Today we are pleased to share the workspace of photographer Bob Cornelis.
Please tell us about your workspace.
I am fortunate to have two studios on my property devoted to art-making. One is a space I used for many years to run my digital fine art printing service, from which I retired last year. I still do all of my digital negative work there as well as my bookbinding.
My other space, which I built 5 years ago specifically to do printing and letterpress work, is shown in the photos here. It has lots of light, a 13 ft vaulted ceiling and a modest sized darkroom. It is by far where I spend most of my time. Because of all of the things I do (printing, digital negatives, bookbinding and portfolio box making, handset letterpress) I have a lot of equipment and space is tight!
What are your objects of inspiration?
First, I surround myself with equipment and materials with which I can make things – I look around and think about all that I can do with these things, and that gets me going. I find it so very enabling.
Secondly, I love books on photography and art. I love looking at images others have made, reading about the theory of aesthetics and the history of photography. I wish I had more room in my studio for books so I wouldn’t have to keep shuttling them back and forth between there and my house.
Do you have any favorite tools in your work space?
As I mentioned, I have lots of equipment and tools. A couple of my more obscure favorites are a recently purchased pair of Dragon calibrated digital pipettes for easily measuring and dispensing chemistry for paper coating (thanks Keith Schrieber!) and a handmade book plough that is very handy for trimming the edges of paper blocks for my books. A simple but ingenious device. And there is my digital caliper, Teflon bone folder, scalpel, finishing press, brayer for inking, compositing stick for setting type – the list is endless.
How did you set up your space to accommodate the different media and techniques that you use?
There’s a natural divide between digital and analog activities that go on in my two studios. I’d love to be able to do my bookbinding in my analog studio but I just don’t have room. That studio is just a little too small but, in order to ensure marital harmony, I could not make it larger than my wife’s studio, so they are identical.
I’ve built most of the studio furniture myself so that I can maximize space and surfaces. All of the tables are on casters so I can move them around as needed. However, if I ever follow through on my interest in doing photogravure, I’m in trouble – no idea where I’d put a big press.
If there was one thing you could change about your space what would it be?
It’s what I just mentioned, a little more space would have made it perfect. And hot water!
How do you keep track of all of your ideas?
I wish I were the kind of person who has so many new ideas that keeping track of them was a problem. They seem to come to me more slowly than I’d like.
All of my work is done in specific projects and they all are considered done when I turn them into handmade books or portfolio boxes with prints. I’m more challenged by keeping track of all the many steps required to reach this stage once I go into production mode. Lately, I’ve been using a computer program called Todoist to manage my to-do list for all those detailed steps.
What is on your desk right now?
I’ve just finished testing a lot of paper and watercolor pigment combinations for my Metropolis project which I will print as gum over cyanotype. I was looking for a certain subtle tone that would complement the concept of the project. So I’ve got dozens of samples lying around. And I’ve just received the different papers and bookcloth to cover the book, both chosen to pair well with the tone of the pigment I’ve decided upon.
Does your space inspire you?
Absolutely! It seems to insist that I keep making my work and is an essential partner in what I do.
Thank you for sharing your space with us.
To learn more about the work of Bob Cornelis please visit his page at Bob Cornelis.