The following is the first of several interviews conducted by the Walker design studio on the occasion of Over-Booked, a preview of the New York Art Book Fair co-presented with Printed Matter.
Christopher Schulz is a designer and independent publisher known for his publication, Pinups, as well as various print works. The distinctly spartan (yet furry) aesthetic that runs through his drawings, collages, and photographs has been well received by the queer and design communities alike. He is the recent recipient of Printed Matter’s 4th Annual Awards For Artists, and will be unveiling new works at the New York Art Book Fair in September. Below, Schulz graciously answers a few questions about the books and magazines he loves to read, smell, and make.
Pictured above: 1) Schulz’s book Seth, a series of graphite drawings of Seth Rogen imagined-nudes 2) Digital collages from Schulz’s Tumblr-based Mopping Is Stealing 3) Copy Machine, an accordion fold-out book featuring a professional man and the fruits of his unprofessional labor and 4) Covers and spreads from Pinups.
What is the last book you read?
The last book I read was Querelle de Brest (Jean Genet). It’s a favorite that I revisit from time to time. (Pictured above: Poster for the film adaptation of Querelle, featuring an Andy Warhol print)
Describe an impossible book that you’d like to make (if you could do the impossible).
I really love when there’s variety within an edition—for example, a magazine issue with numerous interchangeable covers—a mixed edition. I’d like to create an edition where each book is unique, down to every page. Of course it’s not impossible but definitely challenging enough to seem impossible.
Describe a person you think might collect your books?
My books tend to evoke a strong response. Some really love them and others feel uncomfortable by having to confront the work (even though it’s really very tame). Though those with an affinity for visual design, printed matter, and male nudes tend to dig my books, I’m always excited when someone I don’t expect to like my work ends up really liking it.
What makes a book valuable?
All the things that determine a book’s collectibility make it valuable. Things like cultural relevance, history, edition size, the maker, the collector.
Do you have any book-related rituals?
When I open a book, I thumb through it gently. I’m very particular about how to appropriately handle a book (in fact, I’ve been thinking about printing a how-to about page turning). I enjoy the smell of the paper and chemicals in the ink.
Do books start to look like their designers? Do designers look like their books?
Only through my own associations. If I know a designer, then I automatically associate the look of that person with their work. But when I meet someone who’s work I’m already familiar with, I’m often surprised that they don’t look how I imagined.
Can you tell a cautionary tale related to the design or production of a book?
Printing is the only part of the process that is out of my hands. I am obsessive about doing press checks to make sure everything prints as it should. I’ve caught some pretty major mistakes while conducting a press check (they were my mistakes). Luckily I spotted the mistakes before printing began otherwise I would’ve had a major problem on my hands.
What are you working on right now?
I just published a new issue of Pinups. Issue 16 (pictured above). I’m also working on a special poster to be featured at this year’s New York Art Book Fair in September. It will be announced later this month.
Which Pinups model is the most single?
Elliott of Issue 1 (pictured below) is the only one that I can say for sure is single. Most of them are partnered these days. One is married.
Do you have a great idea for a book that didn’t happen?
Book ideas pop into my head all the time. If the idea persists then I feel like I’m on to something. I have several ideas for books that I’m currently trying to make happen. I never totally abandon an idea—I’ll alter it enough that it becomes something else but the initial idea is necessary to arrive at the point of creation.
What project will your Printed Matter award support and what does it mean to receive it from them?
I’ve got several small print projects that I’ve been working on, one being the how-to about page turning. I’m interested in making a book out of my naughty blog collages, Mopping is Stealing, which will take quite a bit of time to complete. Also, I’m working on a new book of drawings which is still in its beginning phases.
I received a letter from Printed Matter that John Waters had written urging mailing list addressees to become members. I think it sums up what makes Printed Matter so cool. This is what it said:
Printed Matter is, of course, not just a bookstore—it’s a way of life and I urge you to join the cult. Ever since Printed Matter opened, I have been an eager customer, an enthusiastic audience at their book launches, and a repeat visitor at the gallery shows. In fact, I daily resist the urge to carve the initials “P.M.” into my forehead with a red hot poker. You, too, can become a member of this cutting edge organization. Be well read, cruise cute people in the store, and discover new artists that will make your jaw drop. Join up today, or I’ll have you killed.
It’s also cool that Printed Matter carries books made by an array of artists from someone in the middle of nowhere making amazing self-published zines that you’ve probably never heard of to iconic artists like Yoko Ono, Lawrence Weiner, and Larry Clark.
Pick five books that would be buddies.
1. Queer Spirits (AA Bronson and Peter Hobbs) — This book presents five invocations of queer spirits performed in Banff, New Orleans, Winnipeg, Governors Island, and Fire Island. It also glows.
2. Landscape (Christopher Russell) — This is a beautifully made book consisting only of vague black and white images captured in hidden areas around a park where gay cruising took place.
3. The Ossie Clark Diaries (Ossie Clark) — So bitchy but I love it. Beginning in 1974, It’s a window into a fascinating time in London when fashion, art, and music collided in an unbelievable social circle, particularly the early part of the book (although the book is actually really dark and about his personal drama). I suggest reading the diaries and then watch A Bigger Splash (Jack Hazan), a film made in the early 70s that uses documentary footage of David Hockney to construct a somewhat fictional story. There’s an overlap with what’s talked about in the diaries so it’s exciting to put the pieces together.
4. Little Joe (Sam Ashby) — Little Joe is my favorite new magazine. It’s a biannual publication interested in exploring films that inspire alternative discourse. The first issue actually features a piece on Hazan’s A Bigger Splash.
5. Gayhouse (September Editions) — this is a large format magazine based in Paris. For each issue, an artist is invited to direct the pictorial.
What is the first book you can remember?
Where the Wild Things Are. Somehow that book really stuck with me. I guess it tends to do that.
What do you consider to be your day job?
For my day job I manage production for a portion of an e-commerce website. It’s basically the opposite of Pinups.