This series features interviews with independent photobook publishers. This month’s interview is with Jurgen Maelfeyt, the founder of Art Paper Editions.
Don’t Take Pictures: How would you describe Art Paper Editions to someone who has never seen your books?
Jurgen Maelfeyt: APE (Art Paper Editions) is an independent publishing platform founded in 2010 by Jurgen Maelfeyt of Ghent-based design studio 6’56”. APE focuses on the book as an exhibition space and all publications are crafted to the highest standard.
DTP: What series of events led you to start your own publishing house?
JM: In 2010 I was working on some of my own zines and I was asked to find a publisher for a book I just designed. These two things made me start the publishing house. That same year I was invited to very first Offprint in Paris and that got me into the photobooks. Although we publish a lot of photobooks we also focus on other art forms.
DTP: How do you find photographers that you want to work with and how do you determine what might make a good photo book?
JM: We receive a lot of proposals but most of the projects we work on is based on my own proposals towards artists. Since APE is a curated platform, we want to make sure the balance is correct. The book is in most cases an ideal format for photography because many photographers work in series. The narrative quality of page sequencing can’t be translated into an exhibition.
DTP: Have there been any books that have been particularly rewarding to produce or that you felt a special kinship with?
JM: Some of the books we made have become cult objects like Israeli Girls by Dafy Hagai or Nude Animal Cigar by Paul Kooiker. Both of them were sold out in a few months, that gives a very satisfying feeling. I’m also very excited with the result of Camille Vivier’s Twist and I was lucky to work with Ruth van Beek, Gijs Assman amongst others lately.
DTP: What are some forthcoming titles are you particularly excited about?
JM: We just released a new book with Camille Vivier, called Twist. It’s a sort of overview of her work and now I’m working on a second book with her with a new project. Working on a long-term base with artists is a very precious thing. During the fairs when all artist come together we call ourselves the APE family. And if I find the time I will produce my new book FURS.
DTP: What was one of the most challenging books that you have published and why?
JM: Every book is a challenge, with the disappearance of knowledge within the printing industry (printers focus more on quantity than quality) we rely on ourselves. Fewer and fewer printers are focused on producing art books so it’s always a challenge to find a printer that fits the job. The relationships that we built with printers is very important.
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?
JM: There are only a few photographers that have the capabilities of making their own books. Therefore, the role of a graphic designer and/or editor is very important. Making books is different than hanging pictures on the wall. We only start projects from scratch, because we need to be in the project before we can publish it. We also demand a sort of participation from the artist.
Visit the Art Paper Editions website to learn more about their books