The image above shows the current state of the covers of Kyle Schlesinger’s What You Will. As you can see, printing on the verso (left) side of the covers has begun. They are 4 runs deep at this point. Hopefully printing on the jackets will begin tonight, after work.

Speaking of “work,” there’s been a lot of posts at The Press (at Colorado College) Blog lately, as I try to catch up on everything from last school year before this was begins. Recent highlights include a CMYK & delaminated letterpress broadside by Darren Wershler, and a book/broadside project integrated with Twitter through the use of a QR code. Check them out here.



Poet & printer Michael Cross, who used to publish wonderful books under the imprint Atticus/Finch, has started to publish wonderful books under a new imprint: Compline. The first book from that new press is C.J. Martin’s Two Books.

Two Books is one the best looking books I’ve seen from a small press in a while. It’s very elegantly designed, small in size but with a heft to it (it’s a little bit more than 200 pages). The image at the top of the post shows the (digitally printed?) cover while this one below shows the simple and beautiful letterpress printed jacket. Find out more about the book, the author, and the press, and buy the book, here.



The right half (recto) of the cover of What You Will is complete: 44 runs. 17 remain on the verso. And then 28 on the jacket. Because I am back “on the clock” at the Press at CC, production is being adjusted slightly—I will print the jacket, 1-2 runs per session on weeknights after work, and do the cover, 2 runs per session, on the weekends. The runs on the cover are 4 times as long (2 covers x 2 sides) as the runs on the jacket. So now both pieces will develop simultaneously, and hopefully there will be images of both as they build up.

Long projects like this, with lots of printing, always help me generate new technical ideas as I’m working. Things happen that I did not anticipate, sometimes those things are interesting. The important thing, as always, is to pay attention.

I am intrigued by the surface of the printed areas of these covers. I am also intrigued by the deboss/emboss of the large, “negative” type inside a solid block. The use of multiple impression depths in combination with figure/ground reversals seems promising.

This book was conceptualized and designed (and went into production) when I was still in the Bay Area, when I had no reliable access to lead type. I had to make the book with what I had access to: photopolymer plates. It made sense to me to convert that constraint to an advantage—to make a design that fit with & drove the work and could only be achieved through photopolymer. This is what led me to the transparent, mirrored letters and the “negative” type blocks. This book could not be printed digitally. This book could be printed offset. But then that’s where things like impression and other on-press interventions come in.

I have been asked why I don’t offset print the NewLights books. The answer, at times, is as simple as: because I don’t know how to run an offset press. It’s important to me to be able to participate, actively, in the production of these things. & now, to set these things up so that they require that active participation to function.



When I was a graduate student in Arizona I lived my life in a series of small, windowless rooms: my studio apartment, my studio, and the letterpress shop at ASU. I referred to my various places as my “holes:” sleep-hole, work-hole, and type-hole, respectively. And then the other day I came across this passage in The Nature of the Book, by Adrian Johns (which is about printing & books in early modern England):
[…] A printing house, as already observed, must be represented as both private and public. One the one hand, it could not be open to all and sundry. The craft skills of the workers must remain mysterious, and it must be subject to the proper uninterrupted oversight of the master over his household. On the other, however, it must avoid being labeled “private” in the seventeenth-century sense, meaning illicit, secret, or seditious. Printers engaged in such dubious operations were said to do their printing in “holes,” or in “corners.” [Joseph] Moxon [1] defined a “hole” as “a place where private Printing is used, viz. the Printing of Unlicensed Books, or Printing of other Mens Copies.” That is, privacy immediately generated the two great evils of the trade: sedition and piracy. The notion was accordingly destined to become central to disputes over the status of printed materials. […] According to Moxon, printing in holes was lucrative and fairly common. There is reason to believe him. The Stationer’s Company certainly never lacked for spoils when it launched its periodic purges of offenders […]. Successive measures passed by both Parliament and the [Stationer’s] Company attempted to curtail such operations, […] aiming to discover “Printing-houses, and Presses erected in by-places and corners, out of the Eye of Government.” Parliament eventually ruled that printers must work only in “their respective Dwelling Houses, and not elsewhere.” […] The consequence is remarkable. It was not by chance that printing houses were set up in homes: the conjunction was formally obligatory. By corollary, a “private” press was one established anywhere but the space that society today considers archetypally private. Truth was made at home; lies emerged from holes. […] [2]

1. Joseph Moxon was the author of Mechanick Exercises on the Whole Art of Printing, published serially in England from 1680 – 1684.

