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Maxwell Anderson on his new book Work In Progress

Work In Progress by Maxwell Anderson

A stack of completed books
Maxwell Anderson is an emerging photographer and book publisher from London, but you may already be acquainted with his work. Selected as one of the Magenta Foundation's 2012 Flash Forward winners, his experience in photobook publishing began with an internship with Chris Boot LTD, which Anderson has managed since Boot's was made director of the Aperture Foundation. His work in publishing lead him to start his own imprint, Bemojake, releasing his first book See You Soon in 2010. Now out of print, See You Soon was released to a great reception, included as one of Sean O'Hagan's best photography books of the year for The Guardian in addition to being on three of photo-eye's Best Books lists in 2010. In his review for photo-eye, George Slade called it "an ideal application of self-publishing."

The newest offer from Anderson is Work In Progress, a photographic sketchbook created for the 2012 C/O Berlin Book Days event, a showcase and discussion on visual dialogues with an emphasis on self-publishing. Anderson was kind enough to share a bit about the making of the Work In Progress and his intentions behind it, as well as a video documenting the actual book being produced by Anderson himself, along with some butt shaking.


Work In Progress came about when I was kindly invited to participate at the C/O Berlin Book Days event in May 2012. The invitation came at a time when I was considering my work in general, spending hours flipping through negative files and going slightly insane talking to the wall about what I want and enjoy in photography. This process also embarrassingly involved looking at my own website on different computers, just in case a different screen would give me a new revelation. The only thing that really gave me was sore eyes and sleep deprivation.
from Work In Progress by Maxwell Anderson
Another contributing factor in the decision to produce a sketchbook of work is my online work, Absolute Present, which has been going for 6 years or so now. It’s a monthly online publication of photographs taken from everyday seeing and experiencing, with no particular pre-conceptions about what I’m looking for. From it may come a specific piece of work, but for the most part it’s a wandering digression. I made the blog initially because I was taking so many photographs I enjoyed looking at, but were just being processed, contact sheeted and stored, only browsable by me or my friends. The monthly blog seemed more accessible idea… Moving on from that, my website has come to feel almost as futile as my negative files, and my desire for the physical object nibbles at my brain when I look at my computer screen. I’m not the most HTML savvy individual around, so I’m not always inspired to sit for hours updating my website. I would much rather spend that time fingering paper stocks and perving over book cover designs. I imagine all my work as a potential book or exhibition, but to be honest I don’t really have enough money to materialise them.

from Work In Progress by Maxwell Anderson
And so, Work In Progress seemed a fun and satisfying way to offer people something interesting to look at. And that’s really what I want, for this book, and I guess to an extent, in general. Enjoy looking at images. Enjoy the beauty of print media. It was actually rather exciting for me to make WIP, because it was my first time to experiment with full colour Xerox printing. I went down to my local print shop in Deptford, south east London and spent a day printing test sheets out. I’m never sure whether they enjoy working with me or whether I piss them off. They're not used to someone ordering in their own stock of multi-coloured sugar paper, and asking them not to saddle stitch so one can hand bind it with pieces of multi-coloured string!

Original cover of Work In Progress
Originally I drew a portrait of myself for the front cover. But then I found it much more fun to make little sketches of parts of images in the collection.

I then spent a day cutting the corners off all the printed sheets, stringing them together, and finally signed and numbered them all. It got pretty boring, so half way through I made a little video of myself carrying out the laborious task, and then having a bit a of dance. Ordered some plastic sleeves then carted them off to Berlin for Book Days. I’m a believer in pricing as close to the cost price as feasibly possible, because I used to hate being a student, seeing books I really wanted but were extortionately over priced… I am, therefore, a terrible businessman. -- Maxwell Anderson

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