Simon Goode is an artist, bookbinder and printmaker who developed his passions and honed his skills on LCC’s BA (Hons) Book Arts and Design (then BA (Hons) Book Arts and Crafts) course. He graduated in 2006 and has since been cutting a fine groove in his trade; working on commissions, exhibiting in artists’ book fairs around the country and staging workshops in bookbinding techniques and contemporary artists’ book production.
Tell us about your bookbinding courses – is it open to everyone? What will people learn?
In the past I’ve taught a really varied range of people: from foundation college students and sixth formers, to more mature students and hobbyists who like to participate and try something new. The beauty of learning how to make books is that it’s a very inclusive skill – anyone and everyone can do it. As long as you can fold a piece of paper then you can, with a little instruction, learn how to make a book.
What else are you working on right now?
I’m currently preparing for a three month research trip to the USA, starting in May, where I am going to be interning and teaching at the Minnesota Center for Book Arts in Minneapolis. The centre is devoted to books, and provides teaching the book arts: bookbinding, printmaking, letterpress printing, paper making – and an open-access studio. It’s the biggest, and arguably the best, centre of its kind. The Center is a really common model in the States, and one which doesn’t exist in the UK – yet. I’m really excited to be taking advantage of such an opportunity. While in the States I’m hoping to visit various other book arts institutions, outlets and centres, such as Printed Matter and Booklyn in NYC, and Womens’ Studio Workshop in New York state.
So, what led you to the Book Arts and Crafts course here at LCC?
I focused on printmaking during my Foundation year, and really wanted to study graphic design. Somehow, I remember stumbling upon the LCP prospectus. It was a small, A6-sized ring bound book with a gate-fold cover (obviously it made quite an impression!). I recall reading the course description and a great interview with a current student from the course, Louise Best (who’s now a good friend of mine!) and it just really captured my imagination – here was a course that was centred on the book. I loved that I could learn bookbinding, printmaking and letterpress skills, and combine them to produce my own work, from start to finish. It somehow seemed much more suited to my style of working – I’ve never really been one for Photoshop.
Can you describe your experience of the course? Anything surprising?
I really loved the time I spent on the course. I think this is probably down to the small number of students – we had 23 people in our year group, and many of these were mature students, so the group was a really great mix of people from different backgrounds. I’m still in touch with many of my former classmates. The pace was another notable thing. The first year gave us a great foundation in the craft of producing books by hand – so everyone who did the course had this basis to continue working into the second and third years – which is when we chose to specialise, in areas such as historical bindings, artists’ books, experimental bookbinding, letterpress, and so on.
Why is the art of bookbinding important? What holds your fascintation?
It’s a dying craft, one which is likely not to last for another fifty years (in its current state). While my work, and what I teach, is only the tip of the iceberg, the number of practicioners who are still highly-skilled craft bookbinders is only in the hundreds. It’s something really important to me that these skills aren’t lost, and that as many people as possible have the opportunity to at least try their hand at the craft.
Simon will be holding an Introduction to Bookbinding course at Birmingham Printmakers later this month. See Simon’s website for projects and more forthcoming courses.