Sunday, 1 January 2012
Whilst at the Leeds Though Bubble festival a few weeks ago, I went to a short talk by Nobrow's Alex Spiro, about how he and Sam Arthur set up Nobrow, and the philosophy of what they wanted to create, and how they found their place in the market.
It was really interesting to hear from a successful publishers that started out only a few years ago in 2008. Their aim was to find a place in the market by publishing bespoke books and print that had high production values and good quality. As it says on their site, they wanted to create "an independent publishing platform for illustration and the graphic arts", and really be a place for new up and coming artists that create good work.
Alex spoke about how they wanted to find some premises in London that had room for them to have their own print room for screen printing. In the early days, most of the work published was screen printed in small editions and sold via museum shops and small book shops, and that screen printed aesthetic has stayed with them and become synonymous with most Nobrow publications. Alex spoke about how they liked this look, and using spot colour throughout the publications is something that they try to keep going, and in some way can be a deciding factor in the sort of work they publish, but not always.
He mentioned that when Nobrow first started, in order to be taken seriously when trying to sell the books and zines, they first spent time building up a small library of 4 or 5 publications to better illustrate what they were about and the sort of work they aimed to publish in the future. They then just walked to shops to try and sell them. It was good to hear that such a successful company started in a very low tech and simple way, by just printing a few books and taking them to different shops and seeing if they were interested.
Now that they have gotten a bit bigger, they publish through Nobrow Small Press which is still via screen printing in the basement, creating high quality, low runs of print, and through Nobrow Press which is done through offset litho printing which means they can produce many more editions but still at a high quality, and can still try and keep to the spot colour aesthetic if appropriate.
When asked how they went about finding people to work with, he said that they did get a lot of submissions through their site, but they mostly find the people themselves via events, degree shows or the web. I think I imagined that they would find most people via submissions, but it was interesting to hear that most people they have found themselves and asked to work with rather than the other way around. Perhaps this is where attending events like D&AD New Blood could pay dividends? But obviously getting any exposure to be seen is the key.
Overall it was a really interesting talk, and although I've probably missed out a lot of what was said, I felt like I learnt a lot, and also getting to hear from people behind the names of companies or publishers such as Nobrow, makes things a little bit less scary in terms of possibly contacting people or companies in the future; they are mostly just genuinely nice people who have the same interests as ourselves! Thanks Alex!