I have two books on William Blake by Ruthven Todd, one is about Blake the artist and one is about Blake the poet. Reading these books you’d think that there’d been two guys named William Blake who lived at the same time and same place but had never crossed paths. Blake was not a divided man, at least not in any creative sense: his poems and drawings were all serving the same purpose. To me, this is one of the symptoms of insanity in our culture, the need to fragment and specialize (where the means become the end).
For over 30 years I’ve wanted to produce books that combine all the media in which I work. Back then it was just a matter of words and images. It seemed to become even more of a pipe dream once I started recording. Always, it was beyond my means, where I would need the commitment and money of others—that is, a publisher.
Just as we can all now be record producers in our own homes (and within the grandeur of our own minds), it is also easy to become your own publisher. And electronic publishing makes this a full-color operation immediately viewable online and downloadable. Even more wonderful, you can add audio and video. Sculptors, installation and performance artists, landscape artists and others creating immediate experiences and environments will still be limited to very meager recorded representations of their work. But for we flatlanders, we isolated recluses of the creative world, we who too often stick to the archaic media and craft of, say, painting and poetry, there is hope.
Years ago I worked as a silkscreen printer, where I was introduced to early incarnations of digital publishing via Photoshop and QuarkXPress. Since about 2003 or 2004 I’ve been using Adobe’s Creative Suite, which means I switched from QuarkXPress to InDesign. This really hasn’t amounted to anything except a few individually distributed book/CD compilations for friends (or victims, as they might seem) and a lot of debt. I was always tempted by the possibilities of the software but without a public presence and connections it was just a very strange form of self-pleasuring.
After the release of the iPad in 2010, and the subsequent burst of activity in the tablet market, the world has begun to blossom for electronic publication and Adobe has really been pushing the electronic connections for InDesign.
I now subscribe to Adobe CS6 Creative Cloud and am in the process of reading ePublishing with InDesign CS6 by Pariah Burke. The layers of debris and rot are being peeled away from my imagination and my youthful passion to produce books in which I can include all the media I work in is again becoming visible and showing signs of life.
First, I’ll recreate some of my old chapbooks and CD booklets, to master the software and publication process (and I’ll probably need some sort of website to make them available). Just think, in each book, instead of burning CDs, I can place the audio tracks within the text and graphics with a link to play the recording. This will be downloadable, interactive, and viable in almost all devices in use (probably the interactive PDF format). It shouldn’t be too big of a deal to create alternate formats from the original InDesign file.
As I continue to explore the software and process I’ll keep you informed of the results. I’d really like to convince others that this is doable (not so cheap, InDesign alone is about $650 and takes some time to learn how to use…or the subscription, with access to almost every program Adobe has, is $50 a month). As much as I love the printed page, having those sheets of paper in my hand or stacked around my bed like talismans of safety and tranquility and vivid dreams, I will embrace the very rich future of electronic publishing. At least creatively, my day is coming. I hope we all have our day, both as producers and consumers.
As a farewell, I’m going to leave you with a recording and one of my drawings, to give you a sense of how they’re each an expression of the same imagination and why they should be combined in a single publication…