Talk Self-Publishing, Self-Publishing Talk – Workshop at University of Northampton

Following on from the self-publishing workshop I recently facilitated with the Part B Fine Art students at Loughborough University School of the Arts, I was invited by Andrew Hewitt from the University of Northampton to do a similar session with their second year Fine Art students…what was also my last teaching day of 2014. Under the title of ‘Self-publishing from Print to Online: The Promotion of the Artist and Creative’, I had five hours to work with the students throughout the day where I broke down the session into six parts, much like the workshop in Loughborough, as outlined below:

  • 9.30am – 10.00am: Introduction and Exercise 1: What is self-publishing? What is your definition? What are the positive and negative aspects of self-publishing? What is self-publishing online and who represents themselves online?;
  • 10.00am – 11.30am: Lecture/Q&A on ‘An Introduction to Self-publishing: From Print to Online’;
  • 11.30am – 12.00pm: Introduction to Group Project and ideas planning through reference to the self-publishing materials provided;
  • 12.00pm – 1.00pm: LUNCH;
  • 1.00pm – 2.15pm: Group Project – making session;
  • 2.15pm – 3.00pm: Feedback from Group Project;
  • 3.00pm – 3.30pm: Conclusion and Exercise 2: Building on Exercise 1.

Uni of NHT workshop 1

Uni of NHT workshop 3

For the entire workshop session and day, I had 7 students (thanks to those who came!), where other students would periodically pop in and out. It would have been great to have more students but the smaller group allowed me to engage with them on a more 1:1 basis and for longer, also developing their group projects more personally related to their current professional practice module and forthcoming Spring Show. I was just pleased to engage as many of them as possible. Many of the students were familiar with my practice and I as I had given a lecture to the full second year Fine Art year group back in October 2014. This, in part, made things a little more relaxed and calmer as a starting point. The students had also recently been given an introductory workshop to bookbinding and bookmaking with Catriona Leahy from the department…so they all had real, first-hand knowledge and skills fresh in their mind. Great to finally meet Catriona too after all the to-ing and fro-ing with emails and introductions.

I began the day by asking students to write three cards or post-it notes – a definition of self-publishing, one positive aspect of self-publishing and one negative aspect of self-publishing – in response to the 2014 article ‘Artists’ self-publishing: where the digital and handmade coexist’ by Catherine Roche that they read prior to the workshop. This opening exercise was to gauge their initial understanding of the subject that we could then reference and build on throughout the three hours.

After this short exercise, the second part of the session was to introduce self-publishing through a lecture and material I’d brought along and laid out across tables for students to peruse, leaf through, smell (as print smells great) and gain inspiration from…this included my own artist’s books and self-publishing including from the recent ‘The Temporary: 01′ project; books by creatives Mengxi Zhang, Xiaoxiao Xu, Xu Bing, Hans Ulrich Obrist, Céline Condorelli, Mikko Kuorinki, Liz Hingley, Fiona Banner; examples from self-publishers including Pam Flett Press, The Caseroom Press and Rope Press, and publications produced as project outcomes such as Where you going?, Transnational Dialogues, Book Art Object…and so many more as you can see. I felt it was very important to bring a reality of self-publishing to the session so students could get a tangible idea of what is out there. These books moved from the lecture room to print room as the day and group project progressed, where printmaking and fine art staff became engaged in the works on show too. Great to see so many reading, looking, holding, examining the pages, texts, images, content…

Uni of NHT workshop 9

Uni of NHT workshop 4

Uni of NHT workshop 6

Uni of NHT workshop 5

Uni of NHT workshop 7

Uni of NHT workshop 10

Parts three and four of the session took part in the Fine Art block’s printmaking studio…a place where I feel very at home. They have a world of resources there, which I reminded the students they might not have again in the near future, so to use it as much as they can! Here, they developed in small groups, a short illustrated proposal of a form of self-publishing/self-publishing platform, relevant to their fine art practice. They both chose to create proposals that related to current work-in-progress…their professional practice module, specifically the construct of a creative CV, and their forthcoming Spring Show taking place in early 2015. During the feedback session, the two groups discussed their proposed projects :

  1. Creating paper planes as a way of informing and signposting audiences to the Spring Show. Initial information…quick to read and understand…”open me” label over the wings, hashtag, brief exhibition info. Possibility of it going viral, en masse on campus/across the town. The other group mentioned wrapped sweets, where the wrapper contains the exhibition information. They originally looked into using origami boxes as a way of signposting, however felt that they were perhaps too precious and “stable” a form that audiences would not want to take apart. Better to use these as an information point within the exhibition about each artist, after the use of the paper planes – act as a business card? Suggested to use the boxes or the planes as an incentive method to create an exchange, gain momentum for the project versus being a memento. Here we discussed the importance of a title for the project, and how to share these ideas with others before finalising. Also the importance of acknowledging colleagues/support from others/funders/partners through logos, and how this impacts the design or message;
  2. Designing and producing a different format creative CV in a paper engineered pamphlet/leaflet format that would hold all the information about the artist. The difference in online and in-print media and the importance to differentiate. What could be different about the paper media? Suggestion to show a film of the creative CV being opened, folded, read, re-folded.

At the end of the session, and the final exercise, the students were asked to return to the wall of cards and post-it notes again to add to and discuss – a definition of self-publishing, one positive aspect of self-publishing and one negative aspect of self-publishing – where it became clear that the students had a much more confident idea of self-publishing and its potential in relation to their practice. The thoughts and responses are shown below.

I look forward to seeing whether they put the proposals into use in the coming months…well I’ll see when I go and visit their Spring Show. Until then…there’s Christmas to keep me busy, and finishing my PhD…back to it…

Uni of NHT workshop 2

Uni of NHT workshop 14

Uni of NHT workshop 12

Uni of NHT workshop 13


  • Self-representation;
  • Sharing ideas;
  • Connections;
  • Ways of promoting yourself;
  • Books, magazine, Instagram, Facebook, talks/visits, Twitter, volunteering;
  • Documentation of your work;
  • Getting your work out there;
  • Showing off your work.


  • Getting yourself known;
  • Personal;
  • Getting yourself out there;
  • Sharing;
  • Control;
  • Self-promotion;
  • (Book) sales;
  • Personal;
  • Creativity.


  • Bad responses to your work;
  • Time;
  • People could copy your work;
  • A lot of work to make it happen;
  • Copyright;
  • Negative response;
  • Copying work.

Uni of NHT workshop 8

Uni of NHT workshop 11


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