Papers Printers Use

When I began printing, paper was everywhere. In the Bay Area there was Amsterdam Art and the store at the San Francisco Art Institute, both of which have since permanently closed. When I returned to New York there was the paper-lover’s mecca of New York Central Art Supply in which you could see, and touch!, over a thousand papers from around the world. A bit further downtown, Dieu Donné Papermill still made sheets to order and had samples on panels for passersby to muse over for inspiration. Kate’s Paperie was just around the corner from them, selling paper as if it was a semiprecious commodity. And it was.

It was in these stores that I learned about paper, how it draped, the weight of it, its tooth and texture. But as in the Bay Area, so in the five boroughs: New York Central and Kate’s have gone the way of the Dodo, Dieu Donné the way of the art world. Now the paper that is available is closed up in drawers, lorded over by untrained staff at places like Blick Art Supply, or shuttered altogether from view at impenetrable fortresses like Talas. The paper that is available is to be viewed on monitors, to be guessed at, to be zoomed-in on.

As if the situation was not bad enough, papermills are closing, favored sheets are being discontinued, and papermakers are retiring (imagine, a craftsperson retiring!). The outlets are dwindling and the resources attenuating. A natural phenomenon, I suppose, when dealing with something so radically out of step with the state of the world: a book.

In this most recent volume from Artless Lemur, seventeen contemporary book printers talk about what papers they use and why and how they use them. En masse, the responses are not without an elegiac air. But paper persists, and inside this little booklet is a wealth of practical experience about which papers are worth a closer look.

Participants Include:

Carolee Campbell

Philip Gallo

Barbara Henry

Sarah Horowitz

Peter Koch

Ellen Knudson

Russell Maret

Emily Martin

Mark McMurray

Jamie Murphy

Martyn Ould

Elies Plana

Pat Randle

Gaylord Schanilec

Haein Song

Ines von Ketelhodt

Richard Wagener