Collection I (02.2022 - 02.2023)

This collection of books became a reading room called THE SUSTAINABLE PHOTOBOOK, that has been travelling to photography festivals and bookfairs throughout 2023. Further details about the exhibition can be found here.

Common themes that were explored in Collection I by the publishers/ designers / artists in searching for sustainable approaches. 


  • Smaller sized books
  • Optimising book size to print sheet size


  • Making fewer books, smaller edition numbers 
  • Printing books in batches, on demand 


  • Interrogating materials and supply chains 
  • Tracking materials and resource use 


  • Working with local materials and suppliers 
  • Working together to share knowledge 


  • Re-using leftover materials 
  • Eliminating single-use materials ie. plastic shrink-wrap 

NECK volume 3
38 contributors
(NECK: 2022)

NECK is a journal of mostly poetry and photography printed and bound by hand every few years. Volume 3 includes a cassette of contributors reading from their work and a new sound piece by Jefre Cantu-Ledesma, and inserts silkscreened and letterpressed by Deanna Pizzitelli.

With contributions by Saretta Morgan, Elle Pérez, Bradley Trumpfheller, A.D. Lauren-Abunassar, Christopher Kazar Janigian, Joanna Klink, Michael McGriff, Max Seifert, Claire Meuschke, Brandon Shimoda, Hoda Afshar, Nathaniel Mackey, Violet Spurlock, Cody-Rose Clevidence, Davis McCombs, Miller Oberman, Rebeca Alderete Baca, Kōan Brink, Alexis Almeida, Sandra Lim, Ada Smith, Jackson Holbert, Hedgie Choi, Chessy Normile, Luciana Arbus-Scandiffio, Gabrielle Bates, Deanna Pizzitelli, Arvo Villars, Isabel Duarte-Gray, Annelyse Gelman, Rob Colgate, Colby Cotton, Robert Fernandez, H.N.G., Sophia Dahlin, Jack Whitefield, Travis Kent.

Images © NECK

Materials and Processes

  • Paper: Neenah Classic Crest and Mohawk Superfine  eggshell (front and back) and smooth (center), mohawk super fine, French Paper Co. construction black and insulation pink (end pages)
  • Cover: Regular edition: handmade paper from abaca and flax pulp, sisal fiber, madrone bark, and paper trimmings from the second volume of NECK; Special (“floor cheese”) edition: made from pulp that splattered on the floor during the making of the regular edition covers, including whatever else was on the floor
  • Binding: unsupported link- and coptic-sewn and glued in-house by the publisher
  • Printing: Risograph printed in-house by the publisher
  • Book Size: 7.5x9.75"
  • Edition Size: 350

Challenges and Learning

With everything I make there are challenges as I am always reaching beyond my abilities, conceptually and physically. I don’t begin with an end in mind (I try not to begin with the mind at all)—I’m never able to make the book I want to make, let alone even imagine what it will look like until it is done—and so for me the process begins with the work (poems, photographs) that will be included and with a sort of call, of the book to be born, that I can’t yet figure out the direction of, but that I try to follow. The books I aspire to make are meeting places, where we find each other, where we tangle and spill and leak into and with one another. They are invitations, they include the reader in the experience of reading. They are arguments against separateness, alienation, abstraction. They contain the world in which they are made at the same time they are contained by it, or, they trouble the entire concept of containment. They are emblems of openness, porous, they increase the light, a feeling of possibility. They breathe. And so the process of making NECK involves primarily listening and continual dialogue between me and the materials, their tendencies, their agencies—what they want to do and what I (swept up in the momentum of the content of the book) want to do with them.

I think most bookmakers do this, though maybe not always intentionally—choosing a material, a certain paper, a type of glue, is a way of responding to the past lives of these things, of their making—a paper, a glue, acts in certain ways, has certain behaviors, based on what it is made of and how it was made—and we choose them based on these, to best serve the book that is being made. But I think there is a way for this to be a central intention in the bookmaking process. To not just respond to these (abstracted) materials and how they serve the book, but further, to be responsible to them, for their own sake. How can one make a book that is both formed and informed by the materials? In which there is synergy not just of form and content, and not just form-content and materials, but also between materials and occasion? In which the book and the making of the book are always-already responsible to the world the book exists in?  It makes me think of trees, who are rooted, and so cannot be separate from the place they are in. They are completely exposed to and dependent on their environment. Any time a tree grows, it alters the world it grows into.

As an example of an attempt toward this: the cover paper for NECK volume 3 contains trimmings from volume 2 that I had saved for a few years without knowing why, madrone bark peels that I collected one autumn several years ago, unbeaten fiber, and pulp (beaten fiber). It’s kind of ugly, or, it’s not pretty. But beauty was not the intention. Rather, my intention was to make something that was itself a coming-together, a meeting place, in which each thing is apparent (you can see flecks of madrone, its grayness is from the black and gray volume 2 paper, and the unbeaten fiber gives a rough, fibrous texture)— the process of making the thing and the thing itself were both reflections of the occasion of the book, an elevation of the 37 contributors whose work it houses—something sedimentary, like granite. These covers for NECK volume 3 were made in a garage in California over the course of a few weeks. Every night I set a mix of pulp soaking in a large tub, and the next morning I’d blend it up, then set up my mold and deckle and begin pulling sheets. By the end of the day, all the pulp was either formed into a sheet and drying between felt, or had sloshed out and splattered on the floor. I swept all this up, along with whatever else had blown into the garage, and let it dry overnight. By the time I had made all the ‘regular’ covers, I had saved enough floor pulp to spend a day making a batch of about 50 floor-colored (and scented!) covers. 

As with NECK volume 2, I kept the trimmings of volume 3, again without an idea of what I’d do with them. I wasn’t thinking so much of how to get the most out of the paper I had purchased (which I think is important, but I’m also wary of how this can slip into a sort of capitalist profit-maximization mindset), so much as I was practicing attentiveness to materials. During the trimming process, when I’d stuff them into boxes for storage, I became attuned to how they behaved—how they acted when I arranged them neatly, how they acted when I tried to stuff too many in, the ways in which they crumpled, or resisted, springily. And when it came time to decide how to ship the books, it was their springiness that brought me to think to use them as packaging. Now, when I box a book up, it is, in a way, nestled in a nest of itself, of its making, its past, as it moves toward its next life.

To be wholeheartedly attentive to materials and occasion requires me to consider desires and agencies other than my own. Some instances of this whilst making these covers were: the texture and lack of sizing had them refuse to accept ink well, the variations in thickness made letterpress (even inkless) tedious and imprecise, the thickness of the spine required them to be reinforced so that they didn’t wrinkle). Sometimes I feel this in my body as tension, a sort of holding on, a desire for control. And sometimes the feeling is of being lost, the almost nauseating sensation of not-knowing, of a lack of direction. But when I can be patient with my frustration, when I can respond not by exercising control but by asking questions and listening, when I can stay with this sort of uncertainty (which is the language of ‘nature’, of the world, whose most elevated form is awe, wonder), and apprentice myself to lack, to the now-unknown, I can settle into the process itself. And from this, an ethic of sustainability can arise.

‘Sustain,’ from the Latin sustinēre (sub- (below) + tenēre (to hold)), to support from below, to supply with the nourishment needed to continue. I think of a sustainable bookmaking process as something like a river—it can be seen as something linear, something that flows downstream…which is true, but, what feels closer to me is a river’s at-onceness—how it is simultaneously origin and delta, mouth and splay, rainfall and foglift—its insistence on unstillness, its waves following waves into their own dissolution—how it is always shifting, eroding what holds it and being then spilled into and spilling, spilling into everything that will continue on after it, as a form of it—incompleteness, or, constantly being completed by everything that it touches…

Ryan Paradiso, NECK (USA)- 02.2023

The Problem Horse & Other Stories
Julie Sleaford 
(Self published: 2022)

The Problem Horse & Other Stories is a darkly poetic meditation on our relationship to horses and the natural world. It is a search for connection with another species that questions the desires and anxieties that drive this relationship.

Sleaford uses analogue processes in the darkroom, and through interventions with the print, to explore the emotional response of her memory of the horses and landscape she encounters. The resulting self-published, hand bound book comes in an edition of 100 with a special edition that contains a 5x7 handmade print. It features a text-free flow of black & white photographs, including images of horses, the landscape, still life and performative photographs of the artist that contemplate the complexity of our relationship with another animal. The multiple folds-outs within the book accent how much remains hidden from us.

Design and making: Stanley James Press

Images © Julie Sleaford

Materials and Processes

  • Paper: Munken Pure Smooth Cream 100gsm - produced in Sweden by Arctic Paper
  • Cover: GFSmith Colorplan Racing Green 350gsm - produced at James Cropper in the Lake District
  • Binding: Coptic bound by hand
  • Printing/ Printers: HP indigo Pureprint, Uckfield
  • Covers and Slipcase: foiled by Aurora Foil Blocking, using Foilco foils
  • Book Size: 138x190mm
  • Edition Size: 100

Challenges and Learning

Emily Macaulay: One of the first things that Julie and I discussed when we started designing The Problem Horse was what someone would think if they discovered this book in a thousand years time. We wanted it to feel like something to treasure, like a delicate artefact, something to keep forever. The small print run and handmade nature of the books hopefully helped make the project feel like it had had a huge amount of care go into it. 