2. Adrian Johns, The Nature of the Book: Print and Knowledge in the Making, (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1998.), 128-9.



& so back from my travels in the vastness of the west. & marking one complete year here in Colorado. My summer break from Colorado College ends today—this morning I go “back to work,” even though I was never away for that long.

The two months of this summer break seemed like such a luxury. Part of me felt guilty about having that time. And that time was wonderful, even though money was tight. My biggest fear going into the summer was that I would waste it, that I would not have the “get up & go” to get up & go to the studio every day and do the work. But I did, and even though things (of course) took longer than I thought, I still managed to get a lot done. A great deal of work still remains. As these long projects are finally drawing to a close, I find myself anxiously looking forward to a tentative batch of new publications. But first things must come first.

My hope in the coming months is to broaden the scope of both the NewLights Press and The Press at Colorado College. This is a state of permanent of transition. The only reasonable thing to do seems to be anchor that transition in production. And so we go again, one more day, one more day into the breach. A constant morning, both empty and full.

The world is there. The light strikes it lovingly.



at these western lands. So this blog will be quiet until next week.



“But wait,” they said, “how could a book supposedly printed in an ‘unlimited edition’ be out of print?”

& that is an excellent question. The New Manifesto of the NewLights Press is printed in an unlimited edition, but that edition will be comprised of successive iterations, each of those iterations being different versions of a single book. The different iterations will not be simply re-designed or re-edited versions of the same text/book, but will be entire re-visionings, based on what has been done before, and always looking forward to what could be done in the future. The book will be a literalization and activation of the reality of the text-in-flux, always immanent, always imminent. So each iteration is the same book. So each iteration is a new book. So The New Manifesto of the NewLights Press will be continually new continually.

The second iteration will hopefully be complete and released by the end of 2011 or beginning of 2012. From here on out, the first iteration will be available for FREE as a PDF—just email Aaron (newlightspressATgmailDOTcom) if you would like a PDF copy (maybe someday when NewLights has a “real” website it will be available for download). & it will also become our first experiment with an online edition, which will hopefully be up & accessible by the end of September 2011.



“All I can tell you is what it feels like when you leave the studio…. it’s like you have a bunch of rocks in your stomach [and] then, all the trouble starts…. You have to go through it, like somebody preparing for sacred vows, the sensation of you putting paint on…. You do it and the work is done…. And then you leave the studio and those rocks aren’t there anymore.” [1]

[…] “To say that Stella, Warhol, and Smithson invoked the industrial is not to say that these artists worked literally to make machines, or sought employment in actual factories […]. What Stella, Warhol, Smithson, and other purveyors of the 1960s technological sublime intuitively understood was the need to play the codes: that is, to tolerate the seemingly necessary and always enforced ‘uniqueness’ of the art object and establish their own author-functions within art discourse (through statements, interviews, exhibitions), while simultaneously asserting and performing assembly-line production techniques, ‘executive artist’ efficiency, or geological agency that resonated with other cultural systems. […] [T]he artists of the 1960s unified the iconic [image of] and the performative [doing of] in the place of the studio (or, in Smithson’s case, in place of the studio), effecting this change across ‘styles’ and ‘isms’ as different as Minimalism, Pop, and Earthworks and expressing it in the useless objects of Art. That they sought (and achieved) a kind of sublimity (in technological form) is a measure of their ambition—to reach for that overwhelming response that had always been held out as the highest goal for American art. […] Stella’s praise of ‘executive artists’ and use of assistants in producing his brand was one unifying [of the ‘iconic’ and ‘performative’] move; another was Warhol’s conversion of studio into Factory, use of assembly-line silkscreen techniques on serial objects, and claims to delegate art production to ‘Brigid’ and ‘Gerard.’ A seemingly final, ‘post-studio’ stage was initiated by Smithson, who moved art production to the industrially mediated peripheries of abandoned quarries and mining sites, and located its meaning in discourse rather than in the object above all else. This was not some ‘Triumph over American Painting’ (to twist the standard paean against itself). It was an inversion and critique, an “anti-romantic anti-studio” dependent for its luminous salience on the Romantic constructs of an earlier age.” […] [2]

