We love it when someone’s creative passion results in a beautiful book – and Gregory Peterson’s book highlighting his impressive art collection thrilled us. The book is gorgeous, the art is stunning, and the story behind it is fantastic.
Gregory’s collection is being exhibited at the New York Academy of Art until May 8. If you find yourself in the New York area, stop by. The exhibit, which was recently reviewed by Artcritical.com, is a fundraiser for the Academy, and Gregory is also selling his book to help raise funds for the school.
Read on for the Blurberati interview with Gregory Peterson, the bookmaker and fine art collector behind this remarkable book. His story is an inspiring one for artists, art lovers, and collectors, and also to bookmakers everywhere.
Blurb: When did you start collecting and what pieces spoke to you in particular?
Gregory: Actually, I can give you the exact date that I first got the idea of collecting art: It was a rainy evening in Paris, December 15, 1988. I came across a painting of figs by Ghislain Bleriot (see below) in a gallery window.
This painting gave me the same sense of enrichment that I found in the great old masters that I loved. I returned the gallery the next day – the first time I ever entered a gallery to ask the price of something – and found to my astonishment that it was relatively affordable.
I could either buy a new sofa or get the painting. I decided the sofa could wait. Since then I’ve been collecting art that goes against the pop culture norm. I began to seek these artists out, collect their work, and support them in any way I could because I thought their art was so under-appreciated and deserved to be better known.
Blurb: When did you decide to do a book on your collection and how did you learn about Blurb?
Gregory: In the early 90s, after I had collected a dozen or so artworks, I started a spreadsheet to keep track of my acquisitions, and inserted little thumbnail images of the works. This sufficed for a while, but then the Word file got too large and crashed if I added even one more period.
I moved on to special software developed for collectors. By this time I had 50 to 75 artworks. The software enabled me to print out full-page reproductions of the works with captioned descriptions. I took advantage of this to produce a full-color catalog of my work that I printed out, page by page, on my color printer. I then bound it in leather. Total cost for one volume was about $300.
Then about five or six years ago I came across an article about Blurb in the New York Times. I downloaded BookSmart and took a few months to create my first book (I had close to 200 works at this point). When I received my book, I was astounded at its high quality. I then went on a little campaign of sharing my joy over Blurb.
Blurb: What would you tell collectors or artists who want to create a catalog or portfolio of their work using Blurb?
Gregory: If a collector is cataloging a living, growing collection, it is very useful to be able to make changes in the catalog when new works are acquired or when new background material is discovered to add to the notes on the artworks. Since Blurb books are printed on demand, there’s no impediment to making as many changes as you need just at the time they are needed.
Secondly, art books can be very expensive to produce. I know a dealer who spent $50,000 ten years ago to produce a book on an artist he was promoting. I used Blurb and doing the work myself I paid only about $500 (to print the preliminary drafts; my only expense) for a completely professional-looking product.
Finally, I will say that this magnificent exhibition at a major location in New York would not ever have happened if it had not been for the first catalog I made using BookSmart. I have no doubt about that. Its presentation is so highly professional that it lends great credibility to the project it’s associated with. BookSmart gives such a complete, satisfying, faithful description of the artworks that the books become artworks themselves.
Blurb: Many thanks, Gregory. We look forward to seeing even more beautiful books by you as your collection grows.