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Monday, January 21, 2013

Meet Pistil Book's Web Designer - Nate K

What is your history with Pistil Books and what is your current role?

I have had a love affair with books my entire life, so I was very pleased when Pistil Books & News opened its doors in my neighborhood in the mid-nineties. I loved browsing the stacks and discovering titles I’d always intended to read, but had never picked up before; always at better prices than buying them new. I gradually got to know the proprietors, Sean and Amy.

I also attended a few of the events they held at their shop, book readings, lectures, etc. I was working for various other bookstores and publishers at this time, but Pistil Books & News always was a comfortable, stress-free environment. And it happened to be down the street from one of my favorite coffee shops, Café Paradiso.

Eventually finding independent bookstores to work for became more and more difficult to do as the bookselling market saw the rise of the "big box" stores. I could see the writing on the wall, and found myself in temp positions that ranged from lawyer's office copy shops to psychiatric clinic reception offices. And this was before "the mighty 'A' river" (where I also managed to temp for a month) swamped the big box stores, but that is another story for another time.

I really missed working in independent bookstores; so, I decided I would apply for a clerk position with Amy and Sean at Pistil Books & News and almost immediately they asked me to help out Saturday mornings, which was a perfect fit for me. Soon I became one-of-the-family and enjoyed spending my Saturdays there.

Describe some of the graphic projects you've done for Pistil.  Do you have a favorite?

Pistil Books & News already did a brisk online book selling business and I was helping out entering inventory. On my own time, I’d been learning HTML and web design, so when Amy mentioned to me that they were considering closing the store on Pike Street and moving the bookstore into new warehouse space in their home to continue selling books online, I begged her to allow me to do some design for their web presence.  She agreed and I came up with the flower diagram intro page design you encounter at their first domain, . Since then I’ve been acting as Pistil Books Online’s web designer, helping Amy create titles and banners, "book interest" content like The Museum of Weird Books and  Retail Hell, bookmarks,and even a rubber stamp.

Homage to Frida Harris -- Alistar in His Element by Nathan K (Pistil Books Surrealist Calendar, 2013)

Are you working on any other artistic projects?

Lately I’ve been collaborating with Amy and Sean by designing and contributing collage to the Pistil Books Surrealist Calendar. I’ve really enjoyed working with them both, especially since I am now using all the collage technique I learned in college.

One of my big personal design projects is to scan all my old sketchbooks from the nineties, post them as an archive online and work their contents into tee shirt, coffee mugs, etc. So far I’ve only worked through two of my sketchbooks. One I created in college and the other is one I started right after moving to Seattle. Probably my best item, so far is a dancing thistle design I originally did for a friend who used it as a tattoo on his chest.

What are you reading? 

Starting since last summer I’ve been wading my way through the middle books of the Harry Potter series. I thoroughly enjoyed seeing the movies, but I steadfastly avoided the books after someone made me listen to one of those audiobooks on a road trip. It wasn’t that I was traumatized or anything, but I did want to read them for myself and there just seemed to be such hype around them when it was clear they were simply middle-of-the-road stories for grade-schoolers, like the Hardy Boys or Nancy Drew. I figured they’d still be around to read when I had a chance.
I’ve also been reading William Gibson’s Spook Country which he published in 2007. It is quite interesting, being about virtual installation art that you encounter on street corners and in hotel rooms while wearing a VR headset. But I have to admit I got bogged down halfway through the book in the various meandering storylines. 

I also have a biography on the life of the poet Byron in my reading list, but I haven’t cracked it in months and I’m only through his childhood before he distinguished himself as a writer of epic poetry. See, I got my hands on one of those digital reader tablets and I’m having a ball reading the New Yorker and Cook's Illustrated virtually. It also helps that I’m able to read books that I purchased years ago for my old Palm PDA which I rarely use anymore. Anyone need an old Personal Digital Assistant? 

I’m going to now revisit Neal Stephenson’s Cryptonomicon which I started reading on that PDA many years ago, mainly because it made more sense than lugging around the huge volume that it was. I was quite interested in the Alan Turing sequence as a librarian friend had mentioned it. I also have China Miéville’s Iron Council on the digital tablet to read which apparently features gay cowboys.

1 comment:

  1. Good article, Nathan! I will miss you when you're on the other coast. BTW thanks for the Pistil calendar.