Middle Ground – Book + print box set final development

07-29-19 Middle Ground_Fabrik Press box set_development_KI6A2233

With the ongoing border wall issues created by the current American president it just seems that my Middle Ground project will always have some relevancy.

When I self-published the Middle Ground artist book concurrently with my solo exhibition at Fabrik Projects, Chris Davies, the owner of the gallery, asked if I would also be interested in co-developing a special edition under his imprint, Fabrik Press. But of course I was interested!

Getting this special edition published has been a longer process than I had anticipated, but due to scheduling issues with Fabrik and some design issues (okay, perhaps I am a bit toooo picky) that fall on me, I finally have the box set developed. The intent was to develop a limited printing of Middle Ground with the Fabrik Press imprint, a limited edition of one of the Middle Ground photographs and then bundle this up in a nice presentation case.

Since Dual Graphics already had my artwork it was pretty easy to modify this with the Colophon of the Fabrik Press information and then add their logo on the spine and back cover and then a short print production run. Subsequently I completed the leporello binding with the new Fabrik Press covers in an edition of 25, plus two artist proofs. We selected a photograph that was not in the book and I printed the archival pigment print edition with a dimensional size for the presentation box; 25 plus two artist proofs (correction: three artist proofs). Done and done.

The rub and delay came as result of developing the presentation case; who would have guessed? We wanted to have this box set priced reasonably, thus we decided not to go with a special designed clamshell, which the initial estimates were well over a couple of hundred dollars for each one. One design aspect was the size of the available boxes and how these worked with this size of my book, there were not any great combinations. We did find one presentation box that was pretty close and I think we could make it work. I had an idea for a simple box insert that presented the artist book similar to a shadow box, then lay the limited edition print on top of the book.

We first tried the custom framing route and either the framer did not comprehend what I was trying to accomplish (I will take the credit for that failure to communicate), even after a couple of design sample iterations or their final cost was too expensive for our sales price (I did not think that the presentation box insert should cost more than making the book). That whole process killed a lot of time; quotes, samples, do-overs, revised quotes, alternate designs, more revised quotes, etc.

Meanwhile, having once been a custom framer, it was obvious to me what I would need to accomplish in order to build these box inserts myself. sigh. Fortunately it’s been five years since I build all of the outer cases for my Pine Lake artist book and the memory of that extensive work had faded enough that I was willing to take on another custom build project. When will I ever learn?

To create the shadow box visual effect I need to custom cut a number of black foam-core segments, then glue these together to build up the internal structure. One of the aspects of my limited edition book is that each one is just slightly different in the exterior size as result of the hand gluing of the leporello panels. Henry Ford would not have approved. For my regular edition, the exterior size is not much of an issue, but when I am essentially building a nest for the book to set in, size does matter.

Also with the leporello binding, the book has a tendency to open slightly, which again is an issue with how the book needs to stay in place inside this presentation box. The fix was simple and I think elegant; I cut down some of my gallery prints from the exhibition to create a belly band to hold the book a little firmer together. Davies thought that the belly band was a nice design plus, a feature not available in my edition, but only in the Fabrik Press edition.

The last thing we found is that the book was kinda of tight inside the nest of the insert and both Davies and I came to the same solution almost simultaneously; add a bit of black ribbon to function as a pull tab. Which works rather nice.

So today I re-built the first artist proof to have one last check of the parts, then a quick run to an art supply to acquire some additional foam-core, then built the first three of the Fabrik Press Middle Ground book + print box editions.

I will be dropping off two of these Fabrik Press/Middle Ground editions plus an artist proof at the Fabrik Projects gallery tomorrow when I also drop off the two Memory Pods framed photographs for their Summer Group Show opening in a few days.

Next I need a little studio time to make some better press photographs of this box set. I am guessing that the Fabrik Press Middle Ground box edition will be available from Fabrik Projects shortly (probably after I send them the supporting photographs).  So more soon about this cool box set.

Note: Middle Ground explores the impact of a border wall along the Mexican-America boundary by focusing on a similar barrier situated a few miles away in San Diego rather than the border wall itself. American has two broad frontiers; one on its northern border with Canada and the second on its southern border with Mexico and the current American administration is only concerned with one of these boundaries, that of the American-Mexican wall.


My next Artist Talk: Photography Book as Art; PPA August 8th

Exhibition: 2019 Summer Group Show, Fabrik Projects Gallery, Los Angeles, CA, exhibition opening August 10th, 6 – 9pm, 2019

Portfolio Reviewer & Juror for LACP’s first Photo Book Competition, LACP 2019 Exposures Weekend, September 13 – 15th, Marina Del Mar, CA


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