Oranbeg Press: DIY done right

Oranbeg Press: DIY done right

Posted by on Apr 17, 2015 in Jeremy Haik | No Comments


It’s likely you’ll recognize the names of at least a handful of the more than 100 artists who have participated in Oranbeg Press’ Interleaves (a current list is at the bottom of this post). Interleaves are 2-sided inkjet prints measuring roughly 12″ x 15″ which are designed to be folded in half, twice, making them about the size of a small paperback book. It’s one of several ongoing projects orchestrated by photographer and Oranbeg’s Founder John O`Toole in which the traditional photo book is a format is ripe for re-imagining. Oranbeg’s seemingly boundless enterprise — there’s always something new in the works— takes full advantage of the instant-gratification digital photography offers, and the press functions in equal parts as an unconventional art publisher and a community hub. Running through all of Oranbeg’s output is a DIY inclusiveness that is sometimes missing from the ultra-exclusive-limited-edition scene of art book publishing.

Kim Hoeckele’s contribution to Interleaves, animated

A perfect example of John’s all-hands-on-deck approach to publishing took place under the name Imprint as part of Pratt Institute’s RiDE initiative (Risk/Dare/Experiment). Over two days, John rolled wide-format printers and multiple computer stations into the main corridor of Pratt’s photography department for collaborative production sessions. Students/faculty as well as the general public were encouraged to stop by, design an Interleaf with John on the fly, and come back a few hours later to pick up their free copy. Projects like Imprint — fast, and with minimal premeditation — are fantastic opportunities for artists and art students to engage in a low-stakes yet highly-rewarding project. It’s a refreshing reminder to students and everyone else that this whole art thing is supposed to be fun, after all.


Trimming freshly pressed Interleaves at Pratt



A sampling of Interleaves made during Imprint

As of today, John has commissioned exactly 110 artists to take part in the Interleaves, and according to him, the project will end with the 150th iteration: only 40 more to go! One of the things I love about the project is that John brings a high level of technical skill to the project (his day job is as a photo lab technician) and yet manages to keep the project fun, accessible, and most importantly tactile. These aren’t pristine inkjet prints encapsulated in a frame, they’re meant to be folded, handled, and worn. And they are all the better for it — some of the older contributions to the project have become soft and fuzzy around the fold lines after being folded and unfolded, and carted from book fair to book fair. They remind me of fold-out posters in magazines or CD’s, or National Geographic map/infographics like this one of the Orion Nebula from a 1995 issue (maybe someone should submit an Interleaves design of an unfolded poster?):

1995 National Geographic Orion Nebula fold-out poster | Photo by Thierry Lombry

Not every design specifically incorporates the fold-lines as a central element, but there are more than a few clever artists that take the act of folding and unfolding as an opportunity to reveal and conceal elements of the imagery. What’s appealing about this format to me is the intimacy it fosters with the work it contains; paper is ultimately vulnerable and fragile and so the act of turning this material in your hands requires a soft touch. The Interleaves take what’s best about zines—DIY, democratized production with little-to-no barriers to entry— without putting quality reproduction and nuanced subtlety on the shelf.

Daniel Terna’s front and back images for Interleaves

And Interleaves is far from the only project on John’s plate. He also organizes Oranbeg NET, a series of online group exhibitions that recruits outside curators for an online exhibition and digital PDF of the show. So while part of the charm in the Interleaves project is its physical presence, Oranbeg’s reach extends into exclusively digital spaces as well. All of this is to say that what Oranbeg does particularly well is act as an inclusive and participatory hub for current photographic practices. The list of artists involved in one project or another is already substantial and “in a constant state of update”. At $3 apiece, it’s not a significant investment to pick up one or several Interleaves and the poster-like format takes all of the cost-effective advantages inherent to digital publishing without falling prey to the preciousness that can keep artist publications hermetically sealed on bookshelves in plastic sleeves.

As for what’s next, the second edition of Oranbeg’s newest publication venture SoSo — described on Oranbeg’s site as “A periodical released every once in a while” — will be released at the Philadelphia Art Book Fair and will feature Alex Thebez, Nat Ward, Everything is Collective, TJ Elias, Hannah Solomon, Lauren Wansker, Sarah Frohn and an essay by Colin Todd. SoSo will also have a companion zine, Gutter, which was sourced through one of Oranbeg’s many open calls. Check Oranbeg’s Tumblr for the most up to date news.

Here’s the full tally of Interleaves artists (current as of 04/17/2015 and bound to change soon):

