Less Than 500 Press

Less Than 500 Press

Mark Callard/ Foxhole Magazine

How did you become involved in artist’s books?

About ten years ago, I started writing poetry as a way of staying sane during a long period of mental ill health and rubbish jobs. My friend’s sister is a graphic designer, and so between the three of us, we edited my work down and created a book, but one that also had a strong visual identity. I also made an A4 zine on the photocopier at my local Staple and took copies of that and the poetry book to sell at the Alternative Press fair in London. I hadn’t been to many events like it but have always been a book and comic nerd, so I immediately fell in love with all the weird and wonderful things that people were making and selling, things that existed without anyone’s backing or an official stamp of approval. From there, I started making more books and zines, exhibited at as many zine fairs and DIY art markets as I could. Eventually I went back to University in my mid-30’s to study Graphic Design and Visual Art, as I wanted to learn how to have a go at some of the things I was seeing at the events I’d been attending. Once I was no longer a poor student, I started doing Artists Book Fairs up and down the country (because it’s not all about London).

What is the focus of your practice?

My three years at University were great but left me with mixed feelings about the various disciplines, or where I fitted in. I was in the Graphic Design class but I hung out with the Fine Art students in the room next door, so I got the best of both worlds but was also aware of things I didn’t like about both practices. I’m interested in content and like to create something people can engage with, rather than just saying ‘that looks nice’ and forgetting about it five minutes later, or not engaging with it at all because it needs to be explained. I would say my work is about stories and narratives, places, time, textures and decay (amongst other things) but how and when any of these themes might appear will vary from one project to the next.

What are you working on at the moment?

Two photography zines featuring visits to Chernobyl and Hong Kong, and a new issue of Foxhole zine, which is a collection of other people’s writing, art and photography. The new issue has been curated by photographer Mary Scott, which is the first time I’ve handed the reins over to someone else, so I’m looking forward to seeing how different this issue is compared to the ones I’ve curated. 

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