This series features interviews with independent photobook publishers. This month’s interview is with Jason Koxvold, the founder of Gnomic Book.
Don’t Take Pictures: How would you describe Gnomic to someone who has never seen your books?
Jason Koxvold: Gnomic makes challenging, thoughtful books that deal with contemporary issues; we devote a lot of time and energy to the form of the book as it relates to the content.
DTP: What series of events led you to start your own publishing house?
JK: Gnomic Book is the publishing wing of my design company; it began as an experiment to control the form of my own projects, and from there I started working with other artists I admire, taking inspiration from the craftsmanship of Dutch and German bookmakers.
DTP: How do you find photographers that you want to work with and how do you determine what might make a good photo book?
JK: I have a mental shortlist of artists I’d like to work with. I’m often attracted to stories which haven’t been widely told, or pictures I haven’t seen—but great photographs aren’t enough on their own. There needs to be a narrative arc, some thread that ties it all together.
DTP: Have there been any books that have been particularly rewarding to produce or that you felt a special kinship with?
JK: Half—Light by Shahrzad Darafsheh was especially rewarding as a process. Her images have a particularly unique tenor, which is heavily informed by her circumstances: she lives in Tehran, and at the time we collaborated, she was fighting cancer. And Shane Rocheleau’s book, You are Masters of the Fish and Birds and All the Animals, was a joy to produce, from start to finish.
DTP: What are some forthcoming titles are you particularly excited about?
JK: We have a project called Abendlied (Evening Song) that we’re printing with Birthe Piontek; the work is wonderful and intriguing, and as an object I think it will be spectacular. And then Mike Osborne’s Federal Triangle, which I would describe as a reflecting pool of the paranoia surrounding Washington, DC, is extremely current and will take on a very satisfying form as well.
DTP: What was one of the most challenging books that you have published and why?
JK: The most challenging to date have been my own, as they typically involve more research. You Were Right All Along exists in a handmade edition of 25; the bulk of the book is comprised of text, and images made of text, printed in a single ream of fanfold paper, accompanied by full-colour inserts. It took over a year and was absurdly expensive to make, and sold very quickly indeed—only two copies are currently remaining.
DTP: It seems that an increasing number of photographers, at all stages of their careers, are looking to publish a book. What should photographers think about before they embark on the book process?
JK: From my perspective, the question is always how will this stand apart from the rest? How will it feel unique? It’s comparatively easy to make a book of acceptable quality today, and a great many photographers leap straight into the process without giving due attention to the reason, the form, the content.
Visit the Gnomic Book website to learn more about their books.