Raymond Meeks’ amwell, continuum - An Appreciation




A little while ago, a friend of mine emailed me, asking for my address. He wanted to give me a present, he said. Who am I to say no to presents? It arrived in the mail, a little later, sent by the artist himself, in the form of amwell, continuum, spring 2010, an artist book/journal (or maybe you’d call it a zine), made by and containing the photography of Raymond Meeks. I hadn’t heard of it before. (more)

If you are producing an independently published photo book (or zine), the cards are stacked against you: You literally have to do everything yourself, and “everything” here truly means everything, starting with the editing, design, printing, assembly/binding, and distribution. It’s true, you can have the book printed or bound somewhere, or maybe you can have a friend design it. But regardless of how you look at it, it’s a different game than working with a publisher.

This year 2010 might be the year of the independently produced photo book - or maybe it’s the year when such books (or zines) were able to break out from their isolation. Blogs like The Independent Photo Book (which I co-founded and co-maintain) are now helping to spread the word about them - addressing the distribution problem. But of course, there are many other problems, such as, for example, the fact that while many books produced by publishers get reviewed regularly (every Friday, this website is dedicated to doing just that), you won’t find too many reviews of independently published photo books online.

Add marketing to the list of things you have to deal with when producing such a book - often, there simply is none other than word of mouth. Hopefully, this situation will change, too. Independently published photo books deserve to be bought, seen, reviewed, and/or talked about just as widely as books by large publishers.

About amwell, continuum, spring 2010, Meeks writes

“While my recent publishing efforts may have something to do with deconstructing the ‘art book’ and shifting focus from the beautiful object to honoring content and subject, I am, as many, drawn to tactile experience and a clear expression of the work in book form; using inexpensive materials and common tools while subtracting nothing of quality or value from the piece.”
He certainly succeeded doing that. amwell, continuum, spring 2010 combines being a beautiful object, pleasant to the touch, with images that are laid out well. Looking through the book is the kind of experience that looking through any photo book should be but, sadly, often isn’t.

Meeks uses what he calls a “pay what you want” approach for amwell, continuum, spring 2010, where spending more money will get you more than “just” the book, in the form of additional prints. The money is used for future work - making the book an example of how producing a book can simultaneously have more than one purpose. You can think of buying amwell, continuum, spring 2010 as a way to support an artist.

It’s a beautiful book, full of (for me) unexpected beauty. Thank you, Mark, for the gift!

amwell, continuum, spring 2010, dumbsaint editions, volume one, 12 x 9 inches “pay-what-you-want” multiple price structure, 16 pages {14 b/w, 2 color reproductions}, laser prints on 50 lb acid-free sketch, hand bound, text and photography by Raymond Meeks