Talking with Kerrie Carbary

Interview with Kerrie Carbary by Kara L.C. Jones

Q: What is

Kerrie: The online presence for Turtle Press, a small company and retail store specializing in book arts, rubber stamps, and other paper arts and supplies.


Q: What is dog eared magazine?

Kerrie: This is from our mission statement: We want to bring creativity and inspirational instruction to anyone who wants to make art books, whether you are an artist who loves the idea of creating art in a book form, a teacher trying to get students interested in SOMETHING, or an avid journaler who needs to make his or her own perfect journal. dog eared magazine will cover techniques of traditional and contemporary bookbinding while keeping a careful eye on the content and purpose of an artist's book. Our focus will be very concrete- we'll play with books of all kinds, but won't stray too far from the subject of BOOKS.


Q: How did you get involved in book arts?

Kerrie: In college, it wasn't until my thesis for a BFA in Photography was nearly finished that I discovered art printmaking. Wow- it was like a lightbulb went off over my head. I was already very close to the BFA in photography, and BA in general art, so felt pressure to just GRADUATE, but I took as many printmaking classes as I could. One of these classes was a special projects class, and that particular summer the theme was book arts. That class changed my life. I hate to be cliche, but it really did completely alter my focus and suddenly making books was my Thing. I've been making books ever since. Now, I'm attempting to combine the two things that I think I'm perhaps meant to do. Teaching about creating artists' books and making a magazine.


Q: Where did you learn to make books? And how did you learn the business of your art?

Kerrie: I fell into it, really, I never intended to go into business for myself. I'm mainly self taught, both about bookbinding and about business. I've read a LOT, and absorb as much material I can get my hands on. I've had pretty extensive experience in retail, so opening my own store eventually seemed natural.


Q: What's your favorite part about running the store front in Ballard?

Kerrie: Meeting new people and hearing about their project ideas. Helping them bring their ideas to life.


Q: What's your favorite part about running the websites and magazine?

Kerrie: I actually don't like running the web site much at all; it's a chore. I'm trying to convince my husband to take that part over completely, we'll see how that goes. I love the magazine, though, every single part of it. My favorite part is the point in the cycle when I have a nice pile of articles and artwork, and know that it's going to be a good issue after all. Then, I get to start fitting the puzzle pieces all together.


Q: How do you keep coming up with such great theme and submission ideas for dog eared

Kerrie: That's easy- I choose themes that I'm interested in. Before my first issue even came out, I already had a list of at least 24 different themes to pursue in the future. And, I keep coming up with new ones for my list. I gather suggestions, too- for example, one friend/customer/subscriber suggested Beaded Books. I think that's a great idea.


Q: What has been your favorite issue of dog eared magazine?

Kerrie: Oh, it's always the next one after the one I'm working on right now.


Q: How do you find your balance between the creation of art and business of art?

Kerrie: I actually am not feeling very balanced right now, running two businesses takes most of my time and leaves very little energy left for art. I try to fit it in, but honestly, if you're going to start any kind of business that is art related in any way, know that the creativity will be soaked right out of you, and you'll have little left for your own personal art. It's an issue I struggle with, and sometimes I end up having tantrums and taking entire mornings to make art. But, that doesn't happen nearly often enough.


Q: Do you teach classes about bookmaking or the business of art?

Kerrie: Not right now. I have in the past and may again someday, but not in the near future.


Q: Do you consider yourself both a writer and a bookmaker? How do you distinguish? What comes first-- the content or the design idea?

Kerrie: The writing and design are always so interlinked that it's impossible for me to say what comes first. I consider myself both a book artist and a writer, although my inner writer is a little more insecure, so I have to work hard to announce that I'm an artist AND a writer when someone asks me about my work.


Q: For someone just starting out in bookmaking, what would you tell them?

Kerrie: Make lots of messes and disasters. Hide the really horrible disasters, but don't throw them away, they'll be good to laugh at later. Practise and look at as many art books as you can. And most importantly of all- treat your paper nicely. Don't munch it in your hands as you carry it around. Honestly, a truly good book artist can be identified by how much reverence they give a simple sheet of paper.


Q: What's your least favorite part about bookmaking?

Kerrie: Drilling holes. I hate it.


Q: What has been the biggest mistake you've made either in the creation of art or in the business of your art-- and what did you learn from it?

Kerrie: My second biggest mistake in business was forgetting that it's about being true to my visions, and not about what everyone wants or expects from me, or about what seems to be a good seller at the time. Just because someone demands a certain product, either from our store or our magazine, doesn't mean that we have to do anything about it. I forgot for a short while the reasons I opened a store, and strayed from my path, but I think I've found it again, and will work to make the store better as a result. The ability to ignore others when necessary is an important skill for both an artist and a businessperson. My biggest mistake- well, I can't tell you THAT, because it's ongoing. Ask me again in a year or so.


Q: Where do you get your artistic inspiration from?

Kerrie: I can't say, really, it could be from anything, a book, a sound, a memory, a smell, a long shower. Sometimes they just hit, and I haven't figure out what to do to make them hit more often, or stop hitting if they're coming too quickly.

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