ARTIST: Nakki Goranin Feed

Saying goodbye to Pine Street Art Works

Next week Pine Street Art Works will be closing. After five years. I will be opening another small shop, with a much tighter focus, so I'm excited about that. But meanwhile here's a small photo review of most of the shows I've curated since 2005.

Kids in the window '05

My kids used to like to sit in the window and pretend to be mannequins. Liza Cowan Photo 2005


Klein:fake window

same window without kids. David Klein, Beanie For Peace. Liza Cowan photo 2005


Klein fake show

David Klein, Beanie For Peace. Liza Cowan, FAKE! photo by Liza Cowan 2005


Psaw card flash+hunter
postcards for Flashbags and Charlie Hunter Show. 2006


Keith wagner pods in window
Keith Wagner, pods, in show window. Hunter/Wagner show 2006. Photo by Liza Cowan


Hunter:wagner show
paintings by Charlie Hunter, sculpture by Keith Wagner. 2006. Photo by Liza Cowan


Psaw card cara+putnam
Show postcards for Cara Barer and David Putnam. Liza Cowan design. 2006


Cara barer show
Cara Barer show. 2006. Photo by Liza Cowan


Barer butterfly with pucci mannequin
Cara Barer, Butterfly. Mannequin by Ralph Pucci. Photo by Liza Cowan circa 2009.


David putnam show
David Putnam show. Photo Liza Cowan. 2006


Bread and puppet at psaw
Bread and Puppet Theater, benefit performance at PSAW, photo Liza Cowan 2006.


Psaw card artifact+goodman
Show card for Artifact, Liza Cowan design. Show card for SP Goodman, SP Goodman design. 2006

Window sp goodman
Show window for SP Goodman. 2006


Psaw card paper play double
Show cards for Paper Play, Alison Bechdel and Phranc The Cardboard Cobbler. Liza Cowan design 2006

Psaw card myra+steig
20th Century Works on Paper Show, and general use postcard. William Steig poster 1944. Ralph Pucci/Maira Kalman mannequin. Card design by Liza Cowan.

Psaw card denis+anderson
Show cards, John Anderson, Denis Versweyveld. Liza Cowan design 2007.

John anderson prepping show
John Anderson setting up his show. Liza Cowan photo 2007.


Versweyveld in green room
Denis Versweyveld show in Olive Room. Photo by Liza Cowan 2007


Paint by number card
Paint by Number Show. Paint by number painting,  image based on Norman Rockwell painting. Design by Liza Cowan 2007

Pbn show
Paint by Number Show. Mark, the postal carrier, enjoys the work. Liza Cowan photo 2007.

Psaw card nakki+connie
Show cards for Nakki Goranin's American Photobooth and Connie Imboden. Design by Liza Cowan, 2007 and 2008.


Sow postcard orange front
showcard Amadou Sow. Design Liza Cowan 2007

Painting by Mr. Masterpiece. Show 2008


Gombar postcard

Show card Richard Gombar. Design Liza Cowan 2008



Heinrich Harrer photographs, Seven Years In Tibet. Curated by Leslie DiRusso. Card design Liza Cowan. 2008


Studio glow in window
Studio Glow lamps and sculpture in the show window. Photo Liza Cowan 2008


Tim Matson. Pilobolous photographs show. 2009


Bloom postcard front
showcard for Bloom show. Liza Cowan design. 2009

Show Card David Powell. David Powell design 2009


Aline postcard

Showcard Aline Smithson. Liza Cowan design 2009.


Aline Smithson photos at Pine Street Art Works. Photo Liza Cowan 2009


TMNK postcard front
Showcard TMNK- The Me Nobody Knows, design Liza Cowan 2009


TMNK hanging his show. Liza Cowan photo 2009


Holiday 09 window
Winter Holiday show window. Liza Cowan photo 2009

Showcard Carol Golemboski. Design Liza Cowan 2010


Front showroom, Carol Golemboski Show. Photo Liza Cowan 2010


OK, well that's the brief tour.

I'm moving, reinventing, reincarnating, all of those things. Opening Sept 10th at S.P.A.C.E Gallery 266 Pine Street in Burlington.

As soon as I'm settled, Seesaw will continue as usual.








Judging a book by its cover: covers + blogs about book cover design

Yes! I do judge a book by its cover. So do you, probably. Most of my readers are pretty design savvy so you know you are critical, but even those of you who are not are still having a subjective response to the books you chose. Sure, we chose our books by author, by title, by subject or by a review we liked. These days, who is going to buy a book just for its brilliant cover?  Yes, I see some hands rising. But what if we are wandering around the bookstore? Or reading a review with a picture of the cover? What catches our eye? More importantly, what thrills us? What demands our attention? The cover.

  Ian Shimkoviak, The boodesigners, How wel live and why we die, book cover design, the human body details, cell illustration

Ian Shimkoviak: book  design. I love this!  The images are from The Human Body, by Cyril Bibby and Ian T Morrison. Puffin Picture book No. 102. Shimkoviak found the image here at SeeSaw. No worries, he's been generous on twitter and Facebook,  and I don't own the image anyway.

There are books I will pass by in the store simply because the covers are bad. They offend my eye. They do not thrill. Sure, for my favorite authors I'm willing to forgive almost anything just for the pleasure of the read, but a bad cover diminishes the thrill, and will likely kill random bookstore sales.

Authors have little or no control over the visual packaging of their books. It's not their fault if the design department of their publishing house has bad taste. But I do blame the houses for hiring  designers who crank out...visual garbage. Such a shame.

That said, there are so many brilliant book designers and so many ways to enjoy their work,  on the books themselves and through their websites and design blogs.  Book design is a good enough paying gig not only for the designers but for the artists and photographers whose work they often feature. Here are some  book covers featuring work by artists who have shown at Pine Street Art Works, or who are related in some way.

First, a photo by Cara Barer, whose work is always available at Pine Street Art Works. What can I say? Cara's work is stunning. Nicely featured here, with no distractions. Image relates  to the book topic  in an almost metaphysical way. Although it is a book of theory, the cover itself is lyrical.

 Cara Barer, ted striphas,
The Late Age Of Print. Photo by Cara Barer. Design by David Drummond. Columbia University Press.

Next, Fun Home, by Alison Bechdel. Alison's original ink drawings from her comic series, Dykes To Watch Out For, are available here at PSAW.

 FunHome, Alison Bechdel
Fun Home, Alison Bechdel. Illustration by Bechdel.

Next, a photo by me, Liza Cowan, for Laurie Essig's Queer In Russia: A Story of Sex, Self,and The Other.  I took this picture in Moscow in 1994.  The publisher made it blue and photoshopped it so that the figure of the author stands out. I'm satisfied with the cover, which I didn't design, although I would have right - justified  the subtitle and changed the line spacing to make it closer together. Would have made the Q smaller too, since it's huger than the head, but still, I'm proud of it. Not so pleased that they never paid me, but I was new to the field, and didn't understand that cover photos actually pay quite well. They said it would be good publicity for me. Hah. Fool me once.


 Queer In Russia, Laurie Essig, Liza Cowan photo
  Queer In Russia: A Story of sex, self, and the other. Laurie Essig author. Photo by Liza Cowan. Duke University Press.

Next: American Photobooth by Nakki Goranin. Nakki exhibited images from this book at PSAW in March 2008. We look forward to exhibiting images from her next book on Tintypes. In this cover images sell the book. Anything but a simple title would diminish their power. 

 American Photobooth, Nakki Goranin
American Photobooth, Nakki Goranin. WW Norton, publisher.

Next, Connie Imboden, Reflections, 25 Years Of Photographs. Another photography book, the image is left to speak for itself, which it does eloquently. Connie showed her work at Pine Street Art Works in September 2007.


