Artist & Writer Interview: Jp King, pt. 1
Artist & Writer Interview: Jp King, pt. 1
Papirmasse Issue 14 features both the artwork and writing of the multi-talented Jp King, a Toronto-born, Montreal-based artist and writer known for his collage work, strange poetry and fiction, and innovative publishing projects. Papirmasse caught up with Jp and asked him a few prying questions about his art and writing. Part 1 of the interview focuses more on the latter. Tune in to part 2 to see studio shots and collage works!
P: You seem to have your finger in a lot of different pies. Can you give us a rundown of the different projects and mediums you’ve been tackling for the past few years?
When I was seventeen I perfect-bound a book with flooring adhesive in my mother’s living room. Between then and now I co-founded PistolPress, a small literary publishing house that ran from 2008-10, started and stopped a magazine called TONER that focused on the Montreal art/print/design scene, and now run an experimental publishing endeavor called Paper Pusher. Paper Pusher is still very much alive and aside from my own work (and money-work) it is my primary focus. While attending Concordia I designed two issues of Soliloquies, an undergrad literary journal, and co-produced the 2009 Art Matters Festival. I’m currently production manager at a short-run digital print shop called Rubiks, which lets me work with artists and designers from all over Montreal to bring their prints to life.
P: I really liked PistolPress and was sad to hear it was no more. But I’m glad that you’re continuing on in the publishing world in the form of Paper Pusher.
PistolPress was a fantastic and absurd book-making machine that consisted of Gil Filar, Hillary Rexe, and myself. We published two books of poetry and two anthologies that included some of my all-time favorite authors and artists. Quill & Quire named us Canada’s McSweeney’s, which was an enormous compliment. The Press died out as personal issues arose and friendships were lost, which was deeply sad. It was an incredible education working as a team, and those two taught me a great deal. As Paper Pusher I have been working on all kinds of funky books and print objects. For the most part I am publishing my own work. I’ve made over 20 books alone or in close collaboration, and have never thought much about trying to find a publisher. I know exactly how I want it to be made, so it seems easiest to do it myself. Self-publishing is a funny territory as it falls close to vanity publishing which was for the rich and had no editorial sieve. But with the means of production now shifted to far more affordable and accessible means, self-publishing has become a genre in which author and designer are one.
The singular vision of the author expands into a multitude of forms: overseeing text, image, sequence, production details and distribution. Some of the most creative and challenging books are being published and distributed by small networks in tiny editions. I like to think of Paper Pusher as a sort of Oddball Print Superhero, pushing huge stacks of paper through printers and guillotines by day, and standing on the street corner by night with an open trench coat full of books saying, “Hey there little boy, want to buy some books?”. I have also worked with Simon Brown to create his book: The Shit That Excretes The Person. I have a book of Adrian DiLena’s typographically influenced paintings coming out soon.
To get reminiscent… one of my earliest memories is of the smell of offset ink and Sir Stan Bevington at Coach House Books, who published some of Canada’s greatest literature. Somehow the giant locomotive traditional offset presses seemed warm to me. Thriving micro-industrial spaces are so romantic to a kid born the same year that Mac introduced the Apple computer.
I’ve always been on the periphery of publishing. I almost did an internship with a majour house, but I’m not much for marketing and promotion and it seems as though that’s where most Canadian publishing focuses it’s efforts. My heart lays in design and production. I’ve never held a job with any kind of “real” publisher, although I did study Creative Writing and so got a sense of the “literary world”. So in a sense my approach is amateurish and fumbling in the dark, but I’m having a lot of fun.
P: Part 2 of this interview will focus more on your art. But you’re also our issue #14 writer! What kind of writing do you do?
I mostly write collaged text fragments that usually cohere into some kind of narrative project. Prose Poetry one might call it. Anytime I make something I always think of its end product. So most writing projects are conceived in a vision of some kind of book. I write a lot about absurd, surreal, grotesque and perverse things. People say my writing is often funny, irreverent, and whimsical. I find that our culture has such a rational grasp of reality, and such a stern and conservative view of sexuality. It is important that people expose themselves to nonsense, and the things that make them uncomfortable. We can’t be so precious about what is obscene or taboo. I approach my writing as a visual art, pasting together words to make up images and sequences and actions. Language is a collage, we’re all remixing the popular and traditional meanings of words, making common objects form to our needs. I love giving you images without pictures.
P: What have you published?
The main thing would be We Will Be Fish (pictured above) published in 2008 by PistolPress. It is a book of narrative poems that reads like a disjointed novel, packed with illustrations of imaginary appliances that fuse animal and machine. I’ve published writing in a handful of small journals. I’ve published my own writing in lots of little chapbooks and whatnot. Like I said before, I’ve made over 20 books, most of which hold my writing in some form or another.