Gavin Ambrose – Unseen Sketchbooks

Established by myself and fellow University of Brighton Graphic Design BA staff Beth Salter and Chris Bigg, and supported by Creative Futures, Unseen Sketchbooks is a UK based bespoke publishing house producing limited edition books with designers, illustrators and artists. Each limited edition publication focuses on the work of a designer, artist or musician and looks at creating new and unseen work from their archives. The editions are all short print runs and often involve special print techniques and covers.

Edition one: Chris Bigg – Analogue Process

Part of the rationale for establishing a new model of publishing is something I had been contemplating for a long time. As a published author, I wanted to return to a less restricted way of publishing with a greater degree of freedom compared to traditional models. I consider myself an originator of projects in this context as opposed to a traditional editor or publisher. I intentionally seek to establish some rough frameworks or starting points for projects, but then try to let the creatives involved have as much freedom as is possible. An example of this would be the book we are just printing with Dutch designer Erik Kessels designed by Chris Bigg. The framework for this was to allow as much freedom for Erik in collecting images, and likewise to Chris in interpreting these into a visual narrative. The book, made during the lockdown is in part a response to the times we are in and the struggles people will be facing.

Edition two: Jim Stoten – strike sheets from the printing of the book cover

Since the outbreak of Covid-19 I have also become increasingly interested in the therapeutic role of the sketchbook and its possible use as a tool for healing. I have begun a series of interviews with creatives to begin to explore this.

Edition three: Erik Kessels – Let’s get shitfaced, it’s free.

Unseen Sketchbooks printed to date:

Edition three is Let’s get shitfaced, it’s free. by dutch designer and artist Erik Kessels. Kessels collated a series of images as a form of digital sketchbook which have been interpreted into a new book by designer and unseen sketchbooks collaborator Chris Bigg.

Edition two was Skotchbook by Illustrator and University of Brighton Lecturer Jim Stoten, a selection of pages from his personal sketchbooks, which he keeps in his coat pocket at all times and has done for the last 10-15 years. Jim draws in it every day. Within the pages are comic strips that attempt to make sense of his own thoughts, feelings and reactions to the World as well as poems, hand drawn type, song lyrics, memorable quotes from films, TV, debate forums on all topics and chat show interviews from the 1970s and ’80s. There are also observational drawings from train journeys, exhibitions and visits to the pub, as well random drawings of imaginary people, architectural forms, modes of transportation and animals.

Edition one was Analogue Process and focused on the Designer Chris Bigg who is known for his work for Record Label 4AD including recently working on The Breeders artwork and videos. Our first edition was printed 2 colour, black and metallic orange on G. F Smith’s Munken paper and came in standard magazine format or with a special one-off cover as an edition. The Deluxe Edition has a poster-wrap silk screened cover, screen printed outer delivery box and a one off screen print and ink signed print.

Gavin Ambrose is Academic Programme Leader for Visual Communication in the School of Art at the University of Brighton.

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