On Publishing

Zolo Press

Tique asks the same set of questions to an international art book publisher about its motivation, practice and role today.
This week: Zolo Press.

Publisher Zolo Press
Location Mexico City and Brussels
Website https://zolo.press

What motivated you to start publishing?

By the time Zolo Press published its first volume, B.Wurtz’s Philosophy from B to Z, in 2018, the three of us had been making books for many years. Zolo was born of our desire to be more closely involved in the process, from the publication’s very conceptualization through its production, and to initiate projects of our own: to select the artists we wanted to work with, direct the book’s content and concept, and choose the writers and collaborators involved. We also felt the need to work more intimately and directly with the artists themselves so their books could feel like they’d come directly from their studio, like the works on its pages. In a sense, publishing was also an excuse to meet and work with people we admire.

How do you define and develop your artistic program?

We have tried more than once to define a program. Not once did that definition hold; the books seem to evade its grip. Simply, we publish the artists who move us, who we think other people should know too. There are resemblances within our catalog, to be sure. Julia Rommel, Marie Hazard, Otis Houston Jr.’s Can’t GO Unless WE ALL GO, Machteld Rullens’ Full of Emptiness, Yann Gerstberger’s Baby Comet Face, and Matt Paweski’s MP.19 were all debut monographs. Philosophy from B to Z, Sven Lukin’s Branches, Wilfredo Prieto’s Fake News, Adam McEwen’s Sidewalks, Damián Ortega’s Masks, Lucas Blalock’s Figures, and Michael Lin’s Mariposa B1-09, each use everyday material. Can’t GO Unless WE ALL GO, Branches, Beatriz Gonzaléz’s Diary of Senseless Work, Sebastian Black’s Local Warming, and Harold Ancart’s Tokyo Private (Un Romain Photo) include the artists’ notebooks. These similarities have only revealed themselves in hindsight, though.

What’s more clear is how we make books. We insist, firstly, that each publication is particular to the artist at every scale, from its structure to its texts, papers, proportions, printing, type, and binding. There are no templates, which is why it is not uncommon for this process to take several years. This specificity is important to us because we are committed to the book as an object unto itself, not merely the afterlife of some more grand form, as is typical of catalogs. Bored, too, of the didacticism of so many catalogs, and so much art writing in general, we like to experiment with strange, uneasy, and slantwise relationships between image and word, commissioning texts by poets, essayists, as well as other artists.

What is your role in the creation of a publication?

We’re a small press; it’s three of us. As much as we each have our responsibilities—designer, editor, distributor—we are also, depending on the day, mule, airline-baggage-limit-negotiator, fair-table decorator, grant writer, huckster, shrink, or shrink-wrapper. That’s to say, we are involved in every book at every step, from its conceptualization, editing, design, production, distribution, and promotion. The equation: full scope = total freedom = complete responsibility.

What do you look for in a project?

Our books don’t begin with looking. They start with a sense that this book must, at this moment, by any means, exist. Our task is then to make sense of this urgency so that others might feel the same.

Do you have any advice to artists planning to make a publication?

Knock on many doors (or enter many DMs); document your work well; choose a publisher that will work (and think, and celebrate, and commiserate) with you; insist on your own terms.

What do you consider to be the biggest challenge as a publisher?

Money. Trite? Maybe. True? Absolutely. Shipping books is expensive—often as expensive as the books themselves—and promises to only grow more prohibitively so. It’s also difficult to cobble together the funding for artists who aren’t supported by galleries.

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