Pitchfork   The Dissolve   Festivals: Chicago | Paris


New limited-edition publisher limits the format in order to further the design conversation.

Interview By John Dugan, February 6, 2013

Alex Fuller of Chicago-based design collective The Post Family recently launched 5x7. The title explains one aspect of the endeavor's specialty quite accurately. It publishes 5-inch by 7-inch books (for now). 5x7 has issued Sameness (a modernist exploration of line and color), The Incredible Journey that is Consciousness (exploring the language of shapes), Beauties and Beasties (Rick Valicenti’s Picasso-esque drawings) and Note Well (a photographic journey by Debbie Carlos). The 5x7 shop carries the likes of Sonnenzimmer's a painting in 31 marks and a small selection of offset-printed posters.

We had a few questions for Fuller about 5x7 we thought worth asking.

What's the plan for 5x7 Books?
We gotta push the hell out of our format (5x7 inches)! That takes finding creative folks that are up for the challenge. I don't want any two of our books to be approached the same way. Permutations are fine, but we must learn and grow! 
Will there be a Chicago-focus?
No. I did a three-book Chicago series but that's it. I hope to make this a global conversation. Not to say I won't publish you if you live in Chicago. I love my peeps here!

What inspired it—any particular publishers or projects?
I have always loved artists' books. From the Bauhaus to Ruscha to even current work from Nieves. The major catalyst, however, was stagnation in my professional career. I needed an outlet, a personal design brief.
With the Internet a popular platform for exploring art and design, do art and design books still sell?
Haha! I don't know. I hope so! I think people appreciate the craft and limited-edition print runs.

Are you concentrating on limited-edition artist books? Or a cross section of art and design?
I love art and design and that gray area in between. I'm really open to it all! I don't want to get too specific content-wise; that could get really boring for me. I'm already stuck with 5x7 inches!
You're doing books in fairly modest runs, 250 for example. Is the limited-edition nature of the books part of the attraction to making them?
To some degree. I also don't want to manage a ton of inventory.

Why small books? Don't folks like big coffee table art books anymore?
5x7 inches is based on the median size of all the art books I love. I like how they feel intimate. I actually really hate giant coffee table books. I never want to move them or open them up. Too big and clumsy. To be fair, I do own a few.
You're also selling prints. What kind of prints should we expect?
The prints are a fluke. I have so many art prints in my flatfiles that I need to sell. They also helped make my shop inventory a tad larger. Eventually there will be no random posters. Everything sold by 5x7 will be based on 5x7 inches. I guess a poster could fold out from a 5x7 unit. See, this is where it gets fun! 

I know you're a busy guy. Is this more a labor of love or is it slightly profitable for you?
Right now we don't publish a new book until we have made enough money from selling older books to cover production. So it's not about profit but rather sustainability. Don't get me wrong, if I could do this full-time, I would!