Happy Birthday Gerhard Steidl!
Gerhard Steidl – born November 22, 1950 – German book designer / publisher
Q: Many people call you the “king of printing” and some artists will trust no one else with their books. In what way are Steidl’s books different than other books?
Steidl: Most of the publishing houses in the world are owned by shareholder companies and their interest is to make profit. My publishing house is a private business. I founded it in 1968 and it is still owned by me. It is a family business. It is a Manufaktur and we don’t set any limits on cost. A Steidl book is always made in Germany, in Göttingen, in Düstere Straße 4 and there is a guy, Gerhard Steidl, who is hands on.So, believe it or not, I oversee every sheet that tumbles out of our press. This craftsmanship and this know-how we bring to every one of our babies, our books, makes a huge difference compared to the production processes of other companies.
Q: What is the most difficult or extravagant print job that you have ever done?
Steidl: It was a book that I did for Ed Ruscha, Kerouac’s On the Road. We printed it in letterpress and offset, with hand-tipped-in original photos. I worked with him throughout a period of six years. Every month I was in Los Angeles for one or two days to make corrections with him, to show him print tests. It was the most complicated job I have ever done for an artist, but the result is outstanding. And I made so many inventions throughout the production process that all of the books since then have looked much better. It was hard work, but it paid off in the end.
Watch an excerpt from the documentary How to Make a Book with Steidl.
The making of a book of Gordon Parks’ photographs: