Spotlight: NSEW

NSEW (North, South, East, West) is a small artist publisher producing postcards, artist books, and other unique items out of Oslo, Norway. Founded in January 2011 in Brooklyn, New York by Artist Jessica Williams (b. 1986, USA). NSEW mission is to pair great ideas + imagery with available and easily obtained materials to make objects that are quality and affordable. In 2012 she founded the Self-Publishing Workshop at the Oslo Academy of Fine Art. In 2008 she received her BFA from the Cooper Union in NYC and has since had her work featured in several international publications and exhibited widely. Recent projects in 2013 include her solo show BASIC NEEDS at Good Press (Glasgow) and the photo book Sympathetic Objects published by Mediabus (Seoul).

Tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do. I am an American artist and publisher based in Oslo, Norway. Since 2011, the mission of NSEW (North, South, East, West) has been to pair great ideas + imagery with available and easily obtained materials to make objects that are quality and affordable.

What are some recent, upcoming or current projects you are working on? Right now NSEW is kind of on a hiatus because I am one month away from completing an MFA. However, there are a few publications in the works hopefully to be released in the summer or early fall. One of them is actually my thesis in the form of a small artist’s book.

How did your interest in your work begin? I first became interested in fanzines and artist books when I was a teenager. This was in the early 2000’s and at that time I had a lot of online penpals that I would physically send letters, tapes, and trade art with. Back then, making a fanzine of one’s own meant an easier way to share things with others and meet new people. A fanzine was also collateral, something to trade with or to send unsolicited to someone you admired.

Tell us about your work process and how it develops. First we get in contact with artists we are interested working with and hope they reply. Sometimes they even write us! Once we agree to work together, we have a few standard formats (i.e. postcards, posters, or small fanzines) and together with the artist we decide which one fits their work the best. After the format is settled, the process varies depending on the artist. Basically we try to make their vision possible using the materials and equipment we have available to us. Sometimes compromise is inevitable, but compromise can also produce happy accidents.

How long have you lived in Oslo and what brought you there? I have now lived in Oslo for almost three years. I moved here from NYC to attend graduate school the same year I started NSEW. I think I’ll stay here for awhile though…I’ve fallen for a Norwegian.

What do you want a viewer to walk away with after experiencing your work? All of our publications, even the perfect-bound books, are totally handmade. Craftsmanship and the creation of beautiful physical objects is very important to us as well, so it’s nice when both shine through.

What’s your absolute favorite place in the city/the world to be? Exactly where I am right now. I’m typing from the bedroom of a small cabin inside a lush garden full of vegetables and flowers on the outskirts of Oslo. My fiancee’s in the kitchen making dinner. It’s pretty perfect.

What are you reading right now? Susan Sontag’s notebooks and old copies of Granta (a British magazine of new writing, I found a bunch from the 80’s at a fleamarket last year)

What do you do when you’re not busy with NSEW? In addition to running NSEW, I have my own artistic practice. The easiest yet hardest way to describe my practice is conceptual, though lately I’ve been working the most with photography, writing and video.

Any current or upcoming events that you are involved in that we should know about ? In September I’ll be back in New York for the NYABF. However, the table I’ll be sitting at will be for another project of mine: a Self-Publishing Workshop at the Oslo Academy of Fine Art. All the NSEW publications will be there, though.