Pau Wau Publications is the name given to an independent publishing company, set up by three friends in New York. Two photographers and a graphic designer with a knowledge and desire to create beautiful objects that can be treasured. They most certainly look as though they’ve done that, and their collection is one of real depth and quality. I caught up with founding member Andreas to find out some more, and to work out who’s the Chief.
Hey Andreas, loving the name of this new venture you’re involved with, can you tell us a little about Pau Wau Publications?
Basically Pau Wau Publications was started by my good friends Brian Lamotte, Simon Howell and myself. It began as a collective to just meet up, hang out, and chat about our work and what not, hence the name Pau Wau. The traditional Native American spelling of a Pow Wow means a gathering of North America’s Native people to celebration and renew friendships, to exchange knowledge, and to trade skills. We liked this idea and thought it would be a nice way for us to build and grow with each others support.
Brian is a graphic designer, but also takes photographs, and always knew he wanted to get into book publishing. Simon and I aren’t as talented! We just take photographs, and knew we wanted to publish small edition books or zines. The three of us teamed up, using Brian’s knowledge of layout, binding and printing, we decided to start making these zines of our own work, and then started to branch out by inviting photographers or artists whom we liked the work of. We always knew we wanted to just use handmade and collaborative methods using everything from photocopiers, sewing machines, traditional book binding and various printers. Experimenting is the key.
Are they just not some more zines? Have we not got enough already?
Yes, they are zines, on a basic level. But I think Pau Wau puts just that little bit more into the work. We sell at high end bookshops like Dashwood in New York, Claire De Rouen in London, and Colette in Paris – these people have always praised our hand made approach. We don’t just drop the images off at a printers, and then pick up a laser printed and stapled zine, where all the work is done for you in the publishing side. We’re using the printing method we choose for each book ourselves, watching every sheet come out, we hand fold every single sheet, we dye cover stock in baths, spray pages with fix when we used the wrong paper where the ink wouldn’t sit on the page, we stitch them by hand or on a dodgy old sewing machine! So many mistakes have happened along the way, but every zine we make we learn from, and that’s part of the fun. I think when you pick up a Pau Wau zine, you know a lot of love has gone into it. But in the end, they are just zines I suppose!
The book you’ve got called ‘J.O.E.’ looks really great – who is he?
J.O.E was actually one of the very first Pau Wau books, we did that January last year. It’s the most raw I think. We had no idea what we were doing! That’s the one where we used this cheap drawing paper, and Xeroxed it, the ink would rub off on your hands because the paper didn’t take it! So we ended up using fix on every sheet to keep in the ink in. It was a fucking nightmare! But that’s been one of the best selling ones now. Joe is a kid I met in 2005 in Brooklyn, I started documenting his life, we met up a bunch over the course of about three years, and I would just take his picture and we’d walk around Brooklyn. He was a really grown up kid, very street wise. And he had this great style and look. It was amazing to photograph him during that period, from 15 to 17. I was always thinking I was such a dork when I was his age, how could a kid this young be so knowledgeable and dress so well – I like to pick subjects I can learn from.
Is that you with the gold ring in the videos?
The gold ring and hands belong to the Chief! We don’t mess with the Chief. Every now and then he invites us into his TeePee to smoke the peace pipe. But we never see his face. He’s like Dr. Claw in Inspector Gadget, you never see his face!
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