Can you tell us about yourself and your creative background?
Books, paper and ink are the tools of my trade. Depending on who's asking, I'm a book-artist, a paper-artist (or a 'literary sculptor' if I'm feeling pretentious.) After a childhood spent reading under the covers after lights out, escaping into stories, I studied literature at Edinburgh University. The structure of the book became as important as what I was reading, and a weekend bookbinding workshop led to an HND, then a Bookart Masters degree in London. Couldn't wait to get back to Edinburgh where I set up Hazell Designs Books in 1998. It seems that I hadn't studied enough, so a Masters in Printmaking from ECA
rounded everything off....Books, paper and ink....
Can you give us an insight in to your practice and what you do?
Teaching is my passion: Worldwide and online, a combination of good craft techniques and unique personal content. I love creating whole experiences, such as making books about the sea whilst staying at a lighthouse in Shetland
, or sewing driftwood bindings on the Isle of Iona
. Occasionally I undertake commissions (such as the Bookquet in the picture) and exhibit. One job that literally changed the scale of my work was designing a two metre high book - Amygdala - for The Helen Storey Foundation
- you could stand inside the pages! The most memorable job title on my CV is 'Assistant Post Mistress and Penguin Monitor' when I spent a season at Port Lockroy
What exciting projects do you have on the horizon?
The PaperLove e-course
is coming up soon: Five full weeks of bookart, origami, calligraphy and mail art. It runs from October 5th and I can't wait to meet the international crowd in the virtual classroom! I'm concocting collaboration plans with my favourite magazine - Flow
(all about paper and mindfulness - yes really!) and i've been invited to teach in the USA, at a dreamy venue, next summer.
What makes Edinburgh a good city to be based?
What advice would you give to people thinking of pursuing a career in the creative industries, or more specifically, in book arts?
The great thing about bookart is that it is accessible at any level, from fine print letterpress with hand-sewn headbands to photocopied zines stapled together, and everything in between. The key to any career in the creative industry is, boringly, keeping on top of book-keeping. It helps to have an eye for a good photograph (and to know when to commission someone else to document your work...for example, I have only recently realised how impossible it is to take good workshop shots when I'm teaching it....!) Go to as many bookish events as you can - the Fruitmarket's Bookmarket
for one. Also have a squizz at the Artist's Book Year Book
, published by UWE - it's full of useful stuff - and sign up for the bookarts newsletter
. I can't imagine doing anything else. It is risky, but the passion for creation and self-expression is strong.