Between the second UK lockdown and this third lockdown, we deal with the pandemic like many other creative outfits would: a) focus on bread-and-butter commissions; b) get over Covid-19; and c) shield if you have underlying conditions. For many of us – and our editor – we’ve been doing all three. And guess what: the world is still as we left it in January 2020.

We have considered commenting on the dire situation of this pandemic on Story Of Books. However, we know we contribute nothing to the cacophony of criticisms but white noise. Best leave the preaching to the British Medical Journal and The Guardian who can articulate it better. What’s the point of crying over spilled milk when we have published the warnings and premonitions here, here, here, here, here and here?

So pardon our hiatus. We needed to get well first.

Online launches and webinars

We pretty much make our money via webinars these days – to take the clients’ briefs, that is. That’s how design studio survives these days. And without government’s grants.

Springtime and the promise of vaccination around the corner for most of us signal (we hope) a return to creative activities constrained by the lockdown.

Earlier this month, Dr Ernesto Priego, the editor of The Comics Grid, presented a webinar on open access comic studies as Digital Public Humanities:

And thus, Dr Priego opens the season to us comic book lovers (we’ll fill you in on comics-related stuff in our next update).

Last autumn and winter weren’t dead seasons, either. After understandable delays, in November 2020, photojournalist Marc Vallée proceeded with the launch of his zine, When I was at Art School in the 90s, with an online talk. Following the event, we purchased his latest works including this recent release for our collection. Vallée was kind enough to sign them. Of course, it wasn’t the same as buying them off him in person. But that would do for now. We look forward to attending his talks when this is all over.

Quietly hatching a plan

Lockdown doesn’t mean every creative endeavour stops in its track. Whilst it does reduce our mojo and induce depression, not to mention a hit to the wallet (let’s be frank, everyone), we use the downtime to plan on our upcoming projects, with the view to launch when the lockdown is lifted.

Between October and November 2020, we participated in a KL20x20 Instagram takeover to highlight After The Rain, our photobook that was launched at HF Artsfest 2019. The theme we highlighted was, of course, related to the waterways, seafronts and water pollution.

This series of takeover by several photographers was, of course, the prelude to the 2021 project for Kuala Lumpur International Photo Awards (KLPA).

David Carson, the US graphic designer that influenced the deconstructionism movement in the 90s and gave a face to grunge, is also active on Instagram during lockdown. We’ve been trying to interview him for ages on his book, The End Of Print. Carson said yeah, but he didn’t answer our questions. He followed our editor’s personal Instagram anyway (which consists mainly of photos of plants). Oh, well. That’s David Carson for you. We hope he can come over to London to talk about his latest book, Nu Collage. It’s about him taking things apart and putting them back together for art. Timely stuff.

Carson’s Instagram account got hacked recently; we didn’t notice until a follower asked what happened to his Instagram handle. It was changed into a series of numbers and alphabets. He got his Instagram handle back, to our relief.

Publisher and surfer Mark King goes surfing now and then – a very socially distanced activity. We mentioned him as an inspiration for After The Rain during the Instagram takeover of KL20x20’s account. King has been prolific in visually documenting the pandemic, as he has been with the seaside pollution of Cornwall.

We recommend you follow his lockdown series, “Dad, how much time can’t we touch stuff?”, on Instagram. Very surreal. This is a book or another edition of The Point waiting to happen.

At our event on waterway pollutions at HF Artsfest in 2019, King warned us that Cornwall, his hometown, could barely cope with the pollution caused by the influx of holidaymakers and second-home visitors in the summer. Well, guess what? Covid-19 exploded barely a year after this event and King was right: too many humans at one small place can only spell trouble.

Why do we need a terrible thing like a pandemic to finally drive this message home?

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Editor, Story Of Books. Co-founder, GLUE Studio. A writer since 1995.