Draw Down is an independent publisher located in the northeastern corner of the United States. Created in 2012, Draw Down publishes small books about photography, graphic design, typography, art and architecture.
Tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do. Draw Down Books is a designer/artist run press started two years ago by Christopher Sleboda and Kathleen Sleboda. We publish small books and posters, and also distribute a range of printed materials (posters, books and zines) that criss-cross the worlds of graphic design, photography, illustration, architecture, and art. We run Draw Down out of our design and illustration studio located just outside of New Haven, Connecticut.
Top 3 favorite or most visited websites and why? Most visited websites: Instagram, Twitter, and Tumblr. There’s so much interchange on these sites—we learn about artists and design projects that are new to us, and our work gets exposed more widely. We really enjoy being able to connect with so many creative people. And we like that these sites are very participatory and kind of self-directed rather than editorialized from a single pov.
How has living in Connecticut affected your work? We live near Yale University, close enough that we take advantage of the museums, talks, and art shows that campus life engenders. And of course, getting to know students is fantastic and definitely energizes our practice. We’ve collaborated with a number of past and present MFA students on various Draw Down projects, so being close to the school has had a direct impact. There’s also a strong sense of history in this part of Connecticut. We are currently working on a few projects that are explicitly about New Haven— so our location definitely feeds into our work and informs its direction.
What kinds of things are influencing your work right now? We are really trying to travel as much as possible. New places bring new ideas. We really have the best conversations when we’re exploring, and these conversations are always the seeds of our projects. We feel it’s important to change our scenery whenever we can. We’re also really excited about going to artist book fairs, seeing other people’s work, and meeting new people. We recently bought two big maps—one of the US, and a world map— and we’ve started marking off the places we’ve gone and want to go. We thought we had traveled a bit, but putting in the pins drove home how much more there is to experience.
What are some recent, upcoming or current projects you are working on? We just finished curating NET12 – Sans Visage: The Anti-portrait, an online photography exhibition hosted by Oranbeg Press.
We’re currently in the midst of printing Cleon Peterson, the first book in a new hardcover series we’re launching. Cleon is an amazing painter whose work is violent and chaotic but also simple and direct. We are incredibly happy that everyone will have a chance to see the book in 2015; it’s his first monograph and also features essays by Shepard Fairey and his brother, the artist Leigh Ledare.
We’re also beginning to work on a project involving Good and Plenty Zine, a seminal straight edge hardcore zine from Illinois that was produced in the late 80s/early 90s.
Another project we’ve had on the back burner is a book called One-Offs that will feature typographic posters for one-time events, with a focus on work produced by design students. Originally this book was going to feature primarily work by Yale students, but we’re really interested in building bridges between different design groups/schools/cultures and recently decided to expand our concept. And there’s a photo-based project we’re working on that uses posters as a prompt for participatory photography and examines how exchange functions in public spaces.
We participated in Printed Matter’s Los Angeles Art Book at the end of January (our first appearance at the LA installment of the fair) and will be at Rhode Island’s RIPExpo in March.
If you were a drink what drink would you be? Vegan peanut butter smoothies.
Who would you ideally like to collaborate with? Chloe Sevigny and Tavi Gevinson.
How long have you lived in Connecticut and what brought you there? We both moved here for school and have now been in CT for over a decade.
What do you want a viewer to walk away with after experiencing your work? Looking over the catalogue of work that we publish and distribute, it’d be great if people could make their own links and connections between the different titles. In a way, that’s what we’re always doing— with what we choose to carry, and how we approach Draw Down— and we think it would be fantastic if our work simply exposed people to new typographic work, design history, or what’s going on at different design programs, a new artist. We’re really interested in cross-cultural and cross-disciplinary exchanges and collaborations and hope that comes across.
What’s your absolute favorite place in the world to be? We don’t have a specific place. But let us loose in any bookstore or art museum and we will be content for hours.
What are you really excited about right now? We’re excited about the great publications that Unit Editions have been releasing. We are also enjoying the surge in small book fairs popping up everywhere.
Most embarrassing moment? Occurs at least once every 120 minutes.
What were you like in high school? We were both subculture kids of the nineties. Christopher had a Tony Hawk skater haircut. Kathleen read a lot and listened to Bikini Kill.