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Work in Progress (1996): This Is What Catalogs Should Be

Ron Baxter, Work in Progress (Neenah Paper, 1996)


photo credit: Amazon

Art at its most commercial….and yet its most beguiling.

Neenah Paper was looking for a way to showcase some of their product, so they figured, why not hire a photographer to take some interesting pictures, put ’em on our paper, and turn them into a little hardback? For the life of me I can’t remember where I picked this up (which probably means I stumbled upon it at Box Day at Case Western’s massive annual book sale one year in the nineties), but it sat neglected on my shelf until recently, when the one-year-old was pulling random books off the shelf and handing them to me. This usually meets with a “no, Davey, this book doesn’t have enough pictures for you, and it’s seven hundred pages about the Air Traffic Controller crisis during the Reagan era, I don’t think it’s going to hold your interest.” But this one seemed like it might, so we popped it open and took a look.

Baxter, the photographer (and, presumably, the guy who produced the captions), takes a common printing term per page and pairs it with a photograph that illustrates, sometimes obliquely, another aspect of that term. (The exceptions are the solid-colored CMYK pages, which are each captioned with a different color; the yellow page, for example, is captioned “Magenta”.) It’s quite well-done, and well-made, too; I’ve never delved into handmaking books before, though the idea has crossed my mind now and again. But if I did (and if I ever do), I gotta say, I’m sold on Neenah Paper thanks to this little marketing gem. And I say this as someone who, as a rule, hates marketing. ****


About Robert "Goat" Beveridge

Media critic (amateur, semi-pro, and for one brief shining moment in 2000 pro) since 1986. Guy behind noise/powerelectronics band XTerminal (after many small stints in jazz, rock, and metal bands). Known for being tactless but honest.

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