Interview with Kate Woodrow
Hi kate hi, molly oh, here they're going to turn around so would you like to just start by telling everyone what your what your role is? A chronicle? Yeah, absolutely s o I am a senior acquisition editor at chronicle books were based in san francisco and we're an independent publisher and we publish all kinds of very visual books and gift products and as an acquisition editor my job is tio both come up with ideas and find ideas out in the world for art books and also art driven gift products so give products run the gamut from very straightforward no cards and journals, stationery and then mohr sort of content driven um games and art kits and guided journals and even novelty products like temporary tattoos sort of you name it we would love to make it and I would love to work with you on it. Can you talk a little bit tio how uh how you actively find artist to work with and what some of the ways are that people confined, how to put it themselves in front of you and sort of how you're fin...
ding people out in the world. Yeah, absolutely I mean, I am always looking for new artist to work with, so if you are an artist, don't be shy about reaching out people contact me all the time and I'm always more than happy to hear from them so let's, see, I mean, I find new artists in my general sort of internet trawling looking at blog's and sites online like just this morning on dh that could be very specific art blog's or not our blog's. But like this morning, the jealous curator featured a japanese artist that I thought, oh, wow, that person's awesome. Maybe I should check them out so online I spent a lot of time looking in gift shops and sting people who make you know their own products. That's often how we find artists is is artists who have their own fine art practice or their own commercial business already where they're making goods, and then I'll reach out to them to see if they want to make something with us. I also work with artists who are represented by art reps, so it might come in that way. I go to a lot of the trade shows like gift show and stationery show and just walk up and down the aisles looking for new people. Um and what else? I mean, I just generally have my eyes open. People send me suggestions all the time people reach out to me and I reach out to people as well, so you both work on gift product, but you also working book, so we've worked on a book together is there a way for people to submit book ideas to you like a book proposals yeah yeah, absolutely I mean chronicle has on our website if you go all the way down to the bottom some submission guidelines and absolutely look closing you can send your ideas to that general address or I I'm more than happy to receive your ideas directly and if you do just the most basic internet sleuthing you confined my email address my website which is cake woodrow dot com um yeah, I welcome book ideas and give product ideas and I really welcome specific ideas like you can always just send me your portfolio and say, hey, this is my artwork I'd love to work with you but I really really appreciate it when you do that plus send a specific idea of something that you want to work on and that you think would be good for chronicle might be who sure who's your customer for your parties types of parties sweating studio that it well, who is your customer? I guess yeah that's a great question because we're always thinking about, you know, who's who who's going to buy this product and so chronicle publishes a lot of different categories so you know, from cookbooks to children's books, so obviously those air different consumers but I could just speak teo sort of my consumer or if you have a specific category do you have a specific specific category? You're curious about people what is, uh weddings? Uh yeah whimsical, elegant and well that's the consumer I mean eh? So yeah, I do sometimes published for that you know, we published for the bride and we're always thinking about gift giving occasions so we love to make things that are great for a bridal shower gassed or a baby shower gift you know, tea parties well, t is a topic of interest with molly we're working on a teacup book and so in addition to gift gift giving occasions were also thinking about merchandising opportunities. So tea, for example, lends itself so well to merchandising right? Because you could display a t themed book or stationary or give product alongside teapots and teacups and two titles and tea. And so if you're pitching an idea it's great to sort of think through those things in advance maybe spend some time in gift shops and visualize where your product or your book would live and alongside what other merchandise? Because that's what we're thinking about you know, we do have hi kate I'm kind of from here it creative, I've got the voice of the internet and people asking questions on line so live in it so we do have an international audience and we have someone who's asking if you work with artists that are not outside of that are outside the u s for example people that work that live in europe oh of course yeah we so chronicle distributes our product globally and the huge part of our business is our export sales to europe and also to asia and canada and australia so absolutely we want teo represent artists from those countries and I worked I worked very often with artists especially from the uk but also australia and japan and france and I know all over so yeah absolutely yeah hi kate my name is adina I have a question actually about thie portfolio and specific example that you want people to send in so if they're sending you like a breath of their work plus you know the specific example is this something that maybe doesn't live out in the world yet or is this something that may be you know you already make that you think would be a really good fit for chronicle both either and ice and I see both all the time so if it's a product that you already make that's awesome because that we have a very specific visual idea of what you want to make I love seeing prototypes or physical samples are things mocked up were very visual company so so seeing actual things is great and it might be that you're saying hey you know I make this I don't know I make this journal but I was thinking for chronicles list wouldn't it be great as a set of three or wouldn't it be great if it was dieted in this way? Like maybe your think maybe you're identifying an opportunity for chronicle that's different