Meet the Publisher - Blankt Papir Press

A Q&A interview with Julia Mejnertsen of Blankt Papir Press, a Copenhagen-based nano-publishing house specialising in limited edition, handmade, photographic artist books.

Publications by Blankt Papir Press

Courtesy of Blankt Papir Press

What made you first want to start publishing books?

In Japan, I first learned about artist books and the process of hand-making books. I found that a handmade book, where you could decide every little detail yourself, a book that would never be a “perfect” specimen, always laced with tiny mistakes, spoke to me more than any other photo book I had ever held.

It was an art object in it’s own right and I loved that it was unique, even if it was part of an edition. This made me want to pursue publishing handmade books. They are expensive to buy and expensive to make, but they are made with passion and worth more to me than 500 manufactured ones.

Ida Arentoft & Inuuteq Storch, The Year - Copenhagen, October 2018, 2018

Courtesy of Ida Arentoft, Inuuteq Storch and Blankt Papir Press

How important are ideas of collecting to the publishing industry?

I like that books are democratic and for everybody, but I also appreciate the artistry of special editions. For us at Blankt Papir Press, we only do “special editions”, so they are sold to collectors yes, but also to people, who fall in love with the projects, the objects, and need to save up a little to get them.

Various Artists, The Year - Copenhagen, April 2018, 2018

Courtesy of the artists and Blankt Papir Press

Are all books art objects? When does book making become an art form?

YES. But I like them more, when they’ve been through the hands of people. I prefer a book you can see has been enjoyed and handled. I love a paper back that’s bent out of shape from usage. I’d love to put a book like that on a pedestal.

We often include his note when writing about our books: “Wear and tear is just as beautiful on a book as it is in life. However, please bear in mind that our books are handmade and delicate, and just like the human soul, please handle with care.”

The Year, Copenhagen 2018, presented at Copenhagen Photo Festival 2019

Courtesy of the artists and Blankt Papir Press

Do you think that books belong in museums? If so why, if not why not?

I had a long answer for this question, but the more I thought about it the more complicated it got. It’s not a black and white answer – I want people to be inspired by books, and sometimes displaying them in a museum setting in a glass display can achieve this. BUT in general, I believe being able to page through a book yourself is very important.

Preferably everybody should be able to access them. I do prefer books to be in the libraries, and I love libraries that buy artists' books, or collectors who store their collections in libraries with public access – here the books are taken care of and stored and viewed under the right conditions. That to me is better than having them in a museum.

Julia Mejnertsen, M.M., 2019

Courtesy of Julia Mejnertsen and Blankt Papir Press

Have there been particular books that had a big impact on you in terms of the way you approach book-making/publishing?

Maybe not a particular book, but in Tokyo I learned to hand make books at Reminders Photography Stronghold – this was life changing for me and the handmade photobooks that come out of there are always exceptional. This is where my inspiration to start Blankt Papir Press came from.

Janemaria Mekoline Pedersen, Dysfertil, 2020

Courtesy of Janemaria Mekoline Pedersen and Blankt Papir Press

Do you collect books? What sort of books interest you most?

I do – I collect handmade photo-books. They are true treasures of storytelling, passion and skill.

Louise Bøgelund Saugmann, 26.01.18, 2022

Courtesy of Louise Bøgelund Saugmann and Blankt Papir Press