I received the sample copies of The Art of Craig Elliott from the printer yesterday. A stroke of good fortune is that Craig happened to be in my area and stopped by today. We went over the book together and gave it a close inspection, to both of our delight.
It’s not often I get to sit with the artist and view a book fresh from the printer right away like this. There is a tremendous amount of work that goes into the creation of a book. Factor in the years Craig committed towards producing a body of work deserving of a collection, to Craig and me pairing up, then to having the book designed and written and printed. It can take two or three years from the initial idea to completion. When all is said and done it’s a rewarding feeling to be holding the actual book. Even with our working on this book over the course of this year and having viewed the pages and art on the computer screen frequently, seeing the actual book is like seeing Craig’s work in a completely fresh viewing. We’re both very pleased with the book; especially the colors and details that held up in all areas, including the darker shadow regions. Having Craig available to review the proofs and help make adjustments for the printer was a bonus. It was a close collaborative project between artist, publisher and printer.
I got to know Craig in 2008 at Comic-Con in San Diego on the Thursday of the show. Just prior to meeting Craig, I had a steady stream of people stopping by to show me unsolicited book proposals. Thursday is always our busiest day for answering questions and selling books, and not a good time to try and hold a long conversation with me. One person in particular was extremely aggressive about showing me his three ideas, all of which I had no interest in. He did not take “no” very well and was getting angry with me that I would not give him more time. After he left I turned to my friend James and told him I will not be looking at any more book proposals for the remainder of the show and to not direct anyone to me. Right on cue, up walks Craig Elliott. He asks me if he can show me his portfolio and wanted to inquire about the possibility of discussing a book project. Rather bluntly, I told him I was not reviewing portfolios or taking on any book proposals. Undeterred and with a friendly approach and smile he let me know that is no problem and went on to praise the books I have published and said some very flattering things about me that showed that he had an awareness of who I was and what my goals are. Then, he offered his portfolio to me again to view, just to share his work with me. I opened his portfolio and viewed “Caryatid Path” and immediately invited him behind the booth. He came around and we ended up chatting for about 30 minutes. Funny how I went from not wanted to see any portfolios or talk book proposals at all one minute, then the next I am sitting with Craig at length. It shows his professionalism as well as his creative ability to back it up and an honest to goodness friendliness.
Now that you have the back story about how we met, I’ll share some behind the scenes tales. The reason it took since 2008 for the book to be made is due to my previous commitments and workload. I can only take on so much work at a time and I am extremely grateful to be in a position to pick projects that truly excite and inspire me. I continued to stay in touch with Craig and beginning this year the book went into high gear. This is the first book that I published that was designed by the artist. I love what Craig did. He wove his art from page to page using words and unique background designs to create a truly expressive vision reflecting who he is. I always work closely with the artists when designing a book, but this was extra special in that Craig put so much of himself into the book.
The Art of Craig Elliott has four gatefolds that work in an interesting way that I have not quite seen before. It took us some time to figure out the proper sequencing, then making sure the printer could pull it off, so a good pre-communication to map out the book beforehand was imperative. What you will find is the landscape pieces that take advantage of the gatefolds look glorious at the large size, rather than being relegated to being printed small on a single page with a lot of open space at the top and bottom. I told Craig that since he was designing the book, given the time and expense it saves me or Randy designing it, that I would go ahead and put some extra funds into the book production. We have a nice hardbound book at 9 x 12 inches with the four gatefolds and hardbound boards more in the style of a museum book. We selected thick paper that would hold up well, especially when opening the gatefolds. We put a lot of time into the planning, look and feel of this book. It’s all quite exciting. A big part of the books that I publish is that they should reflect the artist. With The Art of Craig Elliott I feel we achieved this goal.
I’ve mentioned the three covers in a previous blog. As a quick recap, there will be the topless cover, the bra cover and then the red cover. The bra cover will be the version available to the book trade. The topless and red covers you can get direct from us or Craig. Craig and I just sorted out what we will be doing for the special signed edition. The details will be shared soon and will involve a personal touch done to a few hundred copies of the red cover.
Craig came up with the idea of contacting Iain McCaig to write the introduction, which I am happy about. Iain’s aptitude in the arts and his writing ability is excellent. Big thanks to Iain for his willingness to be a part of the book. I am also grateful to Brom, Mark Schultz and Peter de Seve for their time in writing blurbs.
Now for the fun part which is to share this book with the public. The books are shipping to our warehouse from Hong Kong. I should have them by the third week of December and will immediately start shipping out the pre-orders. The book should start hitting the stores by the end of December.