To coincide with our digital exhibition PRESENTS: The Photo Book we talk to innovative online publisher more more artbook. They share their thoughts on the photobook.
What is your definition of a photobook? What is a photobook?
Everyone has a different definition. As someone who did not come from an academic background, there is no need to go into the finer details. In my opinion, any book with photos and images printed on paper can be called a photobook. The concept of a photobook is expanded nowadays to include traditional photobooks with pictures, photobooks with pictures and text, handmade books, self-published zines, and so on.
Why photobooks? What is it about the form that's particularly appealing to you?
Photography is by far the most active and popular contemporary form of art and a global way of life. Everyone is involved in the making and viewing of photos. Our life today is photographed.
For someone unfamiliar with the photobook genre, would you share with us your tips on how to 'read' a photobook? What and where should the viewer pay attention to?
Books have their own sequence but most of them can be read however you like (obviously not text-based books though). For work and, out of personal habits, I often flip through a book backwards with one hand, while almost all books are intended to be read the other way around - except for some Japanese books, of course. This does not prevent me from getting a general overview.
What makes photobook work? What makes photobook as a genre or medium unique and different?
There are natural differences between words and images. Words are abstract, but precise. Images are direct, but require interpretation. Books are one of the most ideal vehicles for the art of photography, because, for example, they are able to fulfill the author's intention to the greatest extent possible, and books are an easy medium to circulate, while exhibitions and original artworks are not. Therefore, photobooks are very interesting and collectible.
Do you think there is a specific style in China for photobooks or do you think everything is globalized?
In the early days, Chinese photobooks were about China but from a western perspective as the photographers and editors were all western. Later on, the photobooks available were mostly localized. Today, the publishing market for photobooks is chaotic. The quantity and quality of publications are both very high. Self-publishing by young people is flourishing, which at a certain level is in sync with globalization, as everyone can intuitively tell from art book fairs.
What's the one bit of advice you would give to artists looking to make a photobook?
My position now is more of a sales role. I am more focused on the market than the production of books itself, so I don’t think I could give any advice. But feel free to contact me to better understand the real Chinese market and avoid taking detours.