Show: Grab The Uranium. Craig Atkinson.
Tell: “I began making books about seven years ago. A reason for working this way, initially, was my interest in exhibiting work outside of the gallery system. I like placing unrelated images on adjacent pages to create a narrative that would otherwise not exist.
“I work fairly spontaneously and intuitively. I often have an idea of the process I will use but no idea of what I will make or draw. I like to make situations or events that could have happened, but haven’t or that could be true but aren’t. I used to paint quite large abstract paintings using very formal processes regarding line, form, colour and space. Although my work now is figurative I still employ the same working methods.
“Recently I have used photography to simply document things, places and events. I find drawing too slow sometimes, in the same way I found painting too slow before I ‘quit’.
“Grab the Uranium is a book I made while on residency at Knust in Nijmegen, last October. The drawings are situations or events in which the characters appear to be ‘up to something’ but the plot, motive and story is left unclear. It has 40 pages, printed using risograph and Ricoh stencil printers and is a selection of drawings made over the past year.
“The stencil machines work in a way that allows you to print a maximum of two colours before leaving the paper to dry, overnight. Each page had to be put through twice for that reason, so ink spread, misprint, mis-registration, paper jam etc. are all twice as likely to occur. The machines are fairly temperamental due to their age – the newer machines are more reliable but don’t have the peculiarities of the old ones and produce a ‘too perfect’ print.
“Riso printing is slower and has a different feel to digital [Xerox for example] printing; it makes more of an object of the publication. Being able to adjust colors ‘on the fly’ really benefited the publication. I don’t often use colour because I see it as getting in the way, but throwing colour in and living with it was a valuable experience.
“The book was hand bound and trimmed. The cover is finished with UV ink. The drawings were made over about 12 months; the book took one week without sleep and a team of seven people. Because of the handmade process there are many points at which things could go wrong. I think we produced 400 books, 60 of which were rejected for one reason or another.
“I see this book as a one off really. Learning the process and being able to oversee each step was fantastic, Working with the printers at Knust was also great – they’re obsessives who live to print!”
Info: Craig Atkinson founded the publishing house Café Royal Books in 2005. Café Royal work with artists to produce short-run publications. Grab The Uranium and other work are available at outlets worldwide and via the Café Royal Books website.
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