I like to constantly quiz suppliers about the materials I’m considering using. We sourced the foil from Foilco who are doing good things with closed loop foil production. I have worked with Aurora Foil Blocking before, they are based locally on the edge of the South Downs, enabling me to support wonderful small businesses in the process of making the book. The paper and card are both made from virgin fibre, rather than recycled. We wanted a thin delicate paper for the pages that had a good opacity and could handle the level of black ink we required. Thinner papers are also generally better for the environment as they use less material. Munken was ideal and is produced relatively nearby by Arctic Paper in Sweden. The Colorplan card is produced locally by GFSmith in the Lake District, reducing the need for transportation. The wood pulp for both paper stocks is harder to trace, both only source wood pulp from FSC forests.Digitally printing the books minimised the amount of set up required, so again, produced less waste.  The smaller physical size of the book also helped with the reduction of resources. Each book is hand bound. 

Digitally printing all that black ink was the biggest challenge for the printers, I’m pretty sure they hated me throughout the process, but I think they achieved really nice results. The binding took way longer than expected, but I was so satisfied with the end result that the extra time didn’t concern me, I was only worried because Julie had to wait a lot longer than expected. I’d love to do more research into all the materials and processes that I use. These materials are good ones sourced from companies that are trying to be sustainable, but the modern world frequently doesn’t allow the time required to really consider, in depth, all of the different elements that go into making a beautiful object.

Julie Sleaford: The final books were not shrink wrapped. After numbering and signing, the books were wrapped in test prints. With online orders the books are then protected further with recycled packaging that I have stockpiled and supplemented with card book wraps from Priory Direct.

Emily Macaulay, Stanley James Press & Julie Sleaford (UK)- 01.2023

Losing Ground
David O’Mara
(Self-published: 2018)

Losing Ground is a portrait of London and a self-portrait of my fifteen years living there until 2016.

The urban environment and its visual detritus has been a constant feature of my practice, and I draw inspiration from walking the streets and selectively gathering its discarded material culture. This exercise in psychogeography has appeared in various projects over the years, such as Point of disappearing, Days of nothing, and the detritus magazine series. Losing Ground is a reflection on my time in London, a personal project but one which comprises the work of strangers. The chaotic and random material, all familiar urban signage, drawings, lists, maps, emails, and lost photographs, create a confused jumble of voices, tones, messages, and meanings. The multiple narratives, fragmented and without context, form a collective portrait of urban life and its shared experiences. 

The title of this series of ten A3-sized books refers to the changing artistic and economic environment in London in recent years. In my experience, the increasing cost of living in the city has both rebuffed many people – myself included – and quashed its once-experimental creative spark.

Images © David O'Mara

Materials and Processes

A handmade book assembled from materials and photographs found on the streets of London

  • Paper: Found paper
  • Cover: Found billboard poster
  • Binding: Handbound
  • Printing/ Printers: Found photographs tipped-in
  • Book Size: A3, 42.5 x 30 cm
  • Edition Size: 10

Challenges and Learning

My practice of working with found materials started when I was an art student in Dublin in the late 90s. I was conflicted about creating images in a world that was already saturated with visual stimuli. I walked around the city finding photographic material on the streets; printed photos and negatives. The work I made at this time was always printed from these found negatives. In the 2000s I moved to London and continued to work in the same way. This process was reacting to the high brow nature of artists. I liked the idea of an artist as someone who picked up rubbish and through doing so was re-engaging with the urban environment, bringing walking and making together. This relates to Charles Baudelaire’s Rag-Picker;

‘This man is responsible for gathering up the daily debris of the capital. All that the city has rejected, all that it has lost, shunned, disdained, broken, this man catalogues and stores. He creates order, makes an intelligent choice; like a miser hoarding treasure, he gathers the refuse that has been spit out by the god of Industry’.

I wanted to bring texture to the photobook, and to make them a more tactile experience for the viewer. The photobook world had a set  idea about how the photobook should look and be published. It’s a creative industry and people should think outside of that and look for alternatives, especially in relation to the environment. I collect antique books and have always been interested in the condition of the book, and how you often have to wear gloves to protect the book. I liked the idea that you had to put on gloves to protect yourself from the book(s) I made in the Losing Ground series because they were so dirty.

I work fulltime as a painter and decorator so I have had to carve out the time to make work and so I collect materials on the walk to and from work. When walking, there’s a lot of time to think, and through engaging with the environment on these walks I would find things. In the 2010s there were no more negatives being found, but sometimes I would still find photographs, along with paper and newspaper. Starting with Points in between, I took these found photos and matched them up with paper I’d found, and collected them into boxes, one box per 7 years. In 2018 I decided to make Losing Ground using the photos I had collected in London over a 15 year period. The idea was to make 10 handmade books to fund the next book. 

Losing Ground is an A3 book made from collaged A4 found pages. I worked with this large scale of book to suit the scale of the found images. The A4 format would have been too small. Each of the books in the edition are unique and are made solely from found materials, and it's the format that unites them as an edition. It’s a collaboration with the city and the people who lived there although not consciously. All of the material was found in London for this book and was made on leaving the city as a kind of goodbye.

David O’Mara (UK) - 12.2022

Iconoclastic Inventory of the Chilean Insurrection
(SED Editorial: 2021)

The Iconoclastic Inventory of the Chilean Insurrection is a project, a platform, an exercise laboratory and a dynamic archive based on images of intervened monuments, modified, demolished and raised, between October 2019 to date, in the territory comprised by the State of Chile.

All the images of the Inventory have been found on social networks.

The Inventory does not preserve authorship data and proposes to reflect on the ownership and circulation of images as a common and collective good.

Inventory is dynamic and continues to inventory every day.

The Inventory can be used by everyone.

The Inventory defends the right to inventory, that is, to protect our memory.

The Inventory has no authorship.

Images © SED Editorial

Materials and Processes

  • Folder: 1/2 triplex cardboard of 300 gr.
  • Posters: 2/2 Celulosa Argentina bookcel paper 80 gr.
  • Interior: Celulosa Argentina bookcel paper 80 gr.
  • Printer: (folder) Offset printed by Akian Gráfica Editora S.A, (interior) Risograph printed by Las Afueras Impresos
  • folder 30 x 22 cm / interior 18 x 24.5 cm / 128 pages
  • 300 copies

Challenges and Learning

The whole project is based on the appropriation of existing images circulating in social media. I tend to personally think that the reuse of existing images leads to a "visual ecology" although at some points I am aware that this concept is a bit exaggerated, considering the real ecological problems we are facing. I do not think that we have a contaminated visual experience of the world right now in terms of imagery. I think we have abundance, and tend to have an optimistic approach about the amount of available images and the available possibilities to produce more. In this sense, I celebrate the democratisation of image production, although I raise the question about the still missing images. Which are those images that still do not exist and why are they not existing?

We have a limited variety of papers in Argentina. I tend to make decisions on paper by considering availability, and paper dynamics. This allows me to buy big batches of the same paper and use them across different publications, leading to a more affordable selling cost. For example Bookcel paper is made by Celulosa Argentina and is a national paper for printing text and images. It's a super dynamic basic paper that is mass produced and therefore sold at a very competitive price. The printing method is directly linked to the amount of books that we will produce. It is typically an economic objective. I do not want to produce expensive books, because I want them to circulate and not to be a class privilege, so my choices on the production tend to focus on making a good, but distributable product.

I produce two types of books in the publishing house. Type A books, which have a more industrial process, and are almost completely produced by just one supplier (usually offset printed). These kinds of books are more stable and have the whole production process concentrated in one place. Type B books are books that work with a series of suppliers. In this case, Inventario Iconoclasta de la Insurrección Chilena (Iconoclastic Inventory of the Chilean Insurrection), fits this profile. The book was printed one part in risography, another in offset, the posters were folded by another supplier and finally the whole book was assembled by us. These kinds of books are more complicated, as decisions and processes moving around tend to widen the margin for errors between suppliers, and take much longer to produce. We had to sort 300 books, parts of them in Buenos Aires, part in Santiago de Chile. It took 3 whole nights for the book to be assembled, whereas in Offset you have a machine that can do this in 15 minutes.

Martin Bollati, SED Editorial (Argentina)- 11.2022

One Hundred Years
Jenny Lewis
(Hoxton Mini Press: 2021)

Book 16 from the series ‘East London Photo Stories’ 

One Hundred Years consists of 100 portraits from my community in Hackney, covering every age from one to 100. Paired with revealing quotes from each subject, this series captures not just a community, but the many vital moments of connection, contradiction, growth and reflection that we all experience as we age.

Images © Hoxton Mini Press

Materials and Processes

The book is offset printed on FSC certified materials and is carbon neutral.