than what you already sell on your own like for example, a lot of artists work with us in ways that they find that chronicle is able to produce things that they couldn't afford to make on their own so like they're selling single notecards but then we're going to do a more elaborate box set, for example, or if it's something that you don't make yet it's great to see sketches even rough sketches or if you are so inclined to mock it up in a physical way is a really compelling wayto it's something that is in your in your brain just kind of follow up. Does that mean that you would prefer to have these kind of digitally email teo and like photos and and drawings or don't prefer to see like a physical prototype or a physical sample of something that they want to pitch to you? I like either and I think this goes for most editors or chronicle either like to get like a single pdf that's easy for me to print out and review or a package in the mail that's not like crazy elaborate it's going toe explode on my desk with glitter you know but but if it's better represented in the physical form absolutely send me some snail mail because I love getting packages that way and either way I'll always reply and let you know if it's something that we're interested in or not and oh, I was going to say the reason I like a pdf is you know, ultimately it's not only up to me to decide about the idea like I'm the first person who will review it and if I think it might have potential for chronicle, I'll end up sharing it with my colleagues in our publishing and it's really nice to have some compelling visuals for me to share with thems so a pdf is really nice great questions will we have more questions coming in from a lot of folks at home? Ah lot of these questions about submitting to you one is about for a rough outline for a book do you look at the illustrations first or the storyline do they both have to be top notch? Um yeah, well ok, so again, I'm speaking to my expertise in in art book publishing. Yeah, I'm looking at the visuals first I mean, if if I'm in art editor and we're making an art book, I'm first and foremost looking at at the artwork and then and then I'm looking at does it have a hook does it have a very clear audience that it's going to appeal directly to you know, is there a little bit the spine to the book it's more than just pretty pictures, but there's, you know, a little bit of a story there, and then I don't know if that question was sort of asking for maybe children's published ging, which I have to be honest it's such a different category than mine. But yes, I know that they that they would would evaluate art and story very equally. Thank you. Um, I have another, like, follow up question that is, um, something that I think people ask often of me and and I think of the publishing industry in general, and I think it would be interesting to hear your take on how you feel about what carries like. So I feel like in the past you could get a book offer or a book deal, and that might make your career. Whereas now I feel like, often there's a certain amount of established online social media presence that is a sort of in place marketing opportunity for anything that I feel like. A lot of the friends of mine who have published in the last couple of years are having an established following in a sort of groundwork laid before they have a book, so a books deal comes through and I know that that was sort of a new attraction from my book, but I want to make sure that I'm not giving up false information because I think that you could probably speak tio how marketing works and where that those things are going in general, that was like four questions in one okay, sorry, I'm sorry I'm so okay, so to answer some of them so do you need to have a platform to pitch a book or to get a book deal? Yes, then no like yes, it definitely helps you know, we are a business and we're in the business of selling books and if you can help us sell books because you know a lot of people who want to buy your book that's absolutely attractive to us and a lot of our authors have already worked hard building their own independent business and they've built up a following and having a book is sort of one part of their platform it's something to add to their portfolio that said, we have authors who have absolutely no presence and in a way that could be attractive to because it's like something that's very novel, you know, who is this person or maybe it's, not even about the person and it's really just about the concept and the artwork and the material and in those cases it's just the content is so compelling that we have to publish it and we know that we can reach those people on our own so that's sort of that question and then in terms of like what marketing we d'oh it's it's absolutely a joint effort these days it's it's um the publisher that you work with chronicle will be promoting the book and we also will expect the author or the artist behind it too help promote it and help get the word out it's sort of a joint venture and a lot of it happens online there's not a lot of book book signings anymore I mean, for absolutely like a list global celebrities they might have book signings but otherwise that's not the most compelling or strategic way tio uh uh you know, drop attention around the book. We do a lot more of our marketing online these days. Uh I have any other questions come up for you. We do have more questions coming through and this we've had a few guests on with molly and the same question has come up again as a new designer or a new artist when people are pitching to you do they need teo? Do these are just need tohave an established online presence? Is that something that's sort of our work choir mentor? What are the requirements for the artist that you work with um, yeah, you know, sort of what I was just saying about the having a platform it's sort of the same answer. Yes, you can it's great if you have an online presence because that's ultimately gonna help spread the word, but you you don't need to at all. I mean, you could just have email and I've never stepped foot on instagram and or facebook or whatever, and if if the artwork is strong enough, and if the idea is compelling and unique enough, then we'll be interested. At the end of the day, it's really is about the strength of the idea and the artwork, whether it feels unique to the marketplace like it hasn't been done. But it's also speaking teo, a consumer group that that