper quality and the binding. We could consider the ingenuity of creating a structure as the bed for the content that will grow strong around that space. Its perfect execution allows the book to last in time and age with grace.
As a storyteller and art lover, I choose to talk about the origin of a book project from its poetical perspective. I will start from the inspiration and the beauty of the story behind it. Not the story that will be translated through the book’s pages, but rather what inspired the idea of wrapping a narrative – a memory, a visual or textual experience – bound in paper. I consider the start of a publication as a free process that usually originates from a magical encounter. I see the idea becoming a book when I feel the chemistry between me, the editor and designer, and the artist who joins me in the inspiration. Sometimes I find the story, sometimes the story finds me.
The collaboration between author and editor is a fundamental part of a book creation. If the first contact is magical, this will be the secret behind the singularity of a publication. In my experience, making art books is a creative path that can lead us to different directions. From the position of an artist and an editor, I can say I’ve been in both sides of this relationship. If there’s chemistry, there will be a book. If not, no matter how brilliant the original idea is, the collaboration will be hard to materialize.
I like the idea that a creation comes from an imperfect path and becomes a free, independent creature that will fly on its own without us, editors and creators, having much control of its future. It’s the union of two or more people that join in to create and conceive the cocoon, making it strong enough to let it live its metamorphose and fly. Finding the best technique, exploring the visual and textual languages give ourselves the time to engage with and brew the project while being open to surprises that come along the way. The connection is essential to convey beauty.
An actual example is Henri Matisse’s artist book Jazz, published by Tériade in Paris in 1947. The book, 20 plates inspired by circus, folklore, mythology, and personal artistic practice, took 5 years to be completed. Matisse wasn’t happy with the first reproductions of his cut-outs. The publisher came up with the title, which isn’t directly related to the book’s subject matter, but could indicate a sign of the book’s spirit of discovery and improvisation. Matisse was a subject or contributor in all of Tériade’s editorial or publishing ventures. The collaboration between Matisse and Tériade started in 1929 and lasted until Matisse’s death, 25 years later.
My experience working with different artists-photographers, visual artists, chefs, and poets, is what drives me to keep making books, the unique encounters and the way we, together, find to tell a story, touching and connecting people. Memory and inspiration seed the impact I aim to reach. Partnership, chemistry and openness to the surprises that taking risks can bring are inescapable tools. Like we say in my country: a book, a tree and a child.