  • Paper:  Inside and cover - Arctic Amber Graphic, FSC uncoated 130gsm 
  • Cover board: 2.4mm FSC
  • Printer: Livonia Print, Latvia
  • Binding: Hardback sewn
  • Hardcover with cloth spine, gold foiled
  • Size: 139 x 199mm, 224pp 
  • Edition: 2000

Challenges and Learning

We’re trying to minimise our carbon footprint, then not just offset it but put back more than we take. We always use FSC certified papers and where possible paper with recycled content. We also avoid the use of single use plastic / shrink-wrap wherever we can in the packaging of books.

Every time we send a book to print, we estimate the carbon footprint of its materials, production and transport. When we print with Livonia Print they calculate the carbon footprint of the book (which, to the best of my understanding includes not just the emissions associated with the paper but also the production and the shipping of raw materials and the books onwards to our warehouse) using ClimateCalc which gives us the best approximation of the climate footprint which we then offset by using Stand for Trees. They help fight tropical deforestation and climate change in some of the world’s most spectacular forests, protecting the communities and wildlife that call them home. We’re also working with Ecologi to plant a tree for every book bought online through our website; they support Eden Reforestation Projects to restore natural landscapes all around the world. Visit our Hoxton Mini Forest to see what we’ve planted so far, and watch it grow.

We may not be able to afford a full corporate analysis of every supply chain, but we can make an educated best guess at what we’re using – then give back extra. We are looking into registering as a b-corp and also assessing our carbon footprint in the office but they are very involved processes. Although we’re not doing everything there is to do, we are spending a sizable amount on sustainability initiatives- in fact more than we can afford given the cost of production at the moment - it’s very hard to balance the books.

Martin Usborne, Hoxton Mini Press (UK) - 10.2022

Geometric Forests: Struggles on Mapuche Land
Ritual Inhabitual (Tito González García & Florencia Grisanti) 
(Actes Sud: 2022)

In southern Chile, the forest catalyses the offensive of the extractivist economy on the native Mapuche cultural pool, both human and plant. Meeting the Lafkenche community, their botanical knowledge but also paper tree cloning laboratories, three cross-photographic surveys reaffirm the urgency of adopting a transversal and embodied reading of the fight for biodiversity.

Editorial direction : Actes Sud + Double Dummy

Images © Actes Sud

Materials and Processes

  • Paper: 3029 kilos of Munken® Kristall paper and 814 kilos Soporset® paper
  • Cover: 220 kilos of Munken® Kristall paper
  • Binding: Perfect binding
  • Printing/ Printers:  Agpograf (Barcelona)
  • Book Size: 27.50 x 22.50 cm
  • Edition Size: 2200 copies

Challenges and Learning

This book was published on the occasion of the exhibition ""Geometric Forests: Struggles On Mapuche Land" presented at the Rencontres de la Photographie d'Arles from 4 July to 25 September 2022. ( Curator : Sergio Valenzuela Escobedo). Working hand in hand with Geraldine Lay, photo editor at Actes Sud, we had to make decisions regarding the production of the book while respecting the dates of the festival. One of the most critical periods for the paper industry in Europe. We had to order the paper months in advance because of the supply crisis. However, we knew that we wanted to work with paper made from wood from sustainably managed forests. This was the first time we thought about our own responsibilities as paper consumers which is strictly related to the subject of the exhibition. This is why we decided to use Munken® Kristall to assess the environmental impact of the products following The Green Star System™, an eco-friendly label. I must say that there are so many labels, certifications and environmental references that it is sometimes very difficult to compare products objectively and choose one. I realised that there is a certain certificate mafia in this industry that we have to be careful with, i.e. the price of having one certificate or another would have to be made transparent, as big industries will only work with certified suppliers.

Ritual Inhabitual's photographic research reveals the ecological and political consequences of monoculture forestry in the temperate forests of Araucanía in southern Chile, opening up a debate on our consumption. As artists and curators we could not stay out of the production line of the exhibition and the book. The review by Tim Clark for 1000 Words made this point very clearly: 

 "While aesthetics may write the script in other environmentally-concerned exhibitions, here a form of infrastructural activism that reflects on the actual conditions and implications of its own making is evident. The exhibition is therefore highly commendable for harnessing the possibility of thinking and talking otherwise about making art in a less extractive fashion, allied with the admission that an entirely eco-friendly exhibition of images is an impossibility. One obvious example of mitigating impact has been to reuse existing frames from previous exhibitions. Similarly, printing directly onto material surfaces bypassing the need for paper or gluing the print onto an archival cardboard as opposed to an aluminium substrate in the event the former cannot be achieved. Even some of the temporary exhibition structures are stripped back to show the bare bones utilisation of wood, itself dismountable and reusable. There is also a kind of in-built critique present in the blurb of the accompanying book, published with Actes Sud, with a particularly striking section revealing a consciousness and self-awareness. It reads: ‘3029 kilos of Munken Kristall paper and 814 kilos of Soposeet paper were used for the book, as well as 220 kilos of Munken Kristall paper for the cover. Based on 24 trees for one tonne of paper, 96 trees were needed to transform those 4,063 kg of paper into 2,200 copies of this book.’ Clearly, in Geometric Forests, its participants take up the responsibility to call for new socio-environmental-political forms of collaboration. Maybe, via the propositions and practices contained in this exhibition, there is a way forward together, a sustainable means of co-existence.”

Sergio Valenzuela Escobedo, Double Dummy (France) - 10.2022

H is for Hemp
Maren Krings
(Self-published: 2022)

Maren Krings’ debut book, H is for Hemp is a firsthand account of the world’s applications of Hemp. The German environmental  photographer was living out of her car in the late 2010s, trying to reduce her ecological footprint, when she began a  four-year mission toward canna-consciousness. Taking advantage of her time on the road, Krings launched into an extensive investigation to find where and how hemp is being used today. Starting in Italy, she then ventured to 26 countries, including Russia and  Turkey, and spoke with over eighty hemp-industry experts. Maren Krings had photographed over 200 hemp-related projects across the world  by 2019 while keeping a personal diary.

Editorial & Book Design: Ricardo Báez

Images © Maren Krings

Materials and Processes

Digitally printed in Germany on hemp paper:

  • Paper: Hahnemühle Hemp 80 gm printed on HP PageWide Web Press T250 HD
  • Cover: Hahnemühle Hemp 280 gm printed  on HP Indigo Commercial Press
  • Printing & Binding: Elanders Print & Packaging, Germany 
  • Pages: 624
  • Weight: 900g
  • Size: 148 x 205 x49 mm
  • Edition size: 700 books

Challenges and Learning

In 2018, after two years of working on the hemp topic, I decided to turn the project into a book and ran a crowdfunding campaign. Lightheartedly I declared to print the book on hemp paper. I only knew that paper from hemp existed and was used up until the time of the Lutheran Bible and everyone kept saying that you can make paper from hemp, so it seemed logical to walk the walk and produce a book about hemp on hemp paper. Yet the search was challenging as most printers hadn’t heard of hemp paper. My search went as far as India, China and the USA and resulted in beautiful paper samples, made by hand, but they were not viable for printing a professional photography book. The turning point after 2 years was a call to the German paper manufacturer Hahnemühle, who had already included hemp in their portfolio of high end digital fine art printing papers. Even with this background it still took us almost two years to finish the development of a hemp paper for commercial book printing for digital and offset.

I learned that taking on the quest of developing a new product is a huge mission for a freelance photographer and artist. It takes a lot of time, patience and industry partners, who are willing to invest money to try something new. In retrospect it was an incredibly interesting journey to be involved in creating something new to push the limits of sustainable book making. Yet I also admit that it demanded a lot of time that later was missing in the creative advancement of the actual book.

Before the collaboration with Hahnemühle my decisions were still based on my traditional understanding of book-making and self-publishing. I went with the knowledge I had gained from three previous photography books and calculated the most economic amount of books produced in offset. Already I was aware of choosing a format to refrain from horrendous shipping costs. As soon as the new paper was produced, all the decisions I had taken on an aesthetic basis were nulled in order to stick to the idea of producing something more sustainable. The open back, also known as “Swiss Binding”, which I had envisioned was dropped, as this would have required offset printing, in order to stitch the pages together. Instead we chose glue binding, as this was offered in-house by the printer and did not require additional transportation of the book pages to a book binder and back to another location to adhere the book cover. We even adjusted the original format of the book by 7mm in order to have no paper waste from the paper sheets. 

Going for digital printing instead of offset allowed me to print a smaller amount of books without a huge price increase. Originally I had planned 1000 copies of the Limited Edition, but due to production problems, it ended up being 700 copies. There was a huge learning curve involved in the book production on a completely new paper and we all had to stay calm and patient, as this is what happens if you dare to tread on new paths. Another decision which I took against all the advice of the printer and paper maker, was to leave the paper uncoated after the printing. I was in love with the hapticity of the hemp paper, which has a very felty and soft touch, while still being incredibly durable and strong - and I wanted this to be felt by the book’s audience as well. Of course not coating the paper made the book very delicate and susceptible to scratches during shipping and handling. Also I decided to leave the books unwrapped in the traditional plastic protection, which added to the works fragility. Yet I felt that I have to take these steps in order to be truthful to the books mission of showing potential ways of solving our socio-ecological crisis and if I am not willing to do it, I won’t be able to convince others to do it either.

One of the key challenges was that I had to become an “expert” on way too many issues that were not related to finishing the actual book. I enrolled on online university courses on the Climate Crisis and its solutions, in order to be sure to know what I was referencing hemp’s applications to. I entered the world of entrepreneurship in order to develop the paper with Hahnemühle for the book. More so, I got involved in sourcing raw materials for packaging as well as the hemp paper pulp. Needless to say, my creative advisory team and especially my Dutch story doctor, Paulien Bakker, got tired of reminding me that I had a lot of writing and editing to do and that I should maybe stop all the adjacent activities in order to get it finished eventually.

In a perfect world and with endless financial and human resources, I would invest into small scale pulping factories, which are in geographical proximity to the paper companies and would bring down the exorbitantly high price for the hemp pulp for the paper. Also I would invest even more time than the past 7 months of touring with the book worldwide, to hit up all the major publishing houses and convince them to start printing on hemp paper versus paper derived from trees - but that would make me more of an activist then I am willing to be at the moment! 

Another thing I feel strongly about is the need to change the way we understand book-making at the moment. Creating local supply chains versus producing books in large editions and then risking them to not be sold to an audience seems like a wasteful attitude in times where natural resources are running out. Turning towards an abbreviated form of POD and producing in the countries where books are ordered is another thing I want to still tackle in the future. In short, I have not succeeded with all of the ideas I originally had for this book, but I learned that I have to be much more patient in implementing my ideas into reality and I have to find the right partners to pull it through successfully. Yet getting the opportunity to address these issues and ideas on the platform of SPP is a wonderful step in the right direction, as I hope to connect to many like-minded people, who have already walked down the same path and implemented things which I have not  even come to address with H is for Hemp yet. Thank you for the opportunity!

Maren Krings (Austria, Germany) - 09.2022

The Silent Land 
Jesse Alexander
(VIKA: 2021)

‘The Silent Land’ documents a plantation which grows on the remains of ancient lead works on the Mendip Hills in Somerset where, in 2016, a local man chose to end his life. Against the backdrop of seasonal change and the cycles that are observed over several years, the work explores the elegiac potential of the land and the memorializing act of photography. The book attempts to invite questions around the paradox of outdoor, ‘natural’ spaces – how these provide well documented benefits for health and wellbeing, but are often infused with pathos and melancholy, and are frequently the destination of choice for those seeking to end their lives.

Images © Jesse Alexander

Materials and Processes

Offset printed and bound in the UK using vegetable inks, on FSC, PEFC approved recycled papers

  • Offset lithographic printing on Heidelberg Speedmaster XL 75
  • Paperback cover, full flaps, section sewn
  • Cover stock: 290gsm, Twist, G.F. Smith, UK (milled in Italy)
  • Internal paper: 135gsm, Heaven 42, G.F. Smith, UK (milled in Germany)
  • Cover foil blocked using Foilco compostable foils
  • Design and publishing by VIKA Books, Bristo
  • Scanning by Photographique, Bristol
  • Reprographics by Pixywalls, London
  • Printed by Taylor Brothers, Bristol
  • Bound by UK Bookbinders, Weston-Super-Mare
  • Size: 180x214 mm, 64 pages
  • Edition Size: 300 (signed and numbered)

Cover and internal papers are: FSC and PEFC approved, recyclable, Elemental Chlorine free (ECF), Acid Free, REACH Compliant, Carbon Black Free, Heavy Metal Compliant (94/62), and PAP 21/22.

Challenges and Learning

The brief was to produce a high-quality photobook with as minimal negative environmental impact as possible without compromising on quality. In order to achieve this Jesse Alexander (JA) commissioned Victoria Forrest (VF), director of VIKA Books to design, produce and publish The Silent Land. 

VF: It's vital to decide which machines will be used to print the publication early on. The unique characteristics of each type of press will influence every major aspect of production, from the inks to the paper used which in turn inform the binding. A digitally printed book will look different from a lithographically printed book because the optimum materials and processes differ for each. If transport is a consideration, then strong local infrastructures from paper supply to bindery as well as specialist techniques come into play. All these variables intertwine meaning that the production of each book is bespoke to each publication.

For The Silent Land, due to a combination of supply issues and travel bans coming out of lockdown, it was decided to keep physical production as local as possible. Renewed interest in localised printing after Brexit and C19 has meant that UK-produced books have become a more viable option for smaller print runs with the added bonus of a reduced carbon footprint. A book of a similar specification could well have been printed in Italy at a higher print quality and for a lower price, but it would have come at a different set of costs. Foreign print runs mean longer lead-in times, less quality control for samples and press-passing, as well as, typically, the requirement to print a minimum run of 500 copies. The number of copies is a vital consideration and oscillates between weighing up the available budget against realistic expectations for distribution and sales. The worst thing that can happen to a book is for it to spend its life in storage, as this not only means that the production itself was unnecessary and therefore wasteful, but also quickly incurs costly warehouse fees. If left too long this eventually leads to the tragedy that is books being pulped. 

After considering all options Taylor Brothers were chosen as, even though they do not specialise in photobook printing, they are well-established fine art printers and are hyper-local. They are also one of the few UK printers able to claim Certification as Carbon Balanced Printers by the World Land Trust (an international conservation charity endorsed by Sir David Attenborough) as well as FSC Approved. Close proximity to Jesse and Victoria meant that quality control was guaranteed and costly shipping costs, international couriers, press-passing fees, associated emissions and heightened potential for delay at launch were all negated. 

Transporting, handling and distributing has mostly been done by Jesse, saving storage and transport. Packaging is made from fully recyclable materials: paper, cardboard and tape. The first 20 copies of the book were accompanied by a unique cyanotype print featuring the poem ‘Remember’ by Christina Rossetti, which was the inspiration for the book’s title. Prints were produced at home on watercolour paper from St. Cuthbert’s Mill in Wells.

The paper stock for the cover, which has fibrous strands infused into the surface, was chosen for its reference to the subject of the book. The manufacturer, G.F. Smith describes these strands as ‘fabric’.  Both Jesse and Victoria contacted G.F. Smith to ask about the composition of these fibres and had difficulty getting a consistent answer. At the time of printing, the fibres were described as ‘cellulose’ (an organic substance). But when enquiring again for this case study the fibres were, disappointingly, described as made from polyester.

JA: Whilst we laboured over whether to print digitally or lithographically, I have had some regrets at not making a closer comparison of the ecological impacts of each process – in particular the amount of energy used. Indeed it would be useful to compare the carbon impact of these two processes, especially in light of recent advances in digital printing presses. That said, the quality of the lithographic process remains outstanding and it is unlikely that a digital press will match this quality, especially in reaching the tonal depth required for the darker images in the series.

Victoria Forrest, VIKA & Jesse Alexander (UK) - 09.2022

Monsanto®, A photographic investigation
Mathieu Asselin
(Actes Sud / Verlag Kettler [1st Ed. only]: 2017)

Monsanto®'s dozens of Superfund sites ( large contaminated sites of high priority for the us Environmental Protection Agency ) across the United States alone are affecting hundreds of communities and their environment with terrifying health and ecological consequences. Monsanto® maintains strong ties with the us government, and especially with the FDA (United States Food and Drug Administration). It is a bedfellow with many other economical and political power houses around the world. The company engages in campaigns of misinformation, the persecution of institutions and individuals, including scientists, farmers and activists that dare to disclose its crimes. Monsanto® is spreading new technologies and products, while scientists, ecological institutions and human rights organizations are putting out alerts about issues like public health, food safety and ecological sustainability issues on which our future on this planet depends. This is all particularly troublesome since Monsanto® is entering a new chapter of disregard for our planet through the creation and commercialization of gmos. Looking at the company’s past and present, this project aims to picture what Monsanto® ’s near future will look like.

Book Design & Layout: Ricardo Báez

Images © Mathieu Asselin

Materials and Processes

1st Edition

  • Paper: Lessebo smooth white 150 g/m², F-Color smooth opal blue 120 g/m², Surbalin smooth white 115 g/m², Prestige Opak 65g
  • Printing: Offset printed by Druckerei Kettler, Germany
  • Binding: Smith sewn
  • Book size: 27 x 30 x 2 cm
  • Edition size: 1000 English, 2000 French

2nd Edition

  • Paper: Munken Lynx 130 g/m², 300 g/m²
  • Printing: Offset printed by Editoriale Bortolazzi, Italy
  • Binding: Perfect binding
  • Book size: 19.6 × 25.5 × 1.5 cm
  • Edition size: 3.000 Bilingual (French / English)

Newsprint Edition

  • Paper: Recycled (Newsprint) 50 g/m²
  • Printing: Newspaper Club, UK / Polska Press o/Poligrafia, Poland
  • Binding: Loose binding
  • Book size: 28.9 × 38 × 0.1 cm
  • Edition size: first edition (1.000) – reprint (500), second edition (4.000), third edition (1.000), fourth edition (1.000),  fifth edition (2.000), sixth edition (2.000), seventh edition (2.000)

Challenges and Learning

1st edition:  This was the first book for the photographer and there were no specific ecological considerations given to the physical qualities of the book object.

2nd edition: The primary goal of the second book was to extend the reach of the work through creating a more accessible and affordable version. This goal led the team to develop a smaller softback book that cost less to make,  used less paper, and utilized paper stock that was already in-house at the printer. With this edition a bilingual approach was taken to reduce the need for two separate versions of the book.

Newsprint edition: Printed by the Newspaper Club in the UK and distributed for free. The newspaper is printed on recycled paper stock.

When an emerging photographer works with a publisher on their first book there is often little scope to influence many aspects of the making of the book, including the ecological agenda. A balance also needs to be struck between the affordability of the book in order to get the work to an audience, and the often higher cost of ecological material choices. Across all of the different versions of this book, approximately  20,506 copies have been made. On future projects it would be desirable to work with the publisher and designer to develop an ecological approach that did not compromise the affordability of the book.

Mathieu Asselin (France) - 09.2022

Curator Conversations
1000 words
(1000 Words: 2021)

Curator Conversations is a collection of interviews with leading curators working within contemporary photography today. It offers precious insights into key modes of thinking behind the curatorial practices that have resulted in influential and landmark exhibitions at galleries and museums across the globe, including MoMA, Tate Modern, Pompidou Centre, Fotomuseum Winterthur, Finnish Museum of Photography, Zeitz MOCAA – Museum of Contemporary Art Africa, Instituto Moreira Salles and SCôP: Shanghai Center of Photography, among others.

  • Editor: Tim Clark
  • Copy Editor: Alex Merola
  • Design & Art Direction: Sarah Boris
  • Production Assistant: Louis Stopforth

Images © 1000 Words

Materials and Processes

Litho printed in the UK on FSC certified paper: 

  • Softback cover: Masterblank Lino 270gsm uncoated coverboard
  • Paper: FSC College Text 80gsm 138micron text paper
  • B Format standard trim size: 198 mm x 129 mm
  • Printed + perfect bound by Clays Ltd, Suffolk, UK

Challenges and Learning 

The book was seen as complementary to the digital content of the 1000 Words website. This allowed for the book to be focused on the text based content without the need for image reproductions. The small softback format enabled the book to be affordably printed in the UK. The book was made using the printers standard trim size and in-house materials. Using stock materials reduced the need for transportation as the materials are delivered in bulk to the printer, eliminating the need for multiple bespoke deliveries.

Tim Clark & Sarah Boris (UK) - 09.2022

Magdalena Wysocka / Claudio Pogo
(PogoBooks: 2019)

A visual journey through a true deep space odyssey. 67-P is an abstract and subjective vision on European space agency’s photographic archive of the world famous Rosetta mission.

Images © PogoBooks

Materials and Processes

The book was printed with care for planet earth by using rice based risograph ink on an environmentally friendly paper:

  • Paper: Stone Paper by Rockpaper, made in Germany from 80% limestone
  • End Papers: Surbalin black 
  • Cover: Clothbound Iris linen embosssed with hotfoil 
  • Printing: Risograph printed on MZ770E by Outer Space Press
  • Ink: Rice bran oil, petrleum solvent, glycerol, carbon black, alkyd resin, water
  • Binding: Smyth Sewn with Black Thread on Brehmer 39 3/4
  • Size: 24x17cm / 191 Pages
  • Edition size: 151 1st edition, 151 2nd Edition

Challenges and Learning

A lot of the decisions we made while designing the 67–p book had to do with the topic of the book itself which is the famous Rosetta mission—a historic landing of a small space probe on a comet called 67–p. The archive of the mission is not only the impressive collection of 20.000 photographs, but also other types of data: encrypted text files and technical documentation of many devices with which the lander was equipped, including 3 cameras. The way this mission was documented gave us the idea of creating a colophon which documents the process of making the book in a similarly detailed way. Making an edition of 151 copies by hand is a slow and complex process even with 'regular’ materials, so creating this colophon gave us an excuse to really show how many details go into producing each copy. This info includes the time and power consumption through printing: riso printing time approx. 20hrs, human printing time 45hrs 35 mins, energy consumption 230V max 545 Watt. The odd number of 151 copies we have produced is also connected to the Rosetta story itself—it is the number of months that the mission lasted. 

Printing riso on stone paper was also quite a mission for our two sets of hands. Both editions are printed in an extremely complex way. The qualities of the rock paper required us to feed the sheets through the risograph one by one, as well as throwing extra sheets of paper in between prints to keep them from staining. Riso ink on this type of paper stays extremely wet in the very first few seconds when the sheets fall on top of each other. After printing the first edition we promised ourselves to never do it again, but the book was so warmly received that after it sold out we decided to go through the pain once more and print the second edition. 

We were instantly drawn to the stone paper because of the subject of the work and because we loved the fact that it is basically a product of post industrial waste. It felt like a coated paper stock, but it still allowed the ink to be absorbed under its surface and to dry. The combination of these two things allowed the risograph prints to have an extreme amount of fine details, which with typical paper stocks used for riso printing it's not possible to achieve. We wanted the photographs to look somewhat analogue, as they were originally transmitted from the space probe as text and then decrypted into images. The stochastic raster with which Risograph renders the images was perfect for that reason. Apart from these technical considerations and finding a paper stock made of actual stone to print a book about a stone, we loved the idea of printing this book with one of the most environmentally friendly printers on one of the most sustainable types of paper.

We faced many challenges, mostly in print, but binding was also not a piece of cake. Rock paper has no grain direction and it’s extremely heavy, so binding and handling it in bulk was surprisingly difficult. There is a difference between producing a few prints and printing an edition of 151 books each with almost 200 pages. Binding of the first edition was outsourced, as at the time our studio didn’t have the sewing machine or the hotfoil press yet. We were called to the bindery several times to talk through various issues resulting from the combination of the rockpaper and riso printing, as both have a reputation of being troublemakers in the bookbinding world. The second edition was made entirely by us, in house. We knew what to expect from the materials, so it felt easier, at least this time we had an understanding of what we were getting ourselves into.

Magdalena Wysocka & Claudio Pogo (Germany) - 08.2022

Beyond Drifting
Mandy Barker
(Overlapse: 2017)

Beyond Drifting: Imperfectly Known Animals encapsulates in miniature the much larger environmental problems of an imperfect world. This work presents a unique collection of ‘plankton specimens’ related to pioneering discoveries made by naturalist JV Thompson in Cork Harbour during the 1800s. These recently found specimens are deceptive, however, and mysteriously conceal their true origin.

Images © Overlapse

Materials and Processes

Litho printed in the UK using soy-based vegetable inks: 

  • Greyboard case cover wrapped in Wibalin White Embossed Buckram 125gsm
  • Dust jacket: White recycled offset paper 120gsm (Printers in house stock) - litho printed
  • Interior Paper: Munken Polar Rough crisp white, 150gsm
  • Endpapers: Fedrigoni Sirio ultra black, 115gsm
  • Printed + bound by Pureprint Group, East Sussex, UK

Challenges and Learning 

Given the subject of Mandy’s work is concerned with marine plastic pollution, the use of single-use plastic was at very least minimised. The books were shipped unwrapped (other than the already aged-looking dust jacket) and for long-distance distribution minimally packed into boxes with paper padding when extra protection was required. This worked very well for us, and we didn’t receive any returns from transport damage.

Hand-sanding corners to make it look more worn and antique, we did 750 copies of these! Each one took about five minutes which we did in batches to keep up with orders.

For the second edition we decided to remake the book into a pocket-sized piece which was singer-sewn. This of course required much less paper for production, no glue (as for case-binding), and hardly any packaging for shipping as it was letter-sized. 

Overall, we felt that both editions were made in an ethical, sustainable manner which represented the concerns of the book concept. At the time of design and printing, although we made the most sustainable choices possible throughout the process, we didn’t overtly advertise the use of vegetable-based inks, etc, which we would be much keener to share now, with hindsight. We thought that the lack of plastic use, in particular, would be immediately apparent.

Tiffany Jones, Overlapse (UK) - 08.2022

Creative Climate Investigations
Climate & Cities
(Folium: 2022)

Our inaugural book, Creative Climate Investigations, is the culmination of learnings, creative experimentations, and proposals from the past two years. Working with nine researchers on eight projects, we have explored various challenges at the nexus of the climate crisis and urban environments. Investigations were launched into global sports events, air quality, environmental effects on wellbeing, plastic, ecological impacts of datasets, trees, global dimming, and green spaces.

Images © Climate & Cities

Materials and Processes

All paper by PaperBack, recycled paper from a UK manufacturer, sourced at John Purcell in South London.

  • Paper: PaperBack Arden Silk 115gsm, Context Natural 115gsm, 
  • Cover: PaperBack Corona Bright Red 270gsm
  • Printing: 2/3 risograph and 1/3 digital printing
  • Binding: using an old 1950s threading machine
  • The cover will be Swiss Bound
  • Edition size: Dependent on current Kickstarter campaign

Challenges and Learning

We looked at applying the circular economy principles to the design (reducing waste and pollution, making things last, regenerating nature); and then, in parallel, looked at where fossil fuels are in the process and how we could remove this. The latter had a double side to it: a) the materials b) the carbon emissions of travel and energy use, which we are monitoring and reducing as early as possible

Inks can be one of the most toxic aspects of printing, and they proved to be one of the more challenging aspects of production in terms of sustainability. It is difficult to find information on pigments; paint manufacturers rarely produce the pigments themselves, and supply chains quickly become murky (if not untraceable) once you attempt to follow them. While digital printing ink is a form of liquid plastic, the stencil-and-ink risograph process can be realised with vegetable inks – though is sadly unsuitable for printing high-resolution colour photographs. As an image-heavy book, we had to carefully consider which pages did and did not require full colour, so we could ensure their suitability for risograph printing wherever possible. As a result, around ⅔ of the book is printed with vegetable inks, with the remaining ⅓ printed with digital petrochemical inks. 

A similar compromise was taken with the binding of the book; we chose a binding method that involves a small amount of PVA, but took steps to ensure that it is sewn in with thread rather than directly glued in order to reduce contamination during the process of recycling.

Another consideration is the size of the book; though it is clear that a larger book would require more paper to print, a less obvious consideration is that a book manufactured at a non-standard size can produce excess offcuts. We wanted to ensure that we were printing at a scale that was compatible with Folium's existing machines; as a result, the size of our book is a direct reflection of the machines that we are using to print: everything down to the size of the bleed has been refined to use as much of the procured paper as possible.

It was a lot of conversation, and understanding our priorities was quite a key element. We approached this book as a research project itself, and we collaborated with our publisher Folium on this, which was truly fantastic.

Climate and Cities (UK) - 07.2022

João Pedro Lima
(Selo Turvo: 2022)

The project consists of a series of photographs that went through the process of rephotographing the photographer João Pedro Lima's own archive. Made during 02 years of isolation in the mountains of Serra da Cantareira and in the artist's studio in São Bernardo do Campo, the book is a collection of these graphic experiments that an image can deliver: the photographed moment, the revelation with expired chemicals, the reproduction of the image by enlarging and the whole process repeated several times. The artist's investigation of space, the fears and anxieties that a forest at night can bring to light.

Images © Selo Turvo

Materials and Processes

Inkjet and screen printing on FSC certified and recycled papers all made in Brazil

  • Paper (body): BO Paper Cold Ivory 90g/m²
  • Paper (body) Fedrigoni Color Plus Roma 80g/m², Color Plus Los Angeles 120g/m²
  • Paper (cover):  Fedrigoni F Card Brown 250g/m² made with 100% recycled fibre
  • Inkjet printed with an EcoTank Epson printer by the Publisher
  • Edition of 125

Challenges and Learning

Contranatura was printed in our studio in Brazil, from the inkjet interior to the silkscreen cover. It also passed through the hands of the bookbinder Luciana Prado for the final finishing. Thus, opening a conversation between the object and the human touch, without using machines - besides the home printer - to have a book. A search for what can be a sustainable book.

Inkjet printing was chosen because inkjet technology can be up to 90% more energy efficient than laser technology. We use an Epson EcoTank printer in our studio that has water based ink

It's really hard to find sustainable materials locally, especially paper. Of course we want to work with papers like Munken but we have a big problem here. We have only one printer locally that has Munken and other environmentally-friendly papers and they don't sell these to anyone else because of the monopoly business. They will also only print your book using offset if you make up to 1,000 copies. So they have the most environmental paper in their stock, but you have to print a lot of copies to use them.

Local book deliveries are made by hand. National and International deliveries are shipped in a kraft box with plastic bubble wrap. We’re looking to buy biodegradable bubble wrap for our next publications, mostly because our books are very fragile. But it's still a very expensive material and our book prices are very low as we like them to be accessible. This is a real problem for us, how do we ship our books using ecological materials in an affordable way?

We found it very hard to find information in the beginning about how to approach sustainable book making. How to find paper, how to bind the book in a handmade way and things like that. We certainly have much more to learn, but we want to share this information with our public and anyone who cares about how to make books with a more sustainable approach.

João Pedro Lima (Brazil) - 07.2022

The Sustainable Darkroom
(Folium: 2022)

re·source is the third publication from the Sustainable Darkroom. Featuring nearly 200 pages of essays, recipes, experiments, images, and research from our network of practitioners worldwide, re:source is our largest publication yet - and the most extensive collection of writing on sustainable photographic practice to date.

Images © The Sustainable Darkroom

Materials and Processes

Litho printed in the UK with bio based inks on recycled paper stocks:

  • Paper (Body): Revive Offset 90gsm, 100% PCW
  • Paper (Cover): Paperback Context / Birch, 80% de-inked pulp
  • Printed by Martins the Printers Ltd
  • Binding and cover printing by Folium
  • Edition of 500 + Digital PDF

Challenges and Learning

Litho printing was chosen because the process uses bio inks. This process is typically used for book runs over 500 due to the high set-up costs of the metal printing plates. The book was printed on Revive Offset, a paper that the printer had in stock and therefore did not require an additional delivery.  Folium advised that the most sustainable way to assemble the book was to maximise the number of pages per signature which resulted in 6x 32 page signatures.

There was a very conscious choice to make the book in the UK and to think about transportation. The book was printed in the North of England in Berwick-Upon-Tweed, and then delivered by Palletforce to the publisher in London. The binders used second hand equipment to risograph print the covers and bind the books. A cargo bike was borrowed to pick up the books in London and take them to the place of distribution.

Hannah Fletcher, The Sustainable Darkroom (UK) - 07.2022

Temporary Services 
(Half Letter Press: 2022)

This publication by Temporary Services extends ideas explored in our earlier booklets Publishing in the Realm of Plant Fibers and Electrons and What Problems Can Artist Publishers Solve? Here we consider the various kinds of waste that are generated by making books, how we attempt to avoid wasteful ways of working, and suggested practices that others might consider.

Images © spp network

Materials and Processes

Risograph printed on recycled paper:

  • French Paper, Niles, MI: Newsprint Extra White 100% recycled paper (booklet)
  • Risograph printed on EZ390-U, Chicago IL and Fort Wayne, IN (booklet)
  • Cover printing by Mission Press, Franklin Park, IL
  • Union Bindery, Chicago > collation, folding, stapling, trimming
  • 594 copies + DIGITAL PDF

Challenges and Learning

When printing on a RISO the first prints will always be the most saturated with liquid ink and are generally too dark to use (15-20 pages) We overprint these test sheets with different print jobs until the ink starts to get too thick (around 8 different print jobs). These test sheets have accumulated the history of things we have made with the machines and document our waste. Two of these sheets are bound inside this publication and are drawn from a variety of different paper stocks from many sources.

Printed on "8 1/2 x 11” sheets / half letter size, untrimmed except for the face edge. It is easier to find bargins on overstock or discontinued letter-sized paper than the larger tabloid size.

The cover was digitally printed by Mission Press. The full-bleed covers were printed two-up on 12 7/8” x 18” paper, resulting in a trim of everything beyond the total dimensions of 11” X 17” for two covers. Mission Press is located about 9 miles from our Chicago studio.

Union Bindery is located approximately 7 miles from our Chicago studio. They saved all of the extra interior pages and covers (approximately 100 sheets total) so that we can use them if we do a reprint. Test prints and damaged pages from our own RISO printing were either recycled or saved for overprinting and collating into a future edition.

It takes 3 gallons of water to make one piece of paper, 36 gallons for this book. Print runs of 600 = 21,600 gallons. Water consumption offset for 15,000 gallons of water through installation of two dual flush toilets.

Brett Bloom & Marc Fischer, Half Letter Press (USA) - 06.2022

Scale & Substance 
Tamsin Green
(manual.editions: 2022)

This text based publication features writing by Eugenie Shinkle, Tamsin Green, Ursula K. Le Guin, and an interview with the artist by Photofusion Director Kim Shaw. These texts and accompanying drawings and photographs explore the multifaceted meaning of the words Scale and Substance.

Images © manual.editions

Materials and Processes

Small handmade edition of 120 soft-cover concertina books. Risograph printed locally on recycled and FSC certified paper stock using plant based inks:

  • Paper: Fenner Colorset & Echo, GF Smith Colorplan, Claire Fontaine Standard colour paper
  • Concertina book with soft cover
  • Risograph printed by Duplikat Press, London
  • Size: 300x105mm
  • Edition of 120 books / 16 Print Edition

Challenges and Learning

I wanted to explore using a standard size sheet of paper to see if paper waste through trimming could be eliminated. The resulting book was made of eight sheets of standard A3 paper, folded and sewn together to create a 1.8m long concertina book. This necessitated careful transportation of the printed pages as the full sheets were used in the final book. Transportation distances were minimised by working with a printer 1.5 miles from where the books were assembled, bound and distributed. The printed pages were protected with cardboard and wrapped in paper by the printer for transportation.

The concept of the book was the creation of a ‘greyscale’ through 8 different shades of grey paper. Sourcing these was a challenge and the best that could be done with the printers supply chain was 100% recycled material for half of the paper stock, all others are FSC certified.

The book was entirely risograph printed. The risograph (or 'riso') is a digital stencil duplicator, released in japan in the 1980s. The riso produces stencil paper prints using a unique range of spot colour plant based inks. I chose this printing method for it's eco credentials as well as it's imperfect printing aesthetic especially when printing on textured papers. 

Plastic free biodegradable packaging was used to post the books. The riso printed soft cover of the books is delicate and so the books are wrapped in a bioplastic. This is a home compostable & biodegradable film made from sustainably sourced woodpulp.  A sticker is used to indicate to the consumer how the material should be handled after use. The books are then posted in a book wrap, an FSC certified, recyclable cardboard.

For the print edition of the book I reused materials, prints and test prints from the associated exhibition. Each edition includes a signed copy of the book along with an archival pigment print. The prints are all unique and are a mix of photographs and archival drawings printed at the gallery on Hahnemühle bamboo paper, exhibited flat as part of the exhibition. The prints are housed in a custom risograph printed folder on 100% recycled card by Duplikat Press, who delivered these prints by bicycle. The fabric pouch was handmade from archival map support cotton offcuts, a by-product of the exhibition prints, and embellished with unique bamboo paper test prints.

Tamsin Green (UK) - 04.2022

Samara Scott
(Loose Joints: 2017)

Bruises is the first book of photographs by the British artist and sculptor Samara Scott. Taken from the artist's archive of 35mm half-frame images, Bruises unfolds over six years in which Scott used the camera as a form of 'sampling' the world, footnotes to feedback into her artistic practice.

Image © Loose Joints

Materials and Processes

Offset printed, softcover with embossed plastic dust jacket:

  • Printed by Kopa, Lithuania
  • Plastic jacket made by an engravers in the UK and then creased and applied by hand

Challenges and Learning

Approx. 3000km journey of the materials within Europe to reach the printer and then on to the warehouse - we are actively looking for ways to reduce supply chain transportation.

Plastic library sleeve used for the dust jacket - we wouldn't use plastic now.

The printer in Lithuania  was not eco certified, and none of the papers were FSC certified - we now insist on this with every book that we produce.

Lewis Chaplain, Loose Joints (France) - 04.2022

Miranda Lichtenstein
(Loose Joints: 2021)

Densely-layered experiments with abstraction reveal a submerged world of recycled shapes and depths.A singular artwork, derived from disposable plastic carrier bags, serves as a departure point for three intertwined photographic series.

Image © Loose Joints

Materials and Processes

Embossed softcover with double-folded cover, section sewn. Offset printed on all recycled and FSC certified paper stocks:

  • Paper: IBO One, Recystar Natur, Oxygen Silk, Mirabel GD1
  • Printed by Robstock, Amsterdam

Challenges and Learning

Transportation within the supply chain reduced to approx. 300km for the materials within Europe to reach the printer and then on to the warehouse.

Books stored in the Netherlands close to the printer, and where they are shipped to America. Especially important for an American artist like Miranda.

A bioplastic was used for the wrapping of the books, as an alternative to single-use plastic, provided by the printers at our request.

Lewis Chaplain, Loose Joints (France) - 04.2022


Jean-Marc Caimi and Valentina Piccinni

(Overlapse: 2022)

An unfiltered, personal and intense account of Xylella, the plant epidemic that threatens Europe; Fastidiosa is the result of Caimi + Piccinni photographing the plight of local farmers and environmental devastation in Puglia, southern Italy, over a period of six years.

Images © Jean-Marc Caimi and Valentina Piccinni

Materials and Processes

Offset printed on a range of recycled and sustainably sourced papers:

  • Printed on Fedrigoni: Arena, Materica and Woodstock
  • Dust jacket: Geltex by Guarro Casas 
  • Addendum booklet: Nautilus Classic
  • Printer: Offset printed by KOPA
  • Section sewn exposed binding
  • Edition of 750
  • Size: 162 x 216mm

Challenges and learning

Paper choices were selected for a few reasons. The story is based in southern Italy and it seemed appropriate to primarily use papers made in that country, particularly because the subject matter is an organic one (trees). All selected papers were widely available when we printed, which was fortunate due to shortages at the time. Printing offset / litho was the most economical choice given we had 228 pages and 750 copies to make. Digital print was cost prohibitive due to the numbers required (ie. more than 300-500 copies). We wanted a binding that would lay flat, so a section-sewn, exposed binding provides that, and also fit with using a dust jacket which worked with the design concept we established early on. 

Opting to print 750 copies was a conservative choice since that is a common edition number we print, and it generally takes 12-18 months for us to sell those numbers. I wouldn’t change any aspects of the design, we are pleased with it, and the book size is small compared with the majority of photobooks, so the footprint is small. Generally the more pages you can print on a single sheet, the better, in order to prevent as much paper waste as possible. Depending on the press your printer is using, it is quite straightforward to enquire with them what the optimal number of pages to fit the particular sheet will be. I also prefer small books simply because I believe they should be passed around and shared! 

I want to make books that are accessible to the widest audience possible, so price plays an important factor in deciding where to print, alongside getting the best possible manufacturing available. I have seen countless print errors in other books in the market and clearly want to avoid having to bin or pulp (destroy) any books because of print and manufacturing errors.

Tiffany Jones, Overlapse (UK) - 04.2022

The Space Between Us
Ed Sykes
(Self Published: 2021)

Photographs of Londoners at the height of the Covid pandemic. Shot at night-time using an infrared digital camera.

Images © Ed Sykes

Materials and Processes

Digitally printed in the UK on recycled paper by B Corp certified Generation Press

  • Body: Fedrigoni Woodstock Azuro 140gsm
  • Cover: Fedrigoni Woodstock Azuro 285gsm
  • Printing: Digitally printed black photography by Generation Press, UK
  • Binding: PUR binding
  • Edition: 220 copies

Challenges and Learning

Discussions about papers with Art Director Sarah Boris were intrinsic to the creative outcome. The original digital files had an eerie blue tinge due to using an infrared camera and flash, which filtered out almost all the colour.  It was decided to replicate that feel using a similar coloured paper to keep a consistency in all the printed imagery. Therefore the original files were de-saturated of colour so a monochrome file could be digitally printed on a blue Fedrigoni paper using just black inks. This produced an outcome where the coloured paper feels part of the image itself. The uncoated and recycled texture of the paper added to that feeling. The black ink and blue paper were merged as one.

Printing on a blue paper stock meant  there was no way to preview on-screen beforehand. It was by physical proof alone and only a few were produced to keep costs down and to minimise waste.  My judgement on file preparation and Paul's expertise at Generation Press meant there was little need to correct beforehand and on the day of printing.

One element I did not spend enough thought on was the book binding. Inevitably there was a tight bind like many books where the double page does not lie completely flat. The thickness of a short  page number meant PUR binding (Polyurethane Reactive adhesive) was suggested. Was there a better alternative?

Collaborating with the Art Director  Sarah Boris was vital as it brought insight into opportunities for sustainably produced paper and the carbon footprint of printing processes. I was introduced to recycled Fedrigoni stock and the processes of Paul Hewitt and the team at Generation Press which reduced the carbon footprint associated with production. In future I would like to be able to either print on demand or in small batches to minimise the possibility of unsold and unused books. Printing digitally (as opposed to litho) meant a smaller edition was possible and cheaper, although I am not aware of the different eco credentials of the inks used in both processes.

In the future I want to consider the life cycle of photographic materials including photobooks. Discussions may include what is meant by legacy, archive quality and longevity? Is it kinder to the planet to make a product that lasts hundreds of years or one that has a naturally shorter life cycle? Photography is about preserving a thought or a moment. How long should we preserve that for?

Ed Sykes (UK) - 03.2022

this is how the earth must see itself
Tamsin Green
(manual.editions: 2021)

‘this is how the earth must see itself’ uses the Ordnance Survey (OS) mapping system and symbols to explore the English coastline. Using a combination of archival material, open source data and photographs, the project follows the five rock features as a guide. The book references the physical properties of the OS map; it’s format, tactility, and folding. Each handmade book includes 5 giclee print inserts on recycled paper from post consumer waste.

Images © manual.editions

Materials and Processes

Printed on HP indigo a few miles from the studio space where the books were made and stored. Local and/or recycled paper stocks used where possible, all papers made in GB:

  • Paper: GF Smith Naturalis 120gsm + Zen 120gsm
  • Cover: GF Smith Extract 380sgm: A zero waste FSC certified paper made from recycled coffee cups
  • Inserts: Eco Recycled Brown Kraft Paper 130gsm: made from 100% recycled paper pulp
  • Digitally Printed by FE Burman, London
  • Paperback cover, coptic hand binding, phase-box enclosure
  • Size: 240x130mm
  • Handmade edition of 58 books

Challenges and Learning

My photographic work is made in the landscape: on foot, carrying my own shelter, and leaving no trace. I walk out into the landscape for up to a week at a time, alone and self-sufficient, surrendering to what may come from these encounters. Naturally when I began to make books, I began to question how I could continue this dialogue with the environment. There is a conscious smallness to my own publishing both in the physical size of the books and the edition sizes, which have ranged from 35-120 books. I assemble and bind all of the books by hand. This process makes me very aware of the nature of the materials I am working with and the waste produced through the making process. I have published three small size limited edition books, the first two books were bodies of photographic work and the third was a text based publication. With each of these books I have sought to improve upon the sustainable credentials of the preceding book, and to address issues that I found problematic. 

