Thursday, July 2, 2009

------->Featherproof books in (not so) brief

Which way is the wind blowing? Which way? Which way? Follow the feather in the wind!

Everything changes. Economic realities change, leaving the stodgy and inflexible masters of the past paradigm stinking up history's gutters while the flexible and inventive evolve to find a new way.

Beethoven, Charles Dickens, Andy Worhol------->their ability to mine new economic possibilities and forge new paradigms was as remarkable as their art.

In Beethoven's time, the winds swept the money out from under the old system of aristocratic patronage, which treated artists as well pampered servants to nobility. But everything changes. The money all fell to the new Bourgeois, and men like Beethoven no longer had a taste for servitude, no matter how well-pampered. Beethoven was the first artist to break free of the patronage system and build a career on the backs of the bourgeois need to feel as wordly and cultured as the aristocracy. He sold them sheet music, perfect for home performance and soon there was a piano in every house. And he created symphonies on the scale of spectacle and soon they were performed in every concert hall! The awakening middle class LOVED a good spectacle.

Which way does the wind blow today? Let's call today's dominant paradigm the "corporate patronage system," which treats artists as serfs and their artistic output as an "owned" commodity. This has been a remarkably lucrative situation for those base enough to "own" the artistic output of artists. Alas, the winds come, and artists are finally tiring of serfdom.


So which way will the wind blow next? Look to featherproof, blowing in that wind....

Featherproof is a small Indy publisher founded in2005 by Jonathan Messinger and Zach Dodson (aka, novelist Zach Plague.) They publish "lively" fiction and novels with prose that tends toward an upbeat but baroque aesthetic--novels of "prosetry," where form and technique are as important as content. The kind of novels that you might expect from the MA-grad/Literary-zine authors who find a home at Featherproof.

But Featherproof is also a case study in some common ways art-making is changing: building a more direct link with audience, bashing down genre boundaries, mixing media and performance and making books/posters/cds that are really nice art pieces that you want to own.

Announcing: The Featherproof Dollar Store Tour. Featherproof is going on tour, doing readings with some of its writers. The link even has sound clips if you'd like a preview. That's right, these days, even writers need to be performers.

And, my don't those books look good?

At the same time that commercial books, especially fiction, are looking cheaper and cheaper (my god, is there only one designer making ALL those damn coffee table books with nothing but Adobe CS default settings? Yo PUBLISHERS! HIRE A SECOND GRAPHIC DESIGNER!!!) Featherproof is taking full advantage of new technologies to make their books into works of art that you WANT to own.

Lets face it, times is hard, times is hard. If I'm going to spend my hard-earned dough on something, I want it to look nice. And hey, remember illuminations? Book design used to be art!

What's old is new again.

-----------------Boring Plague------------------

Just look at "Zach Plague's" Boring, boring, boring, boring, boring, boring, boring! Go ahead, look at it!

And Featherproof is offering the book in a variety of formats, both as clever commercialization and ironic swipe at clever commercialization, including CD, posters, book, online version...

The poster set:

The full extravaganza:

Well, that's enough fawning over Zach Plague. At least for now. I'm sure he gets plenty of that from young writers. I mean, he does look suspiciously similar to co-founder and co-publisher at Featherproof and MAKE Zach Dodson....

Which leads to one last point: Featherproof represents artists taking their art back. Their business model is one that values artists as collaborators and equals, not as fodder for profit, profit, profit!

Soon soon soon I will do a full review of some Featherproof books including boring boring boring. For now, if you're interested in new literature, art or design, check them out.

And they've made it easy with:

-------------> !

These are clever DIY freebies you can print off at home!

Anyway, things change.


So make sure to subscribe to this blog. You don't want to wind up in the afore mentioned historical gutter, do you?


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