Thursday, 1 October 2009

On size

A Close Look at: The Tall Windows of Mexico . . . Fire Hydrants . . . Rickshas of Bangladesh. (And a gratuitous pirate.) With the arrival of these books (each approx. 4 by 6 inches) yesterday, my desk became an altogether more colourful place.

The books (which follow last year’s books of Trinkets, Pebbles and Fallen Leaves) are the work of Ken Garland, legendary designer – books, posters, toys, games, many other things besides – and impresario of Ken Garland & Associates for forty years: ‘Those who worked with me between 1962 and 2002 have always been designers designing – no secretaries, no typists, no donkey-workers. There were never more than three of them at any one time. I intend no criticism of larger, probably more illustrious design groups when I say that, for me, an increase in size would have meant fruitless to-ing and fro-ing, more unexplained and unacceptable overheads, and less fun.’

Fun – is that why we do it? Producing small books, he his, I mine. Well, it helps. Serious fun, not fun-lite. Watch children at play: the absolute engagement, the surrender to the activity. And as any organisation (though obviously I’m thinking here of publishers and bookshops) increases in size, so too the to-ing & fro-ing and the overheads, and the joy diminishes.

Also yesterday, I went over to the Central Books warehouse, where the woman who’d packed a package of books I was collecting told me her boyfriend had four poetry books of mine and here they were and could I sign them, please. Golly. Usually when I go over I have coffee and gossip with Bill. Central aren’t one of the big distributors, but this feels right.

At some point I’d like to live by the sea, in a town where no building is higher than the trees.

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