In these dark days of an Origami Zoo Press on the brink of closure, many of you may have been clawing at your bookshelves, screaming at your stucco ceilings, wondering what on earth will ever be able to fill the void when we go. It is with that in mind that we embark on a multi-part interview series entitled WHAT WILL FILL THE VOID? wherein we spotlight other small and/or independent presses we love (and hope you will love too!). You can check out part one, with Michael J. Seidlinger of Civil Coping Mechanisms, here, part two, with Justin Lawrence Daugherty of Jellyfish Highway, here, and part three, with Leesa Cross-Smith, here.
Today we chat with Amanda McCormick and Tracy Dimond of Ink Press Productions! IPP comes highly recommended by our very own Laura van den Berg, who has a beautiful letter press printed novel excerpt available from IPP!
Origami Zoo Press: Who/what/where is Ink Press Productions?
Ink Press Productions: Ink Press Productions (IPP) is a collaborative effort based in Baltimore created and directed by Amanda McCormick and Tracy Dimond.
IPP: Tracy and I are an ambitious pair in that we have many evolving goals for IPP. I think maybe the most important goal we have is sticking with our inclination to collaborate no matter how the “structure” of the press might change over the years. Our emphasis to blur the lines of genre in writing, visual, and performance art really comes from our collaborative process. We really try to disarm our pride and embrace each other’s creativity, and allow the art to go where it needs to go.
To deconstruct the phrase, “disarm our pride,” approaching each opportunity and project with a sense of openness, not relying on past success, has allowed us to maintain a flexibility. This is part of how we blur expectations. Precedent doesn’t decide what we do, an interest in creating something decides what we do.
OZP: What do you like about handmade books? How did you get involved in book arts/letter pressing? What are some of the benefits and challenges of that model?
IPP: There is a lot to like about handmade books – the freedom of non-traditional design, the chance to problem solve in a physical way, the ability to use non-traditional material, and the fact that they are visually interesting not-typical book-objects. From a publisher’s perspective, producing handmade books is a great way to get the writer involved in the design process. The handmade book-object is another way to communicate “book.” It speaks to the fact that the books we create are deliberate at every step. In this, we are able to further blur these lines of genre. Because we are so physically and conceptually attached to the book, we are able to constantly think how our books are performing while they are visual and literary entities. With the publication of handmade books, we are able to connect the body to our art in a unique and beautiful way.
In a way, the fact that we got involved with book arts and letterpress right around the time that Tracy and I met is the reason IPP came into being. Instead of adding to the stacks of perfect bound (and yes, equally important and often beautiful) books, we knew from the beginning that we were after something different.
Most of the benefits for us also exist in the challenges. Producing handmade publications can be complicated. We have to consider monetary resources as well as human power and the fact that certain types of books do require quite a bit of precision and craft – how do we play into our talents and work with our limitations? I that in system of restraint, the bud can really bloom.
OZP: What do you recommend for a new reader? What’s the ideal Ink Press “starter kit”?
IPP: We actually sell an IPP “gift pack” that includes our most recent publications, plus an assortment of handmade journals, prints, and ephemera. Besides that, I would encourage people to check out How to have a day by Megan McShea and All The People by Stephanie Barber (both included in “gift pack”). We published both of these earlier this year – they are great examples of our collaborative effort and genre-blurring sensibilities!
OZP: What’s in the works for the near (or distant) future?
IPP: O the future! the pure conglomerate of time we can never determine since it is always out of reach though we can hope to do everything right. Over the past three years we have been working hard to establish IPP, to give it focus but also enough flexibility to support our experimental art making. Of course, we hope to keep this going – which means we are doing a lot of foundational organizing in the near future. We want to be conscious of how IPP can be a sustainable endeavor, a life if you will.
Something we’ve agreed on in conversation is that “It’s still kinda strange to think that we have this thing that we built just because.” Both of our lives have changed dramatically in the three years since we established IPP. We’re still looking to create books that represent work we feel is vital to the world, but we’ve been moving a lot towards creating experiences for people. We hosted a genre bending variety show in late September. We paired twelve Baltimore area artists, then asked them to create a 5-10 minute performance. We’d love to do more of that – bring elements from different disciplines to a one of a kind performance. This takes a lot of time, but it’s so worth it.
As for projects, right now we’re really focused on promoting the press and our publications – we want our books and prints in the hands of people – this is where they thrive. Part of our efforts to do this is providing some deals for holiday shoppers. In addition to that, we’re excited to be pairing up with The Walter’s Art Museum on two book related events in 2016. We’re also planning to publish a couple books in the coming year and we’ve got a collaborative issue of espresso ink with Infinity’s Kitchen in the works. There are probably many things we haven’t thought of yet, I’m sure! Stayed tuned / Join our mailing list for updates.
OZP: Given unlimited resources, what dream project would you love to undertake?
IPP: An artist hostel-house-studio-print shop-event space! One of my longtime dreams has been to direct such a multi-faceted organization that not only supports collaboration and genre-blurring art, but also gives opportunities for artists of various backgrounds to come together with their skills and labor and create a family. One of the things we hold in high regard is the idea that money isn’t the only way to create a value system. In the ideal version of this dream project, we would operate collectively and provide artistic resources for people who might not have money but are able to contribute to the organization in other ways.
One of the projects we’d love to do in a space like that would be A GIANT HOUSE BOOK. It would be amazing to take an entire house structure, paint all the walls white, then allow people to contribute their stories by using their entire bodies to paint. Things would be constantly blurred or added to. I would love for this to be an ongoing project. Visiting artists in the hostel could perform site-specific work in this book-house. This brings the art and artist to a very personal level, something Joseph Young and Amanda discussed at the closing talk for his gallery exhibit.
Amanda McCormick is an outdoorsy, genre-blending artist. Some of her roles are printer, poet, performer, writer, and bookmaker. She is also the founding curator of Ink Press Productions in Baltimore.
Tracy Dimond co-curates Ink Press Productions. Her latest chapbook, I Want Your Tan, was released in May by Ink Press. She is also the author of Grind My Bones Into Glitter, Then Swim Through The Shimmer (NAP 2014) and Sorry I Wrote So Many Sad Poems Today (Ink Press 2013).
Ink Press Productions (IPP) is a collaborative effort based in Baltimore. Our mission is to blur the lines of genre in writing, visual, and performance art through the publication of handmade books, manual printing, and experimental events. Check us out online inkpressproductions.com.