Q&A: Ryan Thompson, Anteism (Victoria)
by Stéphane Bernard
Ryan Thompson is an artist, designer, publisher and curator living in Victoria, British Columbia. He is co-publisher of Anteism, which has specialized in the production of artist books, zines and exhibition catalogues since 2003. Thompson also founded the OuterSpace Mobile Gallery—a gallery within a truck—in 2013, which acts as a flexible extension to the publication house and has a mandate to exhibit work by featured artists in locations that are unaccustomed to contemporary emerging talent.
You can see Anteism and OuterSpace Mobile Gallery at the 2014 Vancouver Art/Book Fair.
Project Space: How did Anteism come about?
Ryan Thompson: It basically started out when I was living in Taiwan teaching English. At that point, I had done tons of zines before moving there, but the idea didn’t come to me until a friend of mine printed a magazine at a very low cost. I thought I should take advantage of the opportunity while I was there so I put together a one-shot anthology project. I got to go to the print shop as well, and the quality was really impressive. At the time, I was also taking part in a group show back home in Victoria and they were looking to make a catalogue for the event, so we put together a second book, which was produced in Taiwan.
We eventually received a 5-year Emerging Publisher grant from the Canada Council to produce editions of 300 here in Canada. Then came the time when we had to begin applying for block grants in order to support industry standard practices, but we didn’t want to have a distributor. We just wanted to continue printing small editions of 50 or 100. Some time ago, we used to leave our books for consignment at different locations, but that quickly became an organizational nightmare, so we now only offer our books for sale online.
PS: Are the books produced here in Victoria then?
RT: We tend to print where the artists are. We have a shop that I take care of here in Victoria, and the second half of Anteism, Harley Smart, runs the shop in Montreal. It depends on the type of printing as well, whether it is offset or digital. We work with offset printers in Canada and all over the place, depending on what needs to be done.
We’ve also started a separate company called BookArt.ca, which gives people the occasion to have their own books published through us. We’re in the process of bringing all of our printing equipment under one roof in Montreal, and setting up our designers and artists there, so at this point the site is still very basic; but you can have an estimator calculate what a project will cost depending on what you want done. We have our own hard binding equipment now, which gives us the possibility of undercutting the cost of having that done elsewhere. And we can work with all kinds of paper, foil stamping; we work with screen printers as well.
PS: Great, and what led you to start up the OuterSpace Mobile Gallery?
RT: The Gallery is an idea I’ve had for years. I remember there being a Bookmobile that would travel around the city of Montreal ten or fifteen years ago. So when this truck became available last summer, it just so happened that I had some time to put the project together.
Also, space in Victoria is a little awkward. For that reason, we have to use private parking for a one day or weekend long show, which is a good thing because I’ve noticed that people tend to show up if the exhibitions are an exclusive presentation.
PS: You’ve also contributed this year’s VA/BF 2014 print (available at a discount to Members) as a fundraising item for the event. Could you tell us more about that project and how it relates to your art practice?
RT: My artistic practice usually comes second to publishing, so it is very project-based and will vary depending on the materials I’m working with at the time.
In this case, we had just gotten our hands on a die cutter to produce the covers for the Symington book by Troy Lovegates and the Lineage Editions series of books. I was kind of messing around by putting a pen in the machine to see what kind of drawings I could produce by changing the speed and the pressure. So, after experimenting a bit, I made a drawing in Illustrator using a graphic tablet and then exported the cutting instructions to the machine to produce the prints.
Anteism Publishing has launched a Kickstarter campaign in order to see the publication of Scorpion Dagger, an art book by James Kerr featuring his GIF remixes of Early and northern Renaissance paintings.
Images: Book jacket illustrations are courtesy of their respective artists, Publication design by Anteism, Scans/GIF by Stéphane Bernard