[…] “During the 1990s, many companies that had traditionally manufactured their own products and maintained large, stable workforces embraced what became known as the Nike model: don’t own any factories, produce your products through an intricate web of contractors and subcontractors, and pour your resources into design and marketing. Other companies opted for the alternative, Microsoft model: maintain a tight control center of shareholder/employees who perform the company’s ‘core competency’ and outsource everything else to temps, from running the mailroom to writing code. Some called the companies that underwent these radical restructurings ‘hollow corporations’ because they were mostly form, with little tangible content left over.” […] [3]

Fig. 08.11.01 "Art is the ultimate luxury." Screenshot from http://www.daum.fr/en-eu/

Fig. 08.11.02 Bruce Nauman, Walking in an Exaggerated Manner around the Perimeter of a Square, 1967-68.

1. Quote from Phillip Guston, 1966, reprinted in:
Caroline A. Jones, Machine in the Studio: Constructing the Postwar American Artist, (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1996), 1.

2. Caroline A. Jones, Machine in the Studio: Constructing the Postwar American Artist, (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1996), 57-8.

3. Naomi Klein, The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism, (New York: Picador, 2007), 359.



Coming home from the studio yesterday, I caught the end of Democracy Now! on the radio, where Amy Goodman was talking to Billy Bragg. They discussed many different and interesting things, but one exchange struck me particularly:

AMY GOODMAN: But this is David Rovics’ other question. "You were on the ground floor of the punk rock scene that was sweeping much of the world in the late ’70s, early ’80s. What impact did the early punk scene have on society culturally and politically?"

BILLY BRAGG: Well, the thing that it did was it—the great thing about punk was it was DIY. You know, the year before punk rock broke, I went to see The Rolling Stones at Earls Court, in a massive stadium, some of the first stadium gigs in the U.K. The distance, culturally, for me, in row Z, and Mick Jagger, I had absolutely no concept of how I would ever get from here to there.

Within a year, I had been to see The Jam. The Jam were my age. They looked like me. They had the same guitar as me. They had the same attitude as me. And suddenly a light went on in my head. How do you do it? Well, you just do it. You don’t wait to be asked. You don’t have to be a brilliant musician. You don’t have to be the world’s greatest singer. You know, I’m not technically a great guitar player, as your viewers would have already worked out, nor, you know, do I have a fabulous singing voice. But I have an idea. And that is all the justification you need to stand up on this table and sing as loud and as out of tune as you want. I mean, Woody Guthrie did that. I do that. And that’s what punk was all about. It was in your face. It was all about attitude. It wasn’t a haircut. It wasn’t a pair of bondage trousers. It wasn’t a ripped T-shirt. It was about, this is what I’ve got to say, and you better listen, because I’m not going to go away until you’ve heard it.


Bragg’s response to seeing the Stones playing a stadium show is similar to the response that I have when going to a museum and seeing contemporary “museum” art—it’s big & expensive & spectacular & seems to come from a world totally different from the one that I (and my peers) inhabit.

At this past College Book Art Association conference Ann Hamilton was the keynote speaker. She talked about her work, naturally. Her work, both big and small. Ann Hamilton is a very intelligent person (& she seems really nice too) and we have many interests in common, but I am definitely most intrigued by the simple, elegant videos that she makes with a tiny camera sitting at her kitchen table:

& the pictures that she takes with her mouth:

There is something to be said for work that one can make at home or with a relatively simple studio, without an enormous grant and an army of assistants. & I think I will be writing some of those things to be said on this blog this week. TO BE CONTINUED!