The Business of the Alternative Press

When it comes to the Mimeo Revolution, I am naive and romantic. This is art for art's sake, creation of a community, life as art, and all that crap, but alternative publishing was also a commercial enterprise. The intertwining of capitalism, entrepeneurial spirit, and the counterculture is so in-your-face in something like the Ed Sanders/Peace Eye catalogs that it cannot be ignored.

That is why it is important to study the alternative press as a business model. How does the alternative press market itself, how does it distribute its product, how does it advertise, how does it interact with customers? I have become interested in this in part because of my experiences with putting out and distributing Mimeo Mimeo and because of my relationships with small presses as a collector. Publishing Mimeo Mimeo, I have been forced to realize what I always knew but suppressed. The design and contents of the little magazines that I see as pure in some artistic or creative way are often dictated by a brutally mundane monetary bottom lines. Let's face it people used the mimeograph because it was cheap not out of some higher calling.

For whatever reason, Auerhahn Press provides an opportunity to collect great examples of the everyday activities of a working press. Business cards, invoices, letterhead, prospectuses, annoucements, catalogs. Sooner or later all this material will come under scholarly attention in order to get a fuller picture of how the alternative press worked on a day by day basis and how the works they produced came to the light of day.

That said, take a look at the Dave Haselwood business card. It is all business, but that essence of Auerhahn design shows through. This business card symbolizes the interplay of creativity and economic bottom line that dictated not only the output and aesthetic of Auerhahn Press, but all the presses of the Mimeo Revolution.



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