As necessary is it is these days for artists to have a presence online, there are times when print is the medium of choice for showing one’s artwork, whether as a leave-behind for galleries, a sample book or portfolio for prospective clients or as a printed book for collectors.
I wrote back in 2008 about Blurb, and other modern print-on-demand services that allow you to create and print a professional looking 8x 10″ book, up to 40 pages, in quantities as few a one copy, for as little as $20; providing a terrific alternative to traditional means of printing portfolios or sample sheets for presentation to galleries, potential clients or buyers.
These are printed on Hewlett Packard’s Indigo digital press, in a process that produces results close to the more expensive process of offset lithography. The pages are bright and crisp with rich color, well suited to inexpensively reproduce color artwork and photography.
Blurb books are bound like a book and have a minimum of 20 pages; nice if you have a fair bit of work to present.
For a smaller body of work, an alternative resource is MagCloud, a service from HP that uses the Indigo press to produce short run on-demand magazines. This allows you to not only create a short run magazine on a schedule if you like, but also to create magazine-like printings that you can order yourself to use as handouts, or gallery leave-behinds, that can be as few as 4 or as many as 100 pages.
For magazines with more pages, they also offer a “perfect bound” option (a square binding as opposed to the fold and staple, or “saddle stitched” binding used in thinner magazines). These can be from 20 to 384 pages.
Unlike Blurb, which offers a free software application to allow amateurs to easily layout a book, you’re kind of on your own with MagCloud; but all you need is any software that will allow you to create and output a PDF file of the appropriate dimensions.
Like Blurb, MagCloud has a online store that allows you to offer your publication for sale if you want. They have a base price of 20 cents U.S. per page, and you mark up your publication to whatever price you want to set beyond that. The website has a feature that allows you to provide a multi-page online preview of the printed piece.
In theory, you could even publish comics, but the size is limited to 8 1/2 x 11″, not a standard comics format in the U.S. or Europe. I don’t know to what degree the service is available outside the U.S.
The New York Times has a photo/audio essay about a group Making a Magazine with MagCloud, and Read Write Web reports that MagCloud is rolling out a new feature that lets you create an iPad optimized version of your magazine.
A friend of mine, photographer and 3D computer graphics animator Harry Saffren, has been publishing his series of photographs of food on plates (as sequential images of the progress of consuming a meal) as 16 page issues of Plate Magazine. I was impressed with the results. Though there is no “cover” of heavier stock on the shorter run magazines, the reproduction is very like a professional newsstand magazine, and the printing reproduced the the bright vibrant colors of his original photographs to a remarkable degree.
(Images above, links are to MagCloud page for that publication: top 2: Harry Saffren’s Plate Magazine, Paintings of Lesley Deacon, The Artwork of Bonnie Gloris, Works, American Painter John Grazier, Concept Art by Josh Mongeau 2010, SLAM (Support Local Arts Magazine), Fire Mass, eatsleepdraw magazine, John Bell, Jr. Paintings & Prints)