Steal this idea

When I decided to start producing a small book every 50 days of my 365 project, I had no idea what might come out of it. I had procrastinated producing my first "book/zine" for more than a year. The relentless deadlines of a 365 would force me to forgo perfect and just focus on producing something. In the process, I discovered I could work directly with a commercial printer and produce a higher quality book for the same price as Blurb. I immediately began considering how I could use this knowledge to help other photographers to produce their own books. Here is my idea and anyone can steal this if they like.

My idea is run a photobook publishing company similar to how Cotton Bureau sells t-shirts. Photographers (and artists in general) submit book projects for consideration. The selected projects are posted every week/month (depends on how you want to set it up). If a book sells more than 25 copies, the book gets printed. The publishing company handles all the fulfillment responsibilities. The book project is up on the website for a set period of time (I think 2 weeks is enough time).

On the money side, the publishing company keeps the money from the first 25 copies of the book. The artist keeps all the profits (minus the cost of printing) over 25 books. The artist never has to pay the publishing company. 

The reason I am not immediately trying to build this is that I dont have the career gravity yet necessary for this to make sense. I want this to become a market place for cool projects that allow artists to make money without the big up front costs. My reach is probably no different then anyone who would submit a project at this moment. So I would be asking artists to give up a certain percentage of the profits without gaining a sizable benefit.  As my career hopefully grows, I will have the resources to make this exchange work. 

For those who have no issue doing everything themselves, I found Smart Press in MN and they have printed Volume #2 & #3.  Search what type of book you want to produce and contact the printers for a quote. If I could figure it out, so can you. But if you would have an book project and want help, hit me up. I can try my best to help you. 

Monday Morning Dispatch - Volume #124

Start your Monday off right:

  1. Morocco is high up on my "travel destination list" and this series on highlights that fact. The bright colors, old world architecture, tiny streets, and open markets provide a perfect playground for a photographer. 
  2. Canopy find the best designed products in the sea of products available on Amazon and puts them in one easy to find place. I will definitely bookmark this site for upcoming birthdays and Christmas. 
  3. The scientific organization, Edge, asked its contributors for "What scientific concept or term ought to be more known" and the answers were fascinating. The Farnam Street blog covers three of their favorite replies.  
  4. Store fronts seem like an odd subject to pop up twice this week. Joshua Smith builds 1:20 scale models of buildings from all over the world. The details are insane. Taking a different angle with the same subject, Mateusz Urbanowicz illustrates the unique store fronts found in Tokyo. 
  5. Nassim Taleb, author of Black Swan and Anti-fragile, is quickly becoming one of my favorite writers. He is blunt and is willing to hold contrarian ideas in the face of popular wisdom. His 61 book recommendation is pure gold. 
  6. "There is no such thing as work-life balance. Everything worth fighting for unbalances your life."      Alain de Botton 
  7. I often talk about the creative journey because creativity is never stationary. It is the constant push and pull against the limits of our ideas and skills. Often that means being creatively lost which CJ Chilvers correctly points out is a good thing. 

  8. Advice for Creative People by Jordan Peterson might be the most succinct summation of the creative dilemma.  Creative people must exercise the urge to create but its almost impossible to find financial success. This is why I work at night at Trader Joe's. 

  9. Mel Robbins interview with Tom Bilyeu is my must watch of the week (and maybe even longer). She figured out a simple trick that allows to step outside the habit loop designed to keep us safe and do what we want to do. All the information is at our finger tips. Yet, its the inability to consistently act that traps us. 

Pump my brakes on my own ambition

Slow and steady win the race. You are only competing with yourself.
— Gary Vanyerchuck

In the past couple of months, I attempted to run the marathon known as the artist's life by sprinting.  I sold my dust collecting Canon 5D and it set off an avalanche of potential ideas . The 5D cash quickly disappeared for a Zoom H5 and a Sony RXV. Immediately upon unpacking the new gear, the pressure to utilize the new gear began to creep in. I have suppressed dreams of producing videos and a far more professional podcast then my current on and off show for a while and now I had the tools to accomplish those dreams. What I overcame in terms of tools, I still lacked in terms of know how and execution. I need to learn an entire new art form (video production) to compete with those who videos I know regularly consume. Regularly uploading a video is the only way to keep upgrading my skills. However, I need the time to just learn the very basics in order to even start. 

Around the same time, I discovered I could get Tiny Plastic Box printed by a commercial printer rather then Blurb. The possibility of achieving the rare feat of finding a cheaper and higher quality option immediately sent me thinking of starting my own photobook publishing company. I quickly "learned" (the bare bones necessary to create a photobook) Indesign and submitted an order of 150 books as my own test run. I couldnt have been happier with the results and it opened the flood gates as to the potential. I thought about it so much over the past couple of weeks that I think I have a decent idea for how to do it.

Throw on top of these endeavors a 365 project which includes a small book every 50 days, a tent camera, experiments shooting with non-pinhole cameras, and a half finished darkroom and I am overwhelmed. The thing I realized this week is that I need to step back and focus on finding a pace which will allow me to finish this race rather than burnout. The short term feels so important. But in reality, I should easily have another 30 years at this game. Structuring my life to ensure that I can keep going for that long is vastly more important than whether I started a project today or in 6 months. 



Monday Morning Dispatch - Volume #123

Start your Monday off right:

  1. Jeroen van Kesteren constructs whimsical cardboard airships which appear straight out of a steampunk science fiction novel. The small details reveal how much work he must spend on each model. 
  2. The butcher, Cara Nicoletti, makes a delicious veggie burger from scratch. As we brace for a monster snow storm, its nice to remember that grill season isnt too far away. 
  3. Third Man Records opened up the first new vinyl pressing plant in country. It's awesome to see such an analog process making a small but noticeable comeback. 
  4. Do What You Can't. Nothing sums up the creative pursuits more than that declaration from Casey Neistat. People aren't trying to be mean when they try to convince you not to chase the crazy idea in your head. They are just trying to keep you safe. 
  5. “Even when change is elective, it will disorient you. You may go through anxiety. You will miss aspects of your former life. It doesn’t matter. The trick is to know in advance of making any big change that you’re going to be thrown off your feet by it. So you prepare for this inevitable disorientation and steady yourself to get through it. Then you take the challenge, make the change, and achieve your dream.”
    – Harvey Mackay
  6. I don't know how Nicholas Goodden created his "Futuristic London" series but that mystery only amplifies the dystopian images. The tops of London's famous skyline peak out of the horizon as faceless individuals wander the bareness.  

  7. Bill Watterson, the creator of Calvin and Hobbes, delivered a great commencement address to Kenyon in 1990. It would be impossible to pull just one idea from the brilliant advice shared. 

  8. Skateboarder photographer, Atiba Jefferson, may not be a household name but he is in the conversation on who the best skateboard photographer might be. A love of skateboarding all started after stealing his neighbors skateboard. 

  9. The short honest truth about creativity is that it is a kind of effort and not an abstract idea. It happens while you are working on your craft. Classes and books might help but you are more likely to find it along the long journey of making an idea into reality. 

  10. Seth Godin's daily emails are priceless. "Lazy but Talented" is just one example (and its short enough to include below). I highly recommend signing up. 

    "That's most of us.

    You can work really hard to get a little more talented.

    And you can also work to get a little less lazy.

    It turns out that getting less lazy, more brave—more clear about your fears, your work and your mission—are all easier than getting more talented."