Smirnoff Ice + Gin - an interview with Ben Goulder of Snöar Press


Snöar Press has been making a fair bit of noise lately, carving a unique path while putting out great books since its inception earlier this year. With some interesting topics and creatives inside the pages of their first three releases, Snöar’s aesthetic and output is reminiscent of punk and football ‘zine’s, with the quality and subjects keep things sitting firmly within the spheres of art and photography.

With small presses the world round striving to put out consistently thought-provoking, alternative literature of the highest quality, it reminds me of vinyl, which often exists for very similar reasons. It’s not about the return, it’s about the art and the physical presence.

Although I don’t know a great deal about the world of small press, it does feel that for so long mass-produced published books were a- the norm and b- reserved for the artists, writers and creatives that were considered ‘large’ enough to sell enough books to be published at all. With that in mind, it’s no surprise there’s an alternative, independent movement treading it’s own path. If you take away the print volume, cover alternative topics and use materials which transform the everyday reading experience, you’re no longer competing with large-scale publishing organisations, your publishing independently.

In Snöar’s short life, three books have been released, all unique, equally interesting and generally great. Wilcon; Or, The Field is an illustrative journey through Lew Currie’s football greats. Mediocre Idiocy, a book about exactly that, documents the 35mm travels of Archer and Rob Hughes over the last few years, touring, getting drunk and doing stupid stuff, giving the book an instantly nostalgic and personal feel. Finally, Dreamland Welcomes You by Sam Wright is an eerie (and amazing) photo diary of a forgotten, lost and disparate seaside town.

A shot from Sam Wright's Dreamland Welcomes You

A shot from Sam Wright's Dreamland Welcomes You

Ben Goulder - as with the majority of independent endeavours - does every last thing involved in the running of Snöar Press. He's had the publishing interest and vision to curate and organise a set of creatives who otherwise wouldn't have been published. Over the last few months, Ben has handprinted each Snöar release before launching them via exhibitions and parties. He has a knack of playing things down and passing them off as ‘alright’, so it’s only fair to highlight the persistence, vision and work involved in creating and elevating Snöar into a well-established, young small press.

I asked him a few questions about books and starting Snöar, he replied with his thoughts on corporates and a cocktail recipe (for disaster) that you should try next weekend. check them out below...

OD: Snöar Press is really starting to take shape - releases, parties, and (almost) selling out of your first run of books - how have the last few of months been for you?

BG: The last few months have been alright, after the initial stress of getting the books finished on the day of the launch. The launch was rammed, people were waiting outside to be let in when the doors opened and people seemed to be in to the books and the exhibition. I went on tour with Nai Harvest and Best Friends to sell some books as I put out a book for Lew who plays drums in Nai. That was a fun experience just to spend a long time pissing around with the two bands I would consider my best friends. I put on some bands and a small exhibition at The Lughole in Sheffield recently which was also really good. Loads of people came down to it and I drank gin with Smirnoff Ice. So yeah, the past few months have not been bad at all.

OD: What is it about books and publishing that you got into?

BG: I made a couple of magazines a few years ago and was more into creating the physical thing than writing articles. I suppose I just started buying more art books and thought it would be something that I’d like to be involved in myself. I have a lot of friends who are involved in photography, illustration etc so it makes sense to work with them and give them a platform to showcase their work physically.

OD: Your background lies somewhere between writing and punk/ DIY music in general. Do you see independent publishing as an amalgamation of these two things?

BG: I think my attitude to Snöar is very much from DIY and punk. With the first three books I released, I hand printed everything and curated an exhibition without ever having any experience in that before. I feel that a lot of art books are too unnecessarily expensive and that a lot of regular people can’t afford to buy them. I just want to be able to make books that are to a decent standard yet affordable so it isn’t just some rich Art History student who can have them.

An old snap of Jake, the author and Ben of Snöar, 2013

An old snap of Jake, the author and Ben of Snöar, 2013

OD: Independent publishing seems to be getting more attention these days (I think, anyway), do you feel that?

BG: I suppose it is maybe a little more accessible due to the internet maybe? It’s like anything, you can find literally anything ever now without too much effort. The means of making a book is probably much easier than it used to be. I don’t know, I barely remember life without the internet. That being said, nobody likes big companies because they’re all wankers.

OD: Take me through process of publishing a book - how do you decide what you’re going to put out?

BG: I think the main thing for me, other than obviously being in to someone’s art, is that they have to be on the same page as me ethically. Everything I’ve released so far is by people who I have known for years through the punk scene. Obviously the latter part isn’t really essential but I like to keep things close to me rather than approach complete strangers. I also want to release a variety of different things, the next two releases I have planned are a series of essays and a photography book. The spice of life and all that.

OD: I know no one likes to think too far ahead, but after a solid launch, where would you like to take Snöar in the long term?

BG: In the long term I just want to keep making nice books that people find interesting. I think that’s all I’m really bothered about. In the short term, I have a little sneaky plan with my friend Mark who runs Meanwhile Press as well as having tables at a few book fairs.

Keep up with Snöar on here and here.