For this book I set out to make everything as locally as possible. The papers are GF Smith, made in GB, and the printer was based in London a couple of miles from my studio where the books are made and stored. One of the questions that I grappled with during the making process was on the sourcing of the paper. There aren’t many recycled papers made in the UK that are suitable for high quality photographic printing, and I decided to source locally but to use papers made from virgin fibre. A question that I still haven’t answered is whether it would have been better to use an imported recycled paper? For the cover and the phase box I used Extract, a paper made from recycled coffee cups. Through speaking with other members of the spp network I later found out that this paper is only approx. 20% recycled coffee cups, with the remaining pulp coming from virgin fibre, this was disappointing. In future I will dig deeper into the supply chain to interrogate where the pulp is coming from and in what quantities, and I hope that paper makers will also become more consistently transparent about the make-up of their papers.

The packaging material for the book consisted of paper off-cuts from the book making process, and reused materials from other studio deliveries (paper, bubble-wrap). The boxes were unbleached and uncoated recyclable cardboard. The making of this book produced a lot of off-cuts through the trimming process. The paper off-cuts from the body of the book were re-used where possible as packaging, and all orders through the MNL website will have arrived with something bright orange, as I reuse this left-over cardstock as bookmarks and notecards. Next time I will look to minimise paper off-cuts through the design and making of the book.

Tamsin Green (UK) - 03.2022

Kunywa Jasho Langu: Coffee Kenya
Jake Green
(Leyton of London: 2018)

The photo-documentary series observes Colombia’s coffee industry, processing, its epic landscape, local culture and communities (‘Beber Mi Sudor’ translates to'Drink My Sweat'). Part of Jake Green’s on-going documentary project about speciality coffee production, global trade and the movement of coffee. 

Images © Leyton of London

Materials and Processes

  • Screen printed cover on GF Smith Forest Green Colorplan 170gsm
  • Lose bound with a red elastic band

  • Main book

    • Arctic Volume White 130gsm by Arctic 
    • Insert on Extract 130gsm by GF Smith- Produced in the UK
    • Poster printed on Edixion Offset 80gsm by Antalis - wood free uncoated
    • Cover screen printed by Make Ready (London)
    • Printers Park Communications (London)
    • 1000 copies
    • Litho printed full colour photography

Paper sourcing: The Extract by GF Smith is made from recycled coffee cups and suited the project - but on closer inspection the balance is made up of 80% virgin ECF paper which feels like a bit of an imbalance in terms of sustainability. We were excited by the prospect of using this paper and relating it to the project - so we called the paper manufacturers directly to enquire about the specific production methods and how environmentally friendly  making paper from the cups was. It was only then that we discovered that there was such a high level of virgin paper being used. If we had known this upfront then we probably wouldn’t have used this paper.

Paper sourcing: The uncoated and unsealed cover in Colorplan scratches easily and led to undesirable waste. I would still use uncoated and unsealed screen printed paper, but something more robust like Pop’Set by Arjo Wiggins, which we have since tested. 

Shipping: The books were packaged in cardboard cartons and shipped globally without using any plastic, we haven’t recorded any damage to stock, maximum shipment was 250.

Binding: Though the binding is very elegant and negates the use of glue, the pages are held together by an elastic band  which has been hard to source locally. In future we will be looking at string as an alternative. They do look great and make a big impact allowing for pamphlets and printed sub-sections to be loosely inserted.

Printing: We specified lithographic printing as it was most cost effective per unit when printing 1000 copies. Having been ‘on press’ and seeing the waste involved we will be printing everything digitally moving forward, starting with smaller quantities and building up the print run as the editions are sold. There are a number of creative benefits to this alongside the obvious environmental benefits. Digital printing can allow for any errors in the first edition to be amended and for there to be variations between editions and extending content as projects evolve. There was once a stigma attached to the quality of printing digitally compared to the tried and tested lithographic, but that is no longer an issue for us.

Jake Green (UK) - 02.2022

(Copy) 80. The Schwarze Mönch
Sayako Sugawara
(Self Published: 2021)

(Copy) 80. The Schwarze Mönch is a photocopied artist book; a journey through a found set of photographic glass plates.

Based on images printed from found glass negatives, the book project Copy 80.The Schwarze Mönch was developed using a photocopier in the local library, in a similar way to how I’d work with an enlarger in the darkroom. The photocopier picked up the dust and scratches on the glass and made marks on the paper in a way that was perfectly suited for a project like this; that is as concerned with the marks left on the glass negatives over time, as with the images preserved on them. I also found that the intensity and the texture of the toner on the surface of the paper transforms it into some other material. 

Images © Sayako Sugawara

Materials and Processes

A photocopied book on recycled materials:

  • Paper: Redeem 130gsm / 315gsm  
  • Slipcase: Cairn Multiboard - Grey/White 350gsm,  Card - Redeem 315gsm
  • Printing: Photocopied by the artist, London
  • Perfect binding
  • Edition of 15  
  • Printed, bound and signed by the artist

Challenges and Learning

This was my first book project. One of the initial aims was to explore the idea of an artist book as an object. I wanted to take a similar approach to how I make my unique photographic prints: responding to what occurs during the creative process.  

The decision to keep the number of copies low was made based on practicalities: the budget and the method of photocopy production. After making initial enquiries with printers I soon realised that the minimum run (for offset printing) was way too big for what I was looking for. I knew from the beginning that I didn’t want to store so many copies in cardboard boxes for years to come. Originally I was aiming for 25 copies, however due to technical issues the final edition for this series was reduced to 15 with 2 sample books. 

Keeping the same printing method for the final books also seemed to make sense. The small scale of the run meant that I could print the books myself and achieve the surface finish I’d discovered during the development stage with the photocopier. However, this decision also came with restrictions in the size and binding method, and resulted in wastage. The paper I used came in B1 size which had to be cut down to A3 in order to fit the photocopier, producing quite a lot of off-cuts. These off-cuts came in handy to practise the cutting and binding and eventually became sketch books. I have experimented with the thinner off-cuts generated from trimming to make new paper and small sculptures, for example covering small stones with paper pulp. Although I like the idea that each stage of the process becomes another work or sketch, next time I would like to do a folded publication which doesn’t involve too much cutting and trimming by hand. 

On recommendation from a binder, I used the perfect finish binding with a strip of bookcloth to reinforce the spine. I would have liked to be able to open the pages completely flat but again this proved too difficult. I have used white tissue paper to wrap the books and they were posted (unfortunately) in normal bubble wrap and book cardboard.  

In general my approach to producing work is to find and use methods and materials which belong to the location I work in, and then to use the least toxic methods available. Of course there are exceptions, such as the use of Japanese paper or the print fixer. But I’d like to think that overall the small steps I take elsewhere, such as making my own developers from plant sources, recycling any waste and constantly considering carbon footprint combine to have a positive impact.

Sayako Sugawara (UK) - 02.2022

Oliver Raymond Barker
(Loose Joints: 2021)

Trinity by British artist Oliver Raymond Barker explores the complex histories embedded in the fabric of the land and engages with narratives around spirituality, protest and control. 

Images © Loose Joints

Materials & processes:

Digitally printed on HP indigo in the UK, recycled paper stocks used where possible:

  • Paper: Paperback Loop Snow 118gsm, Cairn Straw White 120gsm; GF Smith Max White Matt 150gsm, Neenah Environment Birch 90gsm, Colorplan Imperial Blue & Claret 120gsm
  • Cover: Winter & Co. Wibalin Natural Dove Grey 120gsm
  • Printing: HP indigo by Urban Ink in Enfield, UK
  • Covers printed by F.E Burman in Bermondsey, London
  • Hand bound in the UK by Piotr Jarosz, of I Make Books
  • Edition: 250 copies (200 standard & 50 Special)
  • Size: 250 × 350 mm

Challenges and Learning

We made a conscious choice to use as many recycled paper stocks as possible, using UK based companies like Paperback and GF Smith. This was for aesthetic reasons as well as fitting with the overall ecological ethos of the project. Over the last couple of years, recycled stocks are becoming harder to source with many mills going bust and paper shortages, so this was a constant challenge to source the best possible stocks that fulfilled both criteria.

To minimise transport all books were printed digitally in Enfield and then hand bound in East London. In terms of distribution the edition was split with a number sent to Marseille for European/Worldwide shipping by Loose Joints and a number left in the UK for domestic orders.

Boxes for the Special Edition were made by small family business MacCarthy & Sons, based in London. All prints for the Special Edition were made in the artist’s darkroom using sustainable  approaches where possible such as silver recovery from spent fixer solution.

Oliver Raymond Barker (UK) - 02.2022

Using Format