we know how to reach another question is, what are some of the most common mistakes that you might see artists who are trying to work with you make that could be helpful for people to avoid that's like a question? Well, I think sometimes people get I think this is really hard to avoid doing, but I think sometimes artists spend get distracted by whatever, what everybody else is doing, and they sort of try to recreate what they're seeing because that seems popular, but we often are looking for something that feels fresh. And different from what we've already done and what our competitors have already done. So, while it's really important to go out and understand the marketplace and no york competition, it's then vital that you're just sort of going back into your studio and making the art that's true to you and that your most excited about and I think that's going to lead to the best publishing see, I think, getting distracted by, you know what, what's out there now, and, um, what else? I mean, I don't love well, once very specific thing is I mentioned this before, but I much prefer when artists send me a specific idea, as opposed to just send me a link to report folio and saying, like, hey, I'd love to work together because that puts all the onus on me to come up with the idea, and what I really want is to hear your wonderful, unique ideas that's great. So thank you so much, kate, for taking the time out of your schedule. I know you're a busy lady on dh those air amazing answers and speak to everything that we've been talking about today. That's really great, andi, I'm sure people be in touch can you let us know again how to get in touch with you if people need to? Yeah, so just you can go to my website, kate woodrow dot com and my email is on there. It's, kate underscore woodrow at chronicle books dot com great. Sure you're going to get a lot of things. Good idea. Don't play me e e e thank you so much for giving us and everybody all over the world. Access teo, people that are very hard to get access to my thank you. I think that kate, I mean, that was so nice to have kate at the end and she really like almost summarized with a nice, neat bow, like a lot of what other people were talking to with jen and the other kate. So, um, we have time now to jump into this next demo of a paper cut uh, repeat, which is a process that is age old, I'd say, and I want to encourage you all, tio, like we just brought up probably a lot for everybody, and you've learned a lot about my career in the last our between who I'm working with these are all people that these are all clients of mine that have been very generous with their time to talk with you on dh, then also learn about some of the transition from being a studio potter to being a surface designer and a fine artist. Andi, I haven't spoken much to my fine art career, just mostly due to time limitations, but I'm more than happy to answer some of the questions about how I'm balancing that, how in balancing, you know, some of what's what's going on with you books and designing for surface and one of the things that kate didn't speak tio that she wouldn't, and she wouldn't necessarily is that the work that I'm doing in my fine, our work, is what we're publishing in the with my book with her, but it's very much like a it's, almost like the perfect marriage of my surface design and my fine artwork and it's sort of the of the place where those two things are coming together in a way that I was not expecting, and I can say that kate, he actually called me. I'd submitted a book book proposal through their website, and I had gone through and had a friend who is a writer help me write up a book proposal because I had this book idea that has now come to fruition, but I submitted it through their website, and then kate called me completely unknowing that I had submitted this, uh, book idea to their website and was interested in doing gift product together, some stationery and things. And I said, well, while I have you on the phone I had this idea and she was like, oh, scrap the stationary we'll do that as an auxiliary into the book and sew it transition quickly into a book so you never really know what avenue your ideas are gonna end up getting presented teo client either so you never yeah, just be always be aware ready so you talk about balance? I was curious kind of what a typical week looks like for you going to say like, oh what's a typical day but I feel like you can't really do everything in one day so what's like a week look like for you as faras like when you work on your fine art versus when you work on your more commercial and my my days are sort of, you know, business and online time during them during the normal work day time nine to five sort of while my daughter's in school and then I spent a lot of concentrated time making and focusing on executing artwork by hand in the evening after she goes after my daughter goes to bed although I'm doing both all day just to pay hands on any given day but I think I travel probably two to three months out of the year um and then a lot of my time is spent during any given week fielding enormous amount of phone calls and doing a lot of paperwork, press releases and images being sent out on dealing with a lot of short term deadlines and for my design work and then long term deadlines for museum commissions and gallery commission's on dh like right now, right before coming here, I finished up the work that I'm sending to miami for basel and with my gallery so that that's being photographed and that concert to the press npr thing machine can start rolling for that. So you know, I think one of the things that over the course of the year that's that's developed thie deadlines that are for the design world have been actually quite complimentary to the deadlines for the art fair world and and my gallery life so it's kind of it's an interesting balance and I have a new assistant that works with me two days a week one to two days a week and then another who I hire often to help me when I'm doing a large commission in the fine art end of things so it depends on what's going on there, but they help me with everything from web keeping up with web stuff tio making things in the studio out of place so I'm definitely wearing a lot of hats and I think having a kid help me multitask like I think I could say that my daughter is probably it possible for me to pick things up and put them down and be interrupted a lot and not lose my train of thought.