Ben Alper, Michael McCraw, Timothy Briner, Colin Todd, Daniel Augschoell, Varvara Mikushkina, Michael Vahrenwald, TJ Elias, Irina Rozovsky, Carlos Lowenstein, Maggie Shannon, Jay Muhlin, Michael Marcelle, Sophie T. Lvoff, Pauline Magnenat, Nat Ward, Ginevra Shay, Dan Boardman, Leigh Van Duzer, Mark Daniel Harley, Meghan Schaetzle, Curran Hatleberg, Tristan Hutchinson, Lynley Bernstein, Mike Finkelstein, Quinn Gorbutt , John M. O’Toole, Joe Lingeman, Josh Poehlein, Patrick Hogan, Matthew Austin, Seth Fluker, Nicole White, Tammy Mercure, Eric Ruby,Carl Gunhouse, Daisuke Yokota, Ben Huff, Aaron Canipe, Nelson Chan, Jake Reinhart, Claudio Nolasco, Tara Wray, Sara Stojkovic, Sara J Winston, David Oresick, David la Spina, Amy Lombard, Andrew Hammerand, Solomon Schechman, Clayton Cotterell, Shane Lyman, Susana Zak, Jeremy Haik, Jesse Hlebo, Coley Brown, Erin Jane Nelson, Andrew Frost, Colin Stearns, Magali Duzant, Jordan Baumgarten, Stephen Hilger, Lindsay Metivier,  Jane Tam, Kai McBride, Kim Hoeckele, Ryan Arthurs, Nicole Reber, Caitie Moore, Jesse Untracht-Oakner, Peter Hoffman, Stephanie Powell, Amiko Li, Matthew Mili, Sean Stewart, Joe Leavenworth, Casey Dorobek, Mona Varichon, Matthew Gamber, Melanie Flood, Nathaniel Grann, Skylar Blum, Matthew Cronin, Brittany Marcoux, Jamie Hladkey, Erin O’Keefe, Keith Yahrling, Erik Schubert, Eli Durst, Matthew David Crowther, Vivien Aryoles, Daniel Terna, Zachary Norman, Hirokazu Kobayashi, Jesse Crimes, Brian Ulrich, Annie Solinger, Benjamin Davis, Jenna Garret, Katie Shapiro, Ron Jude, Alex Nelson, Stephanie Bursese, Melissa Cantanese, Mike Slack, Susan Worsham, Dru Donovan, Laura Heyman, Eva O’Leary and Dylan Nelson.

photobook, photo books, artists’ books, artists’ publishing, self publishing, independent publishing

Posted by on Nov 19, 2013 in Tony White | No Comments

So what’s in a name? Or more to the point, what’s in a descriptive phrase? How do we as curator’s, makers, and librarians parse the difference between new publications and publication types that build on the history of 20th century artists’ books and zines?

I have been puzzling over this for the past 15 years, more so in the past five. Ever since attending the second annual self published photobook and zine fair at CCNY, where I first saw artists blending genres, mixing up zines/artists books/photo books/magazines. Often each genre type was referred to or used by different artists though the format remained the same. Interesting and vexing. For the curator this was an interesting change or nuance within the publishing arena. As a library cataloger, of which I am not but work closely with, this was vexing to say the least. Drawing upon historic knowledge a self published or independently published work by an artist might be referred to as an artist book (by the artist/author). A publication of the same size, format, binding, and similar photographic content, by a photographer, might be called a photo book or photo zine. Or vice versa, or neither, or one or the other.

“Proving Ground” by Jason John Wurm, 2013, includes the following colophon note “All photographs were taken on and around the Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland.” And the copy in hand is number 7 of 20. A limited edition – borrowing the conventions from find printing, or printmaking. The format is that of an 8.5 x 11″, staple (2) bound pamphlet. Red card stock cover and white pages, each with a snapshot photograph, color laser printed recto and verso. Each page has a different image with large white borders. The images are unremarkable: interior and exterior images of domestic spaces, portraits, and snaps of people. I bought it for two reasons: one, it is from Maryland and my library is in Baltimore, so there is regional significance, and two, the publication is genre ambiguous. It could be a zine, it could be a photobook or photo zine, or it could be an example of artists’ publishing. Better yet, it could simply be self published or independently published.

Proving Ground

Proving Ground, detail

A similar work is by the New York artist Lindsey Castillo that is untitled, using color laser printed images and text, also taking advantage of 8.5×11″ sheets folded and stapled to make a pamphlet. She includes images of woman throughout in a washed out light gray and white, with two snaps of a young woman in work wear as a center fold, if that. The text is from the author’s resume and various rejection letters, with elements blackened out much like the CIA does with top secret documents. I selected this book, as with the previous title, because it falls into several genres. But also because it is representative of other works by artist’s documenting their experience in the workplace, or applying for jobs, rejection letters is also another theme in similar works from previous decades. This book, this artist, comments on their experience in this economy and job market; representing the current environment.


Lindsey Castillo, detail

A third such publication is “We Are All” by Cheryl Dunn. This little (insert genre term from above) publication is again a staple bound pamphlet book using color laser printer or similar technology to fix the images to the paper pages. All the images, again, rely on snapshots, most in color, some in black and white. For this book the images are of people, seemingly concert goers at a very large outdoor concert. Sex, drugs and rock and roll, might be another over used theme-description. Why did I  purchase this publication? Again, it is representative of a contemporary genre type recalling an amateur Nan Goldin, if you will, but without the , or what Roland Barthes refers to as the punctum, in his book Camera Lucida. Little photo books/zines like this are so common that many people pass them over, but they clearly are a sub genre unto themselves.

We Are All

We Are All, detail

To make this point, check out “11:15 / 21:09″ by campanhiarapadura.com. Again, the format of a staple bound pamphlet binding on white 8.5×11” sheets folded in half. Color and black and white images in the shape of snap shots with generous white borders. The images are more aligned to those of “Proving Ground” but of an urban landscape in another country. Again, unremarkable overall. Yet, still compelling within its own sub genre.


11:15, detail

Stay tuned to this blog.  I will post further examples of similar works, but ones that differ in intent/content.