PRISM index

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“My process for assembling the books is straight out of a romantic novel,” says Jeffrey Bowers, editor-curator-designer-proprietor of PRISM index, and an illustrator and video-artist himself. “It begins with a late morning cup of tea, sitting down at a table, turning on a podcast, music, or Netflix streaming; and lining up paper, punching holes, stamping CD's and DVD's, threading paper and cardboard, until finally…a beautiful 8.5″ x 11″ book is made. I number it, slip an archival sleeve around it and toss it in a pile.”

Limited to 500 copies, PRISM index is a collection of drawings, comics, writings, and photography. “Handsewing them all takes time time time—” inside the book are linoblock-stamped discs of rare, unreleased songs like that of Julian Lynch and Real Estate, and some amazing short films. While Bowers hand-collated the first issue and silkscreened the covers himself, he let the Prolific Group in Canada print and collate the second issue. Cobenick Studios, who handmade all of the cover paper, also silkscreened the book this time.

“The fact that I hand-collate or personally silkscreen PRISM index doesn't, to me, make the product more personal to the larger audience. It's not a tangible addition. However, when people see, touch, smell, hear and read the final product and understand the physicality of a handmade book where there's a weight and a measurable pleasure derived through the senses, it helps personalize the product, the content, and how one will remember it. It is an art-installation for one's bookshelf.”

Bowers has started sending out fresh copies of Issue #02 as of today. While it’s already available for order on the website, they will soon be available here and here— locate your city store.

Four Eyes by Eric Yahnker

Who else is involved in actually making the 500 copies?
Initially I had enlisted the help of my friend, who graduated in Robotics from MIT, to build me 50 sentient robots to help compile, admire and sew the 500 copies. Then I realized that despite my love for science-fiction that went against the grain of who I am. I'm masochistic! So my hobby of simply holing myself up in a room and ramming an awl through a stack of 60lb paper quickly turned to a slightly more professional version where I sell the final product and share the work of over 60 original artists. PRISM index is my vision, I'm the curator, editor, designer, proprietor, etc. whatever you want to call it. However, I didn't do it alone. I could have never sustained the project without the help of my friends, family, colleagues and these fascinating artists. There has been a lot of support on the back-end from the artists, designers, proprietors, audio technician's and generous believers. Jeff Brush has co-designed issue 1 and 2 with me. Brian Wenner has mastered both CD's. My mom has been instrumental in this project, both storing everything when I've been in transition and helping to sew some of the early issues. Every small business must revere its mother, right? Right.

Teeny's Big Wig spread by Trinie Dalton, art by Jessica Wassil
Jeffrey Bowers

What are the practically difficult aspects of doing such a thing as PRISM in this day and age of life in America?

I can't quantify how hard it is to get things done in America or anywhere for that matter. I'm young(ish), 24, and in regards to the economy, I understand it is bad. But since I've been fending for myself I've never really known how good it could be either. If people believe or want or need something they will get it. I made the first issue using 30% friends and family, 30% benefit shows, 15% personal savings, and 25% personal guilt regarding possibilities of failure and the disappointment from asking artists I respected. I made it happen. With the second issue I took a different approach. I used the fundraising platform Kickstarter and succeeded. That felt great. The only real difficulty is that I haven't found anyone who wants to handle all of the business, promotion, and sales aspects of PRISM index, which means I have to do it. Mega bummer.

Sinkers by Mel Kadel

Is there going to be another PRISM tour?

Someone get in touch.

“PRISM index is important to me because it's part of me. It's something that I wanted to see, have, and hold, so I made it exactly the way I wanted to so I could. I hope other people connect with the stories, art, films, and music that resonated so soundly with me.”