Nicholas Gottlund grew up in a log cabin in rural Pennsylvania and has print making in his genes. The Baltimore-based artist and photographer runs Gottlund Verlag, a publishing house with a focus on emerging photography and a reputation for beautiful, one of a kind craftsmanship. Henry Roy’s “Spirit”, Peter Sutherland’s “Even In the End”, and Coley Browns “Jam Jelly Honey Wild Rice” are a few books made by the hands of Nicholas. Nick kindly takes us into his studio and tells us a little about what makes his books special.
Can you tell me a little bit about the history of your studio in Kutztown?
The Kutztown studio is located on the farm where I grew up, so there’s a deep connection with this place. The building itself is an addition to the main barn which was originally built in 1900. I built the studio as an addition over the course of a year with my dad. We designed it together and built it entirely by hand. That was 3 years ago.
What is your current workspace situation in regards to having a studio in Kutztown and in a second one in Baltimore?
I have a second space set up in Baltimore on the top floor of my house there. I share the house with Wildfire Wildfire, a record label run by the housemates – Matt and Devon. That space is where I spend most of my time binding, assembling books and doing layout work. I escape up here to Kutztown when I need to use my presses or get out of the city. It’s a real luxury to have both spaces. It’s a 2 hour drive.
What are some things that you do on a day to day basis when you are working in Kutztown?
I usually condense a lot of work into a few days each stay. Every day starts with building a fire in the wood stove, and the slow warming up of the space. I have coffee and print on the letterpresses or set type. I take breaks and walk up the hill or down the dirt road. Sometimes late at night I drive out to the gas station and buy a cheeseburger.
How has your surroundings affected your practice, aesthetic, and craftsmanship?
My surroundings inform it all. It’s difficult to put into words the scale on which environment plays a role, but it has always been a defining force.
What do you hold as the most important things to you when working on a book?
I think it’s really important that the book in it’s objecthood – the way it looks and feels, be reflective of the artist’s vision. So my goal in making each book is to work with the artist to create an object that communicates that vision. I’m also very close in the actual creation of each book. I try to keep as much of the production in house and done by hand.
Can you name a few upcoming projects that you are working on – personal + publishing?
I’m currently working on a book of my own photographs with a San Francisco based publisher which I’m really excited about! I’m also working with the band Ecstatic Sunshine to do a slide show / visuals for their upcoming European tour. Gottlund Verlag is working on the initial stages of a book with NY based photographer Zoe Ghertner and getting ready for the release of the book ‘Repurpose’.
Can you tell us more about your studio?
This is basically everything from a distance. The front of the studio and barn above, and the garden and woods below.
The downstairs of the studio is the pressroom with my two letterpresses. Here are some book covers hanging up to dry. On the right are some random wood and metal typefaces from one of the type cabinets.
On the left is what it looks like behind my desk. Books, some large xeroxes, a pencil drawing I found at the local flea market, book pages and a polaroid by Yutaka Sone that I love. Of course I couldn’t leave out a photo of the wood stove.
On the left are some book board ends and other bits and pieces I save for the odd project plus a stack of some woodblock prints I did of guys chopping a tree down. On the right are boxes of Henry Roy’s new book, Spirit.
I keep a small table with coffee supplies and a cookie jar. There’s a proof copy of Henry Roy’s image Es Vedra Smoking (Ibiza 2005) on the wall, which we printed as part of a limited edition version of Spirit. On the right is my paper cutter in the foreground and press sheets of Peter Sutherland’s book Even in the End.
Looking upstairs, a big reading chair, layout table and flat files.
Also a shelf I made for books I tend to pull out to look at often. The door goes into the rest of the barn.
This is what it looks like out back; splitting wood and the misty fall woods.
All photos by Nicholas Gottlund.
Nicholas Gottlund is an artist, photographer and book maker. He is the founder of Gottlund Verlag, a small publishing house which produces artist books with a focus on contemporary photography. His monograph ‘Wild Prayer’ was recently acquired by the Whitney Museum library. He currently lives and works in Kutztown, P.A. and Baltimore, M.D.