For today’s Friday Insights, we have a special treat for all our readers: our first ever artist interview! This week we’ll be speaking with Gavin Dovey, a bookbinder and artist whose time at the Center for Book Arts helped lead to the opening of his own bindery, Paper Dragon Books. Dovey was kind enough to sit down with us and answer some questions about being a book artist.
|John Fowles’s The Collector|
That’s a question I get a lot and seldom am able to give a suitable answer. I could say that my interest started with reading old first editions from the remainder library of my school that was 900 years old! I could say that that I crashed and burned out of an English degree program, after realizing that I wasn’t going to be the next James Joyce. Or maybe it was the time after that, stuck in a dead-end job, I found my new profession flicking through the local Yellow pages on a whim.
All of which may be true, but none of them were the real impetus.
|Confessions of an English Opium-Eater, detail|
The bindery seems from memory to be from another world. The odd tools, equipment, the silence…and most importantly for me the intensity of the bookbinder Mark Cockram, and the astonishing beauty of his work. It turns out that I had stumbled upon a young Mark Cockram, then my age, and who is today a celebrated binder famed for his inventiveness, artistry, and fastidious attention to detail.
|A work-in-progress on John Lennon|
What’s your favorite piece you’ve created?
That’s the kind of question you should ask me after at least 2-3 decades as a binder before I can answer it credibly. Logic suggests that young bookbinders should love the work they do today as opposed to the stuff they did in the early years. On the whole this is true for me, I tend not to like looking back, although I do still have one or two bindings from school that may not be up-to snuff by today’s standards, but I still like to have around. (Confessions of an English Opium Eater, my first ever design binding, and one that Bernard Middleton expressed some interest in some years ago, is a source of great personal pride!)
What’s you’re favorite part of designing a book?
|Thomas Pynchon’s Gravity’s Rainbow, detail|
What do you love about the Center for Book Arts?
When I first came to New York, I naturally gravitated to the Center for Book Arts on 27th st. The Center provides invaluable access to great teaching in a fusion of book art related fields, as well as work study programs, internships, and scholarships. More than this it provides access for young book artists to a working studio space that binders and printers can rent at affordable rates whilst building their careers, enabling some, like me, to go on to open their own studios. Without which I personally would have found it a great deal harder getting a start in the city, so I for one am very thankful for these opportunities and hope they continue to do great things in the future.
Do you have any advice for aspiring book artists?
|C.S. Lewis Collection|
Where do you see book art going in the future?
|Dovey in his bindery|
Thank you very much to Gavin Dovey for the lovely interview! If you are a book or letterpress artist and are interested in being interviewed for Friday Insights, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Did you enjoy our artist interview? Want to give us suggestions or comments? Comment on this post, email us at email@example.com, visit us on Facebook (/centerforbookarts), or follow us on Twitter (@center4bookarts). Can’t wait to see you there!