Q&A: Hugh Frost, Landfill Editions (Stockholm)

by Tracy Stefanucci

Hugh Frost welcomes the possibilities inherent to being a “publisher” today. His independent press Landfill Editions produces a variety of books—as well as events, objects and videos—that cover a broad range of subjects and project a strong visual voice. Frost will discuss his press and the production of their latest publication, Mould Map 4, at 2pm on Sunday, October 5 at the 2014 Vancouver Art/Book Fair

Project Space: What lead to you founding Landfill Editions?

Hugh Frost: I came across the Risograph machines for the first time around 2008 on a visit to Extrapool in Nijmegen, around the same time as seeing an exhibition of Kuniyoshi woodblock prints with my mom at the Royal Academy of Arts. The possibilities of the affordability of the machines on eBay at the time, crossed with the spirit of populist/dirt cheap print publishing led me to set up two related projects: Manymono (a commercial Riso print service), which in turn funded Landfill Editions (which began by producing zines and prints, etc., inspired by artists in the same kind of zones as Nieves/Picturebox, etc.).

PS: How do you grapple with or define the concept of a “publisher” when publishers today—like Landfill Editions—are producing such things as “events, objects, videos and books”?

HF: Yeah, it’s a really exciting time isn’t it?! Best not to define too much I suppose, just keep exploring new options as interests and possibilities expand outwards.

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Project Space: You describe your editorial attitude as “free,” which is evident in the wide range of subjects you publish (artist’s books, comics, zines, prints, short fiction and science-fact). How do you decide what to publish? Have you noticed any commonalities that make something a good fit for Landfill Editions?

HF: This relates to the above, I guess. Landfill has always been a very personal project and what has been appropriate in terms of format, platform, content, message, etc. has been driven by my own shifting tastes at the time, as well as the people I’ve met or been spending more time with. There are books that came out in the first year of the project that I wouldn’t publish now, but I am still really glad that they happened at the time. Going forward I think the near future output will centre around where image and action intersect—e.g., the direction for Mould Map 4, which will look at techno progressivism and 21st century activist graphics/neo-pop agitprop.

PS: How would you describe the “subtly strange imagery” that you are compelled to publish?

HF: Ahh, sorry, this is very vague isn’t it. It’s like the porn ruling, “I don’t know how to describe it, but I know it when I see it,” etc. I sort of regret writing such a long-winded “about” section, but sometimes it’s good to go a bit over the top and then have to try to live up to it.

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PS: How does Risograph printing fit into your practice?

HF: I sold my machine when I moved to Sweden and the last Mould Map book was printed offset, so I’m not using it too much right now, but I’m sure I’ll come back to it in the near future—it’s just such a wonderful, unpredictable, affordable process.

PS: How would you describe the artist-publishing community in Stockholm?

HF: There are some brilliant publishers based in Stockholm, all completely different but I don’t know to what extent that they’re aware of one another, or if there’s much direct interaction. Most seem to look out of the country rather than link up nationally. There was a small event last year at the Absolut Art Collection space, maybe 20 publishers from around Europe, but there’s definitely a gap for someone to fill in terms of a comprehensive Swedish arts publisher event. Libraryman books have a great magazine about film called Dogme. Peow Studio publish a lot of great Riso comics and have a super cute studio/printshop/gallery in Midsommarkransen. Konst & Teknik aren’t technically publishers but do incredible book design, mostly for the cultural sector.

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PS: Who are your favourite artists or publishers right now, who are creating work in this medium?

HF: Mousse Publishing put out loads of very nicely designed, high production value books in addition to their regular pulpy magazine—their new book from Simon Denny looks great. Karma are on a similar level in terms of range and quality. I loved seeing White Fungus pop up in quite mainstream magazine shops in Sweden, as it’s quite an odd read. In comics Breakdown Press are pushing the premium goods in UK at the moment, as well as being proactive in new organizing high-quality publishing events in London. Tokyo-based Too Much runs with the winning byline of “magazine of romantic geography.” Visual Editions just released an interesting series of short novels in magazine format, including one by Douglas Coupland, which looks good. Four Corners Books have a wonderful catalogue of meticulously researched monographs, surveys and collections including a book of prison backdrop murals. I spotted some brilliant artists magazines in Berlin last year, including one called ETOPS (engines turn or passengers swim) about airline disaster protocol by Yngve Holen and Per Törnberg, and another one featuring wild studio still life photos and inane hashtags which I’ve forgotten all identifying details of and will haunt/taunt me forever for not having just spent 5 Euros on it at the time. Images: Courtesy of Landfill Editions