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Academy of Art Instructors Make Their Mark

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Bettina Pauly’s finished book, Grimm’s Fairy Tale Theater: Hänsel & Gretel. Photo courtesy of Bettina Pauly.

Three longtime instructors from Academy of Art University’s School of Fine Art, specializing in book arts and letterpress, were invited by the San Francisco Center for the Book to produce artist’s books for the Center’s Small Plates imprint. Macy Chadwick, Jennie Hinchcliff and Bettina Pauly were chosen by a panel of board members, teachers and community members on the strength of their proposals to create the small-scale books, in an edition size of 100.

The books were released at a party on June 10, at the Center for the Book, in the city’s Potrero Hill neighborhood. At the well-attended opening, each artist spoke about her process, from conceptualization to production. In addition to the books themselves, tools and proofs from that process were on display. 

Chadwick, a letterpress and book arts instructor at the Academy since 2003, created a book called Input/Output. “This is a book about the creative process,” said Chadwick. “As artists, we gather information, text and ideas as fuel for making art. How does creative input transform into artistic output?”

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Macy Chadwick’s book, Input/Output during the binding process. Photo courtesy of Macy Chadwick.

Input/Output is comprised of several folded sheets, which open up to reveal a complete image. In describing the process of designing and creating the book, Chadwick said, “Conceptually, I followed my usual mode of working—bouncing back and forth between structure, text and idea in developing the book as a cohesive whole.” She did her printing at SFCB, rather than in her own studio, which presented both benefits and challenges. “It helped me focus on this specific project, and also gave me access to volunteers and equipment,” she said. “But, I found that there was the added challenge of designing and producing the book in a public space.”

Proclomatie is the book produced by Hinchcliff, who has been teaching book arts at the Academy since 2007.

Her book is an homage to the early 20th century Dutch artist H.N. Werkman, using text from his 1932 manifesto on art making, and employing many of the same techniques as Werkman himself—including spontaneous design decisions, hand stamping and printing on an iron handpress. Hinchcliff found the 4x4” size to be comfortable, describing it as “small, personal, a book that the reader can hold in their hands and connect with.” The edition size was larger than anything she had ever worked with, though. “Planning out the logistics for 75 books (and then making each book happen) was a new experience for me,” said Hinchcliff.

Working with a large edition size was also new for Pauly. “It was a great experience to make this book,” Pauly said. “I surprised myself that I actually finished the edition of 100 at the end of June.” Pauly graduated from the Academy, and has since been teaching workshops and art experience classes in letterpress and book arts. Her book, Grimm’s Fairy Tale Theater: Hänsel & Gretel, employs fold-out pages, pop-outs and paper dolls to create a play set in which the reader can reenact the famous fairy tale. She made a tally of the different press runs and processes utilized and came up with this: 26 times through the press for printing, plus five for cutting, plus foil stamping on the cover, brings us to 32 total times through the press for one book.

All the artists had help from friends, colleagues from the Academy faculty, former students and SF Center for the Book volunteers for the many hours of printing, folding, gluing and finishing that each edition of books required. 

The San Francisco Bay Area is one of the world’s most active regions for book arts and letterpress printing. With several university programs, the Center for the Book, and many private presses and binderies, book artists find themselves in a community rich in activity and creativity. Hinchcliff said, “I have been an active part of the Bay Area artist book community for nearly 20 years and feel incredibly lucky to be part of [a] network of printers, binders and local artists who choose to work in this format. Having a sense of one’s community encourages established artists to experiment and expand, while demonstrating to newcomers how vibrant the community is.” 

The Academy, in particular, has a wealth of talent and inspiration, as demonstrated by the three instructors. “It was an honor to be chosen for this project along with my [Academy] coworkers, Bettina Pauly and Jennie Hinchcliff,” said Chadwick. “The three of us have taught at both SFCB and [the Academy] for years and this Small Plates project only solidified the connection between these two educational environments.”

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Jennie Hinchcliff with a print for her book, Proclomatie. Photo by Von Span.

Hinchcliff added: “It was wonderful to spend time in the studio working on our individual projects, yet feeling like I was creating something that was part of a larger whole.”