Works of art: Making books with Dan Milnor
We recently spoke with Dan Milnor, Blurb Photographer- at-Large and Artist-in-Residence, about some truly unique books he’s made with Blurb. We asked him to share one of his favorite works. Dan has been exploring the possibilities of what a book can be for years, blissfully unconcerned with commercial impact. Dan always poses the question: What can you do if you’re producing a book just for yourself, full of your own artistic vision? We’ll let Dan explain.
"I think the important point is that it took me a long while to understand the power in being able to make a SINGLE book. It gets lost in the ego shuffle of being trained as a photographer, trained to think that a book is about selling as many copies as possible. While that may be true in some instances, the reality is that MOST illustrated books just simply don't sell in any real quantity at all, something I didn't truly understand until a few years ago.
I began to realize I had been missing the point with Blurb, in some ways, and that instead of trying to do what I had been trained to do, and to think, I should just utilize the platform to make things I could never do any other way.
Thus we have "Because I Can" books.
This first book is called Wargames, which is about paintball and people playing war during war. I made the book, had it printed, and then took a physical copy back to the paintball field and shot it. Or had other people shoot it actually.
It took me two years to realize that one of the most powerful aspects of print-on-demand was the reality that I only had to make ONE copy of ONE book. I was trained as a photographer to think a certain way when it came to illustrated books, but I finally realized the traditional way was not working for me.
Wargames came about as part of a series of books I titled "Because I Can" which highlighted strange books that would only ever be published as a single copy. I was fascinated by people who play war while our country was at war. This wasn't a political statement by any stretch, just curiosity. Paintball always seemed like it would be fun, but I never ventured forth until the day I began making these photographs.
YES, it hurts to be hit by a paintball, and I was hit many times making this book. After receiving the book I lived with it for a while, enjoyed it, but then realized it felt incomplete. It was then I decide to "finish" the book, and case, by returning it to the paintball field and having the combatants take their best shot."