Building on the widely acclaimed exhibit at the MoMA, the rich life of The Newsstand and its vast collection of artworks has been collected and printed in The Newsstand Book. The publication is a collaboration between Rizzoli, Pau Wau Publications, Lele Saveri, Ken Miller, and Alldayeveryday. Serving as a reference for New York zine culture as a whole, it includes hundreds of zines, artworks and interviews from independent artists and publishers.
The book’s designer, Brian Paul Lamotte (one-half of the aforementioned Pau Wau), faced two major problems during his process: first, sorting and selecting from the tens of thousands of pages of original artwork contributed to The Newsstand; and second, reconciling the lo-fi nature of that work with the polish and gloss of the prestigious Rizzoli publishing house.
Below, Brian walks us through the craziness of making the book, from the spark that inspired the design to the manufacturing process that made it a reality, along with a selection of his favorite spreads that didn’t make it into the book.
You can purchase your copy here.
The design of the book is very unique. How did it come about?
Brian: When Lele first told me about the MoMA show my initial thought was to make a book. Originally when we were talking about it, the idea of doing photocopies of all the zines came to us, as most of the zines had been created that way. We wanted to not only create a compendium of the zines at The Newsstand but also make a sort of zine in itself. Initially I pitched it to Rizzoli and it went through a couple months of back and forth discussions and presentations. They had previously done a book about independent magazines that was really big and glossy and I think when they got involved, the design was going in that direction but the production costs were simply too high. As it was becoming too expensive for them to produce, we went back to that initial idea of just doing photocopies; more towards this really rough and simpler thing. I pitched that idea to them and said “I want to make photocopies of everything, scan it, and then lay the book out from there,” thinking there was no way they would agree to it. They came back and said, “That sounds great.” Obviously, it brought the production cost down and made the book affordable enough to produce, but was also very in-tune with the culture itself.
The spine, the covers — it’s cheap but also very tight.
When I pitched the idea to them I had a lot of creative control over the production and design. I had a very clear idea in my mind: the exposed binding, the craft paper on the front and back, sections of green paper for interviews and so forth. To Rizzoli’s credit, they were supportive of the idea and the vision. I think Charles Miers, the head publisher, really understood what we were trying to do and saw the potential of it. I recently met with Benjamin Sommerhalder, who publishes Nieves, and we discussed “Directory” by Ari Marcopoulos which he co-published with Rizzoli. We started talking about it and it was funny because I think we both approached those projects in the same way, trying to work within a larger confinement of a publishing house that typically doesn’t make books in this style. It’s great that there’s a big publishing house that can support and realize these kind of ideas.
Afterlife by Eliot Greenwald
There were contradictions to solve—it is a book of other books, and a prestigious publishing house making a book of zines, which are anything but prestigious. You found a good balance, taking a subculture to the coffee table and the book shelf. It’s like knighting a whole cultural field. What you accomplished is very important because it not only captures the project, it also makes something that was underground accessible.
In a way that was the intention of working with someone like Rizzoli. Partially it had to do with prestige and resources but also the outreach was an important aspect to me. I knew we could make a great book on our own, but the support of having a production department and a large budget allowed me to realize ideas that may have been impossible independently. On the other hand, by working with them we also knew the book would be properly distributed and available much further than our typical reach.
What really hit me during the process of making it was when I was in Staples making photocopies of all these zines and I noticed one of them had “1 of 1” on the back cover. I was just like, “Shit this is crazy. This person made this one zine that somehow ended up at the Newsstand and now I’m photocopying it putting it in this collection of zines that will be reproduced in mass and available around the world.”
It reminded me of the purpose of why we’re doing this: To celebrate this culture and the people who make it. The culture of creating to create and not thinking of it in the bigger scheme of things.
Sixty Minuts From… The Newsstand by Pat McCarthy
Tell us about the craziness behind the selections and the selection process.
That was sort of a controlled chaos to be honest. Lele was also getting ready for the MoMA show at the same time so he had boxes and boxes of zines everywhere. I came to him with this initial idea for the layout. I knew we obviously couldn’t show all the zines so I planned to show mostly covers and asked him to select roughly 50~100 zines we’d show select spreads of. Much like The Newsstand, we didn’t want it to be over-curated or thought out, but naturally as he was the author, there is a curatorial voice. The process involved him going through the archives and picking out what responded to him the most. It was trying to say more than “what are the important ones," but what was there and what was represented at that time.
Once I created the first layout, he went back through the archives and said, “Oh I forgot this one” or “I want to include this one.” We started swapping and changing things as needed from that point. After the photocopies were made, I made an initial edit of the spreads from each zine and we worked together deciding on the final order and edit. Certain zines just lent themselves to certain layouts; some could be shown in one spread or page where others needed multiple spreads to understand the concept.
Frenching #3 by Maggie Lee
How long did the process take, from sorting through the archives to making the first layout?
No joke, a month, literally. I made the first layout in a weekend, it was insane. It was the fastest book I’ve put together and it’s probably the fastest book I’ll ever put together because of the timeline. For the whole process we were working on a schedule where I had deadlines for revisions every week.
It took about a week to create the photocopies; I was in Staples three or four days straight just photocopying all day then we had some help scanning each photocopy which took another few days. By that point I had everything digitally and made the first layout that weekend. From there it was a lot of revisions, setting the type and designing the cover. From the beginning, pitching it to actually turning in the final draft, took around four or five months, but the entire interior took only one month. Sometimes when you have too much time you start to go down routes that maybe aren’t the best and I think that really helped us with this. At the same time, in parallel, when you’re making a zine you’re usually doing it in a very fast and intuitive way. I feel like this book kind of came together in that way too.
HCO by Nick Sethi
Beyond displaying the diverse work that resulted from it, the book captures The Newsstand’s creation via photos of the space and interviews with the people involved. You also gave numbers to each zine. It feels like there’s an anthropological approach to documenting all of it.
Definitely. In my head when I put this together and talking to Lele, I wanted to make something that felt almost like a reference manual but was also a catalog with this encyclopedic feel to it. The numbers and those types of elements, interestingly enough, were pushed on us by Rizzoli. One thing they had stressed very heavily at the beginning, which both of us were not really interested in doing mainly because of the time it took to do, was the index in the back. They were insistent however; there had to be an index no matter what. I think Charles understood the greater context of this: that a kid somewhere was going to get this book and not know any of these people but want to know more. It took a lot of time to develop but I’m glad it’s there because without it, it becomes just an art book in a sense. In the end we wanted to create something that wasn’t just a catalog for the MoMA show and wasn’t just merely a documentation of The Newsstand but something between.
Screw York City by Sean Maung