"Flying Adventures" Debut

I’m pretty excited.  A few posts ago (you can read it here) I wrote about getting back to work on my Flying Adventures book.  Yes it’s been kind of a long and rough road getting this thing back on my project table, but this week is the debut of my reading and artist talk at Snow College in Utah and I thought it was time to finally start talking about my plans for the book.  I’ve been worried I’m going to jinx things if I start talking about it before I’ve gotten some exhibits/readings/successes under my belt, but I realize it’s time. Life is short!

To catch everyone up, here’s the nutshell version of the book’s history, and where I’m taking it next...

Soooo... I taught myself how to bookbind and made The Flying Adventures of Two Candy Cane Pen Friends as a gift for a friend after an adventure we had (Read a bit about that HERE.) (Or read the entire book HERE.)

At some point I realized this was going to be more than just a gift as it had turned into a huge project.  I made myself a copy too, and wondered how to share it with others.  Publishing seemed logical, but I had no idea how to publish a book, especially a not-very-mainstream one like this. So I scanned the pages & put it on my website, and also made a 40 page abridged version -- my zine -- to sell & give away. 

Things sort of fizzled after that.   Life was more important than the book for a while.  My parents died, and I’d been helping my brother take care of them.

Some encouraging news, though! … I received an Individual Excellence Award from the Ohio Arts Council for my work on the book.  This pepped me up again.  Then Chronicle Books wanted to see it!  Off it went:

Sadly, it was returned with a note: “Very charming, but we don’t see a place for it in our catalog at this time.”  I was pretty crushed.  If Chronicle - the king of quirky books - didn’t want it, what chance did it have?

Photo-friends I was with this winter said, “Hey! Your book hasn’t seen its day in the sun!  Find another way to get it out there!”   

So I thought of all the places & ways I might be able to bring the book to others.  Because, in the end, that’s what it’s about: connecting a project with people who will really love to see it.

I realized I was actually grateful that Chronicle hadn’t taken it.  It wasn’t ready to go out into the world as-is.  It had been a gift for my friend, not really intended for a larger audience.  So I am making a new book and then bringing it to others in more than one way:  I’ll offer “illustrated readings,” where I’ll read the book and project pages in a slideshow.  I’ll frame pages and create an exhibit so viewers can literally walk through the book.  I’ll self-publish a new zine.  I’ll partner with art & community centers, schools, and museums to offer workshops and availability as an artist-in-residence as I work on new book editions. I’ll bring it to the aviation community.  Who knows what other opportunities will come up?

One thing at a time. I took an inspiring workshop with bookbinding wizard Jace Graf of Cloverleaf Studio in Austin, Texas.  I left with all sorts of new ideas for how I might want to approach printing and binding and presentation.

Then later this year I spent a week at a friend's house and reworked the book layout.

Just as I was finishing it up and clearing off the table, I received an email from a photo friend/art professor at Snow College in Utah, asking if I’d like to be on their fall calendar of visiting artists.  Ever since then I’ve been hard at work on my reading & artist talk.

It’s finally ready to go!  At first I thought I’d just run through a “how I made this book” chronology, but I wanted it to be better than that.  I’m hoping to inspire people to think outside the box when it comes to getting a project out into the world.

After I’m back from Utah -- and a trip to Seattle to take some other photographs for the book -- I’ve got studio work to do!  I have to start testing out papers, both for the new book and for the exhibit.  I've got a whole stack of samples to get through:

The Greater Columbus Arts Council awarded me a grant to help me purchase a printer, for which I am ever so grateful. I’ve also found shadowbox frames which will be perfect for showcasing book pages in a three-dimensional format. 

And - Yes! - my new business cards came!  I’m excited to finally be able to hand out a card that represents more of what I do.  

Well, I'm off to the great wide-open West! I have never spent any time in Utah and I can't wait to see more than the view from the airport.  Come along for the ride on Instagram & FB...