This series features interviews with independent photobook publishers. This month’s interview is with Lindsay Buchman of Seaton Street Press.
Don’t Take Pictures: How would you describe Seaton Street Press to someone who has never seen your books?
Lindsay Buchman: Seaton Street Press is an artist-run, independent artists’ books and publications project. We focus on books, ephemera, and limited-edition artists’ projects that examine the intersections of site, language, and memory. We publish and distribute projects that loosely relate to temporality, site-specificity, found and constructed archives, and social topics. But, I would be remiss to say this is all we do; the press has an evolving vision and will likely continue to shift as it grows.
DTP: What series of events led you to start your own publishing house?
LB: My background is in printmaking, and as an artist, the history of the printing press and its role in democratizing content has always been the framework for how I’ve made work. Before starting Seaton St., I was self-publishing regularly and at a certain point, it no longer made sense to table at art book fairs under my own name. I had worked on a collaborative publication with friends and colleagues in late 2015 [Y(OURS], which was highly influential in the decision to start my own imprint, but it took until 2018 to make the commitment to running a publishing house. Initially, Seaton St. formed out of an interest in continuing to collaboratively publish, provide affordable books, distribute other artists’ work, and to create a platform for visibility while connecting to other publishers, artists, writers, and institutions.
DTP: How do you find photographers that you want to work with and how do you determine what might make a good photo book?
LB: We look for work that functions as an artist book primarily—books that are artworks outright, rather than monographs or catalogs—but many of the books we stock are lens-based and utilize photography. Our interest is content-driven, so determining how a book might function is often coming from a place of what does the work do? What is at stake, and how are the image and text relationships making meaning? Many of the artists we work with are located in Philadelphia (where the press is primarily based), and a few are in Brooklyn (where we were formerly located). We accept proposals for collaboration and distribution, and we will eventually have calls out for future publications. Like many publishers, we find projects within our community, through other artists, and while perusing art book stores and fairs.
DTP: Have there been any books that have been particularly rewarding to produce or that you felt a special kinship with?
LB: Absolutely. We just published a book by Philadelphia-based artist, Stephanie Garcia, which released last month at the New York Art Book Fair. Her publication, De Aquí Para Allá, explores familial immigration stories through forms of correspondence and translated audio interviews, using storytelling to examine political struggle and social inequality. While Garcia’s work calls attention to the plight and challenges families experience while being undocumented, she speaks to the resiliency and strength that runs through the fabric of the Latinx community. De Aquí Para Allá is an urgent and arresting book, and we are honored to provide space and visibility for Garcia’s project. Additionally, we feel a special kinship to the artists we are currently distributing: Kaitlin Pomerantz, Yael Eban, Kayla Romberger, and Magali Duzant.
DTP: What are some forthcoming titles you are particularly excited about?
LB: There are two titles we are particularly excited about. As mentioned above, Garcia’s De Aquí Para Allá (2019), as well as Matt Neff’s forthcoming book (title pending), which will release in 2020. Neff’s work will investigate current and historical negotiations of power and privilege through various forms of image-making, writing, and ephemera.
DTP: What was one of the most challenging books that you have published and why?
LB: It is probably fair to say that all books are equally as challenging. Even when you think you’ve considered every detail, there is usually at least one thing left unaccounted for (if you’re lucky). Each book requires endless hours of file prep, postproduction, layout, type design, editing, proofing, and working with printers before the final thing is ever achieved.
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?
LB: Many worlds exist for photographers and artists to consider before publishing. Whether it’s an artist book or photobook, we think it’s important to consider how the project is contextualized, where it will be published (self-published or through an imprint), and how accessible the book will be with its price point. Everything from where a publication is stocked, to how much it costs, and even to how accessible the information inside it is, determines who the viewer/reader will be. Figuring out why a particular project needs to exist in the book form is also an essential step to embarking on the process. And, of course, knowing how to design, edit, and manage your own files makes it easier to produce a book. Maybe the best question we can pose is who are you publishing for?
Visit the Seaton Street Press website to learn more about their books.