 Connie Imboden
Connie Imboden, Reflections, 25 Years Of Photography. Insight Editions, 2009

Next, Alix Dobkin's My Red Blood. Alix will be doing a book signing here at Pine Street Art Works in May. This cover uses an old snapshot of Alix in her girl with a guitar folkie phase. I saw the original mock up for this cover with a very different typeface, and it was weak. With this the title in bold caps, right justified, the cover becomes a symbol of strength, played against the sweetness of the muted rainbow tinted image. I would have made the subtitle shorter (not the designer's job) used upper and lower case of the same font family as the title. I don't really like the juxaposition of the two typefaces, but on the whole, the cover works well for me. In case you are interested, Alix writes about me in the last chapter. 

 Alix Dobkin, my red blood
My Red Blood, Alix Dobkin. Alyson Books, 2009.


If you are interested in book cover design here are some great resources. Enjoy!

blogs and websites about book design.

Caustic Cover Critic

Book By It's Cover

premiere de couverture

book covers anonymous

The Book Design Review

Faceout books

Book Cover Archive

Jacket Mechanical

Readerville Journal

covering photography

some designers:

My Book Covers: Megan Wilson

Good is dead: Chip Kidd

Helen Yentus

Elsa Chiao

Beyond The Covers: Ian Shimkoviak

Chin-Yee Lai

Everyday design goodness:

Design Observer


photobooth as film strip


I almost never reprint posts from other websites but this one was too cool not to. And isn't it Harry Potter-esque the way the pictures move here in a sea of text?

This concoction is from a very cool website on vernacular photography:  SQUARE AMERICA  
Do hop over and check it out.

You know we have a huge passion for photobooth pictures here. A couple of years ago we had American Photobooth, a show by  Näkki Goranin.  Näkki's book sets the standard for the history of Photobooths, with hundreds of fascinating images and thoroughly researched text. So check that out too. 

One more from Square America:



Paul Larson produces Art Express on Mountain Lake PBS in Plattsburgh, NY. He has been incredibly supportive to me and to PSAW in the past few years. He did a piece on my FAKE! Series in 2004, then last summer he came to the gallery to do a piece on the Paint By Number show, which I think will be aired soon. This week he and camera man Jared Stanley braved the snow and ice to travel across the lake  to tape a show on Nakki Goranin's American Photobooth.
I thoroughly enjoyed my experience working with Paul and Jared when they interviewed me. Paul is a good director, and  I absolutely loved it when he'd say, "wait, there was a truck in the background noise, we have to re-shoot that sentence." or "please make that statement a bit clearer" or "turn this way". He took the same care with the PBN story and the American Photobooth. I'll let you know when they air. Meanwhile, if you want to see the FAKE! story you can go to my website and click on "media"


Burlington's alt weekly, 7Days Vt published a fabulous article about Nakki Goranin's American Photobooth in this weeks issue. It's beautifully written by publisher/editor Pamela Polston with tons of images from the book, and some photos of Nakki by Matthew Thorsen.

Nakki Goranin in one of her vintage photobooths. Photo by Matthew Thorsen for 7DaysVT

The article is too long to reprint here but link on over to 7DaysVT

There's a bonus that you can only get online. Cathy Resmer and  Andrew Sawtell,  from 7Dvt, came over to psaw last week to tape an audio interview with Nakki. It is online, with a photo slide show and you must listen/watch.

And remember, you can buy American Photobooth through my link to Powells Bookstore at the top of the sidebar of this blog. Merci.


Some of you don't read Vending Times. OK, most of you don't. Probably most of you don't regularly read any trade magazines, which is a shame. I became addicted to them when I worked in an ad agency that serviced clients who advertised in Car Wash Times, and Progressive Grocer.


Vending Times,  the newsmonthly  of vending, foodservice, coffee service and coin-Operated Recreational Services pubilshed a thoughtful and insightful review of American Photobooth this month. It was written by the editor Tim Sanford. Here are some excerpts:

"Very fortunate inventions attract the attention of historians like Näkki Goranin, a Vermont photographer and collector of historical photographs. American Photo Booth is the product of a decade’s research which, by the author’s account, she originally had no intention of undertaking. She became interested in the photos dispensed by these booths, plentiful but usually anonymous, and wondered how they were made...

Goränin understands, as many historians of technology do not, that the great inventors were also manufacturing and marketing geniuses who envisioned not only their creations, but the context in which they could be profitable...

The present grows continually out of the past, and anyone interested in the growth of the coin-operated industries will find this book not only uniquely informative, but lively and sympathetic. Entrepreneurs are known for looking ahead, not back – Henry Ford famously said, “history is bunk” – but they deserve their histories, and American Photo Booth is one of the best."


We had a great opening here at Pine Street Art Works yesterday. Nakki Goranin's American Photobooth made it's official exhibition debut as thousands thronged to get in. Just joking - that only happens at Art Hop. But, despite snowy roads and a host of other Burlington happenings, we enjoyed a full house of friends and art mavens.

Nakki Goranin (right) discusses her work with my friends Alison Bechdel and Holly Rae Taylor while other friends and visitors look at the images.

We sold over forty books in two hours, and that hasn't happened here since Alison Bechdel's launch party for Fun Home. Several people showed up because they had heard the interview with Nakki the night before on Vermont Public Radio.  I couldn't have asked for better publicity.


American Photobooth has made it to People Magazine. That means a shelf life of months if you think about reading it in doctor's waiting rooms or friends' magazine piles. Yea!! for Nakki Goranin and American Photobooth.
American Photobooth in People Magazine, Feb. 18th issue

I wager that this is just the beginning of a flurry of great publicity for this fantastic book.

And remember, if you are in the area, the exhibition based on this book is showing at Pine Street Art Works, 404 Pine Street in Burlington VT. Artist's reception and book signing Saturday, February 9th, from 2-5.


Booklist had this to say about American Photobooth By Nakki Goranin :
Review by Ray Olson

Photobooth_man_and_neck_red_frame Like many other American Inventions, The DIY Photo-portrait machine was the brain-child  of  immigrants, each of whom approached slightly differently the challenge of putting a developing and printing lab, along with a good camera, in the same box with a sitting studio and making the whole shebang percolate at the drop of a quarter. Goranin briefly recaps the careers of those inventions, as well as  notable exploiters of the technology once it was in productions….

…the gallery of photobooth portraits Goranin has amassed and, as a photographer, contributed to, constitute the book’s big attraction. These faces of six decades are everything their autoportraitists could have hoped they would be – silly, joyous, friendly, loving, frank, naughty, honest – and charming besides. Spellbinding.


Despite an ice storm that pretty much closed down Burlington yesterday, Nakki Goranin and I managed to get the Photobooth Exhibit ready for it's debut. Unfortunately the ice storm prevented us from being open for First Friday, but the good news is that the show is up and ready for visitors this week, and then the big opening is next Saturday afternoon.

photobooth, photobooth exhibit, olive green walls

Pine Street Art Works, Nakki Goranin American Photobooth Exhibit

Meanwhile, I had to show you some pictures of the great show window and some interiors. Nakki has this amazing lilluminated sign from an old photobooth that we hung in the window. It reads, "Photos Lumiere Electronique Photos Son Claires et Precises"


Hand made 20th Century photobooth sign. Photobooth ephemera and American Photobooth Poster

Pine Street Art Works, American Photobooth, show window from inside
The mannaquins are holding enlarged photobooth strips.


There's still some tweaking to do, but the exhibit looks grand and is ready for visitors, so come on over if you're in the neighborhood.


