If you've ever been wandering around downtown Portland and find yourself in an alleyway that looks like something straight out of a book, chances are you've stumbled upon Publication Studio. Publication Studio was cofounded by Patricia No in 2009 with the intention to allow writers, artists, and creatives to reach an audience with the most direct and transparent methods possible. Publication Studio prints, binds, and sells books on-demand out of their studio storefront. They have expanded by creating sibling studios in other cities such as Oakland, Boston, Vancouver BC, and even Malmo, Sweden. Antonia Pinter, half of Publication Studio Portland, started out as Patricia's intern and built a friendship and working relationship with Patricia, and has since become co-owner of PS. Together, the ladies of Publication Studio have grown an experimental project into a thriving business that has challenged the way publishing is approached. They sell books at over 60 bookstores worldwide, have 11 international locations, and have also conducted artist residences around the world. Publication Studio is open to the public from 11am to 5pm, make sure to stop by and check out Patricia and Antonia in action, and pick up one of the books they have published while you're at it! Enjoy the photos and interview with them!
1. Why Portland? What was it that drew you to Portland or has kept you here?
What keeps us in Portland is the weather! No, what keeps us in Portland is that it is full of surprises. That tiny food cart that is blissfully good. That used bookstore that just opened up. That show we accidentally stumbled into. That hike we didn't know about that blew us away. Portland is a city that is always changing and looking and trying. It is still small and inexpensive enough that it's flexible and allows for all this experimentation, collaboration, failure, new opportunities. It challenges you to seek out what's happening and it also challenges you to try something new and on your own. Also, Burgerville.
2. What are your favorite things happening in Portland (design or otherwise)?
Yuji Agematsu's show at Yale Union
Excited for Julia Calabrese's upcoming show at Portland Museum of Modern Art
3. How did your brand start?
Publication Studio was founded in 2009 with no money and a drive to make books on-demand to bring agency back into the writer/reader/publisher relationship. We started in the Ace Hotel event space, The Cleaners, which was generously provided to us between the hours of 5am-noon which gave us the space that we needed to be visible and to connect with our authors and our community. We found our downtown space in 2010 and have been here ever since making books.
4. What has been your biggest obstacle?
As a for-profit business, we're not eligible for grants or other kinds of funding, so money has been our biggest obstacle. We'd love to invest in better machinery, but make do because we function in a really direct economy.
5. What or who inspires your design?
Generally, we're always inspired by other publishers and bookshops that engage the social life of the book (Art Metropole, castillo/corrales, Ooga Booga, Good Press, Luminous Books); they're always doing incredible things that push new blood into our own ideas. But other things would be the perfect size of old paperbacks, the way a poem looks on a page, good paper and type that we come across, accidents that turn out to be quite beautiful or revealing.
6. What are your favorite things about Portland?
Walking into any place and running into friends. Of course, this also means we love hotel bars when we feel like being a bit anonymous.
7. What is your favorite part of your studio?
That it's open to everyone. When we first opened our studio, I wanted it to be like the skate shops we hung out in as a kids—a place to spend hours and days in without the pressure to buy anything—just a space to identify with, feel comfortable loafing around in. It's crucial to our practice to have an architecture; it's part of our making a public out of publication. We need a space to share and bring people together around books. We love that it's both our studio and a public storefront. Oh, it also gets great light in the summer which is good for our plants (that we constantly try not to kill).
8. Your favorite thing about your workspace?
That everything is modular. We can quickly change the studio to function as a store, a studio, a dance performance space, a bar, a restaurant, a nightclub, etc. All our furniture can be taken down and moved around easily, and we have a back room that can hide it all. We also love that all our furniture was made by our pals Grant McGavin, Elliot Meier and Elizabeth Jaeger.
9. Tell us two truths and a lie!
We end up wearing the same outfit to work almost every day.
We share all our publications online for free.
We cannot tell a lie.
10. 5 things you can’t live without.
In the studio:
1. bone folder
2. straight edge
4. lunch hour
5. our guillotine paper trimmer