Author and Principal Photographer: Douglas Stockdale (born Butler, PA; resides Rancho Santa Margarita, CA)
Publisher: Self-published; first edition, first printing of 400; copyright © 2017
Stiff-cover saddle-stitched book of 40 numbered pages with 14 images on several types of paper; 7.5×9 inches; full-color digital lithography, printed by Dual Graphics, Brea, California; $19.95 plus shipping ($4.50 in US & $15.00 USD other countries)
This book had its debut at the Medium Festival of Photography in San Diego, California, on October 26, 2017, and was received with great enthusiasm. It is a detailed guide to help the artist through all the steps and considerations to keep in mind when thinking about and executing an independently published artist book.
Douglas Stockdale, editorial founder of and prolific contributor to The PhotoBook Journal and SoCal PhotoExchange, who has been our guide through many artistic and publishing intricacies which he has discussed in hundreds of book reviews and articles, really gets to the point in this publication. Fortunately, his collaborator and sponsor in this venture is the renowned printing and communications company Dual Graphics in Brea, California, which already assisted Ansel Adams in artfully transferring his photography to print many years ago.
Doug certainly practices what he preaches. As a successful mentor and leader of workshops dealing with planning, producing, and marketing photo books, and as an author of a number of them himself (In Passing, Ciociaria, Pine Lake, Bluewater Shore), he is able to lay out logical and creative patterns for planning and doing artist books that are designed to help artists avoid many possible pitfalls that he has observed over time. The discussion is divided into five stages, which also constitute the chapters of this book:
- Book Pre-Visualization
- Marketing (including funding and fundraising)
- Book Development (including editing, sequencing the images, and making a book “dummy”)
- Book Design (and options)
- Book Production
Just to name one very important consideration, this Guide introduces marketing issues early in the process, rather than at the end, as others have done, since marketing information and decisions are integral to all other considerations that follow. Doug also devotes important space to the topics of selecting and sequencing the images to be included in an artist book, a topic that is sketchy in other guides on publishing your own artist book. There are many other planning considerations that he discusses to help the reader untangle potential difficulties.
Another fascinating feature of this book, extremely useful and exclusive, is the addition of sample pages of several different types of paper on which the same color and monochrome images are printed, so that the effect of printing on papers with different surfaces and characteristics can be seen. While the images below are no substitute for getting the actual book and studying the printing on the actual paper, they allow you to begin to see some differences. This feature alone is worth more than the cost of the book, as it is the best demonstration for working closely with a top-notch printing company, and to alert the potential maker of an artist book to all the details that can make a huge difference. There are also detailed descriptions of the papers included, as well as definitions of many terms that make the artist more knowledgeable when dealing with the printing and binding options. Needless to say, the author’s style is to the point, easy to read, and not filled with unnecessary technical jargon.
This book is highly recommended, especially if you are not quite sure about doing an artist book. The overview and the details provided here will help you understand and appreciate the process and will serve as a checklist to guide you through the entire process when you have made the decision to take the plunge, which will be greatly facilitated when consulting this publication during the sojourn.