Discover the artists behind the books
Mark Steinmetz lives and works in Georgia.
Home and studio — together or apart?
In our home we have a rather big photo book library; we also store our negatives in out of the way spots downstairs. My darkroom is in a structure off of the house but connected to the house by a little roofline. The Humid lies down the street and that’s mostly Irina’s studio. I use it sometimes to lay out book sequences, to ship out books or prints, and sometimes to use the printer to make the digital match prints for bookmaking.
Do you have any daily rituals?
I meditate pretty much every morning.
What is the first art book you remember?
The first art book I remember is an illustrated children’s book called The Alphabet’s Tail, which I won when I was four years old. One day I was lying on my belly on the floor carpet watching b/w cartoons on television and eating potato chips from the bowl next to me when my mother asked me to color in a drawing for a contest. The next thing I remember I’m in a dark auditorium with lots of people, my name is called, and I walk down a long aisle to the brightly lit stage. There, they presented me with the book as my reward. I remember thinking all I had done was to color in the pre-drawn outlines, and that I didn’t deserve this prize – it seemed silly. This may have been the start of a general scorn for prizes awarded by committees.
What is your studio/creative soundtrack?
When I’m really working I have silence so as not to shake the enlarger column with any rowdy vibrations. An exhaust fan is on and water is running so you might say the soundtrack is white noise.
What is the favorite thing you have in your studio?
Everything in my darkroom was manufactured between the 1960s and 1990s and it all seems very solidly built compared with all the plastic components we have nowadays. I’ve stocked up on bulbs for the safelights and enlargers so I can continue into the future. I pretty much like everything in it. No favorites pop out. I have a crooked dodging tool I made thirty years ago and banged up burning tools that work just fine.
Did you always want to be an artist?
I was good at math and the physical sciences and thought I might go into something like astronomy or paleontology. But most science is conducted indoors in rooms with bland overhead lighting and that doesn’t suit me.
What does a free day look like?
My days are rather variable and complex. There’s always a mix of responsibilities to fulfill as well as empty moments where I can self-bestow fleeting freedom.