ILSSA: Every Day Work

Every Day Work chronicles one full year (January 1 – December 31, 2011) of Impractical Labor as practiced by a dedicated group of ILSSA members. On every day worked, members saved remnants of their process in a dated envelope. In early January 2012, members sent their envelopes and/or a representative tool to the Hammes Gallery at Saint Mary’s College. One envelope is posted on the gallery wall for each worked day. On the gallery floor, the saved remnants are grouped by month, with remnants from each day organized in rows. The exhibition is a visual chronology of every day worked by union members, wherever they may have been. Together with the tools, the show provides a glimpse into the nature of such work.

Upon the show’s closing, Saint Mary’s College students will be offered the remnants for their own creative reuse. In the next installment of this exhibition, members’ envelopes will be chronologically collated and bound into a collection of books. The collection will be displayed and then distributed to all participating members.

Of the many obsessive compulsive activities I engaged in in 2011, this was the compulsive-est. It was really satisfying to send off my shoes boxes of little envelopes after a year of saving my proofs, wood carving shards and linoleum scraps. Goodbye my dear little anxiety by-products! I received an email after Bridget and Emily were done installing thanking me and two others for being the most assiduous savers. Overachievers unite!

The exhibition is up until March 2. If you happen to be in Notre Dame, Indiana check it out. Thank you to Bridget Elmer and Emily Larned for organizing.

Berkeley, sun, and progress

Category : art, book, type

I went here last week:

Where it was sunny and warm, and there was neither ice nor snow. For the Codex Bookfair and Symposium, a biennial event in Berkeley, CA, featuring the finest in publication materials. I was mostly bowled over by the fact I didn’t have to wear a coat, and I could run without a hat. I saw many beautiful books and talked to many lovely people but, as I tend to do, took no documenting photographs of the experience, except for this one of the trees. What kind of trees are they? Anyone know?

I made progress before I left on this:

Which is going well, and I now have all of the text set, except for some bits I think I’ll re-set. There are parts that look fine in print, but the breaks don’t make sense in animated form. Or the font is wrong, or that e is upside down and I didn’t catch it until it was too late. There’s a few more blocks I want to carve, and a few more colors I want to try. But most of it is in good shape at this point.

I am worried about the pacing/readability issue, but I’ve found a very honest person who I’m sure will give me very honest feedback as far as that goes. The problem is, I read very quickly, and I also already know what the text says, so when I’m scanning these images in and arrange them in a sequence I think the pacing is a bit too quick in many cases for someone Other Than Myself to get it all.

After seeing much work at Codex I thought more about having a boxed edition of prints, a small edition, with a copy of the animation inside, so you can read it either way, digitally or physically. I also think now that certain parts of the text would make nice poster-size editions, and that this block should be used in some other form.

I also have finally started setting up a shop, which you can see here, so as to make available all past printed projects for sale at reasonable prices. I am generally much better at making work than at selling work, or selling my work, though otherwise perfectly capable of running other people’s businesses. I think I should maybe work on that, in the interest of income diversification.


Category : craft, type

I started redistributing the type from my book today; it’s sort of spring cleaning in slow-motion. Most of the students in the studio where I work skip this step; then we eventually have to sweet-talk some lucky volunteer into doing this for them. I’ve had many volunteers run away after spending a day redistributing. I’m good at driving them away, my mother always told me so. It’s easier when the students follow the rules and write down what type they’ve used; of course there are many who decide not to do so. Then I get to hunt down what it might be, which makes me feel like an exciting sleuth-type-person, like a type-nerd version of House, but which is probably not really what I’m being paid a salary to do, other examples of which include peeling the old dried glue out of old containers of PVA, organizing the instructor cabinet, sweeping all the tiny bits of paper off the floor near the guillotine. This is what I do on a bad day to soothe my nerves.

Me, I like redistributing; it’s faster than setting and give you a nice sense of closure. It’s rhythmic and mindless and makes me feel virtuous. I started cleaning my studio at home this week, and my closet too, all in honor of spring. Out with the old, in with the new.

On a completely unrelated note, I’d like to direct your attention to this.

Lost Dog

Category : type

I totally remember watching this as a kid.


Category : food, type

Went to see The Beaches of Agnes last night- So good! Agnes Varda looks back on her life and the places she’s lived and the films she’s made and the beaches she’s visited with people she’s known- she likes the beach, you see. At 80 she’s got more life and passion in her than most people you’ve met. So good! 

Which reminded me that I like the beach too. So I woke up early and went to Coney Island.

I love how beaches are the same. There’s women in big hats, and old men in speedos doing strange exercises. And people with metal detectors looking for treasure. 

Then I had a typography freak out. Fried Shrimp! Funnel Cake! 

Everything looked so damn good. It made my head swim.


Category : art, type

I revised the book again this weekend. I think this might be close. I started by collecting all sorts of transformational language: snippets from skin care ads, weight loss products, avant-garde manifestos, the Landmark Forum, Alcoholics Anonymous literature, Dale Carnegie, etc. I was looking for language that promises everything, but doesn’t actually say anything specific.

It’s got three voices right now; one in need of advice, one offering a variety of empty slogans, and one offering nonsensical advice, kind of like a half-cracked fortune teller. The sloganeering will be done in hand-drawn and carved type-

The advice seekers go with a series of portraits.

The fortune teller gets the most lines. 

I hope to have all the blocks carved by the end of the summer.  That might be crazy of me, though. I’m working on some posters with the blocks I’ve finished so I can work out colors, typefaces, etc. Also, since it’s somewhat of a half-baked self-help book, and I like to bite off more than I can chew, there’s going to be a Bonus Educational DVD in the back of the book, which will have a lovely stop-motion animation of slogans in black and white hand drawn type, which was going quite well until the Great Data Loss of 2009.

In the meantime, I’ve almost finished working on this: 


Which was intended as a way to both calm my shaky nerves by manipulating type in a new and exciting way, and a way to hone my non-existent animating skills. It’s the proofs from a print that had a nice bit of writing on it and not much else going for it, cut up into tiny little bits. It’s a little rough, but charming. I think it’ll be ready to post next week. 

Also this weekend, I bought this: 

Doesn’t she look ready to strangle the wolf with her bare hands? MFK Fisher’s smokin’ hot. I’m excited by the chapter titles, which include:

-How to Be Sage Without Hemlock

-How to Distribute your Virtue

-How to Rise Up Like New Bread

-How to Make A Pigeon Cry

-How to Make a Great Show

-How to Have a Sleek Pelt

among many others. I can’t wait.