Interview with Piotr Jarosz, Winner of the Ash Rare Books Lettering Award (Designer Bookbinders)

Almost a month ago Designer Bookbinders award winners were announced. iBookBinding has already posted an interview with Glenn Malkin — he had received Folio Society prize for the Set Book. Today we invite you to read an interview with Piotr Jarosz. A Polish bookbinder now working in the UK. He graduated from the University of Arts and works now as a bookbinder in a workshop in Сentral London.

Piotr was awarded the Ash Rare Books Lettering Award. Same as with Glenn Malkin, his book was Dante’s “La Vita Nouva”. You can find his work after the interview. Your book stands out among the other winners of the Designer Bookbinders competition this year. It seems to me that it unites repetitive patterns characteristic of the late modern period, with straight-line designs of almost contemporary times. Or maybe that last one was influenced in some part by the Islamic binding tradition? And the constellation seems to be an element of some third tradition. Could you please tell more about the ideas behind your design?
Piotr Jarosz: I am relatively new to bookbinding. My ‘career’ goes back only to February 2015 when I got an internship at the Wyvern Bindery in London. I am still discovering the trends in British bookbinding. For the last year’s Annual Competition my submission was rather simple but the materials I used were very unconventional (screenprinting with termochromic ink). That’s why for this year I decided to go back to the more traditional style and take it as a chance to practice my leather binding and gold tooling. I decided to produce traditional binding with a fresh, contemporary approach.

iBB: Is that manner of book decoration your favourite thing or was that just an experiment for the competition?
PJ: It was an experiment. As a practice run, I made a notebook for my friend using off-cut leather and put as much gold before my elbow hurts so much that I can’t keep going anymore. I really like the idea of Annual Competition because it gives you opportunity to try something new.

iBB: Can you share some of your other works with us?
PJ: I am trying to post my current projects on my Facebook page ‘I make book’:

iBB: Which on do you prefer to work with: old books or new books? Restoration or bookbinding?
PJ: Once I have been asked to do some paper repair. It was the worst three hours of my life. I don’t have enough patience to work with old books. What I like is to work closely with artists and translate their ideas into something material, palpable. In addition, the moment when they see the finished, object for the first time is priceless.

iBB: Please, tell more about your other art-projects.
PJ: I’m still trying to define myself and my art practice. However, broad and pretentious it sounds. I am experimenting with visual arts like video, photography and illustration, but also creative writing, post-internet aesthetics and archiving the overwhelming amount of information that we have to deal every day. Bookbinding comes here very handy.

iBB: Every competition is a chance to look what your colleagues are doing. Which other contestants’ bindings you liked? Are there any new ideas you’d like to try after the competition?
PJ: I really like to confront my work with other competitors. It gives me an idea of where I am – what are my weak and strong points. I think generally this year’s submissions were pretty weak, especially when you look back at last year’s books. Although, the most inspiring book was the one made by Teresa. It was so neat, that when she showed me her book prior the hand-in date I seriously considered not taking part in the competition 🙂

iBB: If there were one piece of advice you would have to tell to a less experienced bookbinder who wanted to enter a competition like Designer Bookbinders what would it be?
PJ: Just do it.

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