Michelle Brook, who studied BA (Hons) Publishing at London College of Communication, is the Co-owner of Capsules Book, who create beautifully designed books containing profiles of some of the most talented artists from around the world. We caught up with Michelle to hear the latest.
What made you want to study at London College of Communication (LCC)?
One of my friends, illustrator Chrissie Abbott was already studying at LCC. Whilst I didn’t have the artistic talent she does (and she has it in spades!), the prospect of being around likeminded creative people was very appealing to me. I was originally accepted to a multimedia course, but after reading about the Publishing degree being focussed on business and marketing I was, fortunately, able to change my pathway.
What is your fondest memory of LCC?
My class was quite small and we often socialised together. One Christmas we went on a group outing to listen to the carols at St. Bride’s Church, which in addition to being breathtakingly beautiful (designed by Christopher Wren) it also has a long history with the publishing industry. It felt very special to be in a site like this with my new friends and the future ahead of us.
Can you tell us about Capsules Book?
Capsules Book is a publishing and advertising company, we introduce freelance artists to businesses around the world who hire creative services. By the end of 2018 we will have published 7 directories, primarily focussed in illustration.
We publish gorgeous, coffee table style books containing artist portfolios that are sent to our business network for them to use as a resource to hire new creatives to work with. We include examples of artwork, contact details, and a professional biography. We connect artists and clients so they can develop a professional relationship directly. We don’t take commission on any works resulting from introductions in our books.
In terms of clients, we have a number of big advertising agencies and of course, major record companies and influential indie labels, as well as art galleries, interior designers and decorators, breweries, wineries and a host of marketing, design and digital agencies.
Our books are also for sale to customers outside our distribution network via our website and online platforms. 100% of the profits from the sale of our publications are donated to Book Aid International, and so far we have helped distribute 250+ books to communities who need them.
As co-director and co-owner of Capsules Book, what does a typical day look like?
Every day is slightly different, which is one of my favourite aspects of working at Capsules, but it usually starts with checking in with our members of staff to answer any questions and keep them up to date with any new developments. That could be a new piece of content we have produced or the latest artist we are working with. We think it’s important to make everyone in the company feel included in the bigger picture of the business.
I am the main point of contact for businesses in our distribution network, so I contact a few clients each day to find out about what projects they are working on and give them an update as to what we are doing and find out if we can offer any assistance. Once I’ve worked my way through our network, it’s going to be time to start again!
I also work very closely with artists and their representatives so I may have a call with an agency looking to learn more about our services and how we can showcase their roster, or it may be with artists themselves with some specific questions about curating their portfolio.
Capsules Book runs an interview series on the website where we take a deep dive into the practice of a selection of artists we work with. I love writing the questions and researching the careers and portfolios of the artists. I usually do this at home in the evening as it is one of my favourite tasks and I like to work in peace and quiet when I am able to explore the artist’s work.
What’s next for Capsules Book?
We are working on developing our publishing business, the next series of directories will be in typography and contemporary art, which are new spaces for us as we are more known for illustration. I’m looking forward to seeing the finished books!
We have a number of new business ideas in the works for 2019, including e-publishing, a subscription service, and new book formats. Stay tuned!
What advice would you give to students and graduates who want to make it in the publishing industry?
I would advise anyone who wants to try to be successful in the creative industries to be kind to themselves and others and be conscious of burning out.
It’s easy to set your teeth and smash through 60 hour weeks all the time, but I think it is very difficult to fulfil your creative potential when your mind is smothered in the administrative aspects of office culture today such as reports, meetings, conference calls on top of the work you actually need to do.
On reflection, I would have possibly had more rewarding and creative results in my career prior to Capsules, if I had worked at the office less and instead given my mind space to enjoy the freedom of natural creativity.
Check out the list of short-courses UAL offers (alumni get a 10% discount!)