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Building the next Candor bookbinding studio

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Hey everyone, my name is Matt Austin—I am an artist engaged in book publishing and education who is currently relocating to Los Angeles and still learning. For the past ten years, I have been creating and running artist book studio projects (such as The Chicago Perch and Candor Arts), each of which is an experiment against capitalist oppression in the arts and publishing spheres. Through this fundraiser, I request your financial/social support for the next evolution of my bookbinding studio practice: For the Birds Trapped in Airports.

(Above: photo of me cutting paper in the first Candor studio in Chicago, 2016. Photo by Eva Deitch.)

For a more comprehensive timeline of my work, please see below:

I started this work in my Chicago apartment in 2011, learning from YouTube and making book projects for close friends. This project was a night-and-weekend practice that myself, my brother and a group of friends later evolved into a non-profit called The Chicago Perch (2012–2015), through which we funded and published 18 editions and $47,000 in payouts to artists.

(Above: The first books I made in my Chicago apartment in 2011.)

(Above: Los Angeles, 2015—a picture of me working on the first book edition I published out of that room: How to Make A Hood by La Keisha Leek. Photo by Oriana Koren.)

This project later evolved into a project called Candor Arts (2015–2021) which I started in my spare bedroom in Los Angeles. For financial reasons, after ten months, I moved back to Chicago. The project developed into a team of four (Katie Chung, Hannah Batsel and Melanie Teresa Bohrer) who worked out of three different studios over the course of five years.

(Above: Katie and Hannah working in our last studio at 1821 W Hubbard St, Chicago, IL.)

We closed the last studio down a year into the pandemic due to a lack of funds.

Through Candor Arts, we designed and produced editions in collaboration and conversation with artists. Through this process, which often involved visiting the artists in the locations where they created the work, we were able to make unique, hand-crafted book editions in response to the artist's work and experiences. The resulting editions are beautiful, carefully handled representations of each relationship's many conversations and growth. For these books, we would often provide the production funds up front, and the profits of each edition would be split equally between the artists and us.

(Above: Korde Arrington Tuttle with their book falling is the one thing i, 2019.)

(Above: a photo of NIC Kay's COTTON DREAMS , 2020.)

(Above: Me producing the covers for A-lan Holt's Moonwork. Photo by Eva Deitch.)

(Above: Hannah and Katie working in the first Chicago studio—a picture of them producing Barbara Jones-Hogu RESIST, RELATE, UNITE for DePaul Art Museum.)

Through Candor Arts, we funded and published 52 editions—providing over $600,000.00 in production cost funds, and paying over $300,000.00 in cash payments to the contributing authors.

These editions have been collected by over 150 institutions worldwide.

Based in Los Angeles, For the Birds Trapped in Airports (2022–?) is the next iteration of these studio projects.

I am seeking financial support to get the new studio up and running.

Thanks to several friends, I have acquired nearly all the necessary equipment to produce. This fundraiser is dedicated to completing that task, building the space, and beginning production on several forthcoming projects.

As with past projects, my efforts continue to be focused on providing non-exploitative publishing opportunities for artists. This time, I will publish through a new collectivist structure that fosters supportive relationships between collaborators and a long-term system that gradually lessens work pressures and productivity for all involved.

In my grandest plans, this project will grow to an extent where the annual payouts to artists have such a significant impact that all involved artists will begin re-considering how much they have to work per year. With the money this studio collectively generates for the artists annually, ideally increasing each year, I hope they can eventually choose not to work or work less.
I sincerely appreciate your contribution to this project and your support in spreading the word.
Thank you so much!

Where you can learn more about my work:

or visit the studio website to learn more. 

How does this next studio project fit into the Candor Collective?
In August of 2020, we began restructuring Candor Arts into the Candor Collective—a QTBIPOC-led network of antiracist arts workers building systems of care together and advocating for each other’s rest and well-being.

As the first studio project from the Candor Collective, For the Birds Trapped in Airports will be a book design, production, and publishing project, as well as an online store, run by me. Through conversations with the collective, the studio structure was designed to align with our values and represent important improvements to the work of Candor Arts. Published projects will be approved and guided by the Candor Collective. 

For those who want to support the project but prefer to receive something in exchange:

Feel free to pick something out in the studio's online shop—from hats, notebooks, furniture—or pre-order my book For the Birds Trapped in Airports here

If you are an institutional librarian, artist book collector, or you may know one personally:

I am also trying to place the last few items left of the Candor Arts inventory. These acquisition funds will also go directly toward supporting this studio project.

If this sounds like you, or someone you may know, please don't hesitate to reach out

(above: Mika Horibuchi — Invitation to an Image (Candor Arts, 2019)



Matt Austin
Los Angeles, CA

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