Nakki Goranin and I are busy setting up the American Photobooth show. It's going to be amazing. Since this is photobooth theme month, I've dredged up some old photobooth images I took when dinosours roamed the earth. My favorite booth was the one at Woolworths at 86th and Lexington in New York City. I'd go there after school many a day.

photobooth, teenage girls 1960's

Liza and SuSu circa 1964, 86th St. Woolworths, NYC
This was ninth grade - 1963. I still remember, we went over to Woolworths after an afterschool play rehearsal. I think we were doing Twelfth Night. I was wearing desert boots, which I thought were the coolest shoes ever made. In my hair was a strand of thick yarn, which was the fad. I had just had my ears pierced, which was shocking in 1963.

photobooth, teenage girls holding photostrips, 1970's
Liza and Penny. Circa 1970, NYC

This was a year about seven years later, around 1970. I was already working as a radio producer and my friend was in college. I later painted a picture for her that incorporated this image. Maybe she'll take a photo of it and send it to me.

Both of these girls were friends of mine from early childhood. We went all through elementary and high school together and we're still friends  - and they read this blog. So surprise, Susu and Penny. I love you both.

photobooth, girl with crewcut, girl with shaved head, surprised girl, big glasses
This was about five or six years later. I'd moved to upstate NY. Obviously, I'd just shaved my head and it was freezing out. The photobooth was in Catskill NY.

American Photobooth Exhibit

american photobooth, nakki goranin, man smoking, black glasses
anonymous photobooth photo. Copyright Nakki Goranin from American Photobooth, WW Norton 2008

Who amongst us hasn’t enjoyed a trip to a photobooth and then tucked those strips of paper into photo albums or given them away to friends? What happens when those pictures, made so casually, leave their original owners and begin to circulate publicly though flea markets, antique dealers and auctions?

One answer: they become Art and History.

Burlington, Vermont artist, writer and photo historian Nakki Goranin has collected several hundred of these images into a new book,  American Photobooth, to be published in February by W.W. Norton & Co. Leading the now hot trend in collecting vernacular photography, Goranin   spent twenty five years gathering thousands of photobooth images made since their invention in the 1920’s.
american photobooth, nakkin goranin, african american sailor, african american couple in photobooth,

anonymous photo booth photo. Copyright 2008 Nakki Goranin from  the book American Photobooth

A selection of these pictures. along with images of original booths and their settings, make up the body of the new book, along with the social and technological history of this photographic phenomenon. Several of Goranin’s own photobooth-based works are also included.

Goranin’s collection will make it’s exhibition debut at Burlington VT's Pine Street Art Works in  February and March. Dozens of images from the book, enlarged for exquisite viewing, will be included in the exhibit.
American photobooth, nakki goranin, Blackfoot
Anonymous photobooth photo. Copyright 2008 Nakki Goranin from the book
American Photobooth

American Photobooth
, which has already been cited in The New York Times and The New Yorker, is sure to be one of the most talked about photo books of 2008. After it’s debut at Pine Street Art Works, the pictures will travel to New York City for exhibition at a major New York City photography museum.

Signed copies of the book will be available at Pine Street Art Works, and the artist/author will be on hand at the opening, Saturday, February 9th, from 2-5.



 fake photobooth portrait, scarf covering head, neckline covering head,

I made these iMac Photobooth self portraits last week. I've set them up to look sort of like actual photobooth images, but we all know they're not, right?

Unlike real photobooth images, these were not made sequentially. Some editing happened. I was at home. I had control over the lighting.

Like real photobooths, these are fun to do.


American Photobooth, Nakki Goranin, photo old lady, dog, wire terrier, Anonymous Photobooth photo from American Photobooth by Nakki Goranin

Nakki Goranin's American Photobooth -The Exhibit will be making its world debut next month at Pine Street Art Works to coincide with the publication of  Nakki's book, American Photobooth. Forthcoming from W.W. Norton & Co., the book has already been cited in The New Yorker and The New York Times.

Nakki is a Burlingtonian, an artist, writer, teacher, folklorist, anthropologist and major collector of photobooth images. American Photobooth is a sure bet for one of the top photo books of '08.

There's more to come on this subject but I couldn't resist bringing you this photo which will become the show postcard.