PMF VII Interview: Temporary Services and Half Letter Press

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PMF VII Interview: Celeste Fichter

Temporary Services and Half Letter Press Interviewed by Terence Hannum

Give us a brief history please. When did you start as an organization, where are you based and what would you say are your guiding principles?

Temporary Services started in Chicago in 1998. It was a loose group of people that had been working together. It formalized into a group of 7 people in 1999 and is now two people. Currently, Marc Fischer lives and works in Chicago; Brett Bloom is in Fort Wayne, Indiana. We have a publishing business together on top of our publishing as Temporary Services. It is called Half Letter Press. We wrote out a set of principles for how we think about what we do.

We strive to build an art & publishing practice that:
• Makes the distinction between art and other forms of creativity irrelevant
• Builds and depends upon mutually supportive relationships
• Tests ideas without waiting for permission or invitation
• Champions the work of those who are frequently excluded, under-recognized, marginal, non-commercial, experimental, and/or socially and politically provocative
• Puts money and cultural capital back into the work of other artists and self-publishers
• Makes opportunities from large museums and institutions more inclusive by bringing lesser-known artists in through collaborations or advocacy
• Insists that artists who achieve success devote more time and energy to creating supportive social and economic infrastructures for others

We made a poster, with artist Kione Kochi, of our principles as well.


Why printed material? What is it about the physical over the digital? Do you augment your work with web based approaches (please provide us with links – if so)?

There are good things about printing in both fibers and electrons. We use both printed booklets and digital booklets to circulate our work. We certainly prefer getting printed things into people’s hands as there are things that an actual book can do that a digital file can not. It is a way more powerful gesture to hand a stack of publications to someone you have just met instead of a URL for your web site. We made a publication about our many years of publishing and our various reasons for working the way we do. The publication is called “Publishing in the Realm of Plant Fibers and Electrons.” It can be downloaded here: You can visit this page and download a bunch of our publications for free: Or you can visit to printed items. We also like to barter.

What are you most looking forward to seeing at the Open Space Prints and Multiples Fair?

In the past we’ve only mailed in our publications for this fair but have never attended. It has been a long time since Temporary Services presented work in Baltimore. Every book fair has its own differences and texture and because artist books are sometimes poorly distributed, regional differences can be quite interesting. There are many participants in the fair that are totally unknown to us, even despite our participation in this culture for so many years.


Was there a publication, zine, print or multiple that got you into creating or printing these yourself? If so, what was it? Do you still have it?

We stared publishing with the very first exhibition at the Temporary Services space in 1998. Marc had been printing zines in high school, and Brett had been working with a Danish art collective that obsessively published small manuals about their work, so making publications was an obvious thing to do. We talked about making publications so we could both be accountable for the ideas we presented, and that we were aware that a very small audience was coming to things we organized, so having publications that could circulate our ideas and work seemed like a good thing to do.

Will you be debuting a special edition or new publication at the fair? If so tell us about it.

We recently finished the 115th Temporary Services booklet titled: “12 Contributors, 5 Publications, 5 Years.” In response to the lack of critical writing about recent artist books, we invited friends from the artist publishing, printing, curatorial and library fields to pick five books produced in the last five years that are important to them. The result is a 40-page RISOGRAPH and offset-printed booklet filled with writings on publications that are not easy to learn about elsewhere. It was great to see what everyone selected. Only a couple books were chosen twice.

Please check out Temporary Services and Half Letter Press at the Open Space Publications and Multiples FairApril 9th and 10th at the Baltimore Design School. Both Terence Hannum and BmoreArt will be participating in the PMF so please stop by and say hello.

Author Terence Hannum is a Baltimore based visual artist and musician who performs solo, with the avant-metal band Locrian (Relapse Records) and the dark synthpop duo The Holy Circle. Hannum is an Assitant Professor of Art at Stevenson University. He has had solo exhibitions at Guest Spot (Baltimore), Western Exhibitions (Chicago, IL), Stevenson University, Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, Gallery 400 at UIC (Chicago, IL).  And in group shows at TSA (Brooklyn, NY), sophiajacob (Baltimore, MD), Allegra La Viola (NYC), City Ice Arts (Kansas City, MO) & Jonathan Ferrara Gallery (New Orleans, LA).

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