Mt. Home Arts is a publisher/label with a focus on limited edition, hand-made and hand-printed objects. They will be exhibiting at the Vancouver Art Book Fair this October, you can also check out their work at www.mthomearts.com. We talked to Matt Van Asselt to find out a little bit more about where Mt. Home Arts came from, and his thoughts on print and music.
PS: What prompted your starting Mt. Home Arts. Could you give me a brief history of the organization?
MA: Mt. Home slowly evolved into its current form out of a couple different projects with various friends. We were doing things like making prints and T-shirts and hanging artwork at punk shows, and also making music and releasing that music ourselves. I was always particularly interested in the making process, and especially hand-making packages for the music that I was making and that friends were making. Making and releasing that type of object began to feel like it was its own specific entity, and so that’s how Mt. Home Arts began. At first it was me and Elise Granata, and we were interested in publishing all sorts of different work – tapes, zines, prints, artist books. But now it’s just me, and I’m beginning to focus mostly on music.
PS: What were some of the biggest challenges associated with the project? Any advice for people wishing to do the same?
MA: The biggest challenge is really just finding the time to get everything done. This is not a job for me – it’s purely a for-pleasure project, so I am also dedicating time to working (for money), as well as making my own artwork. My advice I suppose is just that if the work itself is not the reward, you should probably consider a different pursuit… Or perhaps just a different business plan.
PS: What kind of artists do you take on? How do you determine who you work with?
MA: We work mostly with friends in the community around us. Even though working with us is not lucrative, people seem to be pretty excited to have the chance to make something with us, so mostly who ever we approach is interested. We do get emails from folks we don’t know, but because of how much work goes into each project we get to be pretty picky. I’m fortunate to be surrounded by many great musicians and artists, so there are always more people I’d like to work with than I am able to.
PS: What is the connection for your organization between printed media and music?
MA: The connection really is just that sight and sound are both senses that artists use to trigger an emotional response. They are largely used to different ends, but as a musician and music lover who also makes and is interested in visual art, in making my own music I never felt like the audio on its own told the whole story. I wanted a parallel visual experience to sort of guide and provide further context, a different take on the content of the music. Traditional music packaging and album artwork oftentimes just feels like an advertisement, not an element of the music. So with Mt. Home I wanted to work with people who were making non-physical artwork, but wanted to follow their logic further – into a piece that provided a physical home and an additional level to their work.
PS: Both print and music industries have been heavily effected by online distribution. Does this have anything to do with your handcrafted aesthetic? What are your thoughts on the reversion to the handmade in the age of the digital?
MA: I don’t think that Mt. Home is consciously a reaction against the digital age, though the resurgence of the interest in records and cassettes probably is, and we are definitely riding that wave. I definitely embrace digital media in my own life, but I still crave the presence and the intensity of physical objects, and I think until we are fully cyborgs that craving will be there. Digital media’s ubiquity means that we are more selective in what we choose to experience physically, and because of that physical things are becoming more and more extraordinary. So I do believe that the digital and physical realms can go hand-in-hand. One thought that I am interested in exploring is making music packaging that does not include the cassette or record. Just a physical component that accompanies an album, but the audio itself would stay digital. Having a tape player and being able to listen to the tape is not necessarily what is important. Having the physical window into this other dimension of the artist’s intent is.
Image courtesy of Mt. Home Arts.