[This is the second in a series of profiles of CBAS Board members.]
The real thing with self portrait
CBAS Board members Anjali Alm-Basu moved into her new studio in the Loveland Artist Studios building (529 Main, Loveland, Ohio) early this summer. Previously based at home. this transfer of her art supplies from her bedroom to a totally art-designated space is very special. Now, she just has to find the time in her busy schedule to occupy it!
Anjali wears many hats. In 2012 she graduated from the College of Design, Architecture, Art, and Planning at the University of Cincinnati (UC). Her area of focus was conceptual internet art. She also got a certificate in Japanese language and Culture. Then she started putting her many talents to work around the city. Paying jobs currently include being 1) a translator (Swedish to English and vice versa), 2) an academic and test prep tutor for high school students, 3) a tutor in Japanese and 4) assistant to a friend in a wedding photography business. She volunteers at WordPlay, the Northside-based creative writing/literacy center for kids K-12. Another love is being the director and casting director of The Denton Affair, the local floorshow company that performs with the The Rocky Horror Picture Show at the Esquire Theatre every other Saturday at midnight and at the Danbarry Theatre once a month. And Anjali acts as well as directs. She just returned from a New York City convention to celebrate the 40th anniversary of this cult classic phenomenon.
Hand-drawn poster for recent NYC gathering
How/when did Anjali get interested in bookmaking?
Though from childhood she stapled papers to make notebooks and diaries, it wasn’t until college that she learned a stab binding to join a group of her Van Dyke brown prints (similar to cyanotypes but brown). Then she began to explore online tutorials to learn other bindings. She even taught herself case binding via YouTube, Wow! Her skills expanded as she began to volunteer at WordPlay, first as an assistant, then heading the bookbinding guild that meets once a week with students.
Her first book commission came from her father who asked Anjali to produce gift books to give people with whom they would be staying during a European trip in 2013. (Thanks to supportive family members from all of us!)
When did she connect with CBAS and what is her Board role?
Anjali found the CBAS table at Books by the Banks in 2013 where our volunteers were helping kids create small make-and-take books. (For info on 2015 Books by the Banks, see http://booksbythebanks.org/.) She then checked out our group online and, as she says, “decided I had to be a part of it.” She has enjoyed our monthly Study Group sessions, joined the CBAS Board this past spring and is working on a new committee to explore CBAS participation in FotoFocus 2016 (http://www.fotofocuscincinnati.org/biennial/).
What types of books is she making now or does she want to explore?
She especially likes to bind with the Coptic stitch because the books made with it open flat, making them great for writers and artists. With an interest in recycling and upcycling, she’s made an assortment of little Coptics with covers made from all sorts of discarded commercial boxes.
She loves “old fashioned case bound and rounded spine books in leather with embossing and gold foil stamping,” but she hasn’t yet had the opportunity or equipment to explore producing these.
What about book content?
Anjali is a skilled comic artist, having already produced two books. (She worked with graphic novelist Carol Tyler at UC.) She’s not into superheroes but autobiographical content so far. A recent visit to a small press fair in Bethesda, Maryland, has provided new inspiration and enthusiasm for the form. You can view her long-form comics here: https://orderofthegoldenbear.wordpress.com/anjali/
Anjali continues to pursue her interests in drawing and painting, currently producing landscapes inspired by photographs from her mother’s native Sweden. A long paper strip attached to a studio wall is great for her to experiment with charcoal and graphite whenever, and her painting easel is nearby. She says plein-air work closer to home might be in the future. Maybe these landscape images will one day find their way into books, too.
To find more of Anjali’s work go here: http://mid-atlanticridge.tumblr.com/