Thursday, January 01, 2009

Making a Book.

prototype of the portfolio book © Shen Wei

I have been making a book since last year. I have a good amount of work from the Almost Naked series, since the work has been exhibited and published numerous times in the US and China, I thought, why not make something intimate, like a book. Upon a limited budget, partially funded by LMCC and partially self invested, instead of making a thin little mass produced book, I wanted to create something different, something personal and collectible.

The process is rather interesting. I phoned my old boss in Shanghai to ask for some advices. He hired me when I was a 18 year old runaway boy, gave me a design assistant job in his printing tech company. We have discussed what's possible to make something very nice on a small budget, there were a lot of ideas on the table. Eventually I came up the idea of making a book looks like a personal portfolio. So here you see the pictures of the prototype I recently received. The concept is simple, a portfolio box with 25 individual prints in it.

The box design did not come easy either, I have done quite a bit research to find the perfect fabric for the box (yes, fabric covered box, fancy!). I am super happy with the gray I have on the box now, very chic, isn't it? The box is all custom made because of the size, 265mm x 202mm, not a standard size as I demanded. The box is built in with the magnum closure, silver linen paper interior and the black title graphic (why Victorian? Just like it.) on the top. The title graphic is going to be either screen printed (as shown in the picture) or embossed (more $$), it is a very big decision, so I need some time.

Print Proofs © Shen Wei

Of course, the most crucial part is to choose the images, it's easy to pick 25 of my favorite images from Almost Naked which now contains around 100 images, but I want all the images can live together harmonically in the little box. The final choices are all portraits, man, woman, old, young, gay, straight, white, black, Asian, Latino, everyone is included. I just got the yummy proof prints before Christmas. The proofs are all digital printed, that means I have an excuse to buy a tickets to China to do the press check. Last time I did a press check is for a real estate catalog which nothing on it I can afford, but this time after the press check, everything comes to my house, how exciting!

The reason I want to make a portfolio style book is to give the book my sense of personality. I love the process of from touch every material to witness the final packaging. The individual prints allow the viewers to look at all the prints side by side, or lay all of them on the table at once, make them converse with each other, just like an artist would do sometimes.

The best part, it is a very small limited edition, 218 editions only. I am also considering the idea of including an original print in the last 18 editions (#201-#218). They will all be signed and numbered.

As I am typing now in New York, I have heard all my 218 new born boxes are waiting patiently in Shanghai. The printing date will be scheduled in early 2009. So, if you have any suggestion, please let me know, my goal is to make this book as nice as I can. Keep tuned for more news on this book.


lane said...

What I want to know is, how can I get my hands on one?

Shen Wei said...

Lane, I will put you in my mailing list and will send you more info. when the book is done. They are most likely gonna be distributed through my galleries or my own website. Thank you for your interest.

Bruce L. said...

Shen, can I reserve one, too? Bruce

rebecca said...

It looks beautiful, good luck with it.

peter said...

Really nice work.
Please keep me posted when they are out.


Mel Trittin said...

Will you please add me to the mailing list? It is wonderful to see you making something with the gravitas that the photographs themselves convey.

pixy said...

That's a true photographer book!

Jane said...

The case is fantastic! I love the construction. Keep me posted as well!

photognosis said...

It's a great idea. Including an original print adds great value. I'm also looking into making a limited edition book, but am planning to make it on an epson printer. That way, you can print as you sell, and can sell at a higher price, as all pages are actual artist made prints. If you sell a book of say 50 images, it's a great value to a collector to get an artist's hand made for a great price. I'm hoping to sell 200 books of 80 images for $1000.00 a piece. Price per image is so cheap, but the potential artist's income is $200,000.00!

James Roe said...

Dear Shen Wei:

Please keep me posted. I'd love to get a copy of your new book. (By the way, I'm friends with the Flux Quartet, but was working during the week when you performed with them, I would have loved to see your show.)


Willow said...

Absolutely beautiful! I have been long waiting for this book.

Atomische said...

I'd love to add this book to my library. Keep me posted as well! Thanks.