It seems like everyone in the blogosphere is getting published these days. Be it books, magazine articles, patterns, exhibit catalogs, whatever. When Lark Books put out a call for entries last summer for a book called 500 Handbags, my bag-crazy friend, Valerija, and I decided to jump on the bandwagon too. Yesterday brought the letter stating that, even after extending the deadline, Lark did not receive enough applicants to proceed with the book.
After being coy for so long, at least I can share our entries now:
This ric-racked, embroidered, pieced and embellished variation of the Square Bag in my patterns section has a lovely silk lining and my favorite color combination, scrappy blue and white:
I thought I had more/better digital pictures of this one,
but I guess I saved all my energy for our photo shoot with the slide film. Now you can see though, that it’s a Süße Sac (pronounced “soo-seh:” German for sweet) with Fliegenpilze, of course!
One side is a patchwork of red dotted fabrics plus greens in hand dyed velvet, layered fabrics, and a novelty print or two. The other side is raw edge appliqué under lots of embroidery, beads, and embellishment with more fibers, pom-poms, buttons and yo-yos.
The rest of the bags in the picture above are Valerija’s. She creates wonderful things with very limited resources and I was so hoping that she could see one of her creations in a book. It would have been such a great affirmation.
I feel the need to insert a little rant in here. It’s something that’s been nagging at me since we decided to try this. Part of me wonders if the lackluster number of entries for the book was because Lark was looking, not only for fabulous handbags, but fabulous pictures as well. The slides (and with the later deadline, digital images) were to be of print quality — what would ultimately be published in the book.
When I worked as a graphic designer we very, very, often hired professional photographers when we needed people or product shots. As much as artists and craftspeople have a vast knowledge of materials and techniques and how to combine them for the best effect, a professional photographer has a huge toolbox of experience with film, cameras, lights, the best way to set up a shot, tricks for getting the right reflections or not, and so on and so on. Although Valerija and I did the best we could (which was actually pretty good) with various backdrops and natural light and my nice old SLR camera, it is by no means what I’ve seen pros do on location or in a studio.
I suspect it would have been less intimidating for makers to submit their best photos in order to get their work selected, but to have Lark ultimately hire a pro (wouldn’t they even have one on staff or retainer?) to photograph the final 500 — if for nothing else than visual consistency. Must the creator not only be incredible at their chosen media, but be extremely well versed in photography and photo styling as well? (Obviously, I’m not talking about photo essay-type books — the creator and the photographer are one and the same there.)
It seems to me that all an editor has to do nowadays is find some popular blogs and offer a book deal. Magazines appear to do even less — their calls for entry mean that content essentially comes to them — no surfing necessary. Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe this rant is just sour grapes because although I have tried many things, I am master of none. Certainly there are incredibly talented people out there who write eloquently AND take beautiful pictures, and those who conjure up wonderful designs AND can photograph them to their best advantage, or those who can do all three and probably even more. Yes, these renaissance people definitely deserve book deals. I suppose asking for it all is the editor’s way of separating the creme de la creme from the rest of us. It’s probably better this way after all.