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Re: The Book Arts as a Career

I'd like to say a word on behalf of making a career out of the book arts.
Yes-- it's tough and--yes--the odds are against you, but it is possible and it
is rewarding in many ways that cannot be measured in financial terms.

It doesn't matter what you decide to do for a vacation, you are better off if
you choose something about which you are passionate.  When you are occupied in
work that you love, obstacles that would be intolerable under other
circumstances, are not so bad.  At one time when my house was about to be
repossessed by the bank and I couldn't answer my phone because of the bill
collectors, the only solace I found was in making books.  That's when I
realized I was in the right field.  Always pick a career that will get you
through the rocky periods!

It's been a tough and rough challenge to establish myself as a book artist.
It was done without help from galleries and book dealers.  There's a full
report of the bloody process on my web page.  But it's not all bad news.  I
wouldn't pick any other field. I had lots of help and support from many people
and unexpected sources.  Lots of people fight for what they want in life and
the challenges just make the successes more enjoyable.

One of the surprises that came from being a book artist was how I've been able
to see so much of the country.  My book making adventures have taken me to
Anchorage, San Francisco, San Diego, Phoenix, Santa Fe, Iowa City, Chicago,
Penland, Washington, DC, New York City and even Charlestown, New Hampshire
where I was part of the sesquicentennial celebration of the Silsby Free

I've also enjoyed meeting the people who collect my books.  They're really
nice!  It's also been a treat to meet and work with other book artists.  I
know of no other field where people are more interested and willing to share
knowledge and ideas.

Maybe you shouldn't give up your day job.  But don't give up your dreams
either.  Keep learning from the experiences of others, keep sending your work
to shows (even if it means paying fees), keep showing your books to anyone who
will look (whoever sits next to me on the train, GETS IT!), keep investigating
ways to market your books, keep looking for ways to cut your expenses, keep
looking for a supportive spouse, keep looking for ways so that you CAN quit
your day job, but most important--keep making books!

If this is what matters to you more than anything else, you will find a way to
be a successful, professional and--if not overly well-paid--then certainly
paid- enough, book artist.  It's a great profession.


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Ed Hutchins
PO Box 895
Cairo, NY 12413

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