Hosting a party is one thing—having enough food and drink, good music, the right combination of guests—but conducting a philosophical conversation throughout all the catching-up, the elbow grabbing, the networking, is something else.
We launched BCM31 with that exact creative challenge. The goal with each issue’s launch is to not only display artwork and cover art from the issue, but to interact with it somehow. Block Club is a magazine that relies on conversation and thought, where you can put it down and think about it days later, bring it up with friends and talk about it some more. We craft each issue to be an experience, starting with the launch party.
When guests arrived, they were instructed to choose a mysterious piece of white paper.
On the backs of most papers was the word “Quantity” with an image of something mass-produced—Velveeta cheese food product, identical suburban-development homes, reality TV star Honey Boo Boo, sliced white bread, Chili’s restaurant, a plastic bag, pop star Christina Aguilera, and processed ground beef. If you received one of these, you were the proud winner of the miniature poster you were holding.
On the backs of 40 papers was the word “Quality” with instructions to see a Block Club employee throughout the night. If you were lucky enough to snag one of these, you won a limited-edition print of one of the four letterpress prints we made in collaboration with the Western New York Book Arts Center, who also supplied a limited-edition print from their Small Press Book Fair, held the same weekend as our party. The prints hung as the artwork for this opening installation, but by night’s end, our walls were bare—another rumination on the relationship between quality and quantity.
This simple instruction begat a night’s worth of interaction, conversation about art, printing, installation, clichés, design, marketing, and the stories told in the issue. And dancing, of course. Lots of dancing.