By Suzanne | January 24, 2011
As you might have caught on by now, the distro crew at AK Press has been attempting to highlight the work of some of our awesome distributed publishers by picking out one to feature each month. And besides getting the extra shout-out, all books published by our Publisher of the Month are on sale at 25% off for the entire month!
For the month of January, we have been excited to highlight the work of Mark Batty Publisher, a New York-based independent publisher of beautiful books on street art, graphic design, and visual communication. Check out all of AK Distro’s offerings (still on sale through the end the month) from Mark Batty Publisher here on our website.
Two of our friends from Mark Batty Publisher, editor Buzz Poole and designer Christopher Salyers, were kind enough to answer a few questions for us:
What kind of books does Mark Batty publish? What makes your books stand out?
Buzz Poole: All of the titles fall under what we call visual communication, covering everything from design and typography to graffiti and pop culture. If the book tells an interesting story or reveals a compelling subculture, using more images than words, it can be an MBP book. That said, we still very much wear our tastes on our sleeves so any book we do represents some aspect of our collective taste, which is what makes us stand out, for better or worse.
What are some of the titles in your catalog that you’re particularly proud of, or that demonstrate your editorial vision?
BP: Some of my favorites include A Field Guide to the North American Family, Shadows of Time, Shapes for Sounds, Translating Hollywood, and Drawing Autism. All of these books rely on the visual as points of entry into big ideas.
[Note from AK Press: the books we carry from Mark Batty Publisher are more specifically focused on street art and radical visual communication, and don't include the above titles—though we encourage you to check them all out on the Mark Batty Publisher website! The most popular MBP titles available through AK Press Distro so far have been Stencil Graffiti Capital: Melbourne, Urban Guerrilla Protest, and Protest Graffiti Mexico: Oaxaca.]
What’s new or in the works right now that we should be excited about? What’s next for Mark Batty Publisher?
BP: Well, we’re moving offices from midtown Manhattan to DUMBO, Brooklyn. It’s a bigger space and we’ll be working some more people into the MBP fold, which is great because we continue to grow the list. Two Spring 2011 titles I’m jazzed about are Bay Area Graffiti ’80s–’90s and Cuba TV: Dos Canales. The Bay Area book covers the early days of graffiti, namely bombing, featuring folks like Bigfoot, Orfn, Mq, Twist, BNE and many, many others. It’s a great companion to our first Bay Area graffiti book and the two pretty much cover the history of the region’s scene to date. Cuba TV is a photo essay about the role televisions play in Cuba. Shot by Simone Lueck, the sets anchor social life in Cuba, even when no one is actually watching one of the handful of government controlled stations. One more cool title is Infinite Instances, a big tome comprised of artists, writers, philosophers, psychologists, and designers meditating on their notions of “time.”
Christopher Salyers: [Another] new acquisition of ours is called Kill Shelter Portraits. Mark Ross is an excellent photographer and someone who has been working in kill shelters around the NYC area for years now. He’s built up quite a strong following on Facebook with his emotional, striking imagery. Not enough people are aware of the conditions, population killed, or even the fucked up politics of these privately-owned, government-sponsored kill shelters—so I hope this book brings awareness to at least a small chunk of the population.
You publish a lot of great graffiti books and must have a good eye for street art—what is the best graffiti you’ve personally seen?
CS: The best graffiti I’ve seen was in Japan. I was a hands-on photographer for our Graffiti Japan title, so I had the pleasure of crawling through windows of abandoned warehouses, taking trains to remote areas of Greater Tokyo, and braving the language gap for an all-access pass to their very unique take on graffiti culture. There it seems to be more about the art than anything… Seeing kanji transformed into barely recognizable (yet awesome) shapes is what got to me the most.
And I have to ask, do you have a favorite font?
CS: I have a love/hate relationship with Akzidenz Grotesk. For titling, I’ve been going to the Knockout family recently… lots of range there. You can see some samples from a fun little project I’ve been toying with called Friendly (Type)Faces here.
Are there other authors, artists, or publishers doing interesting stuff now, that you think we should be paying attention to?
CS: It’s great that we can simply look to some of our authors for new/exciting ventures outside of MBP. Roger Gastman, for instance, is the editor of Los Angeles Graffiti. As a man who’s been a part of that world since damn near it’s inception, you rarely see a project that he hasn’t touched. Most recently he’s been in the Bansky film, Exit Through the Gift Shop, and working with the recent (and controversial) MOCA exhibit on street art (and featured in that collection is another MBP alum, the photographer Martha Cooper (Name Tagging, Going Postal)). Oh, and Poster Boy? Let’s just say we haven’t heard the last of him.
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