This week’s Take 5 Tuesday interview is with John Paul Caponigro about his book, The Next Step. John Paul has been a leader in the field of training photographic artists using digital technology in their creative process for over 15 years, and this book is beautiful result of his work with his alumni, Maine Media Workshops,a and their current Next Step Alumni Group Exhibit. Enjoy!
Where do you find inspiration?
Nature – an endlessly unfolding process.
People – lit up with passion and commitment.
What man makes in participation/ collaboration/communion with nature – respectfully.
Acts of compassion and conscientiousness, whether random or not so random.
Wonder – shared.
Inspiration is inspiring – however it’s demonstrated.
You can find out a lot more about what I find inspiring by reading my Artist’s Statements and you can even hear me speak about it on my website – johnpaulcaponigro.com.
What particularly inspired you for this project?
This exhibit was something my alumni wanted to do. So we did it. It’s been a source of growth for all of them individually and for the community as a whole, and for me individually as well.
My alumni inspire me. I’ve had the most sustained and longest contact with these individuals. Their progress gives me undeniable confirmation that I’ve made real contributions to all of my alumni’s growth. It’s been a privilege to be a respectful catalyst and a guide for them as they’ve gone through their individual and collective creative lives.
The book features the work of 23 artists from your Next Step program – could you tell us more about it?
At the request of a small group of alumni from one of my workshops at the Maine Media Workshops, John Paul Caponigro’s Next Step Alumni group was started. I invited and guided the current members to create a community of diverse members who share common interests dedicated to advancing both their own creative lives and the lives of others through collectively sharing their feedback and knowledge with one another in constructive ways.They have met collectively and privately for almost 10 years in private workshops and online forums. The membership has grown to 75 members.
The members collectively set the goal of producing a group exhibit. This exhibit is their achievement. 23 members are currently participating in the exhibit. Entry criteria were rigorous. Each artist produced a thematically cohesive body of work, artist’s statements, book, and website. The resulting work is as diverse as the individuals, ranging from documentary journalism, editorial, still life, floral, nude, landscape and abstraction.
The exhibit premiere’s at the Maine Media Workshops in Rockport, Maine – Tuesday, July 7, 2009. We’ll begin seeking future venues for the exhibit after this event.
How did creating Blurb books fit into the process of the Next Step Alumni Show?
Gallery spaces can’t physically handle the number of images produced by these artists; more than 12 images from 23 artists or over 254 images. The Blurb books become supplements to the exhibit. They add more images. And they add supporting text. In the Group Book viewers can read about alumni experiences and insights. In each alumni’s individual book, viewers can read about each individual’s vision and process – and see many more images.
Much of this content is also supplemented by websites – mine and each alumni’s website. None of the galleries exhibiting this work have enough computer terminals to reference all those websites for every visitor. Perhaps some visitors will browse the artist’s websites on their mobile devices. But, I’m sure that all of the visitors will pick up more than one Blurb book during their visit. They may even purchase them online to have in their homes.
And, of course, while not everyone can attend the exhibit, everyone can get a copy of the Group Book and even the individual artist’s books.
How do you see self-publishing influencing the artistic process?
Books have been essential ways of sharing work for artists. Without them a majority of artists’ works would have remained invisible. Only a few people would have see them, not larger audiences. Even with the advent of the world wide web, books remain important communication and marketing tools. Printed matter offers focussed, localized, persistence while the web offers diffuse, transient, ubiquity. Books can also be the final product, special things in and of themselves.
While I will continue to work with major publishers, print on demand solutions are becoming essential tools for communicating and marketing my own work – specifically Blurb. Stay tuned to johnpaulcaponigro.com for many new Blurb books from me in the near future.
If you could bestow one bookmaking tip on the world, what would it be?
Learn more about the form of the book. Blurb’s CEO, Eileen Gittins, moderated an excellent panel on the form of the book at the Palm Springs Photo Festival last May. It’s easy to think about books in very simple terms without understanding all the components involved, the possibilities that exist for many different structures, and the decisions that are necessary to successfully create a book. You can be very creative with books! Learn more about books and you’ll learn to love them even more than you do now.