Artefact - The Book.

One of my ambitions as an artist was to make a book.

The first compendium of work by Paul M Alsop.

I had visualised making a book to compliment an exhibition. A few years ago, when I set this as an ambition, I saw this as a far away goal, something to work towards, I wanted it to be just right, I didn't want to rush it. At the time I didn't have a large enough body of work to make a book. I 'shelved' the idea (pardon the pun ...).

Head down and bum up, I've slowly been increasing my personal body of work over the past couple of years and I was heading towards having enough work to put into a compendium.

In anticipation of making a book, I had contacted a well known New Zealand publisher for advice. They were pretty black and white. "We would not take on your book, no offence, we really like your work, but ....." and here it comes ....

"Who in this day and age in New Zealand are buying books?" - not many people

"Of those people, how many are interested in Photography books?" - what's less than not many?

"Of those people, how many are interested in portraiture?" - I'm guessing even less than less of not many?

"Of those people, how many are interested in Wet Plate Collodion porrtaiture?" - I'm probably getting a number that might fit in a Mini?

"Of those people, who would want to buy a book of YOUR work?" - the penny dropped, I was the only person left in this metaphorical scenario - or maybe my mum?

Now I wasn't looking to make a fortune from making a book, I know most people that invest in making photobooks actually come out at a loss, it was more just for the experience of having a physical object that contained my work. Despite the dressing down by the publisher, I was still keen on having a personal book as a collection of my work for future reference, but as I said, the idea was shelved.

Fast forward to 11th May 2017, I get an email from Libby at Momento Pro, a well respected book makers for Australia and New Zealand ......

Hey Paul

I’ve been loving your Instagram feed and sounds like you’ve had an amazing time since I met you at the AIPA Image Nation 2015.

Just checking to see whether you had printed or published a photo book - because if you had I imagine it would likely do well in the first ever NZIPP Iris Book Awards.
— Libby Jeffrey - Momento Pro

....... The NZIPP what Awards? Book? I was well aware that the New Zealand Institute of Professional Photographer had an annual event of print awards, but I'd never heard of a book category.  It was May 11th, the deadline for submission was 31st May and the Book had to be printed and in the hands of the NZIPP aficionados by June 12th!

My self doubt kicked in, there is NO WAY I can curate my work and have it all done in a couple of weeks. Then my self confidence kicked in .... "you always work better if you have a deadline ....".

To cut a long story short, I worked my butt of for 2 weeks solid, editing and compiling my work into a 78 page book called 'Artefact'.

See the video above for an idea of what was involved (oh, and it won a GOLD award). 


Creativity - survive, then create.

So I've just finished watching the first New Zealand series of 'Survivor' (spoiler - Avi won).

In case you have actually been surviving on a deserted beach for the past 15 years, you will know Survivor is a TV show where 15 or so individuals from varied backgrounds, are thrown together to live on a secluded beach on a tropical island for 30-40 days. Along with 'surviving', they also have to complete tasks and vote members of their tribe out over the period of time, so they one of the contestants can be crowned 'sole-survivor' and they win an arbitrary amount of money and have 15 mins of fame.

I could finish this blog post here (and leave you wondering what on earth has this got to do with photography) ...... but I won't.

When I studied medicine, we were taught this social concept called 'Maslows Hierarchy of Needs'. It is basically a representation of what your typical human-being needs. The bottom layers need to be created, developed and substantial, before the next tier can progress and develop, otherwise the construct just doesn't work.  (I've included a more recent adaptation of the concept to include 'wifi' - which we all know is much more important than food and shelter).

This image was nothing without Wifi

This image was nothing without Wifi

Finally, I can say the word 'creativity' - note how high up the pyramid that is, which implies that there is a whole lot of other issues far more important to 'surviving' than being creative. Now take this concept as you will, I would probably argue that some people need to be creative to find wifi (or less importantly, creative to find food and water - like the survivor contestants), but I think the concept is nice way of thinking about what our creativity needs to flourish.

Take your standard child for example (is there such a thing as a standard child?), generally, they have shelter, a safe environment, a loving family, the self esteem that comes with being a small person, and therefore they have the ability to be creative and make vehicles out of cardboard boxes, wands out of sticks or use jumpers for goal posts. 

So yeah, unless you get yourself a fast broadband wifi connection, you will never flourish as an artist ay? My internet keeps cutting out, so I will have to end this post here as .................. ////

Maslows Triangle (adapted for the infomation age)

Maslows Triangle (adapted for the infomation age)