Posted by Chris Jones

Printopolis equal parts education and celebration

When editors Jenn Law and Tara Cooper (above) and designer Edward Guinasao picked up the printer’s proof of Printopolis, Cooper turned to her collaborators and declared, “We did it! And we’re all still friends!”

Cooper and Law laugh about it now but the journey from initial meetings to the book launch on November 25 was arduous — five years of negotiating with and coordinating dozens of contributors and artists on a modest budget.

Printopolis book coverPrintopolis really was a collective endeavour and it’s based on the generosity of a community,” says Law. “As a collective exercise I think it’s an amazing achievement for all who were involved.”

Printopolis is indeed a remarkable volume, a survey of the state of printmaking practice and collecting, and a chronicle of Open Studio’s 45 years at the centre of Toronto’s printmaking scene.

Organized by Open Studio in 2010, Printopolis was an international printmaking symposium.

“There was always the intention that a publication would happen post-symposium,” explains Law. “But we didn’t want the book just to be a record of the event, we wanted it to be a standalone publication that referenced the event but was not exclusively about it. We went through a few months of consulting with the Open Studio committee then Tara and I agreed to take over as editors.”

A photo spread from Printoopolis

Unlike a typical book project where specific duties are handled by different specialists, Cooper and Law found themselves doing most of the heavy lifting.

Marital Triangles by General Idea
Marital Triangles by General Idea

“I had no idea what was involved when I said yes to this project,” chuckles Cooper. “It’s amazing to me that people were willing to give so much, the generosity really surprised me.”

“On the flip side, there were a lot of times it was really hard. There was so much administrative and correspondence work to do. It sometimes felt like a slog to keep the wheel turning.”

But keep it turning they did.

“Working with the contributors was very encouraging,” adds Cooper. “For instance, working with A.A. Bronson — he’s such an amazing, generous spirit that he gave me a boost to tackle other things.”

In addition to Bronson (and Cooper and Law, both of whom wrote chapters for the volume), contributors to the book include artists Barbara Balfour, Yael Brotman, Dave Dyment, Shannon Gerard, J.P. King, Caroline Langill, Lorna Livey, Michelle Lewin, Patrick Mahon, Kristen McCree, Kristie MacDonald, Liz Menard, Heidi Overhill, Luke Painter, Liz Parkinson, Richard Sewell, Lisa Deanne Smith, Mary Tremonte (JustSeeds), and Adam Welch.

A special edition of Printopolis is being released featuring original prints by accomplished printmakers Philippe Blanchard, Joscelyn Gardner, Libby Hague, Penelope Stewart, Jeannie Thib and Daryl Vocat (50 copies priced at $250).

Pudy Tong prints Jeannie Thib work for Printopolis
Pudy Tong custom prints work by the late Jeannie Thib for the Printopolis special edition. He was assisted by artist and editor Jenn Law.

“The special edition was conceived in part to help cover the printing costs,” explains Law. “We had a very modest budget but despite that fact, we managed to produce a 300-page volume with over 26 contributors, so that’s pretty ambitious for a volunteer-driven, artist-run centre.”

Section title spread from Printopolis

“While there are inevitable gaps in what we were able to include, the volume  aims to look at print culture, in general, from a very global perspective. We were trying to find the balance between local and international.  We see this as the first part of a conversation that will continue outwards. This is just one articulation of that conversation.”

Printopolis gets its official launch at Open Studio on November 25 at 6:30 pm. The book can be ordered here.

Tags: , , , ,

Categorised in: Events, Inside Open Studio, News