Carolyn Shattuck of Rutland makes books. Not just any books; her books are works of art. Shattuck, who was a printmaker and painter in her early career, has been developing and combining her skills over the past 20 years to become the creative and imaginative bookmaker she is today. Here she discusses her work, and her journey to where she is today.
What is the nature of your business?
I work independently in my studio creating unusual sculptural books, either unique or limited editions.
What was the inspiration behind creating your business?
I was a painting student at Bard College and the faculty suggested I work in 3-dimensional form. My method for Works on Paper was building with collage elements on a horizontal plane. It was an easy transition to manipulate these components onto a vertical plane with movable parts. Viewing the book as a sculptural object added more challenges to the paper engineering.
Three artists and myself organized an exhibition titled The Country of Souls. I visited old cemeteries and saw the beauty in the gravestone images. I decided to make a freestanding book and sought out teachers to introduce me to different book structures.
How did you get to where you are today?
Attending national book fairs and applying to artist book exhibitions has had a huge impact on the visibility of my books, and creating a website and advertising has also helped. My business has grown, with many more sales each year. Through contracts with national booksellers, I have been able to place my work into university special book collections. That is how I was able to sell two books to The Smithsonian Institute. Through advertising, I sold “Too Much Sugar” to The National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington D.C.
What makes your company unique? What is the most interesting aspect of your company?
Making books with intriguing subject matter is the most interesting aspect of my work. I also like working with different kinds of paper, and combining the unexpected elements of folding panels and pop-up into a unit.
Right now I am inspired to make a tunnel book about the catamount. I saw one in my backyard, and have started to investigate how the mountain lion image will be immersed in the panels in order to portray its secretive history.
I live in Vermont and love to work in this beautiful environment. We came here for my husband’s career and to raise a family. But I also realize the importance to reach outside the state for dialogue with other book artists.
As a business-owner, what is the most important lesson you have learned?
I have learned to see rejection as a temporary hindrance and I find ways to stick to my goals. Recently I made an accordion book called “Resilience,” which addresses the roadblocks that are often in our paths. For me, it is about putting one foot in front of the other and not being fixed on a certain outcome.
If you are a locally owned Rutland-area small business or sole-proprietorship and would like to be featured in A Business Story, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Joanna Tebbs Young is a freelance writer and writing workshop facilitator living in Rutland. Contact her at email@example.com, wisdomwithinink.com, facebook.com/TheWritersRoomatAllenHouse or on Twitter at @jtebbsyoung.