I started Marquand Books in Seattle over thirty years ago, originally as a graphic design and photography firm specializing in work for artists and art galleries. By the mid-1980s, we had become a small art book publisher. Today, we produce collection books, monographs, and exhibition catalogues for museums throughout the United States and abroad. We have a great staff and clientele.
In 2005, a small group of friends, artists, architects, designers, and I started buying several unused buildings in Tieton, a small orchard town in central Washington. This group became Mighty Tieton. We have created an incubator for artisan businesses in order to provide entrepreneurial opportunities for creative professionals and to improve the economy of this appealing, but struggling, town.
My artisan business there is Marquand Editions | Tieton (ME|T). Our studio, letterpress shop, and bindery creates handmade, limited-edition books for individuals, artists, galleries, collectors, and museums. Our clients are looking for books that are tactile, personal, memorable; they want books that are objects. Some clients visit our studio to help design the books we create for them.
ME|T also produces a line of stationery and gifts that are sold in museums and in our online shop. This past fall, we opened our downtown Seattle shop, Paper Hammer, in our new design office next to the Seattle Art Museum.
The studio creates promotional items for Marquand Books as well. Several times a year we produce amusing design pieces for actual and prospective clients. The Decider is a spin game to help you make quick decisions about vexing quandaries. The Speeder-Upper is a hotel desk bell (made out of paper, of course) that you ring during meetings to encourage long-winded colleagues to get to the point.
Some pieces are serious. My Spines, ten separately-bound books of essays, is nearly complete. Each short, thoughtful, and highly personal excerpt was written by an art museum publishing professional about some aspect of the book as a physical object. Our writers include directors from the Royal Collection, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, MFA Boston, the Amon Carter, and others yet to be announced.
This book series is printed in Tieton. Our binder hand-stitches the printed essay pages to the end sheets before gluing them into the case and pressing them in our enormous antique book press. The design is a simple hardcover with paper over board; as a collection the spines all lined up on a bookshelf create an image of our company’s mark: a book standing at an angle, casting a shadow. Simple, bold, and memorable.
A publishing friend of mine says that it’s nice when something outlives its obsolescence, and in our Tieton studio we are doing our best to ensure that vintage techniques and models live on in fresh, contemporary ways.
-by Ed Marquand. Article originally appeared in the Cincinnati Art Museum’s member’s magazine.