Can you tell us the story of how this project fell into place?
After the success of the fundraiser, Louise, Chris (husband of artist Louise Cobbold) and I wanted to capture the story and a book was a natural next step. I love books, I’m passionate about the role they play in the art of communication. They have a weight, a mass and a place on our bedside tables, under our beds and on shelves. They also are incredibly versatile from a creative perspective, both in strategically complementing digital platforms – the overloaded transitory (disposable) digital world in which we live. They can also unite and create clarity out of mystery. They can challenge, reframe our thinking, make us laugh out loud, as well as make us cry. I’m not the first person in history to have discovered this – but it’s a medium that I believe has a powerful role in complementing and informing digital forms of communication.
But here’s the thing, to capture a story in book form is expensive. It takes collaboration, time, commitment and no shortage of ambition. There are no guarantees, if shifting units and hitting sales targets, often top of the agenda – they can be risky things to produce. But sometimes you have to shoot for the moon to get into space, and so it was with our book. Make it the best it can be, think deeply about the words, pictures, flow, visual pace, the way the narrative weaves, pitches and rolls. Make it a celebration, get endorsements, quotes about the book and the fundraiser from movers and shakers. Make it limited in number, add an emboss mark with a hologram in support of authenticity, hand-number and sign each copy and print using the UK’s best layflat print-on-demand platform, Bob Books. In short, create the best possible book you can in support of positive outcomes – then think strategically about how you reach your market, or maybe build your market and the sales platforms and mechanisms available.
For us, Chris did an amazing job of building audience via social channels – that was hard work, but it paid off. We sold out in 4 weeks. That meant the production, tailoring, special envelopes, tailored labels and fulfilment was all paid for in advance – it was in effect self funding, with all profits going to Cure Leukaemia.
Why do think people respond so well to a photo book? What does it communicate to them that an email or textbook can’t?
Why does anyone respond well to a book? It might be the print quality, the unique layflat binding, the emboss and hologram and personalised message on the inside front cover from the artist. But I think it’s more than that. I think it’s about relevance, the way a story resonates with a particular audience, how it hopes to inspires or promote a sense of well being or positivity about life. The way we can all be inspired by the things that we choose to read and surround ourselves with. We know that pictures play a huge role in communicating stories, that email is really just a business tool, and a rather formal one at that. So ask yourself, when you last purchased a book: why did you buy that book, once read, what did it change and how did it make me feel? We know there are a myriad of reasons and results – so capture the takeaways, maybe copy, transform and combine the insights – then represent. In a time of diminished attentions spans, people and markets respond to simplicity, and pictures can communicate complexity brilliantly. Why do people respond well to photo books? Maybe it helps us all reflect on the better angels of our nature, it might change our nature for the better even or remind us about an incredible football season, captured beautifully in 13 works of art.
What hints and tips would you give someone else who was considering making a photo book as part of a fundraiser?
Consider the question ‘Why make a photo book?’ – Answers will vary, so will reasons and context – and you’ve just read why making a photo book worked for us. To permanently ‘cast' the experience, memories and moments in print form – that alone is special and others might think the same. Fundraising I think is where stories compel people to give of their time, money or experience, sometimes all three. So what’s the story you want to tell? It might be hope, beauty, tragedy, loss, how the human spirit can at times overcome the most incredible odds to survive and sometimes thrive. Make the piece the best it can be, commit fully, collaborate, wrestle with it. Build on it… Be sure to just complete it, be strategic, be open to the outcomes, be courageous, see what happens… I would encourage people looking to embark on something similar to check out our website www.sportspersonalities.org